16.01.2008 - 21.01.2008 28 °C
The flight over to Buenos Aires was most enjoyable, thanks to the fact that we had control over our own TV screens. E-J was in her element watching the musical "Hairspray", while Sam loved the fact that he was beating the computer at chess.
When we arrived in Buenos Aires, the first shock was remembering to thank with “gracias” rather than the Portuguese “obrigado”.
We did the usual, of checking into a hostel and then explored the area we were staying in.
The next day, after dealing with the admin of changing hostels, we hit the shops on Calle Florida. This is where all the main high street shops are found, along with a number of shops selling leather goods. A couple of hours later and we had purchased some jeans, a Christian Dior suit, a leather handbag and some other essentials for a backpacker!
We then walked around the centre of the city, taking in all the main sights, such as the Casa Rosada (where Eva Peron said her famous speeches), some churches and other magnificently structured buildings. The place had a very European feel to it. We walked over to Puerto Madero, which is a more modern area, where you can find skyscrapers and modern architecture and we walked along the riverbank to find a bar.
We ended our evening, by heading back into the centre and to a restaurant called Cafe Tortoni, which is well known for its Tango shows. This was now 11pm and having not eaten we were starving. Without making a booking, we were incredibly lucky to be given a seat at the tango show and sat there enjoying the amazing show with a delicious bottle of Malbec.
The show was in an incredibly small and intimate room, so that we got to see the tango dancers up close and personal, taking in the detail of their impressive moves. The performances were amazing and by the end of it we felt as exhausted as they must have been!
The next day was our day of sharing requests, so in the morning we went to the Evita museum for E-J (which Sam actually found very interesting) and in the afternoon we headed to La Boca, where we had a tour around the grounds of Boca Juniors FC, Diego Maradona's first football team.
The stadium itself was actually pretty tiny, but it was fascinating to see all the seating area and how some of it still has a standing area, which must enhance the atmosphere so much during a game. Sadly, we were told that by next year the whole stadium would be seated.
We then walked around the inside of the stadium, to the conference room, where Sam enjoyed posing for a picture and then into the changing rooms, which turned out to be a bit of a dump! We found it most amusing that one of the most famous football teams in South America had a coffee machine in the changing room! Sam envisaged the manager, instructing the team at half time to have a double espresso to peak them up, if they were losing!
After the tour we then wandered around the Caminito district, which is where you can find all the coloured houses.
Disappointingly, we found this place to be terribly touristy and having been spoiled by the excellent tango show the night before, we found the street tango dancers very average.
That night, in need of an incredible steak we headed to a place in San Telmo, called El Desnivel, which had been recommended to us. From the outside it looked nothing special, though it was totally packed (which was a good sign). When we had our steaks, they were simply amazing. It was almost as though the meat melted as you cut into it. After this, and feeling incredibly full, we headed to a bar near by for a drink before calling it a night.
The next day, E-J for no reason was in an absolutely foul mood, so Sam, thinking what would be best, suggested some more shopping! A few hours later, with our wallets feeling a bit lighter we headed back to the hostel before going out for a few more drinks around town. At 11am we headed over to another hostel, where we had found out our friends, Ben and Veronica were staying. Having caught up over a few beers we headed to the restaurant of Ben and Veronika's recommendation. This turned out to be “El Desnivel!”.
After another hearty steak, washed down with a few drinks we headed to La Boca in the hope of finding a recommended Jazz club. Sadly, when we got there it was closed and by the time we were back in the centre we were all practically a sleep, so decided to call it a night.
Sunday was what E-J would like to call tour day, as she literally ticked each thing off her list as she went along. First, we walked from the centre into the district of Recoleta, which had the most beautiful architecture and is known as one of the expensive areas. When we reached the church, Nuestra Senora del Pilar (which is thought to be one of the most beautiful churches in Buenos Aires), we looked around it and then walked around the Sunday market called, La Feria de Recoleta, which was just outside. After wandering around the market and purchasing a few souvenirs we headed to the Recoleta Cemetery.
The cemetery itself was breathtaking, with all the amazing mausoleums, which were decorated in the most ornate and opulent designs and sculptures.
As we wandered through the walkways branching into smaller alleyways, it was as though we were in a city of chapels. What also added a little eeriness to the place was that it was literally swarming with cats. And, when we looked into the windows of the mausoleums we could see the tombs of the whole families buried together.
We first followed the crowds to the mausoleum of the Duarte family, where Evita Peron was finally buried. There were lots of people posing for pictures next to it, but we finally got to see it and overheard that Evita is buried 6 feet under the rest of the tombs and cemented in, so that no one is able to steal her body again. We found this to be quite sad, that although she now rests with her family there is still a divide of concrete between them. We continued to wander around the cemetery and appreciated the detailed structures and sculptures around the place. A couple of times we would turn a corner to find it completely deserted, without another sole in sight and this would send a shiver down E-J's spine, particularly when she came a across a mausoleum that had been broken into; as over dramatic as always, E-J let out a little yelp at this and ran in the opposite direction.
After we had wandered around the cemetery, we made our way to the Museo de Bella Artes and spent a couple of hours appreciating all the foreign artists, including Jackson Pollock, Cezanne, Picasso, Van Gough and Monet.
By the end of this we were both pretty warn out from all the extensive walking around. After E-J's final insistence of seeing the Evita monument in the Ruben Dario Square, we headed back to the hostel for a beer and a break.
Feeling refreshed and in need of ANOTHER sumptuous steak, we went in search of a restaurant called Cabaña Las Lilas, which had been recommended to us by several different people. This was in Puerto Madero, so we walked there (again) and had a drink by the dock, before having one of the most delicious steaks to date!
By the time we had finished, it was 11pm,so we headed over to our friends’ hostel again and proceeded to stay there drinking until 4am. As we finally dragged ourselves away, we walked back to our hostel, surprised to find the supposed party city, desolate, empty and asleep.
The next day was pretty much a right off, as we were exhausted so we spent most of the time dealing with the usual ordeals of admin. In the evening we decided that we would visit the Palermo district for some drinks and food. This place is also referred to as the Soho of Buenos Aires, full of trendy bars, restaurants and boutiques. After a drink and a pleasant meal, we headed over to our friends’ hostel to find they were still out, so resorted to a relatively early night.
When our final day arrived, we did a few chores in the morning and decided to cram in the last few things we hadn't yet done. First, we headed to the Torre de Los Ingleses as we had hoped to get a good panoramic picture of the city from the top, but sadly it was closed due to maintenance. We then headed back to Palermo, for E-J to hit the shops for one last chance to find some bargain deals. We managed to get dropped off in completely the wrong place by our taxi driver. After walking around, having had a few arguments in the middle of the streets about each other's abilities to map read, we resorted to catching another cab to the right place. We wandered around the boutiques full of beautiful clothes and E-J wished that we were here on holiday rather than as travellers...
Realising that our time in Buenos Aires was almost over, we raced back to the centre, had a quick bite to eat and with fifteen minutes until departure, raced to the bus terminal to catch our bus to Bariloche in the nick of time.
Sam's comments: A great city offering brilliant steak, good nightlife and plenty to do in the day. I do think that after a few pints I could pick up the Tango dancing very quickly!
E-J's comments: Buenos Aires is a lovely place and I love the architecture, the contrast of the old with the new, but I still felt there was something missing here. This may have been due to the contrast of the backpacker limitations compared to the previously indulgent time spent in Brazil with the Matias'. I absolutely loved the tango show and the place definitely has an air of sophistication about it.