A 22 hour overnight bus journey brought us into Buenos Aires in the early afternoon. We had all decided to upgrade to Cama class (comfort) so we had wide, fully reclining seats, movies and wi-fi to get us through the journey, as well as food being served on board. Just like being on a plane, but much more comfortable. As we made the transition from snowy mountains to hot, sunny climates, we drove through more of the Lake District area, which I was this time able to appreciate. The numerous lakes were a stunning ice blue/green colour with the surrounding mountains reflected in the water by the bright sunshine.
Well, Buenos Aires was a completely different kettle of fish. From the serene location amongst the lakes and mountains, we entered the bustling and vibrant capital city of Argentina. It has such a European feel to it with it´s history, cuisine, shopping and nightlife. It´s a great city with so much to see and do, that we had a few busy days ahead of us.
After checking in around midday, we all jumped in cabs down to La Boca area of town where the buildings are brightly painted and the atmosphere is eclectic with the many street performers and artists showing off their talents.
There are numerous murals on the walls and some really impressive graffiti going on. We had lunch in a small cafe along along one of the main streets, and I was very glad of salad on the menu. I feel like all I have eaten lately is meat and carbs, it was a welcome sight when the delicious Nicoise salad landed infront of me, of which I savored every mouthful. In many of the cafes and restaurants around La Boca there are Tango shows going on to watch whilst you eat. They perform their intricate dance for the tourists and you can even get up and have your photo taken in Tango-like poses with the professionals, which I didn´t do but it was funny to see some of the older men loving every second of having their arms around the scantily dressed ladies.
Next stop was Recoleta, and in particular the cemetery where the previuosly rich and famous are kept.
You can walk amongst the plots, of which many are very grand and adorned with statues and plaques. In particular, we went on the hunt for Eva Peron´s family plot. There were lots of people queuing up to see this so we had to wait in line to pass it. In truth there was not much to see, just lots of plaques on the wall of the Duarte family.
The cemetery got quite creepy after a while seeing all the many coffins in their resting places, so to lighten the mood we all indulged in the most amazing ice-cream creations where you can have three scoops of a huge range of flavours interspersed with various toppings, after which I was feeling very sick!
That evening after yet another steak for dinner, we all sat around playing cards and drinking back at the hostal, then a few of us decided to sample the nightlife that BA had to offer around the Palermo area, and in particular Plaza Serrano.
The next day, without a hangover (yay, I can still do it occasionally!) I went to explore the city. I walked down the La Boca area again and this time went to see the stadium of The Boca Juniors. It is quite an impressive stadium that just appears out of nowhere at the edge of the busy La Boca area. Later on I visited the San Telmo antiques market and Defensa street where there was a huge long street which stretched as far as the eye could see lined with stalls selling all kind of wares such as old coins, watches and trinkets as well as souveniers and gifts.
I had a very filling lunch of pasta in a little cafe and watched the world go by as all the tourists and locals mingled together to check out the market. On the way back I passed a sculpture by the side of the road. She is called Mafalda and is a 6 year old girl made famous in cartoons in the 60s and 70s.
That evening we headed out to watch The Boca Juniors play Argentinos. Unfortuately it wasn´t at The Boca Stadium as they were playing away, but the atmosphere was still great with lots of chanting and singing. The Boca fans held their own against the home side as they continued to sing throughout the entire match. The final score was 0-0, a little disappointing that neither team scored but it was a good match nonetheless.
Another free day took Sarah J, Leanne and I to the Palermo area. We travelled on the Metro which was just as busy as the London Underground with passengers crammed in like sardines, with a little more air-conditioning. The streets of Palermo were quiet and tree-lined, filled with small boutique shops and cafes.
Such a contrast to the busy downtown where we were staying. We just wandered the streets and browsed in the shops, a very relaxing day. On the way back we walked throught the Botanical Gardens which housed lots of different plants and flowers. Hoping to take a bit of a short cut and exit out the other side, we ended up wandering around trying to fins another exit that was open. All the gates bar one were locked and so we had to double back on ourselves and come back out where we had entered. Next up were the Japanese Gardens which were very peaceful and tranquil. They were filled with beautiful pink flowers which acted as a backdrop to the token red bridge and waterfalls.
That evening it was time to meet up with the new group and say goodbye to the old one.