We're heading off to Iguassu Falls tomorrow to catch some sunshine and a waterfall or two for my birthday, so here's our joint entry from our two stints in currently extremely soggy Buenos Aires.
We've been staying at the hostel owned by Sebastian who we met on our jungle trip in Bolivia. Unfortunately, he and his girlfriend are still travelling in Peru so we weren't able to hang out with them while in Buenos Aires, but we've been very well looked after by his friendly staff, and it's been a really good base for both visits to the capital, before and after the whales.
Buenos Aires is a great city - the kind of place you could imagine living (don’t worry Mums, no emigration plans). It’s quite European in feel, in some areas you could almost be in Paris. There's a very lively nightlife and we've done more than our fair share of eating (mostly of the steak variety) and sampled some decidedly quaffable vino tinto. But we've also done a bit of culture, with visits to two art galleries to check out the Monet, Degas, Picasso et al and a rather curious modern art installation featuring a load of potatoes wired up with electric cables. 'Interesting...' as my art teacher used to say at school when she was somewhat unconvinced.
We did a walking tour and duly looked at all the main buildings, including the Casa Rosada where Evita wowed the crowds from the balcony (and where Madonna crooned for the musical a few decades later.) Apparently, the pink colour of the building could come from it being painted in bovine blood – the Argentineans really do love their beef.
On a particularly murky day, we wandered round the Recoleta cemetery, which might seem like a slightly strange thing to do but several people, guidebooks etc had recommended it. It was an interesting, if a little eerie, place. It’s almost like a city with ‘streets’ of tombs/ mausoleums etc some 15-20 ft high with ornate angels etc from the 19th century sitting alongside sleek modern marble constructions that wouldn’t look out of place in a posh hotel lobby. The rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightning added to the slightly spooky effect and we luckily made it to a cafe before the heavens opened – and how.
Another time, we cheered along at an exciting derby football match between River Plate and Independiente. An Argentine football match is quite an experience - 60,000 odd supporters singing, chanting, waving flags, setting off coloured smoke flares and, at one obviously pre-ordained point, simultaneously throwing tiny bits of torn up newspaper like confetti. Great fun. And River won 3-2 so the fans were happy too, and so was Roland with his temporary replacement Red 'n' Whites. The football action wasn’t only restricted to spectating though: Roland enjoyed his Argentine debut in a game that some of the guys in the hostel were playing.
We followed a recommendation to go to an evening called La Bomba de Tiempo which we’d also suggest for anyone coming here. It’s a 13 person percussion band with various other instruments thrown in for good measure. We weren’t entirely sure it was going to be our cup of tea at first, but they were amazingly skilled and each piece sounded really different. Of course, the South Americans around us were gyrating wildly, but even us cold-blooded Northern Europeans managed a bit of a bop.
Last night we went for a tango evening that started with a lesson which was really good fun – Roland’s shins might be a little worse for wear but even he enjoyed it too. After we’d got our breath back, we watched the professionals show us how it should be done with a spectacular display – rather put our efforts to shame...
All in all, we’ve enjoyed out time in Buenos Aires but after a couple of days of pretty much non-stop rain, we’re ready to move on and we’re looking forward to seeing Iguassu Falls which people we’ve met along the way have spoken very highly of.
Hope all good back home.
Lots of love
Helene and Roland x