Arriving in Buenos Aires felt like the end of my trip, even though I had 11 days left. I think because I was flying out of BA to my next chapter and also because it was where I’d say goodbye to travelling with Tali and Caryn. We worked out we’ve seen the Caribbean Sea together at the top of Colombia, the Pacific in Valparaiso and then the Atlantic in BA. I love things like that. We had met in a triangle
Anyways I digress – arriving at BA I could have got two buses to our air bnb ( which Caryn kindly researched for me) but the taxi was only 45 mins, not nearly 2 hours, and only 200 pesos (£7.50) so I went with that. As most people who have met me on my travels for the last 4 months will tell you, my Spanish is pretty dyer – I can understand quite a bit but I cannot respond. However my most successful Spanish ‘ conversation’ of my entire trip was probably with my taxi driver on that journey. Eduardo, who was lovely. From BA and nervous that my air bnb wasn’t in a pretty part of town and I’d get the wrong impression. I reassured him that my amigos were already there and that they loved it or something similar in broken Spanish. We even had a chat about architecture ha
The air bnb was super cheap and perfect for the three of us. Pomi owned the house, had a section of it, then us in one other room and a Venezuelan couple in the other. The house was really old, a little rustic to say the least but at £38 for 5 nights, none of us cared and it was a perfect home for our BA adventure. The first night we sat up until 2am catching up on each other’s adventures we’d had for the last 3 weeks since we’d seen each other, over a bottle of rum. Needless to say we didn’t move very fast the next day!
The next afternoon we went to research the ferry’s to Uruguay. There are three to choose from, all take about 1 hr 15 mins but they differ quite a lot in price so check before you buy. Also Colonia express which we chose doesn’t go from the main ferry dock so make sure you turn up at the right place. Its also a lot cheaper to get a ferry too and from Colonia and then just get the bus to Montevideo than getting a ferry straight to Montevideo. £25 compared to £80.
After we’d investigated ferries we explored BA. It’s huge, and you need time. As cities go it’s really cool and very cosmopolitan- it’s got some lovely little areas if you know where to look. The guy who owned our apartment was pretty good on where we should go when, all in Spanish of course so luckily Caryn and Tali were there to save the day. If it were just me I’d have been just staring opened mouth staying No entiendo, lo siento ( my standard phrase for 4 months!)
We walked down the main strip to see the memorial and big hedge BA sign, as well as Eva Peron on the side of one of the towers. It’s super easy to get around BA on buses, and most of them go from the main strip so you can’t get lost. Just buy a SUBE card from any of the small new agency type things, top them up and each journey is about $6 pesos which is nothing! Or if you have been in Bariloche use the same one from there.
That afternoon we did the walking tour – we like a good walking tour and really they are the best way to get to know a city quickly. Even if I am a little walking toured out by now.
It takes you to all the main sites in the city centre and they have many others throughout the city. The lady is really good at filling you in on the history and reasoning behind the architecture, even if the group was a tad on the big size this time around. At the end of the walking tour, which ends at the pink palace on Plaza del Mayo there was a protest. All in all, in 8 days in BA we must have seen a dozen protests. They seem calm and pretty peaceful and all seem to be about different things. A lot of the people protesting are women – fighting for their rights, it’s empowering to see. The main roads are closed in and out of the Plaza so we sat in a nearby coffee shop and watched as the protest unfolded.
On the Saturday we had every intention of doing the Japanese gardens, botanical gardens and various other scenic parts of BA – unfortunately we only got as far as doing the botanical gardens because we came across a sign saying #foodfest and naturally we got waylaid. So waylaid we had lunch from one of the food trucks ( all situated in what looked like a dressage arena), a couple of glasses of vino and lots of sidra ( not to be confused with cider as it’s super sweet, very fizzy and never s en an apple but perfect for a very hot southern hemisphere summer day) all day and didn’t end up getting home until later than night.
So our cultural day got put on hold, after all we had time and we’d had a perfect locals day out. We had planned to go out to a tango bar that night too but instead we went home and cooked our own steak. Yum!
Day drinking is great as you don’t get the hangover! Sunday morning and it was time for markets!!!!!!! Pomi had suggested we go to La Boca before going to the Sunday antiques market in Recoleta and I’m so glad he did. So colourful and vibrant. Tango dancing everywhere, people eating relaxing and nattering away with such an easiness. I loved it. Right in the heart of BA, and just three little streets. Obviously it’s designed for the tourists but if you look past it, you’ll love it. Also the fantastic bicycle sculpture which is really cool.
Next stop Recoleta antique market. Thank god I was away and couldn’t fit anything in my bag otherwise I’d have bought the whole place. So many nicknacks and beautiful old paintings/jars/silverware – I could have bought the lot but I was very controlled. There was such an amazing atmosphere and the stalls went on for about 8 blocks, right back to the Plaza del mayo. Little courtyards with tango dancers and music, bustling with everyone enjoying the sunshine. I was beginning to really love this city. Sadly when I took some friends back a week later it was raining, half of it was shut and there was no tango, not quite the same as the first time and I felt sad for them that they didn’t experience it in its glory.
We’d walked miles already but decided it was too early to go home so we walked down to the Marina and the nature reserve. The marina at dusk was really lovely, so many people around enjoying the sunshine and happiness sorta exuded from people (maybe that sounds kinda corny but looking back that’s how I remember it).
The reserve was shutting at 7 so we quickly walked around the area and sat and looked out onto the Atlantic. The first time in 4 months I’d seen the Atlantic! We sat, watched the waves role in and people throwing rocks into the ocean before we got shepherded towards the exit by the park warden. It’s so quiet down there and it’s amazing how you can be so close to the city centre (15 mins walk) and yet be so quiet and peaceful. We decided to walk back up to get the bus and head home. We were all knackered after a lot of walking. Turns out in 4 days we walked about 50km. Not bad and definitely the best way to explore a city.
Our last day in BA and we made it to the Japanese gardens, after going to the infamous Recoleta cemetery. The cemetery was kinda bizarre, firstly all the coffins are on display in the crypts/statues/sculptures – not entirely sure what to call them. Some of them are really well looked after and others look like they haven’t been touched for centuries. We found Eva Peron’s grave (it’s where all the tourists are) and various other famous Argentina names. You don’t get a spot there if you aren’t somebody and some of the graves are so ornate. One guy who’d been the janitor there for years (i think) was given a spot there for this services, he spent years designing his own plot from what he did and didn’t like from all the others he’d seen built over the years, which to me seems weird but I believe he’s the only ‘normal’ person in there, which is kinda cool for him.
After eating our picnic in the park in front of the cemetery we caught a bus up to the Japanese gardens and hung out there for the afternoon. It’s really peaceful and pretty. I’d recommend and only $90 to get in – about £4. They have huge coy carp! I took loads of photos for my friends back home who have some. I think I was the only nutter trying to get pics of the fish haha
Then it was time for steak! Haha we walked down to the Palermo area as we had time to kill and we thought we needed to walk more before eating giant steak haha. It’s a really cool, cute area and in a way reminded me very much of bits of london. We arrived completely by chance at just after 6, and a queue of people was beginning to form. The restaurant, La Cabrera was recommended to us by a guy from the states we’d met in Colombia. He said the steak was so good it made him cry and now I know why! Wow, just wow. It was so so good. If you queue and get in from 6.30 until 8 it’s 40% off meat and alcohol which is amazing – especially on a backpacker budget. We were umming and arguing about going in as it was still quite a bit of money but it was worth every penny. I’d definitely recommend it. If you read the reviews online they are a mixed bag and some say it’s just a tourist restaurant now and it used to be amazing. To me, it was the best steak I ever ate so, god knows how it used to be!!!
Fantastic end to BA with the girls, next stop Uruguay ( I did come back to BA to catch my flight to NZ but I’ll write about that in my next blog) Ciao
P. S My penultimate blog off Latin America eeek