A Travellerspoint blog

Argentina

Buenos Aires to Lima - Day 19

A smack in the face and a long, cold night...

31 °C

The power came back on at 7am, waking us from our sweaty, broken sleep. It was going to be a long day. We showered, did some planning we missed yesterday and checked out of the hostel.

We wanted a big lunch as our flight wasn't until later that night, so we went to a cafe around the corner and ordered a huge pizza to share. Andrew got a little more than he bargained for though. He leant down to put the iPad in his bag under the table at the same time the waiter delivered our enormous pizza on a massive metal tray, and the waiter ended up smacking him in the face with the pizza tray! I shouldn't laugh, but it was really funny, so I did!*

We took a taxi to the airport and it poured with rain as soon as we arrived. We spent our last Argentine pesos, as you can't change them, on an orange juice and a cake each at Starbucks and then waited. But the thunder and lightning came and so did the delay to our flight, leaving us cold at the departure gate with no money to buy snacks or drinks. After 3 1/2hrs of delay we boarded our flight to Lima, getting into an even colder plane, which meant me stealing a second blanket and wrapping it around my head just to keep warm while I napped. The moral of this story is always wear appropriate clothing to the airport, especially for a night flight - three quarter length leggings are not.

We arrived at the hostel - the House Project in Miraflores - in Lima at 3am, the owner opening the door in a tshirt and boxers in the darkness, so we're not sure what the hostel is like, but the room is warm and has a bed so we couldn't care less!

  • Andrew was not harmed by the pizza tray in this story :)

Posted by staceywaugh 09:15 Archived in Argentina Tagged hostels airports pizza Comments (0)

Buenos Aires - Day 18

Power cuts and Roadworks aren't fun...

31 °C

We'd planned for a lazy day researching the rest of the trip, uploading photos and just generally relaxing as tomorrow we were heading to Peru. Early afternoon, the fan that had been keeping us cool in the 30+ degree heat stopped spinning and the music playing in the hostel went silent. Our first power cut.

The receptionist said this happened a lot and couldn't tell us when it would be back on, with the words 'F***ing Buenos Aires'! This didn't look good. A couple of hours later the power can back on, a massive sigh of relief echoed around the hostel as the fans began to cool everyone down. But this was short lived when maybe half an hour later everything went off again.

Andrew cooked early in a the semi-dark, then we went out for a walk to cool off and had a cold beer. Back at the hostel - after helping an older lady with a walking stick up the stairs with her dinner so she could eat in the light on the terrace - it was still 30 degrees at night, and we had to choose between the heat in the room, or open the windows and deal with the city noise.

At 1am we were still awake, with the windows open, and an almighty noise came from outside. A machine began ripping up the road in front of our hostel and throwing the dirt into a truck. Who starts roadworks at 1am in the morning?!!! There were no signs of this stopping, so we closed the window, put ear plugs in and eventually fell into an uncomfortable sleep.

It's not all fun and glamour this travelling malarkey!

Posted by staceywaugh 08:18 Archived in Argentina Tagged power_cuts roadworks Comments (3)

Buenos Aires - Day 17

Palermo, Recoleta and more steak in San Telmo

32 °C

Palermo and Recoleta were the areas to explore today, in the hot sunshine. We went into the subway, paid the ticket office and went to the platform - the signage was not clear down there and the subway was hot. We walked up and down trying to find the right platform and eventually a nice Argentinian man helped us find our way. Not only was the subway hot, it was dirty and the trains were spray painted and shabby. Not what I was expecting when the city itself was so lovely. We've think we might be 'Subway Spotters' as we said down there "We've been on the subway in London, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and this is the worst by far". Oh dear... Look out for a new Subway Blog coming soon, where Andrew and I travel the world riding the tubes!

Not to go on, but also unlike any other subway I've been on, here they have people selling things - a pack of scissors with safety pins and a cotton picker, a set of 12 colouring pencils...just what I need when I'm on the tube. Start selling pocket tissues or hand sanitiser and I might be interested!

Palermo was a nice area, with lots of cafes and bars, but not much in the way of sightseeing. We decided this must be more of a nighttime place, to come for drinks and food. We walked through another park, much to Andrew's pleasure (!), and rather than get on the tube again, decided the walk to Recoleta wasn't that far.
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It was! We dodge the sun as we continued walking, seeing statues of Eva Peron and large museums along the way, but by the time we got to Recoleta we were tired, hot and sweaty. There was only one thing for it - ice cream. We asked for two of the specials, which were about £2 each, maybe less, and they were massive. Dulce de Leche and Fresa (toffee and strawberry), delicious and really cooled us down :)
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Next stop was the Recoleta Cemetery, which I'd been really interested to see. Eva Peron is buried there and I'd heard it was completely different to our idea of a cemetery, although I didn't really remember why.
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We bought a map from a woman at the entrance, the money goes to the upkeep of the cemetery, walked through the pillars and it certainly was different. It was row after row of mausoleums, on paved ground, making for an off white, grey and black setting. Such a contrast to our generally small grave stones laid out on green fields, surrounded by trees and a little old church. It was an amazing but sad sight, and almost immediately I felt a little uneasy about walking around there and especially about taking pictures (thanks to Andrew we have some for you!).
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Some of the tombs were impressive - tall, white marble monuments with statues of angels on top, black marble buildings with glass cross-shaped frontage.
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Others were worn down through time and lack of care, and patched over with wood. I was expecting gravestones but these were like a little house, with a door for relatives to enter in, sit and be with the loved one, buried inside somewhere. We saw inside a few, which was ok on some - just a seat and a tiny alter, with candlesticks on top - on others it wasn't. The coffin was in full view and worse, maybe, there were what looked like recent notes and cards for 'mum'. It felt strange to be viewing all that as a tourist.

Down a narrow set of tombs we found Eva Peron's family mausoleum. It was a lot smaller than I had expected but there were many plaques as tribute to Evita and flowers left there for her.
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We decided to cheer ourselves up by visiting a busier part of town, which had nice places to shop but was also home to one of the most beautiful book shops in the world, El Ateneo. We thought it must be the most beautiful, but nope, there was a sign saying their was one better in Holland and that the fifth best was in Glasgow. Maybe we can be bookshop spotters instead of subways?
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On the long walk home we noted a strange thing that had happened today. I must be looking a little tanned (although I definitely don't seem it), and I was wearing my sunglasses (blue eyes are generally a giveaway!), but I was asked for directions in Spanish three times! Obviously I couldn't help, but it made me feel quite good to be mistaken for one of their own!

Tonight we dined on more steak! We'd been recommended a restaurant in San Telmo called Gran Parrilla del Plata and it didn't disappoint. It's set in an old butchers shop, with pictures on the wall to prove it, the same tiled walls and bottles of red wine everywhere. The waiter was learning English and wanted to practise on us, which made it an easy night for us language wise. We ordered a bottle of Malbec and a rib eye steak each (we didn't want to compare to the one we had in Puerto Iguacu) with patatas bravas - they're like small roast potatoes with a tomato sauce, Steve Waugh ;) Along with it came three dips, chimichurri, provencale and another that I can't remember the name of - it was all delicious!
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Afterwards we had drinks in Plaza Dorrego, watched the tango dancing and listened to the musicians...
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Posted by staceywaugh 13:26 Archived in Argentina Tagged trees ponds subway cemetry evita steak geeks Comments (0)

Buenos Aires - Day 16

La Boca and Puerto Madera

32 °C

Today we visited a two neighbourhoods, La Boca and Puerto Madera. This meant taking a bus to La Boca from a couple of blocks from our hostel. The bus driver was trying to tell us something when we handed him a note, but we couldn't understand quickly enough and we had to get off the bus. The phrase book came in handy here, as we searched for words that sounded similar to what he was saying. What we didn't know was that in Buenos Aires you need coins for the bus - 3.70 pesos each - for the bus, but in a country that has 2 pesos notes, 7.40 in coins is not the easiest thing to come by! We had to go and buy tictacs for change, so in the end it was win win!

La Boca is a colourful area of the city, with bright buildings and art on every corner. The main street was full of restaurants and bars, with entertainment - Tango dancers, an elderly Argentinian crooner and some men doing some sort of Latin-style tap dancing in what looked like cowboy boots - I could have sat and watched all day.
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There was more dancing when a local band took to the streets
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Andrew was more excited to see the Boca Juniors stadium. A few streets from the main area was an enormous blue and yellow stadium, La Bombonera, the home of Boca Juniors who are apparently a really famous football club!?
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We also saw Messi hanging around in one the shops
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We took another bus and walked to Puerto Madero. This is a really modern part of the city, on the riverbank with apartments, offices, shops and cafes. You can tell from the cafes alone that it must be an affluent area, and I can imagine an apartment with a balcony on the riverbank would be a lovely place to live here. As a side note here, we've come to love Starbucks already. Not for their coffee or sweet treats, but that their staff always let you use the toilet even when you're not a customer :)

As well as the modern buildings, there is a pretty white footbridge bridge ("better than the millennium bridge in Lancaster", Andrew Waugh 2013) that turns to let boats passed, called Puente de la Mujer, "Woman's bridge". It is supposed to look like a couple doing the Tango?
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Over the bridge was a old training ship, Presidente Sarmiento, which is now a museum ship. It was built in the late 1800s in Birkenhead and has travelled the globe six times.
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After a long walk back we headed back to the hostel for dinner and Argetinian red wine. We had a night time walk around the plaza and saw the Argentine National Congress building, amongst others. So many people we're out running and walking their dogs - I don't blame them when it's 32 plus degrees in the day, but it's still late 20s/30 late at night!

Posted by staceywaugh 12:27 Archived in Argentina Tagged bridges art buildings boats colour tango dancing Comments (2)

Buenos Aires - Day 15

Plaza de Mayo, San Telmo and Avenida 9 de Julio

29 °C

After the travelling and activities of the last couple of weeks we needed a lie in, and we managed one until 8.30am in our comfy new room. Breakfast was a little chaotic, with not enough seats to go round in the breakfast room, but the coffee was strong and there was croissants and spreads, so not too bad in the end.
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We had a lazy morning and then decided to stay local today, walking from our hostel down to Plaza de Mayo. The buildings around the city really are beautiful and at the bottom of the Plaza was Casa Rosado. This was where Eva Peron, the first lady of Argentina, stood in the balcony to address the masses and where Madonna stood later when she played Evita.
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More buildings off the plaza
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Continuing our walk, we visited the neighbourhood of San Telmo, which has lots of shops and antique markets to look around. In Plaza Dorrego, the square was full of restaurants and bars with tables and chairs outside, and we watched a couple doing the Tango.
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Away from the square we had lunch a little cafe. I ordered a chicken salad sandwich, which came out with a whole chicken thigh and leg in it - bone in leg and all?! - plus cheese and ham. Everything in South America so far seems to come with cheese and ham. Really tasty though.

Our walk then took us to a busy shopping area called San Nicolas, where we were constantly being shouted at "Cambio, Cambio". Exchanging Argentine Peso is not allowed, so these are people who illegally exchange money (cambio)...needless to say we didn't do this.

Heading back to the hostel, down Avenida 9 de Julio - the widest avenue in the world apparently, and so busy as I said on the last blog (see picture)- we passed the beautiful Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires' main Opera house, but unfortunately there was nothing on until March.
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There is also the Obelisk, which was built to commemorate the city, and just by it an enormous image of a couple doing the Tango on one of the buildings. I've since read this space is used for different works of art, and this was linked to the Tango World Cup and Festival being held in the city.
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And beyond that, artwork of Eva Peron on the side of one of the buildings...
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Back at the hostel we did some research for our trip, in particular to see Machu Picchu, looking at the climb up Huayna Picchu, which is the mountain you see at the back of the ruins in all the picture postcard shots. After reading a few blogs and watching some YouTube clips, I've decided against it, being scared of heights it's not for me, but Andrew is definitely going to do it!

Posted by staceywaugh 07:22 Archived in Argentina Tagged art buildings tango Comments (2)

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