Posted by: robinson2000 | July 22, 2011

Buenos Aires

15th – 21st July

The journey up to BA was a real slog as there was a huge traffic accident on a major road leading into the capital. The trip was supposed to take 20 hours, but ended up lasting nearly 26 hours as we finally rolled into the gigantic main terminal around 9pm, after leaving Puerto Madryn at 7pm the previous night. To add to my general frustration and eagerness to leave the bus, the terminal was clogged full of buses, as over 100 coaches slowly funnelled into a single lane and waited for a bay to become free. It took over an hour from entering the terminal to finally stepping off the stuffy bus. My plan was to quickly locate the Metro station and travel by the underground to my chosen hostel. The terminal was unbelievably chaotic, so after asking several officials as to the whereabouts of the station, I gave up and hailed a cab. Arriving in a big city after dark and alone is always an intimidating experience as your tired from the travel, not quite sure where to go, and loaded up with all your valuables for any opportunistic thief, so the cab was the safest option. I was dropped off on the Avenue de Mayo, outside the legendary Hostel Estoril, apparently one of the top ten in the world that was highly recommended by Mr Spicer. Having not bothered to reserve a bed beforehand meant that the most popular levels to this 7 story hostel were booked-up, including the roof-top terrace floor that is its main selling point. I actually didn’t care at that point and would have settled for a bale of hay on the floor. In fact I would have rather been given a bale of hale as instead I was given a bed on the Israeli floor, who are purposely segregated from the rest of the hostel for being too noisy. My previous experiences of travelling Israelis has never been enjoyable to say the least, and this proved no different as I was made to feel as welcome as a fart in an elevator. It also happened to be a Friday night, which meant a testosterone fuelled party was in full swing in the corridor. After taking a quick shower, I escaped and headed out to find some food. The Av del Mayo is one of the major roads in BA with a host of restaurants to choose from. I ended up in a nice place, enjoying a rump steak and some wine at midnight.

Having a couple of days before my friend John flew out to join me, meant I was able to absorb the lively Buenos Aires atmosphere and soak up some of the main sights. Buenos Aires, and more specifically the people, are very different to the rest of Argentina being fiercely passionate people with a lot of national pride. They riot at the drop of a hat and don’t settle for anything other than the best. There was a story a few weeks ago of a train arriving a few hours late. Instead of grumble away like the British, the delayed passengers torched the train when it finally arrived, and then burnt the next one for the fun of it! I took a walk down the Av del Mayo, which stretches from the heart of the city, the Plaza de Mayo, to the Palacio del Congreso at the other end. The streets seemed safe enough but there was an abundance of homeless folk lying around and most of the street vendors seemed to be selling smutty porno magazines. The architecture and the grandeur of some of the governmental buildings more than made up for the layabouts as you can see from some of the photos. In the evening, I met up with a few people that I had met previously in El Calafate. We watched Argentina get dumped out of the Copa America by Uruguay in the quarter-finals then headed out for a huge meat dish whilst watching tango dancers strut their stuff around our table.

I met John on my third day in Buenos Aires and it was great to see him, although he had brought the English weather with him as we had torrential downpours for the rest of that day, leaving us little else to do except enjoy an enormous steak lunch and hang around the hostel playing pool. Speaking of hostels, I had managed to reserve a few nights at a slightly better place, Lime House Hostel, which was located on the central road running through Buenos Aires. The hostel was a lot nicer but it was still a pretty shabby building with a cramped cold 4-bed dorm. John and I were put in separate rooms for the first night and but we both had very different night’s sleep. John woke to find his top bunk shaking as the resident barman on the lower bunk practised some horizontal jogging, whilst I was kept awake till 4am by the thumping music from the hostel bar.

The weather was slightly better the following day, which allowed us to explore the sights of the city including the Palacio del Congreso, the Plaza del Mayo, the Cathedral, Florida Street with its market stools, Plaza San Martin and finally the Cemetary of the Recoleta. We also managed to fit in a visit to a military museum that had literally thousands of guns and a few objects from the Falklands War. The Cemetary of the Recoleta is one of the premier sights of Buenos Aires with its streets and alleys separating family mausoleums built in every imaginable architectural style. Among the famous names from Argentinian history is Evita Peron, which we found after a little searching. In the evening, we watched Uruguay play Peru in the semi-finals and sail through to the final with a predictable 2 -0 win. Buenos Aires is famous for its lively nightlife, so after watching the football in an Irish Bar we headed out to sample some of the sumptuous sounds of the city. We ended having an excellent night in a drum & base club till the very early hours, but it ended on a slightly sour note as my jacket was stolen by some faceless scoundrel. 

Buenos Aires has a number of professional football teams, the most famous being the Boca Juniors who have produced some worlds famous players over the years including Diego Maradona, Sebastian Veron & more recently Tevez. We caught a short taxi ride down to the stadium, which is located in the slightly rougher but very colourful area of the city and wandered around the excellent museum. We also took an excellent tour, taking us around the whole stadium and down into the changing rooms. They also let us scale the 15ft high mesh fence that surrounds the pitch and keeps the rabid Boca fans at bay. It was dark by the time we had exited the stadium giving the friendly streets from earlier a much more intimidating feel. The alarming fact was that there was not a cab in sight and walking out of the Boca area was far too dangerous at that time. We ended up pacing around the stadium for 15 minutes before we finally spotted a cab to take us back to the safe streets around the centre.

As it was our final evening in Buenos Aires, we thought we’d treat ourselves to a three-course dinner and a tango show. We’d booked the evening with our hostel and were whisked away shortly after arriving back from the Boca stadium to a small tango venue across town. After being seated and given a glass of red wine, a group of us were taken to a dance studio and given an hour long tango lesson before the dinner. Most of us were quite nervous beforehand but the steps weren’t particularly complicated and we were soon picking dance partners and practising the moves. As it happened there were twice as many females as males, meaning that the males got to dance with several different partners throughout the lesson. After the superb tango lesson, we were served a delicious three-course meal including a huge steak and as much wine as you wanted whilst watching the tango show on stage to end an excellent day.

On our final day our bus to Puerto Iguazu was booked for 7pm, so we checked-out of the hostel and headed over to the zoo. The zoo was packed full of interesting animals such as the giant tortoise and the polar bear, but surprisingly the highlight were the otters, which roamed freely around the pathways. Buenos Aires is a fantastic city to visit and is vastly different to any other South American capital that I have visited so far. The city has so much to offer from its beautiful architecture and its grassy plaza’s combined with delicious food, wonderful wine and a pulsating nightlife, definitely worth the visit.  

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  1. I knew you’d love Bs As! You got to see it in much more detail than me, despite me having been there a week!

    I found La Boca intimidating during the day so screw going out at night there. Unlucky about the jacket, hope it wasn’t a really nice one.

    Glad you liked the awesome zoo with the free-roaming animals. Will you be in Arg or Brazil for the Copa America final? You might be able to race down to Montevideo 😉

    take care

    • Hi matey, yeah you need a bit of cash to throw around to really enjoy BA. The Boca area was a pretty scary place to be after dark. We thought we would have to trudge through that patch of wasteland that the locals use for a pitch to get back, but luckily a cab pulled up in time. Will be in Brazil by tomorrow morning so should catch the game there just before catching a 22 hr bus to Rio.

      p.s just reached 3000 hits!

  2. Ben

    Glad you are had a good time in BA. I can’t think why you don’t get on with people from Israel. With your beak I would have thought that you were one of their own. Thats probably racist and wrong and I will probably get a visit from Mossad.

    Keep safe.

    Love Dad

    • Hi Dad, could you keep your grumpy old man racist remarks to yourself please and we all know where I got my beak from! Call you soon. xx

      • Love these comments!!!!

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