Buenos Aires and the Bush daughters in heat

Where do you go for spring break? I know the question is quite untimely, but deal with it, I wrote this a few months ago, but never got around to editing and linking it. Now with last week's news that Jenna Bush is engaged to be married, this post is suddenly quite timely again. Not to mention, Bryan's in Paris and needed a pinch-hitter.

So anyway, Trixie and I were faced with this question a few months ago. We were thinking of going to Spain. (Who doesn't think about that?) But visiting Spain in March is not an escape from the cold. Which we all know is the main point of a March vacation. And making matters worse, the dollar really sucks in Europe right now.

Which is just the opposite in Argentina. First, in March it's summertime and beautiful there. And second, after that wicked readjustment of their currency in 2001, the dollar to peso exchange rate tripled. And it's remained that way. Which means T-bones cost about $7. Then add to that fact, three articles appeared in the New York Times travel section about Buenos Aires within a short 3 month span. Here, here, and here. The last article is about how fabulous the night life and art scene is. Throw on that Wallpaper's new series of city guides included Buenos Aires among its first twenty cities–edging out Berlin, Hong Kong, and Sao Paulo. And add to that a trusted friend's effervescent recommendation. It's a happening fucking place. Does anyone remember Prague in 1994? Who could say no?

Well, I suppose anyone who doesn't like 14 hours of travel time might say no. But don't we all accept that the best things in life only come with a bit of sacrifice? Buenos Aires is worth it. It's a huge city. There are many appealing neighborhoods to stay in, but we chose Palermo Viejo. If you're in your 20s or 30s, it's the obvious choice. One of those NYT articles referred to it as the Silver Lake of BA. Which is kind of true, but only if Silver Lake were a completely walkable neighborhood with 150 year old buildings and massive Chinese Ginko trees and all of it drenched by a recent wave of European modern design aesthetics. Palermo's an incomparable place.

Unfortunately it's a very popular neighborhood. Especially the week before Easter. By the time we got around to booking our hotel, the Wallpaper/NYT-recommended hotels were already booked. Damn it. Desperate, we went on an internet search. At the last hour, there was a cancellation at one of the small less well-known botique hotels, the Hotel Krista . They had three nights available. Thank god.

So we decided to stay there. Which brings me to the interesting part of this story. You see, the Bush daughters had visited Buenos Aires a few months before us and, if you don't recall, their visit had made the news programs, because one of the Bush daughters (Barbara) got her purse stolen in an old town antiques' market. Some kid just ran by, grabbed her purse, and kept running. Made the Secret Service look like morons. CNN was all over it. Apparently the purse showed up later on Ebay or something, but they never caught the person. Soon after ABC reported that the US embassy asked the daughters to leave because they felt that they were a security risk. The White House denies that ever happened. But aren't we used to White House denials by now?

But why, you ask, do the Bush daughters decide to visit Argentina? What with Vail and St Barts and Paris so much closer? Well, later in our trip we discovered that the appeal of Buenos Aires has something to do with Barbara dating some Argentinian Polo player she met in college or something like that. Basically, she's banging some caballero who lives in BA. So understandably the girl has to visit once in a while. How long can a bad mare go without a good studding?

Anyway, I had read that the twins had stayed in one of the boutique hotels in Palermo Viejo. And the fact baffled me. The thought of the daughters of the world's most powerful figure staying in anything but the most secure accomodations began to obsess me. None of the hotels, ours included, that we saw in Palermo had any of the Hilton/Sheraton bunker-like fortifications that one expects for protecting high level dignitaries. They were all two or three story hotels with many open inner atriums and easy access from surrounding roof tops. I couldn't stop thinking about this rumor. How could anyone in the White House have authorized the Bush daughters staying in a hotel in this neighborhood? The question started to enter my thoughts at all hours. And all conversations. I have to admit that even our long-suffering Honeycups became fatigued with my perserverations. But really, how was it possible? And which hotel?

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On the final day of our stay at the Hotel Krista I brought up my obsession with the overnight hotel concierge.

“Senor, las hijas de Bush se quedaron en Palermo cuando visitaron. Por casualidad, no sabes donde se quedaron?”
“Si, lo se, Senor. Se quedaron Aqui.”
“Aqui? Aqui?”
“Si, Aqui, Aqui.”
“En serio?”
“Si Senor, se quedaron aqui mismo.”

I was stunned. They had stayed in our very hotel.

I went on grilling him. He was happy to oblige with details. Apparently, the twins had checked in under a friend's Latino name. They rented four rooms. Each Bush daughter had her own room and two girl friends and one boy shared the other two. The secret service stayed elsewhere and were nowhere to be seen, not even posting a man outside the hotel. The media had no idea that the Bush daughters had arrived, and no one in the hotel staff recognized them until their third day when the news cameras suddenly appeared at the doors and the whole party checked out and moved on to another botique hotel (with a pool) just down the road for another three days.

According to this night employee, the girls came in very late each night, two or three in the morning, and were quite loud and obnoxious to boot. And when they checked out they left the rooms pretty trashed. And best of all, they disputed the final bill. Apparently they didn't realize that the water bottles that they took from the kitchen's fridge were not free. They cost a dollar per bottle. They had drank 31 of them. They argued, actually argued, but finally consented. Classy.

It turns out that we had been staying in the room occupied by the girl friend under whose name they had made the reservation. The Bush daughters had stayed in the two rooms underneath ours (where, comically, our room's soil line rattled and echoed through every time we flushed our toilet or showered).

Amazing. After three days of obsessing, we were actually staying and shitting in the same place that the Bush daughters had stayed. Ah, the deliciousness. Those small details just amplify the excitement of one's vacation.

Anyway, we randomly found another hotel in the neighborhood that happened to have three nights available and finished our vacation staying at the 248 Finisterra, which just a few weeks ago in July was written up with great photos in the NYT travel section. What great hotel karma we had.

Of course, full disclosure, the whole vacation was not grandly karmic. For one, I was incredibly sick for the first two days–unable to venture far from a bathroom. Other travelers will know that this is not that uncommon when traveling to a new continent–despite Argentina's cleanliness. And two, Malba, Buenos Aires' crowning art museum was closed on the day we had scheduled to visit it. And three, we never got to tour the Faena, the coolest hotel in Argentina, where the Rolling Stones and Coldplay relax when touring. But we did get to Las Lilas parilla, which the renowned NYT's food critic R.W. Apple included on his list of “meals worth the price of a plane ticket.” Yes, it was great, but, believe it or not, we actually had two other more delicious dinners than that one. BA is a superb place for eating. And drinking. The malbecs are delicious. And you are allowed to bring home 12! bottles in your checked luggage. Do it!

Anyway, if you can't afford Spain in the years ahead, consider a detour down to Argentina. There are so many reasons to go. Just avoid the week of Easter. Pack some imodium. Make sure to ask your concierge about celebrity hi-jinx. And don't forget to keep the xanax in your carry-on.


15 responses to “Buenos Aires and the Bush daughters in heat”

  1. brooke says:

    “How long can a bad mare go without a good studding?” So appropriate for the Bush kids. I love the description of Palermo Viejo — I can almost imagine walking through the streets with you and Trixie. Trix would be all jealous because we’d be holding hands. It would be romantic. Thanks for the run-down, now I know where to go if I ever get over to Argentina!

  2. Dave says:

    Hmm. Maybe everyone’s just stunned by

    How long can a bad mare go without a good studding?

  3. Tim Wager says:

    Yes, how long? I’d like to know.

    Also, the internets are all abuzz with the rumor that Jenna B. is actually knocked up, and it’s a shotgun wedding. Maybe said studding happened in that very hotel! Wow.

    Seriously, though, I’ve heard great things about traveling to Argentina recently, and this post really makes me want to go. I visited Prague about 5 yrs. too late, so maybe if I go to BA soon I’ll only be 2 yrs. behind the curve. Thanks for the tips and stories, FF.

  4. Marleyfan says:

    Needed a vacation after chasing that guy, huh?

  5. natasha says:

    BA sounds like a fantasy. I’m recruiting a spring break crew immediately!

  6. cynthia says:

    ill sign up when do we lv

  7. Jeremy Zitter says:

    yay, another farrell post! this made me want to leave the country so badly. BA is high up on the list. but i’d rather go with you and trixie….

    (btw, why no photos? you took some really interesting ones–you should’ve thown some up here…)

  8. lisa t. says:

    hmmm…john and i are headed to spain on december 24. did we make the right choice?

  9. Jeremy says:

    you can’t go wrong with spain, but you should definitely try to take the ferry over to morocco as well…

  10. Jeremy says:

    By the way, did any of you check out that link to the website for the Faena Hotel? My word.

  11. there is a surprising amount of excrement in this post. why that is surprising to me is actually even more surprising.

  12. Bryan says:

    aside from the reference to being sick and needing to stay within reach, the only excrement i could find was this: “After three days of obsessing, we were actually staying and shitting in the same place that the Bush daughters had stayed.”

    for some reason that line struck me as really funny. maybe kind of surprising if you really think about it, but funny nonetheless.

    thanks for covering my shift while i was away, farrell — i hope you’re back in regular thursday rotation soon.

  13. LP says:

    Stella and I went to BA about five years ago and had the same impression you did — what a fantastic place for a wintertime visit! Beautiful neighborhoods, great food, excellent museums / sights, and all the Malbec you can drink.

    We also went just out of BA for a weekend at an “Estancia” — a ranch-turned-B&B, where you could go on horseback rides led by real Gauchos. Our guy impressed us early on by spotting a fly on his scuffed cowboy boot, slowly unsheathing the knife at his hip, and bending down to flick the blade fast enough to cut the unsuspecting fly in half.

  14. Stephanie Wells says:

    Today was the first day of class and I was teaching a Borges story. As I read his line “I walk through the streets of Buenos Aires and stop for a moment, perhaps mechanically now, to look at the arch of an entrance hall and the grillwork on the gate,” all I could think of was, could this be the very arch, the very grillwork, the very gate through which Jenna, Barbara, Farrell and Trixie passed and sat and gassed and shat?

  15. farrell fawcett says:

    hey y’all,

    sorry to take so long getting back to the comments. as for barbara’s studding, she now lives in NYC (the village, according to wiki) so others among us are in a better position to monitor her voracious sex life. I’m not aware that she’s been back to BA since her visit last november. And Tim, i don’t think jenna was traveling with her engaged guy in BA. And if she had been–and had gotten knocked up–she’d have given birth by now. Or had an abortion.

    By the way, who are natasha and cynthia? nice to have you commenting. I hope you make it to argentina some time soon.

    Jeremy, there are no photos cause it just seemed like it would disrupt the flow. But anyone seriously interested in seeing photos of some of the fabulous restaurants (90% of the pics) can email me. And yes, hotel faena is amazing. the day i win the lottery . . .

    Lisa T, it is as well-established as the rules of poker. spain trumps argentina. have an awsome trip. and YES, fit in morocco if possible.

    Birdonthewire, yes excrement. why is that surprising to you? as for me, i think the joy was in the laughter i experienced knowing that the bush twins had to endure a ruckus anytime the guests in the rooms above them flushed a toilet or showered. HAHA HA! Bet that never happened in Texas or New Haven!

    Bryan, welcome back. it was good to have an excuse to post on two mondays in a row. we’ll see if i can get any more regular (is that another excrement reference?).

    LP, good god you two were way ahead of the cool curve. Yes, an estancia (which we didn’t do) is a great suggestion. It seems to be one of those things you have to do when you visit Argentina. We opted to visit Uruguay (a 90 minute ferry) instead for a day. But I’d recommend the estancia. Although Uruguay does add another country stamp to the passport. Tough call.