Into Something New. The week 12-12-10 to 19-12

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Sunday, December 12, 2010

After driving to a friend's place, who gracelessly offered me a lift to the airport, I stay up for my flight at 6.20 AM. The lift gets me to the airport at 4 AM but I had to wait over an hour for the Check In Desk to open. What rotten luck. During this time I need to stay awake, so I end up talking to a few Venezuelans. Kenny and a friend were very friendly and told me good things of their country.

After boarding and taking my seat I slept immediately. I awake with people in the aisle queuing to leave around 8 AM. I assumed we had landed in Madrid. To my shock, we had not even moved due to bad visibility. (The weather was very cold with a small height of surface snow). The only thing was to disembark and wait clearance to fly. A lengthily delay followed before resuming my seat. However when seated, I noticed an attractive woman next to me. (She had fallen asleep as I did and asked me whether we were in Madrid. Still half asleep I thought we had got there). Now, to converse properly. We talked for the remainder of the flight about a variety of subjects. She was from Florianópolis, Brazil and with it being a stop of mine, I probed for tips. Later she told me she had come for a family trip and was returning to Brazil in tandem with her family.

I found myself asking what the ring on her finger was for. It was for the obvious; oh well. Towards the end of our conversation she asked for contact details, I obliged.  She added 'what will my husband say when I tell him I met a guy on the flight?’ My response: ‘have you got attractive friends?’ Her: ‘yes’. Me: ‘bring them, bring your husband and yourself when we meet.’ I guess it settled the issue!  As the flight was over and we had different connections, we wished each other and said until we meet again. (Unfortunately we could not meet later in the trip).

Upon arriving in Madrid, it was midday and the flight to Buenos Aires was at 12:30 PM but a minimum of forty minutes is needed to check in. Needless to say I missed it. I then went to Iberia’s Help Desk to find out where to go for a new ticket. They made me and the other passengers go from pillar to post to get to the Ticketing Desk. Cue thirty minutes to locate it and a whopping FOUR HOURS in a queue to get it! My only solace was a pair of English gentlemen who were heading to BA for a travel conference and Jake (English), who was heading to Peru. At least the time was spent talking to them and not getting totally worked up.

After all this, my team (Tottenham) was playing Chelsea. With just 2 euros in my pocket I could not even get a drink at the airport bar. (I was lucky to have that amount with me as Madrid was one hour stop off in theory). Another bad point was that I should have got Iberia to put me in a hotel as the flight was at 12 AM, me and Jake had not thought of this. Hence, it was a straight choice of food or an Internet session to tell the hostel of my predicament. The McDonalds hamburgers went down well; can you blame me?

I should have talked to the guys heading to the conference in BA. They requested a hotel and got it, all on Iberia’s tab. So, there I was facing windows overlooking the airplanes on a bench. I set my alarm for two hours later, put the bag strap around my arm and drifted off. I awake with a text that Tottenham had drawn 1-1; more news I do not need. At midnight I board the plane, the flight went without a hitch and I slept through most of it.

Finally to Argentina! One slippery moment occurred before I could breathe its fresh air. At Passport Control, I got a stern talking to, (unfortunately not new to me). I was grilled to where I was from, why I am traveling, what I will do here and my length of stay. After a long, few minutes, I go through and grab my bags. Immediately outside a taxi is hailed to Avenida De Mayo. It was a beautiful sunny day with not a cloud in the sky. The city looked great in the hour and a half ride there. I boarded an old style, swing door elevator to the top floor and waited patiently after ringing the doorbell. I was greeted by Esteban (Argentinean hostel worker), who was fluent in English, thankfully.

I had told him in Spanish that I had a reservation but that was my limit. Sadly for me, due to my late arrival the reservation was cancelled. However Esteban, the good fellow that he is, penciled me in for a few nights there and some more on another level. This was due to there not being availability through seven days. Worn out, I stretched out on the top of a bunk bed.

 After an hour of getting my bearings together I felt the need to venture out. I was this time I met my first room mate, Wies (Dutch). She had just come out of the shower. Being a gentleman, I said I would leave the room for her to change. Struggling to keep her towel up she accepted. After a while she invited me to lunch with Kevin and Megan (both American) and it was next door to us. Famished, how could I refuse? Trying to order in Spanish and falling in love with empanadas are next. I had remembered very little in Spanish but had numbers, food and weather conditions. Two out of the three came in handy here. Pollo (chicken); very tasty and light on the stomach. I ate four and debated whether to get more to take out. Not this time as I do not walk and eat.

The plan was sight seeing where the Palacio de Congresso and surrounding buildings were truly spectacular. Traffic never stops in Buenos Aires but it sure did when I overlooked the sights there. We headed to La Boca, where unbeknown to us Boca Juniors were playing later that day. The talk soon descended onto how much we should pay for tickets. Upon getting there scalpers immediately displayed their prices to us. At 200 pesos it way to steep and given that the two girls were debating on ‘watching one half’; my decision was to leave it and avoid causing trouble. (I was to find out later that that was the final game of the season. Maybe knowing that, I would have gone by myself). Due to there being a football game, the Police were out in droves. A good thing as La Boca is at best a very shady neighbourhood. We were approached by a gentleman warning us not to buy tickets from scalpers as they were fake, which was a nice gesture. Therefore we walked around the grounds and neighbourhood to witness the multi coloured buildings and great graffiti designs. After that we slowly returned to the home. I relaxed on the roof with the rest of the hostel occupants with a large, cold bottle of Quilmes beer. I think I had deserved it.
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