Tango Town!

Trip Start Oct 14, 2009
Trip End Dec 03, 2009

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Where I stayed
Sandanzas Hostel/Hotel Carsson

Flag of Argentina  ,
Sunday, October 18, 2009

Well we arrived in South America safely, after a pretty easy flight from St Louis through Miami to Buenos Aires. We arrived in the morning and took a cab to our hostel Sandanzas, in the San Telmo district, where we were met by friendly faces and a strong cup of coffee -- a great start!

Our room wasn't ready yet, so we left our bags and headed out to explore the city by foot. Of course, we forgot our camera... so we'll retrace our steps tomorrow and send out some pics of that later...

We walked to Plaza de Mayo in central Buenos Aires which is the political center of the country, and is the famous plaza that is surrounded by the Cathedral, City Hall and the national bank as well as the "Pink Palace" where Eva Peron ("Evita") made speeches from the balcony!

We went inside the Cathedral and saw the tomb of the great General Jose de San Martin who led Argentina to Independence.

From here we headed back to our hostel and had an early dinner and an early night after a long day of travel....

The next morning we got up early and made use of the free bikes our hostel provides to take a long ride to the neighbourhoods of Palermo and Recoleta. This time we brought our camera -- so we have some pics from the day. We saw the metal Flower sculpture which opens and closes with the light just like a real flower (only it's 30 feet highl!). We also rode around the Palermo parks with the man-made lakes and saw the City Rose Garden. We traveled up into Palermo Viejo and walked around the fancy neighbourhood with the swanky shops and the lovely old houses tucked in alleyways. Then we started riding home, but via the Evita Museum where we learned all about the life of Eva "Evita" Peron.

In the afternoon we headed to La Boca, a poorer part of town that is noted for the birthplace of Tango and the colorful buildings that are in the area from the late 1800's. We took some pics and wandered the very touristy area (in amongst a very poor neighbourhood!).  The buildings are so colorful because the inhabitants couldn't afford paint so they just used the leftover paint from the shipbuilding yards nearby, whatever the color.

In the evening Buenos Aires comes alive. So for dinner we headed to a local parrilla, which is a South American grill restaurant known for the fantastic steaks and Argentine meats. We BOTH ordered a meat dish (yes, I had meat again!) and enjoyed some of the BEST steaks we have ever eaten! All of this and a bottle of good Argentine wine for only 100 pesos (US$25)! Good deal! At the restaurant we met another couple travelling from Minnesota and we got to talking and they mentioned that they were heading to a local Tango hall to see some locals tango-dancing, so we asked if we could join them!

It was a great Tango experience -- the locals tango dancing to classic tango tunes, in a huge old dance hall. We had a great time, although the party didn't start until well after 2am when we left!! Those old folks (most of them were over 60!) know how to party!

So today we took the local bus up to the exclusive neighbourhood of Recoleta to visit the Recoleta Cemetery, which includes graves of some of the most influential and important Argentinians, including several presidents, scientists, and wealthy characters. Eva Peron is the most well-known person buried in this cemetery, and we took some pictures of her grave as well as some of the biggest and most elaborate mausoleums in the cemetery.

From here we walked the neighbourhood and went to the Museum of Fine Arts which has quite an extensive collection and then stopped by a local park (and on weekends, artisan fair) and had a snack and enjoyed the lovely weather before heading back via bus to our hostel.

In the San Telmo area where we are staying there is a famous Antique/Artisan fair that happens every Sunday, so we stopped by to see many locals selling the most random stuff ever collected in the one area. You could buy old gramaphones, granny undies, antique coins and wooden dolls within a one meter radius. Insane how these people find this stuff and decide that its worth selling. And more insane must be the people who buy this crap, but it was an interesting walk...

Tomorrow we head to another hotel to meet our GAP tour group and we fly south to El Calafate in Patagonia on Tuesday, so we'll post from there... sorry if this is long, but obviously we've seen a lot in the last few days and we'll get better (and funnier) at posting later!

From the desk of David...

A couple of first impressions of Buenos Aires:
- Everyone plays soccer!  When walking through the park, you can usually see at least half a dozen games going on at once.  Even the little kids are far more skilled players than I ever was!
- All traffic rules seem to be optional.  Makes for a fun game of "pedestrian" frogger.
- Argentineans love their 80's music.  It's like they get a shipment of American music every few decades and their latest shipment is long overdue.
- Argentina is not a place for vegetarians!  Everything is focused on the meat.  When you order a steak, that is what you get.  No pesky sides to distract you from a huge plate of meat.
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