So, I haven’t yet finished my blogging for Brazil (the city of Foz do Iguacu) .. but since I am currently in Buenos Aires, I’ll just forward it a bit and go back to Brazil tomorrow 🙂
I arrived in B.A from Brazil via Bus. It was actually an easy process: free ride with the hostel van (other people were going to the Argentinian side of the falls for the day), get off at the Brazil border, get your exit stamps, bus over to the Argentinian side, change money over (and mentally switch from Portuguese to Spanish), cab to the airport in Iguazu falls then fly to Buenos Aires. It turned out well!
Buenos Aires, as far as I could tell, was immediately colonial in terms of statues, plazas, parks, etc. I arrived at a hotel I’d booked to ‘treat’ myself for my first night in Argentina alone .. and was blown away by what you could get for less than $100. I would say the hotels, beer/food, and the clothing are about 50% less than in Canada, and the shoes are about 30% less. I pretty much spent my evening doing laundry in the sink (backpacking style 😉 and sleeping. The next morning I moved hotels – still in the Palermo area – and got a bit of a sense of the neighborhood.
Buenos Aires is divided into several neighborhoods, including Palermo, Santa Telmo, Recoleta, Centro (Central). The second hotel (and the one I am staying in for my 8 nights with Ryan in B.A) is in the heart of Palermo, but not on the main drag. I am really happy with our choice, as it is an apartment – and is therefor independent in nature, with a fridge etc – but has helpful (albeit non-english speaking) staff at the front desk 🙂
Ryan was to arrive on the 31st at around 10am and I was anxious to see if he made his connections in Washington! I was also equally worried about the massive bug bites/allergic reaction I got on my head the night before. The irony is that it was (and will be) the most expensive hotel I have stayed in and I awoke with a narwhale/Navi/Avatar forehead that later swelled into my right eyeball. Ryan arrive on time and kindly told me I looked “great” despite later references to creatures in scary movies. Haha … no but seriously. So far, we have had 3 nights in B.A and the city is lovely! I think part of it has to do with the fact that you can get the following for $25: 3 medallions of steak, another 10 oz steak (best quality ever), fries and salad, a bottle of good red wine. In other words — cheapest, most amazing meals EVER! Well… in terms of steak. 🙂
When you go to a cafe in the morning, they will give you FREE (haha can you tell I like this?) brownies, scones or whatever other mini delicious thing they have in the bakery. This is included in the price of an americano. We typically get a few empanadas each (chicken/pollo, carne/beef, queso/cheese) etc., and breakfast is about $5 total for two people – that includes the coffees, the freebie sweets and the mains! AMAZING! Lunches and dinners have been phenomenal. I am certainly NOT a vegetarian. Ribs, steak, chicken, are all so incredibly prepared and cost you so little. I have to say that unlike Brazil, the Argentinians know how to get you with their “snacks” served with the beer (a bottle or a litre). You will typically get a little plate of chips, peanuts, and bread sticks. If you go for lunch, you will often get free empanadas to start the meal off. Heaven.
Ryan and I have walked the majority of Buenos Aires in 3 days, and one of the days we were both a little under the weather! Living in Palermo, I have to say I feel very safe wandering. People have been friendly – though I would say that thus far, the males have been friendlier (and more helpful) than the females (even when Ryan is with me!). On the first day, we got oriented around Palermo – which is further subdivided into the districts of Soho, Hollywood, and Viejo. The first FULL day we had, we wandered through the rest of Palermo, then Recoleta – where you will find Evita Peron’s tomb – and Centro (the downtown hub).
We were feeling a little under the weather so we stayed local, but still managed to walk for upwards of 4 hours and visited the local zoo – complete with polar bears (?in this climate?), tigers and chimps. There was one animal that looked like a cross between a rabbit and deer .. and definitely part marsupial .. it wasn’t in any cage and seemed to wander freely throughout the zoo.
On day 4, we really felt like we had our bearings, and walked back up to Centro in hopes of figuring out how to get to La Boca (neighborhood, also home of the most famous Argentinian soccer team). Despite me losing the map that we had carefully marked, we managed to get to this apparently “dangerous” neighborhood via cab. Unfortunately, after all of the research we had done on the internet as well as question/answer periods I’d had with locals in broken spanish – turns out you could not buy tickets for the game until “maybe tomorrow”. It really was frustrating because the upcharge with tour companies to get a guided tour and tickets to the game (with transportation) is really high – about 300%! We swallowed our frustrations (and a beer or two) and began our journey around La Boca. We felt safer than in parts of Italy or Vancouver .. though it was mid-day and we stayed on the colored-street strip with other tourists. People were friendly and it had an energy that was contagious! Everything was so lively, tango dancers were rehearsing or performing in the streets, and we saw kids practicing their futbol skills in local parks. There literally was not a building without a splash of colour!
Some thoughts on Argentina so far:
(1) If you chose to drink only coffee and beer, you would still be somewhat nourished with food for less than $8-10 per day (given the free goodies!)
(2) The maps that are given to tourists are not only incongruent with one another – even if you flip one to match another, you have to get it at a certain angle and may not have all of the street names provided. It is a slight nightmare .. but we have managed wih Ryan’s map-reading skills and my broken spanish.
Many thanks for following ..