Thursday, February 02, 2006

Back from Argentina!

It is hard to blog when there’s too much to tell!

We got married on January 15th and spent the last two weeks honeymooning in Argentina, where we traveled through the Patagonia for ten days and then celebrated the wedding a second time in Buenos Aires with JF’s family.

Argentina is beautiful and different. People do not wait in line; they clump up. Argentines are serious about dinner, but they are in no hurry about it. There’s nothing unusual about eating out at 11pm and enjoying coffee and wine until 2 in the morning. The Patagonia is expansive and full of wind and sheep and long open dusty roads and big pointy snowy mountains. Buenos Aires is a vibrant gritty city that stretches out over miles and has more neighborhoods than you could explore in a year. Two weeks was not enough.

I can’t resist blogging about the whole adventure, but it’s going to take me a few days to recap the whole thing.

Part One – The Flight

The flight to Buenos Aires is nearly 11 hours – we left at 10 pm and flew overnight. For the first time in my life, I sat up front. Yes, the plushy wide seats, leg room fit for Shaq, the little travel kit with booties and toothbrush, and the personal dvd player – first class. JF flies all over for work, so we used our miles (no, we did not buy the $8,000 tickets) to get an upgrade. I will never fly coach again.

Ok, that’s not true unless I win the lotto, and even then I don’t think my thrifty nature would allow the $8,000 ($8,000!!!) expenditure, but I sure did enjoy it this time. If you’re the kind of person who flies first class all the time, this post is going to be really dull, and you’re going to think I’m some kind of bumpkin, so just skip on over to another blog. But if you’ve ever wondered who those people are who get to board first and enjoy drinks and warm nuts and expansive space in the overhead compartments while you line up with the smelly man and the sticky child and try to force your carry-on under the seat because the overhead bin is full of knapsacks and coats, stay with me.

In first class, you cut the line of eager passengers and board calmly with the ladies in fur. They take your fur (or, in my case, polarfleece hoodie) at the door of the plane and hang it up for you in the special closet. When you sit, a lovely attendant comes over and brings you a beverage to enjoy while the masses shuffle in. I chose champagne. If you drink it fast enough, you can enjoy a second beverage before the plane even takes off. The coach passengers will glare at you. Resist the urge to say “we used miles, really, we never get to sit up here, and we just got married, please don’t hate us!” That is not first class behavior.

During takeoff, you must sit quietly and not recline or use the tray or walk about the cabin, and you must suffer drinkless just like the coach passengers, but once you reach cruising altitude, the delightful attendant is right back with you.

“Another beverage? Hot towel?” (I’m not sure I fully understand the hot towel, but I appreciatively rubbed it all over my face and hands. I noticed that the other passengers tossed theirs aside for the attendants to pick up with tongs, while I placed mine on the attendant’s tray using my very own fingers. Perhaps this was also not first class and was yet another indicator that we were mileage-upgraders.)

Then it is time for wine and warm nuts. The pistachios are the best.

Next, the attendant comes around and introduces him or herself – “I’m Donna, please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.” Donna gets your names, which she will use throughout the remainder of the flight. You review your menu. If you are first class, you do not discreetly slip the menu into your purse to take home as a souvenir.

You choose between “Salt and Pepper Crusted Beef Fillet enhanced by a Kalamata Olive Demi-Glace,” “Salmon and Halibut Bundle wrapped in Zucchini, topped with Olive Tapenade,” and “Ravioli stuffed with Brie and Asparagus topped with Mushroom Cream Sauce and Parmesan.” Donna brings you a cloth placemat and a napkin bundle containing many many forks and knives.

First, you enjoy a salad of king crab, smoked salmon, and marinated shrimp with a garlic mayonnaise. You do not think of all those people who get food poisoning eating shellfish on planes. That does not happen in first class.

Next, there is a mixed green salad with roasted tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, served with creamy garlic dressing.

Then the ravioli.

After dinner you eat your ice cream sundae with the toppings of your choice. Donna whisks away the evidence as soon as you take the last bite.

You set up your personal dvd player and settle in to watch March of the Penguins, reclining the enormous seat all the way back with the knowledge that you aren’t even slightly impinging on the legroom of the passenger behind you. Donna pulls the window shade down so quietly you barely notice her doing it, and she brings you a little more wine. After the movie, you pull on your eyemask and stretch out nearly horizontal.

After five hours of sleep, you pull of the eyemask. Donna is there immediately, offering your choice of “Fluffy Omelette prepared with Cheese accompanied by Turkey Sausage with fire-roasted Peppers and a Potato, Scallion and Sour Cream Timbale” or “Croissants with Yogurt and Fresh Fruits.”

Once the plane has landed, you disembark calmly, with no pushing or shoving or being stuck behind people who cant seem to manage to get their crap out of the overhead bin. Donna hands you your fur coat at the door and you emerge into the 90 degree heat of Buenos Aires.

Because it is your honeymoon, you hold hands in the taxi, even though PDA is not at all first class.


Blogger Ashley said...

Welcome back! This made me laugh so hard. I have been bumped to first-class twice in my life and both times spent the entire flight worried that someone would find out that I was certainly not first-class material, and should be sent to the back of the plane right away.

I was so amused by your post, in fact, that I did not at first notice the brie and asapragus ravioli. Brie and asparagus ravioli? Damn. it is time to bust out the pasta-maker.

1:52 PM  
Blogger s'kat said...

Welcome back, married folk! I'm sure you had quite the adventure down there, and look forward to hearing every delicious moment. Well, actually, you can skip some parts!

First class... I've never flown it, but man, does that sound dreamy!

2:09 PM  
Blogger Mona said...

Oh my god girlfriend, I love this part one! I want to go somewhere fun now!! But I don't have the honeymoon excuse to fly first class :) I've missed you terribly. And couldn't wait to tell you I signed up with road runners so I could be eligible for marathon. 9 races sounds like a helluva lot but what the heck. You only live once!
Seriously, that food does NOT look like airplane food. Did you say what airline you flew? I'm curious...and have a short attention span if you did mention it. Sorry :) But, ravioli?? WARM nuts? That is NUTS!

2:34 PM  
Blogger MeBeth said...

S'kat - It was a great adventure - I think it will take me all week to blog about! I hope everyone doesn't get sick of Argentina by then.

Mona - It was American Airlines, I was totally surprised with how great it was. Sadly, that was probably my first and last time. Thats great that you signed up for the 9 races - it seems like a lot but it wasn't really so bad, especially if you don't actually "race" but just get out there and jog around. Some are a little early in the morning for my taste though!

8:24 AM  
Blogger melissa said...

If your flight was this nice, I can't wait to hear about the rest of the trip! Congratulations on the wedding (and the first class tickets.)

1:04 PM  
Blogger Jeff in NC said...

Holy crud, they warm the nuts!!!?? How uppity! I want to get that service!! Loved your recounting the flight - you had me laughing throughout :)

You should have asked another first class passenger to take a picture of Donna serving you something. Now that screams mileage-upgrade!! Hahaha.

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there! Congratulations again and welcome back!

Loved your First Class retelling. The food looked really good. I've never seen a meal like that on the flights I took. ;-)

Looking forward to reading more.


3:11 AM  
Blogger MeBeth said...

Thanks Melissa! The rest of the trip was even better - I cant wait to put up all my food photos!

Jeff, I think the warm nut thing is hilarious. As if cold nuts would offend my delicate palate.

Paz - I was really surprised at the tastiness of the food, definitely beat out any airplane food I've had in the past. But it just gets better...

1:14 PM  

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