Buenos Aires

I was so excited about reaching Buenos Aires. Not simply because I had an an Air B&B booked for some quality alone time but also because the second stage of my journey, the first challenging stage, has been completed. I’d done everything I’d set out to do and more. I’d even been to Argentinian Wales and had Welsh cake.

I stepped out of the plane at 8pm into 30 degree heat. I was on a high and quickly realised all of my cold weather gear was going to be no use to me. I chatted broken Spanish with the taxi driver, was greeted at the flat by the host and by 9:30 I was sat watching Netflix eating a gigantic pizza and snacks.

For me this time was largely about research and sorting myself out although with my procrastination skills I didn’t do either. I set out to explore the city for the first real time at 5pm the next day, having shaved I needed a hair cut and wanted to find some fruit and veg. I ended up in the Argentinian equivalent of Whole Foods, not the best shout and had my hair cut at The Barber Job… I’m sure iits not the cheapest place but at $350 it’s still cheaper than where I go in London and it’s worth it for the experience. There is a bar, a piano and the whole place is based on barber shop quartets. It’s probably the best haircut I’ve had in a long time so was good.

I walked back in the dark and started to feel a little lonely on the second night. I mention this as I found Bueno Aires hard to begin with. It was only after I decided to book my ticket to Mendoza to leave (I am visiting a few places and had thought I would use BA as a hub but I won’t be now) that my London clicked in, meaning I remember how to be rude to everyone, and I started to enjoy the city. For a while With no obvious mountains to climb I was a little out of place, lonely and confused at what to do. But it all worked out and now I love it just as I am leaving!

The next day I met up with Melodie, Romain and Amparo who I met at Adela Luna. They made me lunch and we had a fun afternoon together. I even got to meet Amparo’s dog. I don’t have any photos as I kept being told Buenos Aires was a dangerous city and I was likely to get mugged. I was really wary of that to begin with and that might have affected my mood but after time I felt it was safer than London.

The next day I switched to a hostel. The first thing I did was lock myself in the toilet. Bonnie, came snd rescued me and i was happy to see about 5 people behind her. Still a good way to make an impression.

I realised that I needed to buy new clothes. I think that my trainers had been contributing to my feet problems so I set out to buy a new pair after I arrived at the hostel. There is a Street right in the centre of town called Florida (most streets here are named after countries and cities) which is paved and has many many shops. I ventured out and was shocked to see the prices were more expensive than back home. Also there seems to be a fashion for holes in jeans here which I hate. Even Zara was expensive so I gave up but spend Β£50 on some trainers I needed and headed back to the hostel.

Tinder is actually a good resource for travellers, more than for dating, as it actually puts you in contact with local people who have good advice and you can practice speaking the language. One girl I’d been speaking too told me about an area with discount stores so I headed out to find them. I misjudged the discount but I had a new pair of jeans and a shirt, which I’ve decided to leave out of my budget for this section of the trip…

When I reached the hostel I met a girl called Shalini who invited me out with a group who were going to a tango class at La Catedral de Tango. I couldn’t say no so I tagged along. If you are here it’s really worth going as it’s set in an old church. It has rustic wooden floors, great lighting and looks like a movie set. We had a few drinks before the lesson started. Sadly no pictures exist of me dancing but I paired up with Trixie, a German girl, who helped me to relax by saying she participated in roller derby. Initially I was too stiff for it to work but by the end of the class we were gliding a little and to some extent had mastered the twirl. After the class we were treated to a couple of dances by some professionals.

The following day I had arranged to meet Rita, another friend from Adlea Luna, and she was kind enough to buy me lunch at a tasty vegetarian restaurant. She even told me my Spanish had improved.

Later that day I decided to do my first tourist thing and headed out on one of the free walks (do check the link as I’ve been on a couple) that started at 3pm to get myself acquainted with the city. I had now been in the city four days and hardly taken a photo. The tour started outside the parliament building and told us a lot about the buildings and more recent history. Annoyingly I forgot to bring my camera but I did have my phone but it was nice to start getting to know the city and it’s history.

We then saw Evita for the first time.

That night I went to the Buenos Aires Film festival, which has an amazing lineup of films. Some of the guys I had met at the hostel invited me to see a British Documentary about The Slits. It started at midnight, so we got back late and chatted at the hostel until abut 3am.

I was a little tired the next day and it took me a while to get moving. I had heard and seen pictures of colourful buildings and desperate to get my camera out I headed to Caminito in La Boca. It’s basically a big tourist trap but a fun one with lots of restaurants, market stalls and tango dancers. It’s definitely worth going there for a few hours and the buildings are colourful.

We stopped and had lunch in a BBQ place which was delicious. I particularly liked the bbq and the meat.

Whist we were there we met an Argentinian lady who recommended an art museum and told me where to get socks-I’d brought mostly hiking socks but again these were not needed. I was still tired so returned to the hostel to relax and buy socks.

It was a slow Saturday night to begin with until Michael, who was in my dorm, invited me to Palermo, basically the Shoredirch of Buenos Aires. We left around 11pm and the bars were fairly quiet. He was meeting some Argentinian friends who were watching Radiohead. I tried to score tickets but it’s Radiohead and it seemed everyone I spoke to was going. The bars were fairly quiet, this is Buenos Aires after all and most don’t close until 7am. We had to wait a while for the friends to arrive and Bar hopped a little getting the flavour of the neighbourhood! They arrived at 2am and we continued to Bar hop into the early hours. The bars are spread over a wide area so at times it does get quiet then you will turn a corner and there will be lots of people again. It’s fascinating to see a city this vibrant so late at night. Around 5am the bar we were in closed and we decided to call it a night.

I was even worse for wear the next day which was a real shame as I wanted to go to the San Telmo market. I missed breakfast but Bonnie who worked at the hostel got me cake and some coffee. I managed to leave the hostel at 2pm and had a very spaced out walk to the street which was transformed and closed to traffic. There are stalls selling everything you can think of, lots of pop up food stalls and tonnes and tonnes of people.

I managed to find my way into the proper market where there are even more delicious stalls. These are open all week so if you are staying close by it is worth coming back.

Once I made it to the main square I treated myself to an ice cream. It was great.

Having had cake for breakfast, ice cream for lunch I decided to go for the hat trick and have McDonald’s for dinner. In hindsight this was not a good idea, I won’t tell you why, but I now understand this is not recommended by doctors.

On the Friday night I’d been invited to the football by some Germans but I had to turn it down as I had the film festival ticket already. I was delighted to find out that Boca Juniors were playing away at Independencia as it’s the two top league teams playing. I had thought it would be a dead cert that other people would be going but for a variation of reasons no one else could make it. So I was left in the weird position of trying to go to a game by myself, not really knowing where it was and not having a ticket.

Lucas on reception helped me plan out the route and I got on the number 17 bus heading south not really knowing what I was doing. I kinda hoped that it would be sold out so it would be less scary but as more and more friendly looking fans got on the bus I wanted to see the game more and more. I got off at the stop everyone else wearing a football shirt did and followed the throngs through the busier and busier streets until we were kettled briefly by the riot police doing crowd control. I reached a point where it was obvious I needed a ticket and couldn’t pass so I asked a steward where I could by a ticket. The answer was a resounding no so I walked back the way I had came, slightly annoyed. I crossed a road that was full of people and coaches at the other end of the stadium and decided to take a look for some weird reason and found a queue and a ticket office. It was here that I met Hermanitos and his brother Andres, who invited me to sit with them.

I’m so glad they did as the stadium was a daunting experience with thousands of people everywhere. They found us a good spot to sit and even let me wear the team colours. The stadium was great and the supporters in Argentina are something else.

I was told it was a quiet night as some fans had been banned but it was full of atmosphere in my eyes. The best part was when the goal was scored and the celebrations with everyone hugging and crying. I even picked up a few swear words that I won’t repeat here. But I had a really great time, the home team won and I am now an Indepedencia fan. After the game they changed their route and took the bus with me to make sure I got back okay. They kept saying that I was really brave and it was only later I found out that I went to one of the most violent districts of the city. But it was fine.

I felt much better the next day, maybe due to not drinking and decided to start planning the next section of my journey. I headed to Recoleta (think Fulham/Chelsea) found a cafe and then had a little walk around the park where the film festival offices are located.

Afterwards I went on the Cementerio de la Recoleta which is now used only by the super rich and is the resting place for Evita. It’s really worth coming to visit here even if you don’t go on a tour and entry is free. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

And then Evitas final resting place.

In the evening I went to La Bomba de Tiempo with some new people I met at the hostel.

It’s a drumming band and is set outside with a stage. It’s mostly tourists and afterwards there is a street party which takes everyone into one of the worlds worst clubs. It was another late night but I managed to make it to the graffiti tour in Palermo the next day.

Before I started the tour I found a great little lunch time place and took their last hot food pot which had Asian shrimp, rice and vegetables inside. This is my favourite food and I’d missed it. Although I’m not sure how well it came out on camera.

The graffiti tour was also fun. I’ve been trying to learn how to take photos of things that are not mountains. I won’t retell the stories behind the art but long story short grafiti was brought to Buenos Aires by the rich kids and is now an excepted art form. Many residents and companies commission artists, if only as this is one way to stop the tagging but many of these could easily be in a museum.

One interesting thing that I did learn is that when an artist does their work they often leave their contact details including phone numbers in the hope of more commissions.

And we also saw some photo shoots going on. Apparently it’s a right of passage for 15 year old girls. I think similar to sweet 16 in the US.

Later that night I met up with Beth and Kate that I had met the previous night and was asked to leave their hostel after a cheese dinner. I didn’t realise there was a no guest policy. A group of us went to another hostel bar for karaoke. I told everyone I sing all the time and then a German guy said “If you sing karaoke then we sing Wonderful”. After our names were added to the list I was dared to do a slut drop as part of the performance. I had a cocktail to loosen up for the singing and completed my challenge, winning a free drink as part of the bet! There is a video that exists somewhere but sadly I do not have the evidence. Such a shame.

The next day feeling a little rough again, no idea why this kept happening as I felt great in the country, i took up Bonnies suggestion of going to sit in cafes and using their internet. I headed back to San Telmo and ended up having lunch in the market. I was able to get some better pictures as there were much less people there.

I had a BBQ hot dog for lunch and the sauce especially was delicious!

I then headed for an ice cream and back to the hostel. Wednesday night at the hostel as everyone knows is Asado night! Which is basically 7 courses of meat. Rhys the hostel manager and the staff cooked all the food which was delicious. I swear there were about 40 bottles of wine for about 20 people, so it was pretty much all you can drink as well as all you can eat. For 300 pesos probably the best deal in town. Here is a pic of the pork ribs.

I even got to try the veggie food which was actually much tastier, although that might be because it can be hard to get veg here. After the remaining wine was placed in the living room i went to bed at a respectable 2am, others were still going at breakfast.

The next day was my last full day in Buenos Aires so i decided to take advantage of it. After checking out the port and working out when I would go to Uruguay I went back to Palermo and had lunch in the tea place with the shrimp-I really love shrimp. I also stopped by to purchase a kinder egg flavoured ice lolly. It was good!

I then walked around some of the parks north of this area of town and took some photos of the streets to illustrate how wide they can be. It’s one thing I’ve not mentioned yet along with the traffic lights. The lights are fine, it’s just that a red light seems to be more of a suggestion than a rule. In rush hour there are people by the lights to stop the cars when the lights turn red

I then headed to went to visit the MALBA museum recommended by several people. It had some really interesting pieces and I decided to have a little play and take some arty pics myself in the museum.

That night I was meeting Alejandra, who is from Buenos Aires. She had been giving me tips all week and is learning English. We went to an Asian restaurant in Palermo and had a fun evening. She made me speak in Spanish at one point and it’s been a kick up the arse I’ve needed. I keep avoiding speaking saying the little I know but I realised I knew a little more than I thought and I just need to make sure I practice and keep learning.

On my final day I was heading to Mar del Plata in the evening so I headed back to the market in San Telmo to get myself a burger and some admin. The burger you can see was great and after I headed to the bus stop mostly brining my time in Buenos Aires to a close.

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