By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea…

2007.Jan.03 Wednesday · 1 comment

in Life

Mar del Plata central beach

“I have the world’s largest collection of seashells. I keep it on all the beaches of the world… perhaps you’ve seen it.”

– Stephen Wright, Comedian

Mar del Plata – After getting past the giant lavender cow with swollen pink teats as we entered town, we wound our way through a mass of industrial and warehouse buildings interspersed with typical beach type homes. Eventually, we neared the shoreline, and, of course, were greeted by neon, souveniers, and more hotels than one would care to count. The streets teamed with people, catching the last of the sun, and the last of the year. Don’t ask me why we decided to head, at last minute, into Mar del Plata – weather reports weren’t promising for the beach, all we were doing was heading towards where a zillion porteños and other Argentines had already headed, as one local friend put it, “to line up like cockroaches on the beach”. One of the first things I noted was obesity. Where did all these immensely fat people come from? I don’t seem them walking the streets of Buenos Aires, and I haven’t seen them in my limited but occasional trips to various parts of the countryside. And I’m not talking about a little spare tire around the middle – I’m talking massively overweight, roiling mounds of flesh – all, of course, bared to the naked eye. I haven’t seen anything quite like it since childhood trips to the beaches of Lake Michigan.

I can’t say the city isn’t interesting – there’s tons of history, there are meandering walks along the shoreline or the rambla (boardwalk). There’s an aquarium that is only partially reopened after a recent closure. There’s fascinating architecture, there are nearby hills and monasteries, a lighthouse, a nude beach, countryside, and plenty of people and typical beachtown things to do. There’s late night clubbing, there are restaurants that feature way too much fried seafood, and while there’s some good dining, it’s doubtful there’s anything worth making the trip for. We were there mostly to relax, and had the weather cooperated, to join the throngs on the beaches. Playa Escondida - part gay beach part naturist beachIt didn’t, so we didn’t. We walked, we took a couple of tours, we ate, we met up with friends who happened to be there, we met some new ones. On the whole, we found the local folks less friendly and less helpful than we find people in Buenos Aires – everyone seemed to be more interested in whether or not there was something they could sell us than anything else. There were exceptions, like a cab driver who drove us out to a gay beach well outside of town when it turned out to not be where we’d been told it was, and then returned a couple of hours later to pick us up, no charge for the 40 minutes it took him to get out to the beach to retrieve us. I’m not sure we ever actually relaxed. It was certainly the most activity packed vacation I’ve ever been on…

I’ll get to the restaurants bit by bit over the next couple of days… we did sample more fried squid, rabas, than I care to think about, but isn’t that what being at the beach is all about?

Mar del Plata - boats in the central puerto

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