Our little apartment, Tru Blood, world renound steaks and crazy football fans
04.05.2012 - 14.05.2012
The bus from Rio to Buenos turned out to be a lot more enjoyable than we thought. For the first 7 or so hours, we had the whole top floor to ourselves. People got on in dribs and drabs along the way but there was never over a dozen people on the bus, so it was really relaxed. We had made a slight communication error, reading that the whole trip included meals. This turned out to only be true once you had crossed into Argentina. We had over 20 hours before the border and only crisps and chocolate to keep us going, so we were relieved when the driver pulled into a McDonalds on the first night! The journey passed by in a haze of movies, naps and more movies. We had a little bit of time to stretch our legs at the border, when we had to get stamps and customs checks etc, but we didn't stop many times after that. On the second night, we finally got some bus food and it was worth the wait! An ice whiskey, followed by a really nice meal (a bit like posh plane food), wine, beer and champagne for dessert! It's a strange order they serve the drinks in here. As the bus was quite empty, the guy gave everyone extra booze and the rest of the evening was spent getting sozzeled and sleeping! We arrived the next morning, 4 hours later than schelduled, after 42 hours of basically sitting and doing nothing. I wouldn't change a thing though, the scenery on the drive was stunning.
We arrived in Buenos Aires quite early and had to wait til 12pm to get the keys for the apartment we had rented. I would recommend renting, as it's only about 50p a night more than a hostel and so much better! We had a bit of a panic as the rent was supposed to be paid in US dollars and we only had a mix of $ and pesos. Luckily, the girl from the agency was super chilled out and didn't care. The flat was really nice, but there had been a mix up and it hadn't been cleaned yet, so we went out to explore and grab lunch whilst it was sorted. We got back, and it was so nice to be abe to unpack and have our own space. It was so cool, with an open plan kitchen/living room then a spiral staircase to a mezzanine floor with a mini double bed. The bathroom also had a bath, which was such a treat after weeks of skanky hostel showers! We both could have easily chilled out for the rest of the day, but had had a recommendation to check out San Telmo's Sunday market. It was a short tube ride away to Cathedral and well worth the effort. It's a Bohemian area with tonnes of indoor and outdoor stalls seling everything from vintage clothes to cane swords to leather bags and bric-a-brac. We wandered round for ages and it was just streets and streets of never ending goodies for sale. You can still check this area out in the week, but a lot of the market stalls are only there on Sundays. We decided we needed some excercise after the bus and walked back to Palermo, the area where we were staying.
The next day the bus ride seemed to catch up on us so we decided to have a chilled day of lounging around the flat, eating and watching Tru Blood! The internet was super fast too which was another treat, so we got a lot of pictures uploaded aswell.
By Tuesday, we had our energy back and hit the streets again for more exploring. We got the tube again to Cathedral and walked to La Boca and Caminetto. La Boca is the area with the football stadium, which is huge, although a little rough (do not take valubles). You then walk through here and end up in Caminetto. This area is famous for it's colourful streets, tango dancing and BBQ's. We really enjoyed waking around here, as it had such a cool vibe and the colours are all so vibrant. It also felt like such a safe and friendly neighbourhood. We stopped at a really nice BBQ place for lunch. It wasn't on the main road, but just off the train tracks and it opened into a gorgeous little courtyard, which was a massive sun trap. The food was amazing and the portions gigantic! After this, both feeling massively stuffed and sleepy, we walked along the docks all the way to Recoletta. This took about two hours, but it was good to walk off lunch and enjoy the sunshine. It's also more interesting to walk, as you get to see so much more of the city. They have some really cool pirate ships in the docks. Once in Recoletta, we navigated our way to the famous cemetary there. It's where all of Argentina's elite classes are buried, in huge, elaborate tombs. It's really serene and peaceful once you are inside the high walls that surround all the crypts and tombs. Some are beautiful, with ornate carvings and such detail. Some are quite creepy and very gothic and some have been left to rot and ruin, with smashed bricks and broken windows. It's strange looking into them as you can see all the coffins inside. Some have even been chained and whelded shut from the outside to stops spirits escaping, but as we had been watching a lot of Tru Blood the previous day, I was convinced this had something to do with Vampires insted! We spent about an hour wandering around, then came across the tomb where Evita is buried. There were mountains of flowers outside it and for the rest of the day and week, I had that song from the movie stuck in my head... 'don't cry for me Argentina, the truth is I never left you...' We arrived home in the late afternoon, walked out and ready for bed! But insted, we headed over to Dounia and Mehdi's apartment that they had rented, for takeway pizza and drinks. We hadn't seen them since Cusco, so it was really nice to catch up and trade travelling stories.
Waking up a little hungover the next day, we decided we absolutely had to spend another whole day watching Tru Blood - It's so addictive!
On Thursday, we headed over to Casa de Gobierno. This is a huge, palace like house on one of the plazas. It's famous as it's where Evita addressed the masses from one of the balconies. I really wanted to go in, but it was shut. It was nice to visit anyway, but I would recommend trying it on the weekend insted! After this, we wandered around some shops and had our first taste of a 'per kilo' buffet. This is dangerous as everything looks yummy, especially the heavy stuff! We then had another long walk over to Plaza Naciones Unidas, where there is a giant metal flower in a lake. I must admit, i'm not the biggest fan of strange art like this, and I thought it was a bit of an eyesore in a really pretty surrounding! A little disappointed, we then walked up to the Jardin Japones. Again, not amazing but just plain little gardens and mini lakes with pedalos! We had planned to hit the zoo aswel but all the walking had taken longer than we had planned so we postponed until the next day.
We got up early and headed straight to the zoo on Friday. It's actually a lot bigger than it looks from the outside. There are a lot more animals too than we had expected! We bought some animal feed and it was so much fun going round feeding zebras out of our hands and throwing food into a grizzly bears mouth! They sit right up on thier hind legs and even wave back at you when you wave at them! My favourite place was the aquarium, the pengiuns were sooooo cute! Loz's favourite was the baby cheetah, or maybe it a leopard, we couldn't tell! But it was basically a spotty, cute ball of fluff with huge eyes. We made a bit of an error as the camera hadn't been charged, so we have just one picture of every animal! We walked through the botanical Gardens on the way back, I think we were supposed to pay, but we sneaked in while the guy was on the phone. I wouldn't recommend paying though, not much to see that you can't see at the park!
On Saturday, we decided to arrange tickets to go to the football the next day. This turned into quite a mission, as we had to book an extra night in the flat, and Loz had to go over to La Boca and find some tickets (which were mostly sold out already). Within a few hours we had it sorted. We had also hoped to go to Cabrera, the most famous steakhouse in Argentina, that my dad had been to a few years ago and insited we try. But us being us, we hadn't thought to book, and on calling for a reservation were told they were fully booked til Monday. Our luck was in though, and after calling back a few more times, hoping for a cancellation, they told us about a deal they had from 7-8pm. You only have an hour to eat, but you get 50% off the food! I think they want to keep this quite, so not too many people turned up! We got suited and booted and realised it was within walking distance, so left early to arrive at 6pm! The people in the restuarant wouldn't let us in, so we lapped the block a few times then queued up outside. Glad we did too, as around 6.45pm the queue got bigger, and the restuarant was full by 7.01pm! The service was really quick and we actually had plenty of time to eat, and man was it worth it! Loz had steak and it really was the best meat I have ever tasted! I chose pork chops, thinking it would be one, but three came out, still sizzling on a metal hot plate. They were delicious and I ate all three! Dad had told us not to order side dishes either, as the meats come out with all these little ramikins full of yummy side dishes, like roasted garlic, taboleh salad and chutneys. All this washed down with a bottle of red, was one of the best meals of my life! It was obviously quite early still when we finished, so we wanted to find a bar or pub. This, however, does not really exsist is Buenos Aires! It's all cafes or restaurants. We eventually found a little bar, a bit like an enclosed alleyway with sofas, but it served nice red wine. We tried to go to a club after this, but I don't think they wanted us to come in, as they wanted us to pay a crazy entrance fee. We decided to call it a night, content and happy after such a lovely meal (and three bottle of wine!).
On Sunday, we got packed up ready to leave the next morning and caught the tube over to La Boca. Loz had arranged to pick the tickets up at 4pm and we were running late so we caught a taxi from the tube station rather than walking, but it turned out we didn't need to rush. We paid and were told to come back at 5pm, so wandered around Caminetto again and ate 'Choripans', which are like hotdogs but with BBQ chorizo sausage insted - Yum! We also decided to get cheap football t-shirts so we fitted in a bit more in the stands! We were told it can be quite dangerous too, so only had the camera and put our money in our shoes!At 5pm, there was a group of around 20 foreigners who had got tickets from the same company. We were walked over nearer the stadium, then had to wait for another 45mins while all the locals went in. We kept moving 100m then having to wait, this went on for a good hour! Eventually, the guy got everyone's tickets sorted and handed them out. Turns out they were local season passes, belonging to people that had been sent to prison! They rent the passes out while they're on the inside to make money - classic Argentina! So, I was Pablo for the night! Boys and girls are separated for a quick pat down search. We then re-grouped and headed into the local stands in the stadium. We got a really good spot in the middle. The pitch is huge and the fans are nuts! They love the game so much and sang and chanted from beginning to end, it was a really fun atmosphere and not a bit imtimidating or scary like we had been led to believe it would be! The game itself wasn't great as the referee hated our team and was making terrible calls. At one point, the stands erupted in chants of 'Hijo de Puta' which translates to 'son of a bitch or whore', it was hilarious! They take half time entertainment to a new level here and a huge marching band comes out onto the pitch, followed by some very scantily clad cheerleaders. The guys all love it! When the game finshes, they locked our stand in the stadium for over an hour, so everyone in the posh seats can leave in safety, then they let us loose. Another classic situation, with people starting to chant and bang on the walls! We were really lucky on the way home, and jumped straight on the bus then tube back to Palermo. We grabbed a pizza and a beer, a perfect end to a crazy day and week in the capital.
Finally, after 8 days in Buenos Aires and our beautiful little apartment, it was time to head off. We checked out and got our deposit back and caught the tube to the bus station. It was time for our next adventure and another overnight bus, to Mendoza...