Ah, 2016, I thought, the year I will really get my teeth into the whole travel thing and see the seven man made World Wonders. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see them all, but still managed two, as well as exploring an entire new continent in some depth – (South, Central and North America) so nevertheless consider that year a travel success.
I loved Buenos Aires as soon as I turned up. The normal jet lag applied, and I got roped into hanging out the following evening with the guy at check in, but everything else was perfect. As usual I’d booked myself a couple of pre-nights at the same hotel the tour kicked off from. I even managed to keep a vague diary for those first couple of days, before it became too impossibly busy to be able to 😉 Here are some extracts.
Arrive, somewhat stunned that I’ve actually made it in one piece, and jet lagged to the eyeballs. Another continent crossed off the list. Well, kinda. I have been to the Caribbean but South America is obviously totally different.
Taxi driver overcharges me, of course, but he is very nice and I just want to get there so agree to the equivalent of twenty five quid for a 45 minute ride. It’s definitely expensive by South American standards but not London, which I’m used to.
I’m currently sat in a Vegan cafe (recommended by yours truly at reception) after a shower and suitcase rearrangement. Just had a Kobu burger – named after the place – which was delicious but about 5,000 carbs. When you take into account the huge piece of bread it was served in, not to mention the pile of chips on the side, it could have satisfied the appetite of Nelly the Elephant.
After a good long sleep I decide to hit Buenos Aires proper. It’s 35 degrees outside and I’m up for a big walk regardless, to take in the main sights at the centre of town. Luckily our hotel Tribeca is in central so I study the map over breakfast (no data abroad so I’m wifi reliant) speak to an old school mate for some advice on where to go, and I’m off.
Walking down Batholomew Mitre street I reach the main road where the needle building or ‘phallic symbol’ is.
It’s huge and white and looks as if it wouldn’t be out of place in the States. I cross past the busy road (which is in three stages with three sets of lights, it is that vast) and carry on walking down B.Mitre until I reach Florida street on the left with loads of shops. Everyone there seems to be shouting out what sounds like ‘Cameo, cameo!’ but I ignore it and carry on.
A couple of times during the day I have to duck into coffee shops to refresh myself due to the heat.
I’ve been advised that there is an art gallery hidden in what looks like an underground car park at the end of Florida street, but unfortunately the guy has forgotten the name and I can’t find it anyway, so I cross over the road to the San Martin square (also recommended). It turns out to be a stunning square that looks like a small park within itself, containing lush and flowering trees looking out over a clock tower a couple of blocks across the road in the distance. Naturally I take loads of photos.
Walk around a bit more, waiting for the museum across the road to open. When it does I realise it’s an army museum with loads of machines so have a very quick scoot around before finding somewhere to have a Caprese salad.
Wander around a little after (Ok, quite a lot more) checking out a square and a couple of museums.
Head back to the hotel to rest for a bit as my feet are caning by this point, walking past the Congress building on the way.
Fast forward to the evening and it actually turned out pretty decently with the guy-from-reception. We went to Palermo Soho for burgers and beer then moved onto a bar with a whole ton of vegetation, for cocktails. A tropical storm broke out while we were sat on the rooftop, which was amazing to watch. I wish I had thought to snap a picture.
Day Three (first day meeting group)
Bit more of a chill day today. Our group officially meet this evening, and as I did so much walking yesterday decide to take it relatively easy.
Need to check out of my room so have a bit of a lengthy wait at hotel reception getting that all sorted. Get introduced to my roommate Emily by yours truly so I switch to her room.
Our group was fairly small compared to some others I had been on, roughly 15 of us, and there were a few couples. We didn’t have our introductory meeting with our tour manager until the next morning, but a few of us went out in a small group that night and ended up getting involved in some sort of street carnival. We had started off as witnesses taking photos but soon very much became participants as we raced down the street away from kids chasing and squirting foam guns at us. After such a fun night and several glasses in us it was a wonder that we managed to find our way into a taxi and back to the right hotel.
Day Four (first day of tour)
The next morning saw the official beginning of the tour with a two hour long introductory meeting by our lovely tour manager Flor. By the end we were ready for a proper introductory walkabout the city. This would cover a fair amount – the extremely hip and colourful neighbourhood of La Boca, a giant flower sculpture made of steel and aluminium called Floralis Generica in the Plaza de la Naciones Unidas, colonial architecture and mansions, Puerto Madero – including the famous ‘Tango’ bridge and giant ship – not to mention San Telmo (both an intriguing mix of historical and cosmopolitan).
That evening would see us attending a Tango show while enjoying a classic steak and red wine that Argentina is famous for. But much like the first night, we didn’t remain witnesses for long.
We paired up and got our moves on.
Was the night over after? Was it ever. We moved onto a club called Ink and continued to dance with the locals, at the beginning of what was to be the most whirlwind tour I’ve ever been on out of all of them.
Day Five (second day of tour)
Today was to be all about the Polo, darling, Argentina’s national sport. First off, we settled down and made ourselves comfortable watching a match. It was somewhat unnerving, as they were moving so fast and whacking the sticks around with abandon – we were concerned the horses legs would be getting hurt, and/or that the ball would come whizzing into the seats among the stadium and crash into one of our faces.
After, it was time for our lesson – we practiced whacking balls around on the grass into a wicker basket before splitting into teams, jumping on our horses and giving the game a go. It was fun, but I can’t say it was really for me, probably partly because I can’t fully control a horse. Ryan, a guy in our group with exceedingly high confidence, was having a whale of a time – ripping down the arena like he’d done it a hundred times before.
Another animal selfie.
Our BBQ lunch after.
A good amount of time was spent lounging around in the pool on the grounds and none of us wanted to leave.
Our group social activity that night was a cooking class and learning how to make Empanadas. We got treated to a Mate tea session and bought some cups. There was also a competition to see who could make the best thing out of their dough, which the owners would judge as they were baking them for us. Ryan did a Mr Potato face and of course, won.
The rest of us losers drowned our sorrows.