A Big City and A Big Question

Published: October 10th 2011
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Back to Beautiful Buenos Aires

So this was it, after 51 weeks on the road, we started the journey east from Colombia back towards the UK. Last, but not least however, we had Argentina, where we had planned one last week in Buenos Aires for a period of living the good life, catching up with friends we have there and celebrating the end of our adventure. Why Buenos Aires? Well, simply put, before this trip it was, and still is, our absolute favourite city that we adore, so it was a treat that we were looking forward to as the best climax to our trip. Although we were still enraptured by the gorgeous aesthetics and eclectic vibe, this time we weren't going so much for the discovery as for the social and culinary pleasures....great wine, amazing steaks, strong coffee, gloriously sweet desserts, vibrant nightlife and treasured company with which to spend all night in atmospheric cafes and bars. Added to a certain 'fin-de-siecle' feeling induced by coming to the end of our travels, we were in heaven.

It was both weird and wonderful to be back in this familiar city for both of us after such a long
Partners in CrimePartners in CrimePartners in Crime

Helen and Vero in Buenos Aires
time, particularly for Helen who was for once not here on a Tourleading assignment, but also for us both to be here in mid-winter, complete with cold winds and short days. Our previous experiences have always involved shorts and T-shirts and sweating profusely on journeys on the underground. This time we were wrapped up in our warm trekking clothes again (finally justifying carting them all around SE Asia and Central America, so they could get one last airing!). Seeing a city you know well at a different time of year gives an added dimension to the place, with people dressed in western winter clothes, while trees stood bare along the roadsides and in parks and leaves tumbled down the streets. The cafes and bars that regularly spill out with tables out onto the streets in summertime, seem much smaller in comparison when cramped to their interiors, but they are warmly cosy and inviting nonetheless, and the city retains its irresistable energy and character.

While in the city, we spent a lot of our time with Helen's good friend Vero and her boyfriend German (pronounced her-man, prompting Mike to keep saying "Vero with her man German".....it was slightly funny the fist time around, but not sure about the tenth :-). They were fabulous hosts at home and in the city on our nights out and we chewed the cud long into the night on many evenings, showing typical Argentinian stamina in staying awake well into the early hours of the morning. In fact, we really didn't get to spend a lot of time at all in our lovely hostel, The Chill House, which was a real shame as it was a beautiful place run by two lovely guys, and in a great part of town. Maybe next time.

These late nights allowed plenty of time to indulge in all the fantastic foods Buenos Aires has to offer. Beyond the incredible steak, there are the beautiful home made pastas and gnoccis and delicately breaded milanesas which, due to their Italian heritage, Argentinians produce . The pastries they serve in the morning with coffees are divine, mini glazed croissants called medialunas (literally translated as half moons) and we even got round to having top sushi once we could get Mike past the parillas (meat grills). BA has truly international cuisine, something that we have really lacked since we were in LA
Lots of meat for dinnerLots of meat for dinnerLots of meat for dinner

A typically meaty dinner at a Parillia in Buenos Aires (It tasted as good as it looks!)
a few months ago.

However, it does take the body a little while to adjust to the eating routine which generally follows this pattern:

Breakfast - coffee and pastry
Lunch - something small like empanadas or something similar baked
Merienda - taken around 6pm, coffee accompanied by cakes or more pastries
Dinner - Any time from 10pm onwards, the largest meal of the day by quite a way.

It is very rare in Argentina to wake up feeling hungry, or to go to bed early for that matter. Despite sounding like a strange routine, it is surprisingly easy to get used to and it became normal for us not to eat until very late, although some evenings, particularly after a large meat dinner, we were still a little uncomfortably full as we went to bed. And don't get us started about the joy that is the simply heavenly Malbec...

And so on to the big question of the title, for those of you we haven't told already :-) It involved a park in Palermo, a surprise picnic, and a bottle of the aforementioned Malbec....followed by a bottle of bubbly once Mike had popped the question (and Helen had recovered enough to give an answer - the right one, it seemed!). Despite even being told off by a park warden for drinking alcohol in a public place (We were both quite amazed they actually had any rules in BA!), nothing could take away from our excitement and happiness. As if our time in Buenos Aires hadn't been filled with enough celebrating already, it then needless to say cranked up a gear for the last few days - by which time we just had to leave the country to try and recuperate ;-)

So a very special ending to the most amazing year that we have spent together. A lot of people have told us that if we can survive 12 months on the road together, with all the ups and downs that entails (oh boy, we know about those!), we are pretty well set up to spend the rest of our lives together. I think we both agree with this as well. We have learned so much about each other along the way (good and bad!) and not only are we still on speaking terms, but we are really excited at what the future holds for us. It has been an absolutely incredible year and we have no regrets whatsoever about leaving our comfortable life in London and embarking on this adventure.

And so, after 365 days, 23 countries & territories, 21 flights, over 5,500 pictures, 28 blogs and countless memories, we return home. It is something of a leap into the unknown as we will be starting the process of looking for work from scratch, along with all the fun of planning a wedding together...but we feel enriched and emboldened by the last leap of faith we took, and are up for the next challenge! If we know you from home, we are immensely looking forward to catching up with friends and family (if we haven't already by the time this blog goes out). For those strangers who became friends along the way, we really do hope we bump into you again sooner rather than later. We have made some great friends on this trip so please do keep in touch. And for those readers who don't know us, we hope you have enjoyed reading our stories on this trip. Stay tuned though, you never know where the next blogs might come from......watch this space.

Over and out amigos,

(The newly engaged) M & H xx

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10th October 2011

Congrats again on the engagement! I hope you are both settling back into things at home ok and have had some luck finding work.....Talk to you soon....oh yeah and if u have a skype account add me...Keith
10th October 2011

Amigos y Amor
Que lindo leerlos! Qué lindo saber que terminan este período con felicidad y alegría. Nos encantó haber podido compartir con ustedes la ultima parada del viaje maravilloso que hicieron. Los acompañamos con el alma y les deseamos lo mejor en la nueva etapa, los queremos...y estamos cruzando dedos para ir a la boda!! Mucho amor!!
10th October 2011

So happy for you both. May your lives together be filled with happiness. You\'ve both picked wisely, now treat each other kindly.
12th October 2011

Vow! Amazing story. I love it. I wish u all the happiness in the future and in ur new career:-)) X

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