Buenos Aires

Trip Start Jan 24, 2007
1
7
Trip End Mar 22, 2007


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Friday, January 26, 2007

Traveling for 26 hours by the time we arrived at our hostel in Buenos Aires. British Airways is very squashy and there was a massive man sitting beside me so not much room to manoeuvre to say the least ! Met a lovely German girl called Diana from the Black Forest on the plane and shared a taxi with her - absolutely crazy drivers over here.
Stumbled upon Plaza (pronounced Plasa, la zeta no existe aca) de Mayo and the weekly protest of Las Madres de las Desaparecidos. Went out for a drink and a meal with Diana in San Telmo that night.

Headed off in the rain to La Boca Friday morning. Diego Maradona is a God over here - he is everywhere, particularly in La Boca. Boca Juniors Stadium is totally run down, pitch is tiny and not in good condition but the place has real character and as a spectator you are so close to the players and the pitch. Our guide was excellent and I could totally imagine what it is like to go to a match there with the roaring fans and the infamous hooligans. Club has 70,000 members and capacity of stadium is only 58,000 so not all members are guaranteed tickets. For the River Boca games, members queue up to get tickets and often sell them on the black market for mucho dinero. Capacity reduced to 38,000 when club plays in international competitions due to FIFA regulations with regard to having no-one standing. National team never plays here as pitch & capacity are too small plus facilities especially for the visiting team leave a lot to be desired ! To avoid getting pelted with objects from the crowd, the visiting team have to train inside on a small concrete area! Obviously a bigger stadium is needed but they canīt extend it as it is too close to the houses of the neighbourhood and the fans donīt want to move to another location !   
Sun came out as we walked to the port and stopped in one of the many restaurants where there was a live tango show going on. Back for a siesta and then out for more food and drink - this is the life !
Went to a funky cafe-bar for wine and tapas in Retiro, the area where all the Irish bars are, called into one for a drink but didnīt stay too long.
 
Sat morning we headed to Palermo and visited the Botanical Gardens and Eva Peronīs museum, had a fabulous steak lunch al fresco. Really liked the museum, had lovely music playing in it, old footage of Eva and Juan on the balcony of the Casa Rosada, Evaīs funeral and it also had some outfits, shoes, jewelery, gloves and hats belonging to her. When they adore people here they really adore them and boy did they adore her !
Sat evening (after our siesta of course, itīs the jet lag I swear !) we took a walk down to Puerto Madero, which is the newly refurbished port area with some of the most expensive real estate in BsAs. Lots of sky scrapers around here, you could easily think you were in New York - Microsoft, IBM and Sun all have towers down here. Sheraton Hotel also down here - absolutely massive !
As advised by the lady in the tourist office, we made our way to the bus station to try and book our tickets, got completely lost and ended up going to three stations (one bus and two train stations which were not the ones we were looking for). Eventually got into a taxi and arrived there only to discover that we couldnīt book the tickets as neither of us had our passports with us !! We were starving and so decided to get a quick bite there and then - thee most rotten food I have ever tasted. Words of advice, only ever eat in bus stations here if you absolutely have to and the alternative is to starve to death !  

Sunday morning we walked around for a bit and went to Teatro Colon - second biggest theatre in the world after the Sydney Opera House. It is under refurbishment and was closed, not sure if it was due to refurbishment or because it was a Sunday but either way we didnīt get to go in, which is a shame as a few ppl had recommended it to me.
Then made our way out to Recoleto with the craziest taxi driver I have ever met, managed to convince him that we were from Colombia ! Walked around the hundreds of  craft stalls, bought a top (I know but it is lovely and cheap and I had already decided to ditch two items of clothing that I had brought with me). Ate in the Hard Rock (I know but I used to work there in Barcelona and have to say the food is good !). Went to the cemetery, walked around for ages trying to find Evitaīs grave -  eventually found it with some really emotional Argentines kissing the placard etc. Saw lots of Irish graves - Father Fahy, Don Juan Lopez Moran and the like. When I say graves I mean tombs - massive sepulchers with massive bronze sculptures and the like outside them. Sat in one of the cafes on the tree-lined avenue and had a few beers (Ciaran) and some tea (me).
Had arranged to meet Brian a Scottish guy that we had met in the hostel so we met up with him and strolled to San Telmo. Walked around the markets and then met up with Diana and another German girl Imke who is studying in Sydney. There was so much street theatre going on, lots of statues, guys on stilts and lots of music and dancing. The five of us sat for hours and had some beers (even me) just taking it all in. 
Strolled on to another pub and got something to eat there. Ciaran started talking to this guy in an Irish jersey who ended up being Stewart, who I had met in Chicago because he lived with Glynn, Lorcan and Cheesy and who Tommy and Glynn had gone to visit in Italy - el mundo es un paņuelo !
Back to one of the squares a few hours later where there was a milonga (lots of couples dancing tango) taking place. We were just there watching and then these lads tried to get us to dance, Diana had done classes so off she went and was really good, then they were trying to get me and Imke to do it but we were like no way, but they managed to twist our arms (the beer and wine also helped) and spent ages teaching us the basic steps and dancing with us - v funny !
 
Summary / Observations 
Fantastic city if a bit dirty and smelly in places. People are lovely, very friendly and helpful, love their funny, soft accents too : ) The only place we saw people begging was Recoleta, everywhere else the people that you might see begging at home were either juggling, washing car windows, opening taxi doors or hailing down taxis, selling little trinkets or holy stuff to try and earn a few pesos.
Stay in San Telmo or Palermo, we were in the centre, which is the business district, busy during the week but dead at the weekends. Wasnīt bad though, because hostel was really nice and it is really easy to get around - buses cost equiv Eur0.20, underground Eur0.15 and taxis are cheap also. Make sure and head to San Telmo on Sundays ! Local beer is good (even I have been drinking it) - Quilmes.
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