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Buenos Aires

October 14th, 2009

Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina and the “Paris of South America” or so quite a few guidebooks say. In fairness, they’re not far off; take some of the architecture of Paris, add a heavy dash of spanish culture and you’ve pretty much got Buenos Aires. It’s really rather very nice.

Our arrival in to Buenos Aires, on the other hand, could have been better. Having nearly slept through our flight in Sao Paulo we were greeted by a late departure from Sao Paulo airport which meant that our one hour to connect in Montevideo (Uruquay) was looking optimistic at best. Once we arrived in Montevideo, about an hour late, we obviously legged it through to the departure lounge and were greeted by way too many people in far too small an area. Unfortunately it looked like no flights had left the airport in sometime which meant a serious backlog of Pluna flights out of the airport. With, seemingly, a flight almost every hour to Buenos Aires we thought it would be easy to bump up the queue but unfortunately we had to wait another two hours before getting on our original flight. On arrival in to Aeroparque, the domestic (and Uruquay!!) airport we had to walk a fair distance from the plane to the terminal before strolling through an empty passport control. We then had to wait somewhere near 90 minutes for our bags to come through. No idea what was going on but the airport was dead. Have yet to leave Argentina so having no entry stamp in the passport may make things interesting….we’ll see. Also, don’t bother with the taxi booths, they’re expensive, just grab a meter taxi out the front.

Our first night in Buenos Aires didn’t really get much better after that. We’d checked out hostelbookers.com a few days before and found a good hostel with a quality safety record in the Palermo neighborhood. We assumed we could just turn up and get a room…….no no no. So, we managed to rock up at the right place, a feat given that they have no markings to suggest they’re a hostel. We rang the buzzer and asked if they had any rooms. We got a swift reply, no. We then saw the pizza place next door and they took a bit of pity on us once we asked if they knew of another hostel/hotel in the area. In the end the guy said that they only took reservations online and it had to be through hostelbookers.com. It being just past midnight we were in a bit of trouble. He suggested we try the pizza restaurant round the corner as they had wifi. They were shut. We mentioned this to him, and asked if we could borrow his computer. Hell No, but there was a bar round the corner. We went round to the bar and managed to use the wifi, with Steve buying a brownie from them. At that point we couldn’t book for that night but thankfully they didn’t mind when we finally got back and crashed.

In total we ended up spending six days in Buenos Aires basically checking out the different tourist sites as well as trying to check out quite a few of the different neighbourhoods. As we didn’t have a guide book we started off by asking the guy in the hotel what we should see and, as he’d been asked this a few times, he gave us a list of his top 30 things to do/see in the city.

For our first day we decided to head towards the centre of Buenos Aires to the Obelisk. At this point I’ve got to point out that the underground system in Buenos Aires is excellent; it can, at times, be as crowded as the tube but it costs about 20p to go anywhere on the network. From the Obelisk, which is just that and nothing more, we walked down Diagonal Norte to the Cathedral, Cabildo and Palace. The CathedralThe Cathedral is fairly interesting, resembling most cathedrals on the inside, but looking more like a greek temple from the outside. Having had a quick look at both of those we decided to walk up Calle Florida, which is a main, pedestrianised, shopping street catering for almost anything. Nothing particularly special down here but it leads quite nicely to Plaza San Martin which is quite a peaceful little park area.

Our second day was a Sunday, and still feeling a little jetlagged, we only managed to get up at midday (this became a bit of a pattern) but made our way to the San Telmo neighbourhood to check out the Sunday antiques market. It’s a really excellent market along calle Defensa which sells many things, not just antiques. It’s an absolute must, in my opinion, if you’re in Buenos Aires on a Sunday. The atmosphere in the place is just brilliant with musicians along the length of the street playing various kinds of music to keep people entertained.San Telmo Street Music With the market dying down we eventually decided to just relax in the main San Telmo square and sat on the street with a couple of jugs of Quilmes while we watched the world go by. Eventually the market disappeared and was replaced by restaurant seating as well as a dance floor where people danced tango while others looked on. We finished off the night with a cracking meal overlooking the square before heading back to the hostel.

On our third day I was feeling considerably worse for wear, possibly the result of the previous nights beers (although we didn’t have that much) or I was actually coming down with something. It was probably the latter as I didn’t feel too great the day after either. Anyway, we decided to have an easy(ish) day and went to look at the district of Recoleta in the north of the city. This area contains a lot of green open spaces as well as some of the most expensive parts of Buenos Aires. Unbeknown to us it was also the first day of spring and, coupled with the stunning weather, it meant that a lot of people were out in the parks enjoying the sun and generally having a good time. Unfortunately for us the reknowned cemetary, with exquisite tombs, was not open at the time of visiting. We did have a really great day though, just chilling out in a cafe and watching the world go by.

The rest of our time in Buenos Aires was done at a seriously slower pace. We spent another three days, one of which we spent walking the whole bloody city, just chilling out. We visited Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood with it’s more trendy feel and designer shops which was cool but a tad annoying when you’re on a budget. We also, eventually, got round to walking down to the Hall of CongressEl Congresso Nacional on Avenida de Mayo 5 and couldn’t believe we hadn’t done it sooner. The avenue itself, we knew, was full of impressive architecture but the Hall of Congress is a real treat. Our final day we spent going down to the Boca neighbourhood which is seriously deprived but has the famous Boca Juniors football stadium. It’s also home to a spectacularly touristy couple of blocks, the name of which I can’t remember, but it’s not really worth going to in my opinion. We pretty much just turned straight round.

Author: Mark Jerzykowski Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
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