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The Buenos Aires Broken Hearts Club

March 12, 2007
0705_buenosaires
In her new novel, Jessica Morrison tells the story of 28-year-old Cassie Moore and how she left her comfortable life in the United States for a a six-month trip to Argentina.

What does one wear to tango? I pull on a flippy little skirt, a black shell, and strappy high-heeled sandals and twist my hair back into a tight bun. I'll need a complete field of vision tonight.

Dan and Jamie both show up in jeans. Jamie's are topped with a revealing black camisole and a pair of swishy earrings. I tell them to wait while I change, but they won't hear of it. "You look amazing," Dan gushes. "Really, really amazing." Jamie agrees enthusiastically. "Mucho Argentina."

Her compliment makes me smile. She moves up a level on the friend-o-meter.

"Yeah, she's right." Dan looks at me as though for the first time, tilting his head, puzzled. "You do sort of look like you belong here."

That settles it. I don't change.

At the class--held, curiously, in the basement of an Armenian community center a few blocks away--almost everyone is wearing jeans. Only the instructor, a striking older woman who's had too much plastic surgery--Dan calls it the Tango Special--is wearing a dress and heels. When she spots me, tucked in behind Dan and another tall guy in a blue T-shirt, she looks me up and down and nods approvingly, saying something in Spanish that I can't understand. Let's hope she remembers that she once liked the look of me after she sees me dance.

Luckily, it's easy to hide my footwork in the massive group of beginners on our side of the hall. It's so crowded, Dan actually thinks I'm good, blaming other couples for the constant assault on his feet. But then Dan's not exactly Fred Astaire. "If we had a little more room, you could really show them your stuff," he says. I smile and step on his foot. He grins proudly. A few rounds of the dance floor, and I've mastered the first two steps. For the other fourteen, I kind of wing it. I suspect a step or two from high school square dancing has made it in there somewhere (nothing wrong with a little cross-cultural exchange).

Meanwhile, Jamie, in the hands of a cute young Argentine with a scruffy mullet, is shuffling, turning, and heel-toeing in perfect sync with him. She talks to her partner while she dances. She doesn't count to herself, scrunch her forehead, or bite her lip. The instructor passes Jamie and nods approvingly. When the instructor sees me plodding along, she smiles weakly and moves on to someone she can help improve: an octogenarian with a limp. Ah, it was nice while it lasted.

Reprinted by arrangement with Warner Books, Inc, New York, NY, from The Buenos Aires Broken Hearts Club by Jessica Morrison. Copyright (c) 2007 by Jessica Morrison.

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The Buenos Aires Broken Hearts Club

What does one wear to tango? I pull on a flippy little skirt, a black shell, and strappy high-heeled sandals and twist my hair back into a tight bun. I'll need a complete field of vision tonight. Dan and Jamie both show up in jeans. Jamie's are topped with a revealing black camisole and a pair of swishy earrings. I tell them to wait while I change, but they won't hear of it. "You look amazing," Dan gushes. "Really, really amazing." Jamie agrees enthusiastically. "Mucho Argentina." Her compliment makes me smile. She moves up a level on the friend-o-meter. "Yeah, she's right." Dan looks at me as though for the first time, tilting his head, puzzled. "You do sort of look like you belong here." That settles it. I don't change. At the class¿held, curiously, in the basement of an Armenian community center a few blocks away¿almost everyone is wearing jeans. Only the instructor, a striking older woman who's had too much plastic surgery¿Dan calls it the Tango Special¿is wearing a dress and heels. When she spots me, tucked in behind Dan and another tall guy in a blue T-shirt, she looks me up and down and nods approvingly, saying something in Spanish that I can't understand. Let's hope she remembers that she once liked the look of me after she sees me dance. Luckily, it's easy to hide my footwork in the massive group of beginners on our side of the hall. It's so crowded, Dan actually thinks I'm good, blaming other couples for the constant assault on his feet. But then Dan's not exactly Fred Astaire. "If we had a little more room, you could really show them your stuff," he says. I smile and step on his foot. He grins proudly. A few rounds of the dance floor, and I've mastered the first two steps. For the other fourteen, I kind of wing it. I suspect a step or two from high school square dancing has made it in there somewhere (nothing wrong with a little cross-cultural exchange). Meanwhile, Jamie, in the hands of a cute young Argentine with a scruffy mullet, is shuffling, turning, and heel-toeing in perfect sync with him. She talks to her partner while she dances. She doesn't count to herself, scrunch her forehead, or bite her lip. The instructor passes Jamie and nods approvingly. When the instructor sees me plodding along, she smiles weakly and moves on to someone she can help improve: an octogenarian with a limp. Ah, it was nice while it lasted. Reprinted by arrangement with Warner Books, Inc, New York, NY, from The Buenos Aires Broken Hearts Club by Jessica Morrison. Copyright (c) 2007 by Jessica Morrison.

Trains in Europe: An Online Resource Guide

Multi-country European train travel: The most intuitive way to figure out train times for any European rail journey is to visit the website of the German rail line Deutsche Bahn, which has comprehensive listings for all major European train companies. But the website makes it difficult for Americans to purchase travel, so book your tickets at RailEurope, Railpass.com, or European Rail. These sites offer point-to-point tickets, rail passes, and student discounts. For railpasses for travel within the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, visit Railkey's website. Eurostar offers fares and times for routes reaching London, Paris, Brussels, and other nearby destinations. But Eurostar's website doesn't offer reservations for overnight trains. Expect to make such reservations by phone instead. Another warning: Eurostar will not mail tickets to the U.S., but you can dodge this problem by booking your Eurostar tickets separately at Eurostar.com and then picking up your tickets at Waterloo station in London, says British rail expert Mark Smith. If your train will travel on through France, after stopping in Paris via the underground Chunnel, then opt to pick up your onward tickets at any major ticket office in France. Country-by-Country Guide to European Rail Websites Austria: ÖBB's website offers train times and fares in Austria. Belgium: SNCB offers times and fares for Belgium, but not all fares for intra-European travel. Britain: Americans can buy a BritRail pass for unlimited train travel on Britain's many private rail lines at BritRail's website. But BritRail passes are not the least expensive option for many simple itineraries. Check the prices of ordinary point-to-point tickets first by using National Rail. For travel in Northern Ireland, visit Northern Ireland Railways. For general advice on British rail travel, visit the website of British rail expert Mark Smith, Seat61.com. Croatia: HZ's website offers times and fares for Croatia. Czech Republic: CD's website offers times and fares for Czech trains. Denmark: DSB's website offers times and fares for rail in Denmark. Estonia: Edelaraudtee, a privately-run rail line, offers times and fares for rail in Estonia. Finland: For rail within Finland, check with VR for times and fares. France: Eurostar is the best source for U.S. travelers to make purchases for French rail travel before arriving in France. For details on new France's high-speed, low-cost "iDTGV" trains, visit RailEurope's special website page on the topic by clicking here. Germany: Deutsche Bahn offers train times and fares in Germany. Greece: OSE has fares and times for Greece. Hungary: MAV's website offers times and fares for travel within Hungary. Ireland: IrishRail offers train times and fares in the Republic of Ireland. Italy: Trenitalia offers train times and fares in Italy. Note, some of the intercity trains it offers are called Eurostar, which are different from the Eurostar trains that cross between London and Paris. The Netherlands: NS offers train times and fares in the Netherlands. Norway: NSB offers fares and times for Norway. For Scandinavian rail passes, visit Railkey's website. Poland: PKP offers times and fares for select trains within and from Poland. Portugal: CP offers train fares and times within Portugal. Spain: RENFE offers train times and fares within Spain. Sweden: SJ doesn't accept U.S. credit cards for purchases, so search for times and fares at the online travel agency Swedenbooking. Switzerland: Search for times from Switzerland's many train companies at SBB's website, but expect to purchase your tickets through a U.S.-based travel agency, such as Raileurope.com.

The Real Deals

Amazing deals always seem to be out there. The trick is to find them. And guess what? You just did. See details below:   A week in the Azores: R/T airfare & 6 nights from $589/person   Italy air/car/5-night hotel package from $1,399/person   Greek Island Hopping: R/T Air & 8 nights from $1499/person   Beach it in Brazil: R/T Air & 8 nights from $1,906/person   France River Cruise: R/T air, 7-nights, trips & meals from $1,998/person A week in the Azores: R/T airfare & 6 nights from $589/person The Real Deal: Air/hotel package for a week in Portugal's lush Azores islands. Round-trip airfare and six nights' accommodations from $589 per person. When: Through June 12, 2007. Gateways: Boston. Details: The offer is priced per person based on double occupancy. Valid for Tuesday departures; add $90 to depart on Friday. Prices may be higher on holidays and after April 1, 2007. Daily breakfast is included. Taxes and fees are an extra $147 per person. Upgrades from coach fare to SATA Plus Business-Class are available for an additional $170 each way. Children under 10 pay for airfare and only 10 percent of the hotel rate; those under 6 are only charged for airfare. Book By: No deadline, but must complete travel by June 12, 2007. Contact: Azores Express, 800/762-9995, azores-express.com For more trip details, click here. __________________________________________ Italy air/car/5-night hotel package from $1,399/person The Real Deal: Air/car/hotel package for exploring the lively university town of Perugia and its Umbrian neighbors. Round-trip airfare, five nights' accommodations, and rental car from $1,399 per person When: Dec. 1-14, 2006; add $90 for Nov. 1-30 and Jan. 7-31, 2007; $100 for Feb. 1- Mar. 31; $340 for Dec. 15-31, 2006 and Jan. 1-6, 2007; $1,160 for July 20-Aug. 31, 2007; $1,200 for Apr. 1-May 31 and Sept. 1-Oct. 31, 2007 Gateways: New York City; add $50 for Boston, Washington, D.C.; $95 for Atlanta, Chicago; $200 for Los Angeles, San Francisco Details: Hotel taxes, daily breakfast, and fuel surcharges (which can top $150) are included. Additional airport taxes are $125 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement $699 Book By: No deadline; based on availability Contact: Foreign Independent Tours, 800/248-3487, fittours.com For more trip details, click here. __________________________________________ Greek Island Hopping: R/T Air & 8 nights from $1499/person The Real Deal: Air/hotel package for a week in sun-kissed Mykonos and Santorini, capped off by a visit to bustling Athens. Round-trip airfare, eight nights' accommodations, and interisland flights and ferry rides from $1,499 per person. When: Depart Oct. 8, 15, 22, 2007; add $100 for May 7, 21; $150 for Sept. 10, 17, 24; $440 for May 28; $460 for June 4, 11. Gateways: New York City; add $53 for Chicago, Miami; $148 for San Francisco; $224 for Houston; additional cities available. The Fine Print: Breakfast daily, airport/hotel transfers, hotel taxes, and fuel surcharges are included. Additional airport taxes are $175-$215 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement starts at $281. For general guidelines on evaluating deals, click here. Book By: No deadline, but book as soon as possible--select dates are already sold-out. Contact: Gate 1 Travel, 800/682-3333, gate1travel.com. Why It's a Deal: The lowest round-trip fare we've found between New York City and Athens in mid-October is $891 per person (Continental). For about $500 more, Gate 1 Travel covers the international airfare as well as two 1-way flights within Greece, ferry transportation, airport/hotel transfers, and an eight-night stay. For more trip details, click here. __________________________________________ Beach it in Brazil: R/T Air & 8 nights from $1,906/person The Real Deal: Bask in the sun on Brazil's Copacabana Beach, stroll the streets of Rio de Janeiro, fish for piranhas near a floating hotel in the Amazon jungle, and tour colonial-era buildings in Brazil's onetime capital of Salvador da Bahia. Round-trip airfare, eight nights' accommodations, sightseeing tours, some meals, and local transportation from $1,906 per person. When: Depart Mondays through Thursdays until April 30, 2007. Gateways: Miami; add $31 for New York; $126 for Los Angeles; additional cities available. The Fine Print: Airport/hotel transfers, hotel taxes, two dinners, breakfast daily, entrance fees, guided tours, and fuel surcharges are included. Additional airport taxes total about $160 per person, which must be paid in advance, plus departure fees of $10-$15 per person for the two intercity flights within Brazil, which must be paid in cash at the airports. Each U.S. citizen must obtain a Visa in advance of arrival for a $100 fee. Contact your nearest Brazilian consulate. Based on double occupancy; the single supplement is $285. For general guidelines on evaluating deals, click here. Book By: March 31, 2007. Contact: Top Destination Tours & Travel, 800/480-0707, latinamerica4less.com. Why It's a Deal: In comparison, the lowest round-trip fares we've found to Rio de Janeiro in mid-March are $715 per person from Miami (TAM Airlines) and $804 per person from New York (Continental). For $149-154 a day more, Top Destination Tours & Travel covers eight nights' lodgings, transportation, guided tours, and flights within Brazil, and provides the convenience of handling the trip logistics. For more trip details click here. __________________________________________ France River Cruise: R/T air, 7-nights, trips & meals from $1,998/person The Real Deal: A springtime river cruise through France, with highlights including Paris, Giverny, and the beaches of Normandy. Round-trip airfare, a seven-night cruise, seven shore excursions, and all meals from $1,998 per person--$500 off the typical rate. When: Depart Mar. 24, 31, Apr. 7, 14, 21, 2007; add $250 for departures in May, June, July and Aug. Gateways: New York City; add $100 for Philadelphia, Washington, D.C.; $200 for Houston; $300 for Los Angeles; additional cities available. Details: Airport/port transfers, meals, and onboard lectures are included. Additional airport taxes and fuel surcharges are about $335 per person, and port charges are $84 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is a whopping $2,143. For general guidelines on evaluating deals, click here. Book By: Jan. 31, 2007; afterwards the price jumps to $2,498 per person. Contact: Uniworld, 800/733-7820, uniworld.com. For more trip details, click here.

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