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Published: January 19th 2011
Wed 15 to Thurs 16 Dec – Buenos Aires
Our apartment is small but nice and fairly modern (our 'Room' in La Loge in La Paz was bigger!). The apartment is in Palermo which is one of the better districts.
It's really hot – high 30's – having air conditioning is a godsend and a necessity here in BA.
We explored some of the sights:
Floralis Generica – big sculpture of a flower that opens during the day and closes at night.
Recoleta Cemetery was amazing. Generations of Argentinians' elite are buried here. The plots are real estate and in demand. You can just follow the crowds to find Evita Peron's burial site.
Lavalle and Florida – we were not impressed with these shopping streets; similar to Oxford Street but pedestrianised and pretty tacky.
The main square is Plaza de Mayo which was disappointing compared to others we have seen in smaller cities, as was Casa Rosada (the Pink Palace).
Puerto Madero – Rejuvenated docklands, with restaurants, just like Canary Wharf.
We liked San Telmo, with it's cobbled streets and ageing mansions. We sat in the main square drinking, watching free outdoor
tango. Fri 17 Dec – Buenos Aires
We walked to San Telmo and then onto La Boca (not a particularly nice walk on another incredibly hot day). Colourful El Caminito has streets lined with corrugated metal buildings painted in bright colours and lots of street art and artists studios.
That evening we got a taxi to Palermo Hollywood to sample some of the famed restaurants. We decided to try an Indian restaurant above an 'English style pub'. The food didn't taste the slightest bit Indian and had no heat at all to it, despite the fact they were claiming it was hot and spicy. We were amazed that it's virtually impossible to find spicy food in the countries that we have visited so far. Sat 18 Dec – Buenos Aires
Ken really ill today with nausea and dizziness. How can so much vomit come out of such a small person? By the afternoon Bernie had also started feeling rough with sickness, diarrhoea and stomach cramps. We both shivered and shook for the rest of the day and night. Must have been food poisoning. If you go to Buenos Aires then DO NOT go to
The Bangalore restaurant Sun 19 Dec – Buenos Aires
Both feeling a bit better but did not have the energy to go out into the heat. It is getting hotter and hotter. Spent a day in the air-conditioned apartment watching crappy films on TV. Had some good old-fashioned recovery food later - soup out of a can. Mon 20 Dec – Buenos Aires
Both feeling better today. Up at 6:45am to catch Buquebus ferry to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay. An hours ferry ride and another stamp in the passports :o)
Another UNESCO world heritage site, it's full of colonial houses, with cobbled, tree-lined streets and old lanterns for light, ruins and a lighthouse. Pretty and really peaceful after Buenos Aires.
Lunch overlooking the river (which looks as filthy as the Thames but people were swimming in it!) We wandered to the Plaza's, around the artisans market and the yacht club before getting the ferry back. Tue 21 Dec – Buenos Aires
It was even hotter today, high 30's. We decided to go to the Japanese Garden but in the heat we didn't have the energy to explore. Instead we headed to
an air-conditioned museum (Bellas Artes) to escape the heat!
One of the things we noticed was that, as you walk the streets, you think it's raining at first only to discover you are being constantly dripped on by air-conditioning units overhead. Wed 22 Dec – Villa Gesell
Another really hot day!
Taxi to the bus station broke down in the middle of an eight lane highway. Had to struggle to the kerb dodging traffic with all our bags. Managed to hail another taxi and made it to the bus station in time to catch the bus to our Christmas Retreat – Villa Gesell. (Even after a few days staying there we still have no idea how to pronounce it – every time we tried no-one understood and when they said it we found it impossible to repeat back to them)
Seven hour journey (supposed to be six) and Joo (pronounced Joe) picked us up at the station to take us to our cabin in the pine forest near the beach. Joo is the eighty year old father of Roxana, the woman we had booked it with. He was really sweet but spoke no English and
the (very) little Spanish that we spoke was not really of much use.
We succeeded in letting Joo know that we were hungry (mostly miming eating and holding our stomachs) and he eventually managed to get us a taxi after a few phone calls. It was quite an expensive taxi ride and we were driven past many restaurants that we would have been happy with. We just needed food. But he was determined to take us to one 'Parilla' in particular, he then escorted us into the restaurant and made sure that the waiters knew to call him when we were finished. We think Joo had made him promise to get us home safely. The food and service was great and we both had some nice steak and red wine.
Our cabin in the woods was miles from anywhere and we thought that we had made a big mistake, what with having no car and no Spanish and very expensive taxi rides that were impossible for us to order anyway. There was no internet and virtually no phone signal. Our worries were short lived though as we quickly fell in love with the place.
No mosquitoes and
lots of colourful birds. Thu 23 Dec – Villa Gesell
Joo walked us to the beach (5 min walk) and introduced us to the lifeguard and tried to find an English speaker in the restaurant. He introduced us to everyone and made sure that they knew we were 'The English Couple' so that they could take extra special care of us. It was really sweet and they obviously thought our lack of Spanish meant we needed looking after.
The beach was nice and pretty deserted. We rented a “Cabana” (beach hut) and it was hot .. hard to believe it's almost Christmas Day!
Flagged down a bus into town later. Got supplies from a supermercado and caught a bus back again. Perfecto!
That evening after we got back there was a storm, thunder and fork lightning. Great to watch from our cabin. A perfect day. Fri 24 Dec – Villa Gesell
Christmas Eve. Woke up to glorious sunshine, not a cloud in the sky.
Wanted to hire a quad bike for the next three days but they don't hire out that way. It was £25 per hour with no daily rate! Decided
against that. Explored by bus instead – Mar de las Pampas, Mar Azul and Villa Gesell.
Stayed in and watched TV, the cabin next to us had a BBQ and everyone let off fireworks at midnight. Sat 25 Dec – Villa Gesell
Spent a couple of hours texting friends and family then headed for the beach.
We were the only non-Spanish speakers we came across and everyone seemed to know that we were 'The English Couple' and went out of their way to look after us. Everyone was so friendly. Heated up a roast chicken with boiled potatoes in the evening and finished off with Bailey's and Drambuie ... This is the life! Mon 27 Dec – Back to Buenos Aires
A sad day … It's time to say goodbye to our cabin in the woods and Joo and Roxana. We'd had a great time and our batteries were fully recharged.
Our bus to BA took the obligatory hour longer than it should have done.
Tonight our hotel was in San Telmo so we had could walk home after getting merry watching the free tango at Plaza Dorrego.
We fly tomorrow to Iguazu to see the one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world...
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