Sunday, 14 February 2010

DIARY - ARGENTINA Buenos Aires

Trivia question - Which is the busiest airport in the world?


WEDNESDAY 10 FEBRUARY – Mariela walks us to the Fine Arts Museum, free, a pleasant stop for about 15 minutes. In the afternoon we take a taxi to the bus station, A$10 (£1.45). Our San Jose bus to towards Buenos Aires, A$95 (£16) will drop us in a small town so we can rendezvous with our host who lives in Tortuguitas. Whilst comfortable there is far less leg room on the bus. We head through the tunnel and across to Santa Fe and for the whole journey see bad floods on both sides of the roads with many shanty type houses submerged. This trendy continues for much of the journey with cattle wading waste high in water. The food consists of a triple decker
sandwich with ham and cheese, cereal bar and sweet plus the ubiquitous hot sweet black coffee on tap. Arriving in Pacheco our host Christian is waiting at the bus stop. He suggests we grab our bags and get into his car as quickly as possible as this is not a good area to linger in. On the way back to his home he tells us more about his life and family. Where they live land and property are cheap so it is inhabited by many poorer people so to protect themselves they have 3 German shepherds. They have a large piece of land with the main house and Christian’s studio where he has given us his double bed plus a swimming pool. His Dad Janos has a very interesting history, Russian grandparents, and Hungarian parents, was born in Austria and now lives in Argentina. He cooks a BBQ with the traditional spicy sausage, on huge link about 1 metre long which is cooked whole then cut into pieces.

TORTUGUITAS, (40km from Buenos Aires) COUCHSURFING WITH CHRISTIAN



THURSDAY 11 FEBRUARY = Christian is a photographer and works in the city so after a late breakfast we join him for the drive in. He walks us to the subway and on the way we see a big old beautiful Mercedes motorhome parked up. Christian tells us these were very popular many years ago but are now unaffordable – strange as in most other countries motorhomes are taking off as a cheaper way to holiday. We take the subway, A$1.10 (40p) to the city centre. The first thing we see is the huge obelisk, visible from each of the many wide streets that converge on the area. It’s very hot so we walk slowly and end up in the square with the beautiful Palace of Justice.
There’s an area with over 50 dogs, many fastened to the railing but looking very healthy. We find out that in Buenos Aries people pay for their dogs to be taken out for 3-hours at a time. The “dog walkers” take all the dogs to the park and take them on 1 hour walks in turn. On the map most things look just a few blocks apart but here the blocks are very long. So we decide to take the hop on hop off double decker bus, A$50 (£8.50) to cover most of the interesting sectors. The sign says you can buy tickets on board and it passes every 30 minutes. It takes 30 minutes to arrive, you cannot buy tickets on board as the sign says but the guide agrees to drop us at the next stop where you can. Once we arrive there everyone is told to clear the bus and line up for the start of the next circuit. After buying our tickets we are told we must wait and hour to get on the bus as the next one is full. We confirm that if we then get off at a stop and the passing bus is full we would again have to wait another 30 minutes to hand our tickets back figuring it will be quicker on foot! Oh well at least we have had a free ride to the main square.
The cathedral is a very strange design and looks more like museum with lots of columns outside. Casa Rosa is about the only other point of interest. Head off towards San Telmo walking down narrow cobbled streets. The city museum is free and has some interesting old toys.




Drop lucky at lunch time where “Breoghan” offer 2 courses and drink for A$22 (£3.80) and owner Juan speaks good English. The pork is fantastic, it literally melts in your mouth and the cheese and quince dessert is a nice mixture of flavours. It is at 389 Pje San Lorenzo directly opposite “the minimal house” the narrowest building in Buenos Aires, too funny as it is about as wide as the house we used to have and rent out in England. San Telmo is a strange area, many old crumbling beautiful mansions interspaced with others that are restored and house restaurants or antique shops. After walking miles and ending up at Congress we hop on the original tube line where they still have wooden carriages. It is around 5.30pm and we have seen and done all we want to so take the other subway out for our rendezvous with Christian later, much later at 9pm. Settle into Victoria café to stretch out a couple of drinks whilst people watching. This is a great spot by a taxi rank where a red haired driver causes trouble each time he returns. He has a row with a passenger, a row with another taxi who parked in front of him and confrontation with a bus and a private car who gets in his way. Christian arrives with his girlfriend Geraldine who also speaks good English. After a quick meal we set out on a driving tour around the city by night.
Recycling takes on a whole new meaning here. Poor people from the suburbs converge on the city at night. Dragging massive carts they rifle the rubbish for cardboard, plastic and glass. Once the cart is full they meet up with a big truck to load on their finds. The other highlight for us is a drive through the park in Palermo. Here boy/girl prostitutes (chicks with dicks) are at the roadside showing off what they have on offer. It is hard to believe they are really men as they have great figures, nice boobs and look very attractive. Before dropping Geraldine at home we pass “lo do Charley” 24-hour BBQ house which has been in business every day since 1991, at around 1am we are amazed to see it is packed out. Proof of just how different the Argentinean time schedule is to ours.

TORTUGUITAS 2, COUCHSURFING WITH CHRISTIAN



FRIDAY 12 FEBRUARY – Christian leaves for work whilst we stay behind to relax a bit and enjoy the pool.   We buy beer, cheese, salami and olives for lunch with Janas then fit in a siesta before he takes us to the train station.  For the 45 minute journey from General Lemos to F Lacroze in the city it is only A$1.35 (23p).   The connecting subway takes us to our next host’s home in the city. He is at work but left instructions for us to leave the bags with the janitor and return at 9pm.  Corrientes Street is full of cheap clothing shops but after a couple of blocks it is repetitious so we settle into a café.  Oswaldo has told us he is cooking us a meal for 9pm so we arrive at about 10 minutes to and get reprimanded for arriving early!  He has his own costume jewellery shop and lives alone in his apartment.  He asks us lots of questions and seems to find our answers strange.  He has read a lot about the British Isles and believes we have afternoon tea with a cake stand!  Tomorrow he is going out in the morning to an exercise class and it sounds like he expects us to leave at the same time.  He suggests we return at 7pm in time to go to the theatre with him.  In bed we discuss this and decide that we have already seen enough of BA (we had hoped Oswaldo might have been able to show us different areas) so will opt out and move on.

Trivia answer - Atlanta, Georgia, USA

1 comment:

Summer said...

I see that you visited San Telmo.
I though it was the best one. Very beautiful neighborhood which has a lot of history inside and you can even smell tango on the streets. Something not to miss! Last year I actually rented a Furnished apartment in Buenos Aires in San Telmo, and I do not regret it. I was close to all of the important places and now I can’t wait to go back.
Cheers,
Summer