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Travel Adventure - Backpacking Latin America's Gringo Trail Backpacking Latin America starting in Cuba, then travelling from East to the west coast of Mexico before making our through Central and finishing in South America.

Tango in the colourful streets of Buenos Aires

ARGENTINA | Friday, 11 September 2015 | Views [449]

The worst part about arriving in a new city or place is figuring out where the hell you are and how to get to your hostel. It always calls for a little tension between Matt and I, trying to figure out directions and maps, trying to speak Spanish to locals and carrying around massive bags of all our possessions on our backs! Until we get to our hostel, then we can drop our bags and be happy and excited for being in a new place again! Buenos Aires is a very large city and after our longest bus ride yet - 20hours, we had to catch the subway to our hostel. We booked through Milhouse hostel (the same one we stayed at in Cusco) as they organise soccer tickets to some of the games and we thought it might be fun to go. When we checked it the girl at reception was really chatty and friendly (it gave a good first impression of Argentinian people and we soon came to find out that all of them seemed really nice and helpful), she chatted to us for about half an hour until our check in time at 2pm about Argentina, the hostel, what's good to do, what tours they run and asking questions about us, our trip and Australia (everyone thinks all Aussies are laid back tanned surfers with kangaroos in our back yard and the weather is eternally sunny!) we found out then how much tickets were to the game which was on Sunday - approx $170 each on our good exchange and over $300 each on the normal exchange. We only exchange $600US so we didn't really that much money on the good rate and if we were to buy with cash that would be all it spent. It's all kind of relevant in the end and we ummed and arrred for the next couple of days as this would be our only chance to see a South American soccer game and is apparently supposed to be a good match between two local teams in a well known stadium - Bocas Juniors. It would be sold out and the atmosphere would be crazy! We decided it was too expensive and we might catch a cheaper game in Rio with Loz and Marcio in the World Cup stadium!
We met Tim (the NZ guy we were hanging out with in Milhouse, Cusco) at our hostel coz we bumped in to him in Salta and figured out we were both going to Buenos Aires next and wanting to see a soccer game and that Milhouse was organising tickets. He ended purchasing a ticket and going to the game! Anyway it was afternoon and we hadn't eaten since breakfast this morning on the bus so we decided to get some food with Tim. Buenos Aires is apparently know for pizza! Which was a bit weird but decided to try a pizza place the restaurant owner from Salta and the guy at reception recommended. I loved the feel of Buenos Aires and the vibe walking the streets. The city streets were very European. It had been described as resembling Paris, which I could very much see and I also thought it had a bit of a New York vibe too. Lots of grand historic buildings also still made up the facade of the city aesthetics. It was completely different to every other city we'd been to in Central and South America. More westernised and the people seemed less traditional, a bit more Spanish looking and young and trendy. The street we were walking down to the pizza reminded me a little of around Times Square, NY on a way less hectic scale. It was a busy street with theatres, advertisements for Tango shows and live performances and cheap and cheerful restaurants and pizzerias. We found the one we were recommended and it was quite busy with lots of locals. They were all standing eating their pizzas, kind of like the coffee shops of Italy! We were ushered to the back by a waiter where we could find a seat. The pizza servings were also New York style where you just order one big slice for really cheap. The guy at reception said the onion pizzas were really good, which sounded pretty grose but I decided to try and a Napolitana pizza. The onion one had nothing going for it, not sure why the guy liked it but all the rest we ordered were pretty good! We got back to our hostel and had a couple of drinks with the two for one hostel deals and our name down for the Argentinian BBQ/party they were having at the other Milhouse hostel down the road. When we got there there were a few people there but we thought it would be an outdoor thing with a BBQ happening and you would help yourself to sides, breads and salads etc. instead it was in the communal area/foyer of the hostel and you handed your ticket stub to the kitchen who cooked you up a plate and called your name when it was ready. We had a drink while we waited and the food they served was pretty good! Matt and Tim had three different types of meat - chorizo, sausage and steak I think on a plate with chips, salads and sides and mine was replaced with BBQed eggplant, zucchini and tomato etc. I don't what's happened to me lately, it must be my old age (I can't really blame it on altitude anymore) but I had two drinks and again I was feeling soo drunk! I could barely keep my eyes open and I even got the hiccups! Maybe it's the spirits and I think the hostels aren't stingey on the alcohol but still I usually can handle a lot more than that, I thought! Haha
The next day we had our free breakfast in the morning, which was even better than the one in Cusco! 4 different cereals, 4 different fruits, banana cake, scrambled eggs, tea, coffee, bread with jam and/ or dulce de leche! A caramel sauce which I love and have been getting it wherever I can. I think it's usually served with sweet dessert but sure, I'll have it for breakfast! There were lots of city walking tours on offer, which probably would be good but they all seemed really expensive. So set off with Tim to do a DIY with the guidance of the walk that the guy in Salta recommended. It led us down the Parisian like streets, through a wealthy area to a nice plaza with market stalls set up. It was a beautiful sunny day and there were people sitting on the grass in the sun. We bought some street/market food (mine was like a pizza pocket bun with cheese, tomato and basil and Matt had a pork bun) and I bought a cute present from these markets. There was a nice white church and next to it a famous cemetery where Evita (Don't cry for me Argentina) is buried. This cemetery is like nothing I've ever seen before. It is like a neighbourhood of the dead with these huge shrine tombstones and the coffins are laid within the doors. You can walk in to them and some have stairs going under ground and an alter is at the top. They are very grand with sculptures of angels and some have statues of the dead person. The very rich would be buried here and some have built these beautiful grave/tombstones for their whole family to be buried in. Some are ridiculously big and so much money spent on them it's quite baffling. We saw where Evita was buried, which was one of the smaller ones and had flowers on it and lots of people taking photos. After doing something a little sad we thought we'd do something to cheer us up since we were still living and get some ice cream! We went to a place called Freddo which must of been a chain coz it had lots of other places in Buenos Aires too. I ordered a cup with dulce de leche with brownie, coconut dulce de leche and Freddo special chocolate. Oh my god! The best ice cream I have ever eaten! It was delicious and definitely cheered us up! We continued walking through the lively streets of Buenos Aires. We went past a youth band playing on the steps in front of a University and a metal sculpture of a flower whose petals opened and closed during the day with a water hydraulic system. We then arrived at the Japanese gardens. The guy from Salta recommended going there so we walked around the ponds and bonsais. It was nice coz I had never walked through a Japanese gardens before but Matt said he'd been to the one in Sydney which is really good and this one was quite close to the road and very busy with tourists so was not that peaceful. We were getting pretty tired from walking all day and my feet were starting to kill me we walked to an area where the streets got very trendy and reminded me of a Surry Hills/Potts Point kind of area. It was really cool and had some really good shops, cafes/restaurants and even a hip little market set up in one section of the road. We walked around trying to find a place for an early dinner, it was around 5:30/6pm. And maybe start off with a cheese platter and bottle of wine. Not everywhere did cheese platters but we soon found a place that did. It was a trendy little place with a authentic, wholesome feel to it. We ordered a bottle of white and a cheese platter. There was about 8 different cheeses on it and an olive tapenade and a tomato/onion dip and the cheeses had been baked so we're half melting on a hot plate. We weren't expecting that but thought we'd give it s try and it was actually really good. I don't usually like blue cheese but it was actually my favourite out of the selection. The wine was good too! We went for mid range, which was still really cheap. We then had mains, the boys both ordered steak - as you do in Argentina and I had a cannelloni with cheese, tomato and basil. It was really good but I felt very cheesed out afterwards. We then got the subway back to our hostel. 
The next day we were doing another DIY walking tour to another part of the city. This was a famous part known for its colourful buildings and tango on the street. Although we left earlyish (the whole city doesn't seem to wake up until 10am which is weird for a busy city) and to get to that part of town you have to go through a dodgy kind of area which is known for lots of muggings. We couldn't work out where to buy a bus ticket from. The one we were told to go to was shut and the subway seemed a lot easier so we caught the subway half way there and then walked through the dodge area. It seemed a bit more run down but it was ok for us. The soccer match was on tonight so there were banners hanging up in the streets and people walking around with the blue and yellow jerseys on, cheering and cooking BBQs in the street. There were even houses painted in blue and yellow! The streets with the colourful buildings were not far off and really cool and the cafes were open and a couple of market type places selling souvenirs etc. It was a bit of a touristy area though. We thought we would see couples dancing tango in the street but they were just dressed up trying to get a photo opportunity with the tourists to pay them money. People were also selling artwork etc aswell. We then continued along and found ourselves in I think the biggest antiques market in the world! It was one long street, like they shut of the length of George Street in Sydney and had all these antique and handicraft stores set up. It was pretty cool. I even got lost from the boys for about 5 or 10 minutes coz of the crowd but knew they wouldn't walk past an Argentinian BBQ on the side of the road so was reunited with them there. There were about 3 BBQs sizzling and an Argentinian band playing music. Matt and Tim were quite satisfied after their Argentinian sausage sandwich.  I had a dulce de leche crepe, which was already pre made so wasn't the best but then found another crepe stand and had a fresh savoury crepe which was delicious. The crepe guy was trying to chat to us about Australia etc too but we could converse much back with our lack of Spanish which is a bit of a shame really. The antique market street led right back to Plaza de Mayo (has the government buildings and bank etc and some huge, grand old buildings which were quite impressive) which connects right on to our hostel street. Tim had to get ready for the soccer match which he was leaving for at 3pm and Matt and I were so tired from walking everywhere in the last two days, we had an afternoon sleep before we had a dinner and Tango show that night and were being picked up at 6:45
I decided to get a little bit dressed up for the tango show. Not that I had much dressy clothes or heels. Black jeans, that I've worn for like the 10th day without being washed and pretty sure had a few scuffy White marks, a black lace top, sandals which I wore once in Cuba and I put on makeup, which I've only done twice before on this whole trip! It felt a bit strange and I've actually got used to not wearing it and feeling better and more fresh without it rather than rubbing shit all over my face. But it is nice to put it on occasionally for dressy occasions. I wanted to put a bit of red lippy on aswell to get in to the tango feel, which I'm pretty sure I packed but couldn't find it. All the part of travelling in a back pack! Make do with what you got! We were picked up in a bus and a lot of the girls were wearing dresses, heels and red lippy! It will be nice when I'm home to be able to dress up again, especially since I have Andrea's wedding the weekend after I get home. The girls are actually all talking about getting their hair and Makeup done professionally for it but I definitely won't have money in the bank account to get all that done when I'm back. A bit of a shame coz it would have been fun to do together.
We arrived and it was in a nice building but a little bit of we are not sure what's going on. Some of the group were led in to a room and we were shown to the stage area where they have tables set up around for dinner. We were put on a really long table and probably the worst table in the place, underneath where the orchestra played on a mezzanine above. We decided to get the two seats at the very end, closest to the stage which was ok. It wasn't a huge room. About half the room was filled and they bought out a bottle of red and white for Matt and I (it was an open bar so we could have as much as we wanted). We assumed the rest of the room was doing their tango lesson but we weren't sure when we would be doing ours of when the show would start. A guy sat down on our table. He was a chemical engineer from South Korea on a business trip. He was actually really sweet and nice (as most Asians tend to be). We ordered our 3 course dinner which was included in the ticket price along with the all you can drink wine and beer and the lesson and show ($50AUS each). I had a caprese salad and Matt had a small meat pie thing - they were both average but both our mains were really good. Matt had steak with veggies and I had a yum pumpkin ravioli in a creme and mushroom sauce. After we ate our mains it was our turn to do the lesson. I think Matt was a bit nervous but he actually did really well. It was a very basic class, only learning 8 steps but the teacher was pretty funny and made for a bit of fun with the large group. He would split the girls and guys up on either side of the room, then teach one side 4 steps, then the other side 4 steps. Then we would partner up and do it to together. We did pretty well considering Matt does not like to dance at all. Then he taught us the next 4 steps, then partnered up again. It was fun. We then could go back to our seats to enjoy the show and drink more wine and eat our dessert. Matt got poached pears and I got a traditional homemade flan with dulce de leche (of course) and creme. Haha that so funny.. I'm starting to spell words wrong coz I've seen them in Spanish so much. I mean cream! An Australian lady from Brisbane had also joined our table, so we were chatting to her too. She was also very lovely and had started her trip of South America with her daughter and doing the rest of it by herself. Good on her! The lights went off and then the show started. It went for a longer than I expected which was good coz it meant we got our money's worth and was a really good performance with 6 dancers and all the costume changes and lights and theatrics to go with it. There was an live orchestra and singer aswell! They even got some of the audience involved too. It probably went for about an hour. It was really good and makes me wish I could dance like that! The bus the. Took us back to our hostel, we got home about 12pm. It was a very entertaining and fun night and what better place to learn and watch the art of Tango! 
This morning we had hostel brekky, then packed and checked out. We left our bags in the storage room then had bit of a walk outside. I think it had been raining outside and the temperature had dropped a lot since the last two days. It was quite cold outside and neither of us had jackets on but we were t walking far coz we had to be back at 1:30 for our overnight bus. We walked to a newish part of BA we hadn't been to yet. It was the port and all the old docks had been turned in to new restaurants etc. it kind of looked like Pyrmont in Sydney although there were not many people about. There was a new famous bridge built in 2001 which was kind of cool. White and simplistic and had one pint up which kind of looked like a sail. We then saw an old navy ship docked to the side of the port. It had been turned in to a museum so we paid the $1 to go on and have a look. It was pretty cool, being able to walk on deck and underneath it. There were guns and bullets, captains and sailors uniforms, maps and photos of the voyages the captains did etc. 
Afterwards we had a quick lunch at the hostel before getting our bags and heading to the bus station to get on our overnight bus to go to Iguazu Falls! It was another full cama sleeper bus with food and drink service etc.
 

Tags: boca, cemetery, evita, japanese gardens, markets, meat, soccer, stadium, tango, wine

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