8.55am - Big Apple

Trip Start Nov 03, 2009
Trip End Dec 02, 2009

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday 5 November, 8.55am, Hotel Elevage
There is not a cloud in the sky in Buenos Aires, but there are plenty in the hearts of its people. At least, that was my impression as I wandered around yesterday. Arrived safe and sound in the morning and was collected by the woman in charge of my transfers, Cecilia. She furnished me with an annotated map, pointed out some areas of interest that I could explore given that I had only an afternoon to do so, and then left me to my own devices at the hotel. I was tired, but determined to see a little of BA before I had to leave, so I had a little rest for an hour and then set off at lunchtime to see what I could see.
I did a big circle up towards Government House, where Eva Perón addressed the nation, and the Plaza de Mayo, before heading down to the Obelisk, and weaving my way back through the shopping district towards the Place de San Martin. Cecilia had carefully marked on the maps which streets i should and shouldn’t walk on, because not everywhere is quite safe. The buildings were eyecatching and interesting, but the shopping district threw me for a bit of a loop. I'm not entirely sure what I expected, but I think something quite grand and old fashioned in its appearance. Instead, what I found felt more like a souq or a bazaar – miles of tiny dirty shops, selling knock off everything. Beautiful children with huge eyes, begging on street corners. Men with nothing but a box, selling the same thing as other men fifty feet away (these squashy tomato things, since you ask). Buskers, playing every conceivable instrument, some with a full electronic set up. Mats with dresses, hats, sunglasses, and every type of jewellery imaginable laid out for your perusal - naturally, no-one but the tourists went anywhere near. Tourists and natives alike, however, wear their backpacks on the front to guard them from pickpockets – I’ve never seen this practice so widespread anywhere else. Argentina definitely feels the most foreign of all the places I’ve ever been, and I’m including, like, regular holidays in that too. A faint but pervading air of menace hangs over the streets, detracting attention from the gorgeous architecture and pretty green spaces, not to mention the friendly Argentinians that I have met so far.
I don’t feel I can judge the whole of this enormous city from a few hours of wandering round, and I’d like to come again, but a combination of jet lag, uncomfortable shoes (I brought the wrong flip flops, because I’m an idiot) and general culture shock resulted in me feeling quite pathetic come about 5pm. I trundled back to the hotel, looking for a restaurant nearby so I could just walk a couple of blocks back afterwards. Found a little place that seemed nice enough (they had wifi), and ordered a steak and half bottle of red wine. The guy seemed pretty unfriendly while he was taking my order, and made me change it because he said I’d ordered the wrong thing or something. I was beginning to feel very sad and very hungry (hadn’t eaten since breakfast on board the Heathrow/Sao Paolo flight) and had such an idea fixed in my head of delicious Argentinian beef and wine, and was so afraid it wouldn’t be nice when it came. I can always get room service if I’m still hungry, I told myself, trying to keep a lid on it.
As it turned out, when my steak came, it was a little overcooked, but it was the size of a human child, with tons of sliced potatoes (they have a weird definition of chips down here), perfectly fried, and a gorgeous mushroom sauce. I almost burst into tears with relief. It was bloody lovely. Drank another mini bottle of wine, ate all the bread they brought (and I don’t even like bread, but this bread was amazing), and eventually stumbled back to my hotel, feeling a thousand times better. Possibly low blood sugar may have contributed to my earlier emo-osity.
Must get on now, as Cecilia will be here shortly to collect me for the airport. Breakfast was utterly lush – pancakes with toffee sauce v unorthodox and fattening, but completely gorgeous. They also did teeny tiny frankfurters which were almost balls rather than sausages. Fun! 
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dini123 on

Squashy tomatoes ? Round sausages ? Monuments stolen from Eqypt ? What is going on. Love mummy. x

Hoops on

I like the sound of Argentina. My dad went there on business years ago and loved it. I imagine he wasn't left to his own devices that much though.
Did you take any pictures of the wide eyed begging children? I would like to see them.
Did you take a picture of your Steak? Its the tourist thing we must all do.
No more "Did you.." questions now.
Missing you already poodle pouch x

Lou on

Poodle Pouch? Lorna is worse than me!
Don't take photos of begging children. They will have a big grown up around the corner ready to steal your camera!
BA looks like tons of fun, better that you did not know the madona songs to sing. She is way bad!
Glad you are having fun lady, and I am very proud you ate all your steak.

suzloua on

I didn't photograph my steak or the begging children. Definitely not the begging children - my god, could I have looked any more like a rich Western bitch if I did that?

Don't cry for me Argentina...

adatherton on

Beautiful photographs Susan, well done.

danicoops on

Love the pics love, but just a bit worried about your welfare alone in BA (I'm a mum, it's my thing!) reminds me of when my mum took me to the non tourist areas of Thailand... begging children, me no like. I am keeping up with the blog like a good girl not just looking at the pictures! but as this is only blog 3 I guess that's nothing to be proud of! Loves ya xxx

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