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Published: October 25th 2009
The Docklands Area
Along Juana Manuela Gorriti
Argentina…..we had heard so much about it. Its’ stunning landscapes, delicious steaks, beautiful people, and its culture for partying. We had only 10 days to discover a little bit of each….
The other thing that was going to make this adventure even more exciting was that we were meeting up with a great friend from London, Emma. Little did we know initially, but the three of us were going to experience some weird and wonderful encounters in Argentina.
14th April 09
Buenos Aires was where the Argentinean adventure would begin. More specifically, it would begin at the Milhouse Hostel. For those of you that have been to Buenos Aires, you would know that ‘The Milhouse’ has a reputation for being “the party hostel of South America”. We were soon to discover that this reputation was being upheld….night, after night, after night. There was no such thing as ‘quiet hours’. Ironically the quieter hours appeared to be 7am and 10am - the gap between the revelers going to bed, and the remainder rising to make good use of the day. In our 10 days we were going to experience a little bit of both worlds.
a giant metal flower that opens during the day and closes at night
to waste a day, we grabbed a map, and headed off on a four hour walking tour of Buenos Aires. We visited Floralis Generica - a giant metal flower that opens during the day and closes at night; Facultad de Derecho - the most well known law school in BA; Took a walk past Museo Nacional de Bella Artes - the classical art gallery of BA; and took time out to have an ice cream at the docks (an area much like Darling Harbour in Sydney).
That night we decided to stay and party at the hostel to see what all the fuss was about. We ended up having a great night, socializing with other backpackers, having a few drinks and enjoying a bit of music. We experienced the world that was of loud music, and parting to the wee hours of the morning. It should be noted that Argentineans don’t go clubbing until after 1 - 2am.
15 Apr 09
We ended up getting a late start, but somehow we still managed to be out of bed and down for breakfast by 10am. Feeling a little less energetic than the day before, we opted for
a ‘stroll’ down Avendina Florida - a pedestrian shopping mall much like Pitt Street. It was extremely crowded, and due to this, we both knew it would be an area that we could get pick pocketed, so we were on high alert. Within 20 minutes, Stacy felt a slight pull on his bag. We stopped, checked the bag…..and yes, it was open! Someone had tried to pickpocket us! Luckily, we weren’t carrying any valuables, and nothing was taken.
After battling the people and pickpockets of Avendina Florida, we wandered to Plaza Libertador General San Martin. We were fortunate to see the ‘Unicef Buddy Bears’ display. It is a project by Unicef where each country in the UN has an artist from their country paint a fiberglass 8 foot high bear. The show has been on display all around the world since 2003. Ken Done painted Australia’s bear.
We opted for a siesta in the afternoon. By 7pm we were on our way out again for an early dinner (the locals seem to eat at 10pm). We found a great all you can eat buffet from the Lonely Planet called Puerto Leyenda. They served great traditional BBQ meats, fish,
salads and deserts for the equivalent of A$24. One thing we found out very quickly is BA can be an extremely expensive city if you don’t look hard to find the bargains. You could easily pay over A$10 for a beer, or A$40 for a main meal if you walk into the wrong restaurant.
We ended up retiring early to catch up on some sleep so that we make the most of the following day.
16 Apr 09
Today we spent the morning doing some admin and getting sorted for the next leg of our trip. Before we knew it, it was lunchtime. So we opted for a standing pizza café where slices of pizza were only US$0.75c each!
That afternoon Emma was flying into BA. We met up at the hostel, before heading to a bar for the afternoon to catch up and fill each other in on our travel adventures. That night we ate again at our trusty all you can eat restaurant, and then headed back to the hostel for a couple of drinks before another relatively early night.
17 Apr 09
Emma managed to sleep through breakfast on her first
morning. Her jet lag and previous nights partying had finally caught up with her. After a hearty breakfast of Corn Flakes, we were rearing to go. We wandered again through Av Florida, and stumbled upon a dog park, where we were lucky enough to see the famous ‘dog walkers’ who look after up to 12 dogs at a time. We continued to Rocaleta and went to the “Cemeterio de La Rocoleta” to see Eva Peron’s grave. After a few hours on our feet we decided to chill out for a while and grab a coffee above “BA Design” (an amazing home design mall- the best Stacy has seen).
After taking some down time, we made the 1.5 hour walk back to the hostel. On the way we stopped at an internet café so Emma could email the brother of a work colleague, who lives in BA. We were hoping to catch up with him, and some of his local friends to experience the ‘real Buenos Aires’.
The talk of ‘the best steaks in the world’ is commonplace in BA. So we had to try one for ourselves - no matter what the cost. We talked to a few
Cheap pizza at Guerrin
Recommended by the lonely planet....
of the staff at our hostel who recommended a little local place called “LaStrada”. We can honestly say that the steaks were the best we have ever had!!!
After a hearty dinner we headed to the hostel in a party mood, ready to have a few beverages. By 2am, we hit the wall and retired, knowing we had another long day in the 30 degree heat.
18 Apr 09
Today we headed to Av Santa Fe; an area famous for an extremely long strip of fashion shops to find Emma some party shoes. The shops stretched for over 6 kilometers - and we walked the whole way which took 4 hours! On the way we were pick pocketed again - but this time Stacy caught them! It was two older women working as a pair. As Stacy turned around and identified them by pointing at them they started yelling at us and abusing us!!! We opted for the sly fade away in case we ended up on the wrong side of the law. Fortunately we once again got away without losing anything.
After discussing the incident with others at the hostel, it became apparent that pickpockets
Just the three of us
& a few quiet drinks...
were hard at work in BA. Extreme tactics are resorted to by pickpockets including spilling milkshakes on you and then distracting you by wiping you down, whilst someone else swipes your gear. We had not expected the same level of thievery in BA, which we had prepared ourselves for in Rio.
After our extremely long walk down Av Santa Fe, we ended up in a nice area called Palermo and the botanical gardens. Whilst there we stumbled upon a Red Bull rally car driving display which was very impressive (as were the Red Bull models!).
Our legs were tired after more than 6 hours of walking around, so we took the Metro back to the hostel. Upon arriving back at the hostel, Emma discovered that there had been a mix up and her bed in the dorm room had been given away to someone else. After much confusion and frustration as there were no other beds available, we decided that Emma would camp on our floor for the night. So a double mattress was dragged into our room on the 3rd floor.
That night we met Emma’s ‘friend’, Tom and another guy by the name of (name
removed). We had a few drinks at the hostel, before heading to a local house party with Tom, (name removed) and one of Emma’s room mates from the hostel. The party was absolutely rocking with more than 40 people. It was a pretty cool house for students with curtains dividing each bedroom and a swimming pool in the lounge area. The pool had been covered up with flooring to create an area for guests to stand.
We stayed at this party until it wrapped up at about 3am. Tom had disappeared somewhere so the remaining 5 of us decided to go clubbing. As the lines to get into the clubs were incredibly long and the girls were dying to find the ‘ladies’, (name removed) took us back to his house which was nearby. As we were on our way up to his apartment, he warned us “I have a little company - you may see some sex toys”. We were a bit baffled and wondered whether he had a ‘guest’ staying with him. As (name removed) opened his front door, we were greeted by an incredibly cluttered room, with adult toys strewn everywhere…It turns out that our new friend
The crazy people you meet when travelling!
Stace & Erin with our friend who owned "a little (sex toy) company".
actually owned a “little (sex toy) company". Needless to say, our evening was rather quirky and very amusing!
19 Apr 09
We eventually rose at 12pm after 6 hours sleep. Having missed our exciting breakfast of cornflakes, we headed to a café to indulge in some hearty Spanish cheese and potato omelets.
During the afternoon, we headed to working-class La Boca, which was relatively quiet as many of the locals were at Boca’s football game. The main attraction in La Boca is Caminito, a short colourful pedestrian walk lined with corrugated-metal buildings. There we watched tango and traditional Argentinean samba dancing.
After taking plenty of photos, we hopped back into a taxi and headed to San Telmo, which is home of BA’s main tango culture. On Sunday’s, San Telmo’s famous antiques fair takes place in Plaza Dorrego. So the streets were bustling with loads of tourists, street performers and traditional bands. We strolled the streets and visited Nuesta Senora de Belen Church, San Pedro.
We took another taxi back to the hostel and eventually noticed that the meter was going up very fast. Upon questioning the driver, he rudely mumbled something about giving us ‘gringo’
Erin & Emma
Enjoying the Jardin Botanico Carlos Thays
rates. As we were near our hostel, we demanded that he stop the taxi and just as rudely, we told him where he could stick his special ‘gringo’ rates. We later found out that some taxi drivers have a button installed in their car which when pressed, makes the meter speed up. This is often used to rip off tourists. Once again, we were reminded of how vulnerable you can feel in South American cities.
After a siesta at the hostel, we freshened up and headed out to a club called ‘Amerika’ which had been recommended to us. Without researching this club in our trusty ‘South America on a Shoestring bible’, we trusted the recommendation, scored some free entry passes at a nearby bar and headed to the club. It was not long before we realised that we had ventured into one of the most famous gay clubs in South America! The guys were all eyeing off Stacy and not the girls! That aside, the club had an awesome stadium setting, fantastic DJ and an insane sound system! We had a sensational night, dancing until the early hours of the morning, before dragging our weary bodies back to the
Emma & Erin at Caminito, La Boca
Beautiful coloured buildings and street dancers make this place unforgettable
20 April 09 - BA to Iguazu Falls
Today the three of us were leaving BA and heading up to Igauzu Falls, where over 275 waterfalls plunge from heights up to 80m.
Our overnight bus did not depart BA until 7.30pm. As checkout was at 11am, we had a fairly early rise after our night out clubbing. We put our bags into storage and went to the shops to stock up on multiple pairs of Havaiana thongs (or flip flops for the Londoners) to give to people back home, as they are a lot cheaper in South America. We had seen a lot of BA by this stage, so we were happy to relax in a sunny park for the rest of the afternoon.
Our overnight bus was truly amazing - much better than an airplane! We had flat beds, TV’s and were served dinner, wine and champagne. The bus trip was 17 hours long and to be honest it was a really easy trip. Erin and Emma were totally exhausted and slept for about 12 hours of the trip. Before we knew it - we had arrived!
21 Apr 09 - Iguazu Falls
After checking into ‘Hotel Inn’, we showered and ate and in no time we were on our way to the famous falls. We could hear the falls before seeing them and when we eventually got our first glimpse, we were amazed! It really is a wonder of the world. The deafening roar and the extreme amounts of water which rush over the cliffs is breath taking.
We decided to take a speed boat up to and under the falls and did not regret it for a minute! It was pretty extreme and incredibly fun. We had expected to get a little bit wet, but we were drenched! Tonnes of freezing water pelted down on us as we crossed our fingers that our bags were water proof and our cameras were safe. We just couldn’t stop laughing!
After drying off, we took a train up to the highlight of the falls - Devil’s Throat. It was sensational - photos just don’t do it justice. If you ever go to Brazil or Argentina (the falls are on both borders - you can wave from one country to the other) don’t miss this sight. Iguazu Falls is incredible!
at the hostel, we indulged in cocktails by the pool, met some other backpackers including a German couple, and chatted the night away.
22 Apr 09
Today we spent the morning at the hostel, planning the next leg of our trip and checking emails. At 2pm we sadly said goodbye to our travel buddy, Emma. We were heading back to BA and she was planning to travel to Brazil. Emma - the week we spent together was awesome - and eventful!! Certainly one of the best weeks of our trip. Thanks for the wonderful memories!!!
By 3pm, we were back on the comfortable overnight bus. After watching 2 movies, dinner, wine, champagne, a long sleep and breakfast, we were back in BA - feeling as fresh as daisies!
23 Apr 09 - BA to Colonia (Uruguay) to BA to Santiago (Chile)
Today was something special - 3 countries in one day!
We arrived back in BA at 9am, checked our bags into storage at the bus station, walked to the port and caught a fast cat (Buquebus) to Colonia (Uruguay). We arrived by 12.30pm, after the 1 hour trip.
After arriving at the port,
we picked up a map and strolled the streets of Colonia Del Sacramento, an old Portuguese town which was founded in 1680. Its outlook is spectacular as it sits on the point overlooking Rio de la Plata. We visited the main sights of the town, which were mostly museums including the Museo de los Azulejos (a 17th century house showcasing colonial tile work) and Museo Municipal (which has dinosaur remains and huge petrified mushrooms).
Of note, were the old tile and stucco houses, narrow cobblestone streets and the old remaining foundations of Convento de San Francisco. We climbed the restored 19th century faro (lighthouse) to take in the view.
We decided to splurge on a lovely lunch on a deck by the water, at a sweet restaurant that served traditional meals. After lunch, we explored a little more, before we started to focus on the hectic journey a head of us. It was 5pm, our flight from BA to Santiago left at 9pm and we weren’t even in the country we were flying out of. Yes - we had certainly cutting things fine!!
At 5.30pm we boarded the fast cat back to BA and arrived at approx
6.45pm. We moshed with the crowds in order to hail a taxi back to the bus station to collect our bags. Once we had our bags, Stacy decided to barter for a reasonably priced taxi to the airport. Unfortunately this took some time (as previously mentioned, the taxi drivers will try to take you for all you are worth in BA), however after much negotiation we eventually found a taxi and we were airport bound. Much to our dismay, we were caught up in peak hour traffic and there were 2 separate broken down cars causing chaos. After a very tense trip, we arrived at the airport at the time that our plane was actually boarding. We moved at the speed of light and made it just in time! We were on our way to Santiago, Chile!
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