A week in Buenos Aires

Published: October 13th 2011
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Buenos Aires

We landed after a 4 hour flight, which I slept through most of – no surprise there, in BA and after a lengthy wait at customs for the X-Ray machines to start working we left the airport and found the transfer bus to the centre. The sun was starting to set as we travelled down the motorway passing very lush forests and grassland. About an hour later we were off the bus and negotiating our way to the nearest sub-te (subterranean or metro/tube). This meant walking about 500 metres in the process crossing a few very busy roads. We bought some very cheap travel tickets about 10 journeys, a journey could take you all the way round the whole system if you so pleased as long as you did not exit, for 10 Argentinean pesos (about 6 pesos to the pound). The tube wasnt too busy and the carriages were almost air-conditioned with big units that blew coolish air as we travelled from the north of the centre to just south, about 6 stops.

Our hostel was in the ‘arty’ area of San Telmo and getting off the sub-te at Independencia we had to negotiate a 10 lane road to get on to the quieter side streets. We found the outer roads to be quite busy but those in the centre were not at all. There was a stark difference here though compared to Peru. The majority of the cars on the roads were fairly new and not falling apart. The taxis were all saloon type vehicles with the very definite black and yellow markings.

Our hostel, Tango San Telmo was set in a large long and thin building which went back a long way from the busy street it was on. There was a long corridor that led from the front to the kichen and bbq area at the back with rooms off it either side. Our room was an 8 bed dorm with very high ceilings and a much needed fan. The weather was very hot and humid the whole time we were there but our room never got too hot.

That evening we were advised by a Japanese guy in our room to head to some bars and restaurants a few streets away. Sam got some pizza and we sampled the very Argentinean culture of drinking and eating very late at night in some road side bar/restaurant. It had a very Spanish feel and we both thought it was very much like being in Barcelona.

The next day we took it easy and had a walk around the centre, although all the streets were deserted and there was hardly any traffic on the road. It was all very weird. The sun was pelting down and it reached about 32 degrees.

BA is famous for its nightlife and we were looking forward to sampling some of it whilst we were here due to a lack of anything but reggaton, cumbia, Shakira and Black-eyed Peas for the last 3 months. That night we went to a Drum and Bass night at a small club just off the central shopping street. As like all night time entertainment people don’t go out until quite late so we got there about 12:30 and things didn’t really start to get busy until 1am. The club was a long room with a bar at one side and the cover (entrance fee) that you paid also got you one free drink! The music was good and we made friends with some quite crazy Chileans, well when I say made friends there was one problem, they couldn’t understand our Spanish and we couldn’t understand theirs, a problem that we were going to come across again and again. Our Peruvian Spanish is too slow with too little an accent for most Argentineans and Chileans to understand whilst the Spanish that they speak is too fast and they slur their words into one and Chileans have a very strong accent. It felt like being back at square one! A good night was had nonetheless.

The next day was understandably a late start. The day was warm, humid and sunny again and we headed to the wildlife reserve which is on the banks of the river which has a backdrop of the skyscrapers of the business district and the docks. We sampled our first parilla, or grill, as there were stands by the park selling all kinds of burgers with then a table set in front with an array of sauces and salads. Our first bit of Argentinean beef, it was so good. We then walked through the reserve, me sticking to the shadows as always! This brought us out at the docks, where you can catch the ferry to Uruguay. Everything was very clean.

We caught a sub-te to a shopping mall we had been recommended for Sam to look for some shoes and trousers, as it was feared that were may need to dress a little smarter if we were going to go to Pacha (a nightclub) on Saturday night. The mall was quite an upmarket one, certainly not one that our budget allowed but amazingly as we were walking through we literally almost walked into one of the volunteers we were with in Cusco – Estaban, a Mexican guy.

Our plan for Wednesday was pack up our things check out of our room and go to Tigre for the day and stay over. We had not booked anything due to the lack of accommodation on the web, which proved to be a bad move. We took our day packs, headed to the train station via the sub-te and purchased our amazingly cheap tickets for the 45 minute journey (about 15p). Tigre is a town set on the convergence of two rivers and is on the delta of the river… where there are lots of islands. It was another hot day and trying to find somewhere for the night proved to be quite difficult so after a good walk around we booked ourselves on to an afternoon boat ride down the river on a catarmaran for 60 pesos. The ride was very relaxing and it was a very nice way to spend a few hours. We passed many riverside resorts and homes with jettys, other river users and jet skiers.

Thursday saw us venturing to the an shopping area where there was an arcade of piercing and tattoo parlours as Sam had decided that he wanted to get his ear pierced! We found one that looked the most reputable and had the most certificates and he got it done whilst I watched on the TV about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and about the scares of a tsunami in Chile.

We then took a trip to the bus station to get tickets for our trip to Mendoza for the following week. The coach station was huge with all the different companies with their different stands, quite confusing but we were able to get a few prices and chose a company I had heard were good. Although having said that it seems that most Argentinean coach companies have a very good standard of coaches.

That afternoon we waited for the heat of the day to decrease a little then we went to a local bike hire company and took a pair of orange bikes back to the reserve and along the expanse of its many paths, along the river.

Friday night we went out in San Telmo to a couple of road side bars. Saturday it rained and then became very windy and even cold!

After a few drinks in the hostel with some Argentineans and Chileans we went to a few bars locally then got a taxi to the other side of town, close to the domestic flights airport where the club Pacha was. This is a club which is an international brand but only has nightclubs in Ibiza, Barcelona and BA. Sam has been to the Ibiza and Barcelona ones so wanted to get the full set. It is a house club, so not predominantly my kind of music but still worth a look just to see what it was like. Unlike the other two Pachas this one has a reputation of being a little less up-market than the other two so we made it in ok! There were lots of palm trees outside and pink lighting. The club was one main room with podiums with male and female professional dancers on to get the crowd going. There was a balcony on one side and behind that the bar and then an area upstairs that was mostly the vip seating area but a cool place to watch the action down below. The club was quite busy considering the dj was not a well known one, but it was definitely the place to be on a Saturday night for most of BAs youth as well as for the tourists. There was an outside area but it was too cold for me to venture out there. It was an enjoyable night and a good taster of the Pacha experience and probably the cheapest place to go for it.

Sunday was spent taking a stroll through the market that happens in San Telmo every Sunday and continues on one long street all the way to the centre. It is mostly just tat, artisan, random glass bottles blown into various functional home ware, hats, clothes etc.

After checking out on Monday we made our way to Palermo, a more upperclass district of BA, with a Dutch guy we had met in our dorm the night before and Sam had helped break in to he locker after he had lost his key. We walked through the botanical gardens then on to the Recoleta cemetery an amazing tourist trap of small buildings with shrines to all kinds of BAs gentry and people from the military whose bodies are housed in these building just big enough to hold their coffin but probably about 7 foot high (about 2 metres) some had basements where more bodies of that same family were laid to rest. The cemetery had an amazing number of cats too! Which made Sam happy! Evita's grave is also in this cemetery.

We then made our way through the suburbs through some huge parks with lakes and lots of trees all close by to busy roads, but still very peaceful.

We made our way back to our hostel, had some food, then got on a sub-te with our bags to the coach station. This was a rather nervous affair as we had heard many horror stories of bags being stolen from people in broad daylight at the coach station but our experience was actually fine and I didnt feel uneasy at any time but we had taken some precautions.

The bus station is huge and was so busy with buses pulling in and out of the 100+ stands. We got there with lots of time to spare and waited for our bus to come up on the board. It came in late, a little nerve rakingly. It was a very comfortable double decker with minimal people and large seats on the low deck where we were. We were able to spread over 2 seats each and had very few interruptions as the coach drove out of BA down the motorway.

Unlike Brazil there were no stops through the night, only one at around 8:40am where we were ushered off the bus and into a roadside cafe which we thought was just a toilet break but we were sat down and served coffee and croissants all free! We then carried on another 4 hours to Mendoza.

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31st October 2011

Thx for posting your blogs
Really good to read about your time in Lima and then in B.A. - Will send a copy to Nana.

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