Tango, steak and wine in the gorgeous Buenos Aires

Trip Start Nov 29, 2008
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Trip End May 08, 2009


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Flag of Argentina  , Capital Federal District,
Friday, April 24, 2009

We had an overnight bus ride from Salta to BA - 22 hours seems like nothing nowadays, especially on the fancy buses and nice paved roads of Argentina.  It feels a world away from the "roads" and raining buses of Bolivia.

Buenos Aires is like no other city in South America. It feels really European but in an Argentinian way, if that makes sense!  It's extremely welcoming and feels very alive.  It's got lots of districts which are all very different and nice to explore and conveniently linked by a subway and plenty of buses, although the buses only accept change which is in short supply as the silly Argentinians made coins which are worth more melted down than their actual value  We refuse to give coins to anyone but still have only saved enough for one bus journey.  The subway is brilliant and costs only 25p per journey.
One day we went to La Boca, the poorest area in BA but one famous for its brightly coloured houses, artists, markets and street tango.  We enjoyed wandering the cobbled streets admiring the art and the buildings and then stopped for lunch at a restaurant with a free tango show.  Very sexy and impressive.

We have spent an awful lot of time in Palermo parks which are huge and have a rose garden, boating lake and roller blading circuit.  It's so nice to sit in the sunshine and people-watch.  We particularly enjoyed the singing, dancing roller blader who looked like he was acting out a play by himself, the opera singing old man on roller blades and the dog pulling along its owner on a skateboard.  We also had a shot at roller blading ourselves which was very fun.

As well as the parks, we've also sampled a few of the fancy bars in Palermo.  Everything happens so much later here - we had a bbq in our hostal one night and didn't start eating until about midnight and finished at about 1.45am...this seems to be quite normal and people also go out later too which we are trying to get used to.  The bbq in our hostal was really good and we probably ate half a cow between us.  We were so full but had to keep eating more as we were offered all the different cuts of the meat which were always better than the one before. 

Another afternoon we spent in Recoleta where we went to the cemetery there.  This might sound strange and to be honest we weren't quite sure why we were doing it but it was amazing and we could see why it was famous.  It is basically a village of the dead.  The rich and famous people of Buenos Aires are buried there in ornate tombs and together they form a city with streets and plazas separating the mausoleums.  We saw the tomb of Eva Peron who is buried there after her body was stolen for a while.  We were surprised to see that her tomb was still covered in roses.  In Recoleta we also went to the Museo de Bellas Artes where we saw lots of nice paintings and went to a park where we saw a giant sculpture of a flower that closes its petals at night like a real flower.  Recoleta is a very rich area full of street bars and nice shops.

One of our favourite places in BA was the oldest cafe in Argentina, Cafe Tortoni. In the past it was a hub for writers and artists, and now it is one of the best places for afternoon tea and evening tango shows. We had the pleasure of experiencing both of these things. The Argentinian way is to eat dinner in the middle of the night, because of this they have a late afternoon snack. So we, of course, joined in with this way of life (any excuse to add in an extra meal) by going for the thickest, most chocolatey hot chocolate we have ever had. It was so thick that Hev claimed "it must be illegal in most countries". It felt like such a treat as it was so pretty and all the waiters were dressed so smartly and we even had to queue to get in! Our next visit to Cafe Tortoni was one of the highlights of our whole trip. We went to an incredible (and surprisingly affordable) tango show. We got dressed up and this time were taken to the basement where someone must have liked us because we had the best seats in the house - a table at the very front by the stage.  We had some more amazing Argentinian red wine and platter of meats and cheeses, but we completely forgot about the food when the show started.  It was a mixture of acting, singing and tango dancing accompanied by a fantastic live band.  We all got goosebumps at the start when the band began playing and the violinist was especially good and looked very emotional all the time.  The tango dancing was so professional - the dancers did some dances together and later the pairs took turns to do their own dances alone on stage.  There was also some traditional drummers and men who basically threw balls on the end of string around really really fast - it was very impressive.  We didn't want the show to end.  We hardly took any photos as we couldn't take our eyes off the show!  And also the photos really can't do justice to what was going on onstage - it was a great atmosphere and the whole production was very professional and, even though it was in fast Argentinian Spanish, we still managed to understand some of the funny parts of the show!

Another night we went to a drum show called Bomba de Tiempo.  This was in a massive courtyard with a huge staircase in the middle where about 15 drummers sat and played, with big screens at either side.  The courtyard was packed with people, about 500 people jumping and dancing around, enjoying the show.  You could also buy enormous glasses of beer.  The atmosphere was so good as everyone was having a great time.  The band played for a few hours (although we could have stayed a lot longer) and then we went out for a drink in Palermo for our last night in BA.  We had some drinks and then the waiter brought us some free champagne which carried on for a long time!  Earlier in the week we went for another night.  We started the night at Don Ernesto's in San Telmo, which had been recommended to us for its famous steaks.  We thoroughly enjoyed our meal - we had more Argentinian red wine, steak and even managed to fit in pudding...and some more free champagne!  After dinner we went to a bar and then to Devenir Brasil, a little club with live Brasilian music and lots of samba dancing.  We had a great night listening to the band and trying to samba, and understand Portuguese (not so similar to Spanish as we had hoped!).  We feel we had a good taste of BA nightlife as we finally got to bed at 6.30am!  Good times.  Go Jev!
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Where I stayed
Hostal Pangea

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