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ARGENTINA | Wednesday, 28 January 2009 | Views [547]

Tango Finale

Tango Finale

Steven and I have been looking forward to visiting Buenos Aires ever since planning our trip back in London. We planned to spend 10 days in BA, 3 nights at a hostel and a week in an apartment. Steven and I arrived in BA on the 25th and check into a hostel www.artfactoryba.com.ar San Telmo. San Telmo is the oldest district in BA and is full of colonial type buildings. You can see lots of different influences of different European countries in the BA architecture, mostly Spanish, Italian, French and German. In anticipation of Jamie and Craig’s arrival in a few days time we held off going to any of the major tourist attractions and instead scouted the city for the best places to visit.

Armed with the headonists guide to BA and the WGSN guide we were well equipped to find all the best galleries, markets, parks and more importantly restaurants and bars. Before we arrived in BA Steven had found a web site where you could hire an apartment in the city for just a week. We arranged to rent an apartment in the district of Palermo, which is the cool area of the city, full of trendy cafes, restaurants and boutiques. Being in this very urban trendy area I understandably had a wardrobe crisis, having worn the same cloths for the last 3 months I now disliked everything in my ruck sack, something had to be done before the boys arrival. We had a budget meeting and we decided for fashions sake that we should be allowed 100gbp each to refresh our wardrobes. I embarked on a fantastic shopping spree and bought 3 dresses and 1 pair of gold strappy high heals all for just under 100gpb. In order to accommodate the new purchases in our rucksacks another team meeting was called – a vote took place and the mosquito net value was placed below that of the gold strappy sandals for our still to come trips to NZ, Aus, lots of SE Asia and India – I am not so sure Steven agreed, but hey thats democracy for you when there are only 2 voters.

Jamie and Craig arrived on the Saturday, the weather was perfect, a sunny 32C. We welcomed them to the apartment with lunch, cool beers and a bottle of wine on our balcony. In the evening we went to the best parilla in BA (La Cabrera on Cabrera in Palermo Soho) according to all the guide books. We all gorged on steak and wine. Unfortunately the jet lag got the better of Criag and the heavy eyelids started to come down at about 11pm, in retrospect starting in the beers at midday after a 14hour over night flight was bound to take it´s toll at some point. The wine and meat were delicious though, a great introduction to the gastronomy that Argentina has to offer.

All mornings were spent on our sunny balcony having breakfast, planning our days ahead, a lovely way to start each day. Sunday is very quiet in the city as this is mainly a catholic country all the shops close. We had lunch in the park at their version of a burger van, except for about 1.50p you get a slab of meat, we chose pork which was lovely and juicy and you got to fill your 12 inch sandwhich with all different types of salads and sauces, delicious. Sunday is market day in San Telmo. It is famous for lots of antique shops, markets stalls and street entertainment, including Tango dancing and traditional music. It was a great place to wander around and watch the world go by and do a little window shopping which we did for most of the afternoon.

We visited the main square where the pink palace is, it´s Pink because one political partys´ colour was red and the other was white, so they joined forces and decided to paint it pink. We caught the “Subte” (sub-terrainian) underground back to our apartment. (Only 40 pence each for any journey). We had wanted to see a football match but unfortunately we chose the month in the football calender where there are no games. We did the next best thing though and visited la Boca stadium. This is where Maradonna played and the fans are known for being wild. La Boca is in the less salubrious area of BA. It is full of colourful buildings, maradonna look-a-likes and tango shows. A bit too touristy for us though as you just get hasselled all the time by touts.

We visited the graveyard in Recoletta (posh end of town). It was jammed packed full of ornate family mausoleums of the important people of Argentina including Eva Peron who of course is the heroine of Argentina. We went to some fantastic restaurants with Jamie and Craig. We tried to fit in as many of top 10 restaurants and bars as we could in the few days we had. Highlights were La Cabrera, the traditional parilla restaurant, Sudestada an Asian fusion place, Desde de Alma and Sucre both of which are modern Argentinian and the ultimate in haute cusine the burger van. We tried to sample as much Argentinian wine and as many different cuts of a cow we could... and with dinner for 4 rarely costing over 60GPB for all of us including wine it was our main past time. Our strength did turn out to be our weakness though and peaking too early was unfortunately our down fall, as most Argentinians don´t go out clubbing till 3am we didn´t manage to make it till dancing time, although we did try and make up for it in the apartment after a night out.

Buenos Aries is a fantasic city. It has many different faces, although I think we were spoiled and mostly saw the best areas there seems to be very little poverty, although we noticed some the after effects of their economic crisis which happened about 10 years ago, such as not being able to withdraw more than 60gpb a day max and people queing to pay bills as they don´t have bank accounts. After the banks withholding their life savings during the their economic crisis - I don´t blame them. There are some beautiful parks, one of which we enjoyed a picnic by the rose garden and a cycle around in a 4 person cyclo. Just for the record Jamie and I were definitly faster peddalers than Steven and Craig.

No trip to Buenos Aries is complete however without a quick boat ride over to Uraguay - any excuse to get another stamp in the passport. The boat landed in Colonia del Sacremento, which is the historic center, an UNESCO site and all round tourist destination for the BA day tripper. We decided to have a night there. Unfortunately the weather turned on the first day so we sought shelter in the yacht club, it was rather like being back in the UK by the sea, all we needed now was a wind break and a flask of tea. We decided the only thing for it was to drink more wine and play cards. We found a well placed restaurant with a roof terrace – as the clouds broke and the sun came out we were treated to the most amazing sunset direclty behing BA – all their tall buildings coming out as a matchstick city in the distance (30km away). I was the undisputed champion at cards by the end of the night which pleased me greatly and frustrated the boys. The following day was sunnier and we climbed the lighthouse which was within the old walls of the town. We did have a great find for lunch, we stumbled upon a sunny garden which had a lawn leading down to the sea. We chilled out on their lazy chairs and drank orange juice, shock horror – no alcohol.

We boarded the boat back to BA in the afternoon and with a few hours to kill we mnaged to squeeze in a trip to the decorative arts muesum and a beer on the roof garden of the Marriot. At 8pm we boarded the Cata bus to Mendoza. Steven and I wanted to show the boys the beauty of over night bus travel, so we booked the most super duper bus we could. It was the Royal Suite Max (Cata Internacional) bus! We each had our own personal TV with head phones, a hot meal, complementory champagne, wine or whisky with dinner and the ultimate in luxury bus travel – a fully reclinable chair. It was like (I imagin) flying British Airways 1st class.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXgs2FBgnW0 Mendoza here we come....

Tags: buenos aires, uruguay

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