14.03.2011 - 21.03.2011 30 °C
A week in Buenos Aires... it sounds like an indulgent amount of time to spend in a city known for its nightlife, culture, history, tango, and fine dining. It is surprising how quickly the time disappears! Factor into that a day and night of trying to recover from upset stomachs, and it really doesn't leave a lot of time.
To sum up our week... we started off getting tuned into the rhythm of Argentina. Our days started at a leisurely 11am, out the door by midday, back by 7pm for a siesta, out to dinner at 10pm and to bed sometime between 2am and 4am.
BsAa is a fascinating city, with a rich history and culture which is reminiscent of times past when BsAs and the rest of Argentina was a flourishing economy. Today, BssA is constructed of facades of beautiful, old buildings, many of which are decaying on the inside, or at least in serious need of an upgrade. Some exteriors of buildings are also crumbing and not restored at all. These are the tell-tale signs of Argentina's economic hardships in the past decades.
Just soaking in the atmosphere of day-to-day life in Buenos Aires also filled our days quite easily - such as wandering the inner-city streets along which professional dog-walkers can be seen with numerous dogs of all shapes and sizes all attached to one lead - a very funny sight!
Food was definitely a highlight of BsAs,where we feasted on many tasy 'bife de chorizo' (a thick cut of steak, not a sausage), and almost daily sampling of the many flavours of helado (gelato). A low-light of the food was the complimentary hostel breakfast, consisting of croissants smothered in dulce de leche (thick caramel worshipped by Argentines).
Another highlight was tasting mate,' a strong, bitter herbal green tea that is consumed by Argentines at all times of day. At all times most Argentines will carry a thermos for hot water, a bag of the mate' herb mix and a special cup and metal straw for drinking it out of. The taste of mate' is very different to Japanese or Chinese green tea, with a much smokier flavour, and is a taste that must be acquired over time - which is unfortunately not something we have a lot of in this country.
On our first day (excluding the day we lay in bed sick), we went on a walking tour of the city from our hostel run by a couple of uni students. This took us to many 'off the beaten track' cultural and historical sights of central BsAs, as well as a lot of information about Evita and Peronism, as well as the the time of the military dictatorship and the current economic problems. Part of everyday life in Buenos Aires is demonstrations and protest. Walking around the city you come across these constantly, along with political graffiti. The most well known demonstration is the Madres de Plaza Major (Mothers of Plaza Major), which is a human rights movement started by 14 women in the 1970's who came to this main square in front of the presidents house to demand information about their missing sons and daughters. To this day there are thousands of people who went missing who are unaccounted for, and the mothers continue their march in a circle around this plaza each Thursday.
Recoleta Cemetery was a novelty, with many striking and extraordinary graves that look more like they belong in a museum. The crypts are more like mini palaces for the famous and important dead people of BsAs, but we only knew of one person there, Eva Peron.
Our search for Tango 'authentico' found us in an historic dance hall watching the older generation dance tango - not exactly the flare of the Latin American Tango on the glossy brochures, but tango none the less. We also did a group tango lesson at our hostel, of which we both failed tragically, despite previously learning this.
Along came Saturday night and to our unwitting suprise, our favourite DJ Desyn Masiello was playing at Pacha nightclub, a superclub in BA. So, after a really good dinner with a friend we had run into in BsAs (Anish) and some of his mates, we headed to Pacha. The club was massive, and absolutely packed, with no room to move. let alone dance. We had an absolutely awesome awesome night here with Desyn producing his normal golden sets. And to top it off we were treated to a surreal sunrise at the end of the night.
A trip to the neighbourhood 'La Boca,' took us to of the famous multi-coloured houses of Buenos Aires. These houses were painted in these dazling primary colours back in the early 20th century using the left over paint from the dock yards. However, now the small area conserved for viewing these is like entering DisneyLand with huge numbers of restaurants, souvenir stores, tango dances and other street performers. Despite this, it does provide an amazing backdrop for some very colourful photos.
La Boca is also the homeground of La Boca Juniors, BsAs's best known football team. Our quest to buy match tickets became a nightmare, after discovering contrary to the Lonely Planet's "advice" we couldn't simply rock up to the stadium on match day and buy tickets. Instead, we were royally scammed by some locals and bought pleb tickets at a hugely inflated price. The tickets were real, at least, and we did see the game, though had to cheer for the opposing team who ended up winning. The crowd at La Boca is known for its crazy chanting and cheering and general roudiness, which is what you really go to see, as La Boca is not playing good football at the moment.
All in all we had a fantastic time here, and wished we had more. Luckily we are back for one more night at the end of our journey!!