Buenos Dias, Buenos Aires
Trip Start Dec 22, 2009
76Trip End Jun 22, 2010
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Where I stayed
Los Patios de Montserrat
You know what else is cool? Getting to see yourself cross the international timeline by flying around the South Pole. The moon shines bright over polar ice caps of Antarctica while you go back in time to the previous day. We left Sydney on Monday the 19th at 11:00 and arrived in Buenos Aires on Monday the 19th at 10:30. Meanwhile, we took a 13+ hour flight and I got to see all the great television I wanted to.
Now the shitty part; you realize that you can't sleep for another 12 hours or so! That means that you pull something close to 40 hours up and about. Trust me sleep deprivation is not an integral component for happy wife soufflé.
After touching down in Buenos Aires we grabbed our bags, snagged a cab and dashed for the Elefante Rosado (Pink Elephant). The ER was an amazing looking hostel that Laura had found online. The hostel was an old two story colonial house with towering ceilings, long chandeliers, wood floors and had been completely overhauled by an architect into a modern art loft residence. Imagine, great black and white photos, antiques and contemporary art hanging from brick walls with stain glass windows; have to say I was pretty stoked. Once we made it to the unassuming front door (marked only with a small painted pink elephant) we were greeted by a young 30 something porteno with a scruffy unshaven face and red pair of chuck Taylor's. We happily (but tiredly) entered our refuge from the roaring buses and smog that flew through the BA streets.
After a quick inspection of the room, we headed in to our abode and hurled our 20 kilo packs off our shoulders to the wooden floors like two sacks of potatoes. Laura immediately headed up a wrought iron staircase to the bedroom that was suspended in midair above. The upstairs floor was built on a welded iron platform that smartly used metal grate so that you could see through the floor to the small living area below. Since it was mid-morning, there was no need to turn on the lights because the sun shined through the two 10 feet wooden and glass French doors that had to be more than 100 years old. Unfortunately, the exterior street noise also penetrated these two doors from the massive roadway on the other side. After approximately 5 minutes, we realized that this was a …. MAJOR problem. Honestly, this was the noisiest room we had ever encountered. It sounded as if we were laying down on the center median on a major interstate. This is the point where Laura began to have a minor mental breakdown. Even cool hand Luke Maingot was having a hard time ignoring the endless conga line of semi trucks and diesel buses. The next 2 minutes were spent realizing that every room in the complex contained a similar ancient portal that doubled as a tuning fork for crosstown traffic. With our hearts broken and nerves on edge, we grabbed a subway map and ventured out into the early afternoon with grandiose plans of finding a new place to crash.
For those in the know, BA was the megalopolis of the early 20Th century. The major heyday exploded during the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods just after the first and before the second world wars. The city collected millions (probably billions) from agricultural and technological exports to both the Europeans and the Americans. At the height of the second war, they were exporting Beef to both the Germans and the Americans. When to visit major cities in South America you expect to see colonial Spanish houses, huge brick and mortar apartment complexes and endless stretches of barrios. BA is different. BA is lined with huge, Deco, Nouveau, Renaissance and Rococo masterpieces that exude exuberance. Though the city has a major city center marked with a massive white penis, I mean obelisk similar to the national monument, the true life of the city exists in its separate and diverse neighborhoods. San Telmo has trendy bars, antique shops and art galleries, Boca the historic (and apologetically touristy) Caminito, Puerto Madero with ultra modern lofts and canal side restaurants among many others. The metro (subte) connects the major points of interest. The common denominator between all areas is amazing architecture and the extremely gracious and funny portenos.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon checking out hotels, the great shopping street (ironically named) Florida and passed out in a park near plaza San Martin. Once we woke up and realized that we had all of our belongings still on person (gracias Dios!) we dusted off our backsides and wondered around some more for a mystical quiet sanctuary. To our dismay we came up empty handed so we grabbed our first Argentinean steak and tucked back into our bus terminal with ear plugs in tow.
The next morning we perused www.tripadvisor.com website, found an acceptable substitute and dashed out after a lovely breakfast and a brief conversation with an understanding host. The Patios of Montserrat was another large colonial building that lacked the character and the architecture of the pink elephant but made up significant ground with its quite rooms and amazing owners Graham and Brenda. Graham was an ex New Yorker who got mixed up with a lovely Portena named Brenda when completing his Masters in Portugal. The two had opened up the Patios just months prior and were still shaping the place into the business they had dreamed up together. All in all it had a great charm and was exactly what we needed… a place to rest and recharge (that was centrally located).
Ok…. This is getting pretty long winded so I am capping it with some highlights. First, Recoletta Cemetery. The only thing more magnificent than the buildings adorning BA's streets are the graves and mausoleums left for the city's elite. The massive complex is more of a homage to everything Gothic and grandiose, check out Laura's amazing pics. Second, getting pick pocketed in the Subte. After our amazing Recoletta walking tour / million mile march, we took the subte back during rush hour. Now for those who know me well, they know that I have been to a couple of places in my life and know how to travel. Get this, the wallet was in a shirt front zipper pocket. Yes, you heard it correctly, the wallet was zipped into a pocket over my heart. With all of the pushing and pulling to get on the train, I was no match for the Criss Angel of Buenos Aires. Enjoy the 90 pesos and the 5 year old coach billfold hijo de puta.
BA we will miss you for your great people, amazing architecture, spooky crypts and endless steak. Here we come Patagonia!!!!