And they're off!

Trip Start Feb 06, 2011
Trip End Jul 24, 2011

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Where I stayed
ChillHouse Buenos Aires
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Argentina  ,
Monday, February 7, 2011

After months of planning, and a final week of preparation spent in denial, we've finally started our adventure. Hooray! The journey to Buenos Aires started with a tearful goodbye to two ambivalent cats (those would be Anna's tears, certainly not James’), followed by Heathrow T5 plastered with Accenture branding in some sort of last-gasp "don’t go". An unexpected date-night on the plane over another triumph from Gate Gourmet, a couple of mediocre films and 15 hours later we were in South America.

My first impression of Buenos Aires didn’t meet my expectation – leafy suburbs with trendy designer boutiques and delis more akin to Melbourne rather than the bustling hectic Latin America version of Nairobi that I imagined. However it turned out that we just visited one of the city’s most upmarket districts on day one, and in the following time we’ve slowly explored more and discovered the mix of cultures and barrios that make BA so famous. That said it has an incredibly European feel so I am excited about what will come next as we venture to other parts of Argentina and beyond.

We’ve been visited a few of the main sights; the Presidential Casa Rosada (Pink Palace), Catedral, the main city cemetery (to visit the tomb of Argentina’s most famous Madonna impersonator, or something), the upmarket barrios of Palermo and Recoleta and the more bohemian San Telmo – the home of Tango. A highlight for James was a rather odd private museum in a restored colonial town house from the 1830’s that became an immigrant tenement in later years. The house itself was an interesting archaeological site but the accompanying tour was really fascinating giving us a potted history of the city and various influences it has had over the last 250 years through colonialism to its independent state.

Of course all of the sight-seeing has been fueled by copious amounts of typical Argentinian food. Things started well with an amazing steak the size of a small dog in what turned out to be one of BA’s best restaurants, and has since included yet more steak, empanadas (which I consider a rip-off of Cornish pasties), tamales and plenty of delicious red wine. The diet starts, er, next week.

We’ve got a couple more days here before heading north on the bus to Iguazu falls – expect an update then!

Latin America top tip #1

Paying on BA buses is confusing. The procedure goes; tell the driver where you are going, put money in the machine, wait for ticket to be dispensed. Do not touch any handles on the ticket machine in a vain attempt to expedite the process no matter how tantalising they look. These will make the machine come apart and the driver will express his displeasure in Spanish that your supposedly fluent girlfriend cannot understand.
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