Back to the Capital - and it sunny!

Trip Start Feb 28, 2012
Trip End May 11, 2012

Flag of Argentina  , Capital Federal District,
Monday, April 9, 2012

After our 20 hour bus ride that ended up being 24 hours, we eventually arrived in Buenos Aires for the second time on our trip. After a couple of weeks of wearing warm clothes it was great to be able to put on some shorts again and go out into the sunshine!

We decided to burn off our built up energy by doing some window shopping with a walk down Florida street, one of the main shopping areas in the city. We didn't find it the most relaxing experience as you are constantly bombarded by touters selling tango shows, zoo tickets and leather jackets of every shape and size. Added to that was the amusing covert 'currency exchange' men walking up and down the street continuously shouting 'cambio, cambio' - we heard it so many times that I think we were repeating it in our sleep! 

Needless to say, we had enough of this so veered off to have a look at El Congreso (Congress Palace) and 'The Thinker' statue outside it which was pretty cool. Realising it was beer o'clock, we headed back up Avenido de Mayo to have a drink in Cafe Tortoni, the oldest coffee shop in Argentina (founded in 1858). It is definitely a tourist trap now but at least they have tried to keep a bit of authenticity as the waiters still wear suits and bow ties! We spent a little while here having a drink and people watching and then headed back to the hostel to take some time out before heading out again for dinner later that evening at La Brigada.

Gav had read about El Ateneo and was keen to check it out. So on day 2 we decided to be very energetic and do the walk from our hostel in San Telmo all the way to the store and then across to an area called Recoleta. El Ateneo is basically a converted opera house that has been made into a bookstore. It is really impressive inside as all the balconies have been maintained and the structure of the stage has been turned into a cafe.  I believe it's considered to be the second most beautiful book store in the world and was well worth a quick visit. 

Moving on we continued our walk through the ritzy area of Recoleta and made our way to the Cemetery.  This cemetery is like no other that I have seen - it's a huge area laid out in sections like city blocks containing hundreds of elaborate marble mausoleums decorated with statues of varying sizes.  This cemetery is home to many notable figures including Eva Peron, whose mausoleum gets visited by thousands of people every day.

Feeling pretty tuckered after our walk across town we decided to head back to the hostel to figure out what we wanted to check out the next few days and then head to our Tango show in the evening... unfortunately for us, by this time we hadn't been fortunate enough to see a Tango show in the street.
Following one of Lib's and Al's suggestions, day 3 put us on an open top bus tour which was fantastic idea to get ourselves all around the city! Starting off with La Boca the bus dropped us off at the Boca Juniors stadium (for non football fans Boca are one of the most successful teams in Argentina and even the world) where you can do a tour of the grounds and check out the surrounding area. Unfortunately we weren't able to get tickets for a game while we were in Buenos Aires so a stadium tour was the closest we were going to get.

Up until then I had only ever been to some of the bigger European football stadiums, so I was quite surprised at how small the Boca Juniors stadium appeared.  Hearing a few more facts though I discovered that it officially holds about 49,000 people but the local guide said that during a big match they cram in as many as 55,000! So while the stadium appears smaller there is a lot more standing room and the tiny seats slope quite severely to fit in as many people as possible.  Pretty cool to see even for someone like me who doesn't follow football (at all).

Jumping back on the bus and heading around to an area called the Caminito, still situated in La Boca, we took a walk through the brightly coloured streets and stopped to watch various tango dancers performing along the pedestrian alley.  Heading towards late afternoon we continued the bus circuit through various other parts of the city - definitely a good way to easily tick off some of those sites!

Thursday saw us getting up early to visit a gaucho ranch about an hour out of town. Not a particularly active day we basically ate, drank, had the option to jump on a horse for 20 minutes and then ate again!  So basically a nice chilled out day with a bbq, red wine and some fun people - we were happy! Oh the other cool thing was they did the male gaucho dance which we hadn't seen yet but was really impressive, especially as it was a 50 year old doing it! 
When we were first planning our trip we thought we'd spend a few days in Uruguay as we'd heard some great things about it, but with the budget struggling a little by now we decided to rather do a quick day trip across to Colonia del Sacramento.  So starting off with another early morning we caught the ferry across the Rio de la Plata and arrived for a tour of the World Heritage Site.  Being such a small town the tour doesn't take particularly long, but it's very peaceful and quaint, quite a contrast from the bustling city of BA.  In hindsight it would have been great to spend a few more days in Uruguay, heading up to Montevideo etc, but that will have to wait until next time.

Heading back to the hostel that evening it was nice to not have to worry about organising dinner as we could just join in with the Hostel's Friday night bbq and chill out with the others!  This was a nice farewell to the area of San Telmo as we had decided to spend the weekend over in the Palermo district, which is a bit more hip and lively with multitudes of restaurants and cafes to choose from, people watch and basically do nothing!

Well, that was our second trip to BA. It is an amazing city with lots to do and see and we could easily come back here again! Next stop, Igauzu Falls.

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