Jan. 24th- Feb. 1st
We arrived at the butt crack of dawn to a mostly quiet bus station. Another routine panic of us not having service and having no idea how to get to our place of stay. We were about to pay for a mere 10 minutes of unknown WiFi through some type of automated kiosk, when we found the tourist information center. The lovely lady working helped us find where our place was and even provided us with directions. The closest metro station was closed so she informed us we had to walk a few blocks to the next one to start our journey. Recovering from the Saturday night party scene, locals were still sleeping allowing us to see the city in a big eyes peaceful way.
Due to some type of construction, we arrived to another closed metro station. On foot it had to be then. Our first longer term walk with our packs on, we were immediately grateful we decided to pack on the lighter side for the trip. After some statued featured roads, literally a huge statue on almost every corner featuring some European who killed all the locals and declared his land,
we arrived to our place of stay in the Balvanera (Congresso) district. The lady ended up being a spanish-asian mix who wore maybe a little too much makeup. She was nice but her place was a little less clean than we preferred. She fell into the host category of: you can use my stuff, but not really.
We rested from our bus ride and then headed out to the Sunday Ferria in the Santelmo district. Kind of like a street flea market, this popular attraction was full of stands selling all sorts of odds and ends. We strolled around and ended up hanging out in a Starbucks for a bit to try and get a glimpse of a street tango show. Unfortunately, it was too lengthy in hype and we decided to get some grub instead. I found a place on yelp called the Banco Rojo. Even with having the address, this hole in the wall was hard to find being that the name wasn’t displayed anywhere. It was a delicious surprise. We got the special of the day called the Vicky which was their take on a burger and fries. Featuring the classic egg that comes on burgers here and a side of fried potato slices to make it that much better. My favorite part was the sweet purple mayonnaise topping that was so bright, you were hesitant to try it at first. As we shared our delicious meal we saw a girl food processing some chickpeas for some homemade hummus. One please. This huge container with toppings was earthy and awesome. She toasted some pita chips for us and we walked out with full bellies.
The next day was uneventful for the most part. We did some city exploring by foot. We saw the ginormous Congresso building and plaza de la republica.
We strolled over to the Puerto Madero district to check out the large park of Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur but of course it was closed on Mondays…
We treated ourselves after a long day of not hard work to a Buenos Aires style pizza at the most popular place in town. I’ll take some pizza with my cheese please. Come to find out, they load one of their pizzas here with enough cheese for 3 whole pizzas.
We also had our first awkward tipping situation. We weren’t sure what exactly to do since in Brazil it was customary to not tip and we read it was 10% here but weren’t sure if that was for casual restaurants too. We kind of just sat there and observed what others did. When someone was about to pay we would do the try and look without really looking thing, finding out that the 10% was standard.
The next couple of days we utilized the tourist line like in Curitiba.
This one had two routes and was twice the price. It was nice to ride around all at once getting to see different sections of the city. You realize how humongous the city actually is. For day 1 we passed by the La Boca district with the La Bombonera stadium equipped with some serious soccer fever.
The second line was less frequented and far less eventful basically doing a big circle around the airport. Day 2 featured some more government buildings and what not with a stop at the small botanical gardens.
Walking back to the place, there was a large movie screen and chairs set up right outside the world famous Teatro Colón.
Being that all the actual plays are extremely expensive inside, I’ll take what I can get. It ended up being the Nutcracker Broadway Musical in English, which was funny because most the old people left being they couldn’t understand it. Going back to the place to cook dinner, we had another laundry problem. I’m telling you, people here and their washing machines. Again, stated included but with the hosts “supervision”. I reached out to get the “okay” to use it. In this case, it ended up being you can only use it once and she had to do it -_-. I think this will be the only time in my life where I will say this, but, I just want to do my own laundry people! I mean once you think about it, why would you want to touch some foreign persons under dressings anyways? I think I’m capable to push a couple of buttons without breaking it. So, I just settled on slaving away and hand washing everything… again.
In doing our research for our next destination, Uruguay, we realized that in between not seeing all of Buenos Aires and the cheaper ferry prices the following week, we decided to extend our stay but at a different location of the city. We booked a place in the Recoleta district this time and headed out the next day. We arrived to Maul’s place and were pleasantly surprised. His place was clean, beautiful, and very spacious. We had a full international house featuring Germans, Americans, Hollanders, and Argentinians. He gathered everyone for a night of empanadas and story telling, even breaking out his guitar for what he considered the most international song Hakuna matata. He had everyone do a verse in their local language. It was an awesome late night with many laughs.
The next morning we got up to make some breakfast. The people from Germany were already in the kitchen eating. A quick meal ended up turning into a full day’s worth of conversation. Christian and Leena are a couple from Germany doing a year long trip around the world.
We got a lot of travel advice from them being that they have been to many places we plan to go to. Besides the traveling, it was nice because we actually had a lot of conversation that wasn’t travel related. I got to chat about blog stuff with Christian (check out their blog here) and Uriah got a good dose of some international discussion with Leena. We instantly gained a friendship and they even joined us for the tango show that night. This tango show I stumbled upon online and was at a cultural center. We got the tickets earlier in the day via a discount store and arrived to the show in the nick of time. The small venue was older and a little musty, but in a refreshing not touristy way. The show was awesome, especially for the price, and featured many couples dancing, singers, and a live awesome band. We capped off the night with some more empanadas and beer and hung out until late in the night with our new friends.
The next day, after another long morning of conversation, Uriah surprised me with a trip to the Japanese Gardens for the Japanese cultural exhibit.
These small gardens were extremely hyped up in all the travel pages, but were slightly disappointing. If we went in with no expectations we would have been impressed but with everyone jumping on the “this is the best thing ever” bandwagon it was hyped up maybe a little too much.
Afterwards, we went to the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas to take a nap next to the large steel flower sculpture of Floralis Generica, of which the petals open and close.
We strolled around for a bit and headed back to cook some dinner. Chef Uriah made some delicious flank steak and rice which was the perfect ending to the day.
After another day of sleeping in and long morning conversations, we headed out to one of my most anticipated moments of the city, the Recoleta Cemetery.
Fresh out of an old scary movie, this place was packed with oversized statues and mausoleums. I was mesmerized by the size of this place. Weaving in and out of narrow paths, these tombs were all shapes and sizes. Some were small with ladders leading far into the ground and others were built up to resemble large marble buildings with steps and all.
We even found a couple to explore ourselves, that were open before we got there of course.
The cemetery is mostly known for the tomb of Evita which we didn’t end up making it to. We got about halfway through the grounds, when the guard rung a large bell to indicate they were closing…creepy.
We headed back get ready for a concert Maul told us about. He warned it was local so keep the pockets empty but definitely a site to see. We waited in the long line skeptical at first. We were holding our stack of pamphlets handed to us for the after parties by random people and watched vendors walk around with coolers yelling cerveza. As we neared, you could hear the base from the drums growing louder. We entered and were greeted by a large outdoor venue tucked in between buildings and a huge stage.
Our small stealthy selves dug our way to the front where we had not only an awesome view of the stage, but of the hippy dancers in the zone as well. Bomba de Tiempo was the name of the group and they were amazing. Almost like an improv with drums, they would take turns “conducting” and feel out the beat to make an awesome song. It blew our minds and even got us to dance a little hippy too :).
Afterwards, we met Christian and Leena for a delicious Argentinian parilla dinner with more meat than Uriah could even handle. We are enjoying eating out abroad because it’s not only about the food but about the experience. Dinner here takes hours and it is absolutely refreshing not being rushed. Wine and conversation drove us late into our last night in Buenos Aires.
We awoke early in the morning to catch our 9:00am ferry ride over to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. A large multi deck boat with room for cars, restaurants, shops, and gross bus style seats.
Happy travels from U and B!