So what's all the fuss about?

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

 › entry 46 of 48 › view all entries

Got up early to explore the much acclaimed Buenos Aires looking forward to discovering why everyone loves this place so much. The apartment I was staying in was in the characteristic suburb of San Telmo.  However even with map in hand, I couldn't get my bearings and took the wrong turn at almost every opportunity.  In need of a break, called into a distinguished looking back street cafe for breakfast and discovered  a gem of a sandwich - pate and roquefort - wrong in many ways but tasted fantastic. Figured out I was miles away from where I'd intended and actually closer to the main Plaza de Mayo than where I thought I was.  After passing through the very affluent shopping district where tranquil pro shopping music beckons you into every shop (I only succumbed to a disposable camera), I continued onto the main plaza.

Nice but nothing special - if it wasn't for the bright pink building, it could have been any English city, with pigeons outnumbering people 5 to 1.  On another hot day (too hot to be in a city), returned to meet Matt and Chad for lunch whilst Livia and Donna did a jazz class with our landlord.  Unfortunately, Matt and Chad had set me up and had left by the time I arrived, leaving me to join the jazz class.  More unfortunately, the jazz class turned out to be more of a ballet class !! Prancing around a wooden floor doing leaps and twirls in front of a full length mirror is definitely not my calling in life and made a prat of myself.  Thankfully I was only amongst friends who (maybe in an attempt for something positive to say) appreciated me being comfortable with my feminine side and giving it a go.
  Sparingly the last 30 minutes of the class was about learning a little jazz routine with about 40 steps which although also not my forte, was quite fun. 

After lunch, took myself off to La Boca - a colourful district south of the centre, also famed for being the home of the (disputed) biggest football team of South America - Boca Juniors.  However on arrival, the colourful streets were literally 3 adjoining streets painted bold bright colours which stood out from the norm and therefore was doing a very good job of attracting tourists with local cafes doing a very good trade.  Not sure how long these streets have been painted like this, but it appeared too staged to bring some money into the area.  Very nice little area which also included a house with a false balcony with characature statues of Maradona and Eva Perron waving over the passers by.

  However having done the touristy part of La Boca, walked the 5 blocks to the stadium which displayed the real Boca area as run down having definitely seen better days.  Picked up the pace a little as unsavoury characters hanging around the streets watched me pass by.   The Boca Juniors stadium very impressive from the outside painted brightly in the traditional blue and yellow.  Paid the small entrance fee to get into the ground (deciding against the museum) before walking out into the stands.  Disappointed at how much in keeping with the area it was, with paint peeling off the concrete steps and a general dilapidated look and hadn't been touched since the 1970s.  Still impressive to be stood where so many great players have plied their trade.

Returned to the apartment and met with with Donna, Chad, Matt and Livia to pop round to the Millhouse hostal for a further reunion with Marika, Emma, James and Stephen (also from Arequipa, Puno, Isla del Sol) for James birthday.  At hostel, also met 4 Oz girls that I'd done the dune surfing with in Huacachina, Peru.  Millhouse a bit of a party hostal (apparently in top 10 of South America) - probably helped by beer being so cheap. Had a good atmosphere so stayed there until 3am before time to go clubbing to a drum'n'base night.  Not exactly my choice of music so sat with with Ozzy girls and chatted away the night.  With 3 of them moving to UK after their travels, promised to add them to facebook but several Mojitos later, feeling worse for wear and made my apologies and left, forgetting to change details.

Woke up feeling rough and surprised to see it was 1.30pm.  Quickly took paracetamol and shower which helped to feel a little better. Would have been quite happy to go back to bed but forced myself out to more sightseeing.  Another scorching day and beer sweats not helping.   Relaxed in the shade admiring the US congress-esque parliamentary buildings not wanting to move.  However, finally continued and headed towards the affluent area of Recolata via the Aerolineas office (to get flight to Iguassu), and thankful that queueing system was "take a ticket and sit down to wait your turn system".  Put sunglasses on and got 20 minutes shut eye before sorting out ticket.  Starting to feel relatively normal so walked the hour to get to Recolata.

  Recolata houses the biggest names of the fashion world including Louis Vitton and Prada shops, but walked straight passed them to go to the famous cemetary containing the rich and famous, most notably the final resting place of Eva Perron.  I'm no expert on cemetaries but never seen such impressive tombs with many being as big as bungalows and a couple having 30 foot towers. The cemetary actually little avenues of granite and marble, complete with feral cats and signposts to various graves.  Evita's grave surprisingly modest (very bizarre having to queue up to see a grave).  One of those trips that is a complete anticlimax but would regret if didn't go. Spent all of 2 minutes at Evita's final resting place before wandering around the picturesque Recolata.
 Got the subte underground back to the apartment (not quite as impressive as Santiago but still better than London) - very much in keeping with Buenos Aires being very well set up but a little run down.  Back in time for tango lesson with landlord.  Chad bottled it leaving Donna to be my partner for the night.  Class in stereotypical atmospheric setting with wooden floors and terracota painted walls.  Intimate small class with mixed standard.  However Donna and I quickly moved to our own corner to practise the basic moves.  Learned 2 sets of steps with Chad in stitches and putting us off by taking videos. Feeling like I was doing quite well until our landlord came over and took Donna's place and warned me that I shouldn't dance with my pelvis so close to my partners !! With my confidence taking a hit, quite happy to sit out the last 15 minutes.

Already time to leave Buenos Aires and having seen most of the recommended sights, a strange feeling that having been utterly unimpressed by the sights on offer, really sorry to be leaving. Can't quite put my finger on why there is a draw to Buenos Aires but maybe that although there aren't the amazing sights that there are in other places, there aren't really any negatives to push you away.  Definitely a European feel that kind of lulls you into a comfort zone.  Regardless, went for one last trip with Donna and Chad to the oldest cafe in town (Cafe Torteloni) for the highly regarded hot chocolate (more melted chocolate in a cup) before getting taxi to Buenos Aires for my onward flight to Iguassu. With friends running out and travelling in the opposite direction, I wasnt on my own for long as a friendly Geordie lass (Clare) introduced herself at the airport and we had soon agreed to see the falls together  To be continued......

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