Published: March 17th 2009March 9th 2009
So after spending 8 months on the other side of the Pacific it was time to head off to South America with our first stop being Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city in Argentina with a population of around 13 million. Of course our flight out of Auckland was delayed, as most of our flights seem to be, and we waited an additional two hours before boarding our 12 hour flight. Surprisingly the flight wasn´t too bad. The seats were pretty spacious and comfortable. We arrived in Buenos Aires in the late afternoon and after getting our bags we hopped on a bus and headed for our hostel. We were staying in the City Center at a place called Milhouse which turned out to be pretty nice. Upon arrival we checked in, got situated, and headed out to grab some food. By this point we were pretty tired and it was already 8¨30 so we just wanted to eat and fall asleep. After searching around for a bit we settled on a local pizza shop that looked good. The pizza´s were a little under $4 for a large.....not bad. They were pretty tasty too. They made them
right in a large oven like at CPK and they put chunks of mozzarella on right before they threw them in. After a short while they took it out and used a spreader to spread the cheese......delicious. After eating we made our way back to the hostel and hung out in our room with a Swiss guy that was sharing our dorm. He was a nice guy and had been traveling through S. America for 5 months so we picked his brain for a bit. After that we crashed.
The following morning we woke up and headed to Recolata Cemetery. Recoleta Cemetery is a famous cemetery located in the exclusive Recoleta neighborhood.....makes sense from the title. The Cemetery includes graves of some of the most influential and important persons of Argentina, including several presidents, scientists, and wealthy characters. Internationally, Eva Perón is the best known person buried in this cemetery. If you need any help finding here grave just follow the crowds. The entire cemetery is laid out in sections like city blocks, with wide tree-lined main walkways branching into sidewalks filled with mausoleums. The mausoleums are all really really cool. Most of them are made of marble and
have very intricate statues attached. There are multiple people buried at each site and a few of the sites were damaged to the point of being able to see down into the crypt. There you could see sometimes 5 or 6 caskets stacked on top of each other. While we were there it started to rain pretty hard so we hid under the marble overhangings of some of the mausoleums. It did the job of sheltering us but it was a little eerie to think of the dead person in this intricate tomb behind me. We probably spent an hour or so wandering around. It's honestly really large and there are so many beautiful sites to see. Some of the mausoleums are in a pretty dilapidated state with broken glass, trash, and shrub overgrowth taking over the site. Kind of sad. Plus there are a lot of stray cats that roam the area. All in all though it was a really cool place and a must see on anyone's trip to Buenos Aires.
From there we walked to Palermo which is the largest neighborhood in Buenos Aires. It's full of beautiful parks, nice restaurants and cool shops. We stopped
at one restaurant and got some empanadas. These are basically small pastries filled with meat, cheese, etc.....They were delicious and we were able to get 3 for around $3.50.....not bad at all. From there we walked into a few shops to look around but mostly just cruised through the neighborhood. Many of the streets were lined with large, green trees and were really clean and pleasant. From there we eventually made our way back to our hostel. It was a long day and we walked many miles but it was really nice and a spectacular way to start off our stay in Buenos Aires.
The following morning we awoke to take a walking tour through the neighborhood of La Boca. It started off a little annoyingly though because the night before we were told by the guy working the front desk that the tour started at 9. So we were up by 8 and made our way down just to discover that he was wrong and it wasn't until 1130.......big different. Unfortunately we were all awake for the most part and couldn't really fall back to sleep. I really could've used the extra couple hours of sleep but oh
well. There was a pretty big group that was doing the tour so we all met up and headed out. La Boca literally translates to "the mouth" and was so named because it lies at the mouth of the Riachuelo River. This area is known to be one of the more dangerous neighborhoods in Buenos Aires but it didn't seem too bad when we were there. One highlight of the area were the brightly colored houses and shops. There were bright greens, pinks, reds and numerous other colored homes. It really gave the area a fun feel made for some great pictures. We strolled around for a bit taking photos and buying some art. From there we eventually made our way to see the stadium where Boca Juniors play. Boca Juniors is one of the more famous soccer clubs in the world and apparently their fans are pretty wild. There was a large museum on the premises the housed photos of every player, trophies won and countless memorabilia. Although I knew absolutely nothing about this team it was really cool. The team colors are blue and yellow and come with a pretty interesting story at to the reason those colors
were chosen. Their jerseys were originally black and white vertical stripes but it was soon discovered that another team had those colors. The two teams played each other with the winner keeping the colors. Boca lost and decided that their team colors would be the colors of the first flag that sailed into the port in La Boca. The first ship that arrived was from Sweden thus blue and yellow became the colors of the club. Cool stuff.
That night our hostel was offering free tango lessons so we decided to partake. It turned out to be a lot of fun. The dance originated in lower-class districts of Buenos Aires so we figured it was a good cultural experience. Our instructors came in and instructed us on how to dance the tango and for the most part it´s pretty simple although we genuinely looked ridiculous compared to them. The girl definitely has to do the most work in tango. The guys leads but the girl has to do all this leg stretching and sexy stuff. So basically it´s all good for the guy. For anyone who knows me you know I don´t like to dance but it was a
lot of fun. The lesson lasted probably 45 minutes and I would've been fine with it lasting longer but it was free and that was all the time we had. Ill definitely do more tango in the future....it was fun. That night a bunch of us from the hostel went to this club who´s name I can´t recall.....that should tell you how fun it was. In Buenos Aires people don´t start arriving to clubs until after 2am which my brain and body just can´t comprehend. We left shortly before 2 and arrived at this dark club that was playing nothing but drum and bass, which I dislike, and everyone was smoking. I know I´m spoiled being from California and all our anti-smoking laws. We ended up staying an hour before heading home.
The following day we were boarding a bus to head to Iguazu falls but that wasn´t until later in the evening so Krista and I decided to walk around the town a bit. The highlight of that adventure was the Buddy Bear exhibit that we stumbled upon in a random square. Here´s some quick info on the bears....the United Buddy Bears are an international art exhibition with
more than 140 two meter tall fiberglass bears. Under the motto: We have to get to know each other better, it makes us understand one another better, trust each other more, and live together more peacefully more than 140 countries acknowledged by the United Nations are represented, promoting tolerance, international understanding and the great concept of different nations and cultures living in peace and harmony. The bears stand hand in hand in a peaceful circle. One important prerequisite for this international unifying project is to choose artists from the individual countries - for the circle to reflect the diversity of the cultures of one world. The observer learns about the culture, the history, the people and the landscape of the individual countries - large or small. Hence the United Buddy Bears circle has become a platform for even the smallest and poorest countries which frequently remain unnoticed. Suddenly, they are equal to larger and often rich nations. There were some really amazing bears there with most of the African countries being my favorite....but then again they had animals on them and I love animals. The Cuban one was pretty good too. He was smoking a cigar. It was such a
random thing to stumble upon on accident. We had no idea it was even going on. Evidently the bears were on a world tour and we happened to catch them at just the right time. We´ve been pretty lucky with random stuff like that. If this tour ever makes it to the US you should check it out.
So after strolling through the city for the day it was time to catch our 20 hour bus ride up to Iguazu. The bus we boarded was unbelievable. It was like a first class plane flight. We have taken dozens of buses on this trip and this one was easily the best so far. The seats were massive and the leg room was more than big enough for me. Plus the seats reclined 180 degrees. So nice. We were served dinner and breakfast which were both good and had two movies. It was great. The 20 hours literally just flew by. I would almost rather do this than fly in a cramped plane to be honest. Eventually we made our way to Iguazu where we would spend the next 2 nights. The real reason we came all this way was to
see the Iguazu Falls. And they were unbelievable. The falls are located on the border between Brazil and Argentina and encompass a very large area. The waterfall system consists of 275 falls along 1.67 miles of the Iguazu River. Some of the individual falls are up to 269 ft in height, though the majority are about 210 ft. The Devil's Throat is a U-shaped, 82-meter-high, 150-meter-wide and 700-meter-long section that is the most impressive to see. The falls mark the border between Argentina and Brazil with two thirds being in Agentina. After walking over half a mile across the river we made it to the Devil´s Throat and it really was impressive. The amount of water that flowed over the edge was insane. I´ve been to Niagara Falls before and I felt like this was more impressive although it could just be because I was in the moment. At first there was a lot of low cloud cover so you couldn´t see a whole lot but after about 20 minutes the sun came out and you could see all of the Devil´s Throat as well as all the falls on the Brazilian side. It was really cool. We sat there
for a while and took a lot of photos. I could talk more about the falls but you might as well just look at the photos. From there we accessed two trails, one that gave us an upper view of the falls and one with a lower view. Both were amazing but I would have to say the lower view was a little better. The falls are just so massive when you are at the bottom looking up at them. That was pretty much the whole day. Just enjoy the photos, they do a better job describing the area than I can.
The following day we got back on our bus and headed back to Buenos Aires and the Milhouse Hostel. We ended up going to the street market in San Telmo which was really cool. There are hundreds of vendors on the streets trying to get you to buy their goods but not pressuring you all that much which is nice. They actually allow you to just browse. The streets were all cobble stone and the buildings had a very old European feel to it which made it a very nice place to stroll around. We walked around
for around an hour of so before we headed back to get ready for the soccer match.
We went to the match through our hostel and although they charged a ludicrous amount of money it was a blast. There were about 35 of us going and we all sat in the same general area. We had to arrive early in order to get good seats because our area had no assigned seats.....you just found a spot. After waiting for about 45 minutes outside, which gave me enough time to buy a jersey and some weird street meat, we made our way inside and found a place to sit. The minor league team was playing first which was entertaining to watch. There were a bunch of red cards and punches thrown which is always entertaining. Then the real match started. We were sitting with all the crazies. Behind both goals is the general seating area and everyone literally stands and sings the entire game......seriously. The only time you sit and stop singing is during half time. There was a band playing which pretty much indicated what songs you would sing. I had no idea what they were saying so I
pretty much just jumped up and down with everyone and cheered with everyone. It was a blast. The people here are so into their soccer and it really makes the game fun. There are so many banners, flags, and posters all over the stadium and when everyone sings it´s insanely loud. And best of all Boca won 3-0 which meant there didn´t have to be any riots. This was my first soccer match and I can´t imagine a better one. Such a blast.
We had two more days in BA before heading to Uruguay. We pretty much just relaxed and walked around the city while trying to get better. We were all feeling a little under the weather. I think there was a bug going around our hostel in Iguazu. Anyway, we are leaving for Uruguay now....should be cool.
There are more photos below