Alcohol and sleeping tablets made light work of the 14 hour flight, and before we knew it we were arriving in to Buenos Aires and were ready to face our first set of challenges…money, transport and mossies.
Argentina at the moment is facing unusually warm weather leaving a swarm of mosquitos alive and hungry much to my dismay. Weirdly, after travelling to the other side of the world, we bumped into a guy from Manchester who shops at Yates and Suddell, went to the same school at Liv, and thought we were 24 (win!). We dropped our stuff at the Chillhouse youth hostel which is a quirky no frills hostel with an open courtyard in the centre of the building and a nice roof terrace at the top. As usual, food was the first thing on our minds (after overcoming the shock of a life size cutout of a girl on top of our bathroom) and so we headed into the city centre to the infamous Cafe Tortoni (which comes with it’s own frame outside for tourists to take photos of it).
To orientate ourselves, we joined a walking tour with our guide Lollie (yes that’s actually her name!), however I did zones out slightly when the political monologues went on and on.
Planning on getting a nice early night after our long journey, we went from Peron to prime grilled steak however soon discovered that Argentinians eat late….very late! At 7.30 we turned up only to discover nowhere was even open until 8.15! Sadly (for me) we also discovered that Argentinians eat their steaks fully cooked (Liv loved it!), and that our Spanish is somewhat lacking!
The next morning we realised that we needed to have a serious planning session as we had no idea where we were going next, and so after many an hour we headed to the Japanese gardens for a bit of peace and tranquility (and weirdly found gluten free pizza).
The gardens are a series of well tended trees, shrubs, ponds, bridges (it seems constantly used for people to pose for weird pictures) and water features. Gigantic fish swam in the waters and a number of different bird species fluttered around.
We ran away and headed towards chabbad in an attempt to figure out our Shabbat plans and met the daughter of the Rabbi there who was extremely helpful and even sorted out our SIM card for us. From there we found a great coffee shop with delicious coffee and custard pastry balls and hunkered in for another planning sessions. Flights booked, plan sorted, and so all that was left was to wander the streets of Palermo towards dinner another kosher restaurant called Asian. S-take two! This time it was incredible. Perfectly cooked Argentinian steak, amazingly crispy potatoes and delicious chicken. With our bellies full, and our wallets empty, we headed back for the night and even managed to find gluten free bread along the way.
From the vastness of the ecological reserve complete with it’s own beach (and funny frummers on bikes), through to the botanical gardens and the Rosendal (Rose Garden), the next two days involved getting acquainted with the greener side of Buenos Aires.
Whilst all good in their own way, the Rosendal with it’s arrays of brightly coloured aromatic roses, lakes, and public Zumba (so random!) was our favourite. Buenos Aires really is the city of colours and no area represents this better than La Boca. Famed for being the birthplace of Tango, it’s now known as the shadier side of town and tourists are advised to stick to the main streets to avoid being mugged. Thanks to a misjudgement on my (David) side we failed to do this and then spent a nervous few minutes wandering the backstreets before emerging relieved at the main area to a sight of colourful buildings and live tango.
With just an hour till Shabbat, we were surprised to find out that Uber does not operate in La Boca; instead we found the craziest taxi driver who, in a driving scene worthy of a Fast and Furious film, managed to narrowly avoid a crash per minute and got us back in half the time it should have.
From uber fail to uber frum, Liv and I became the centre of attention at a chabbad shul (being dressed somewhat different from the norm), but definitely enjoyed the Shabbat experience and dinner that followed; they even brought out their posh tea set for the occasion! After Shabbat, we were treated to dinner and Tango by Kaz and Stu (aka Karen and Stuart aka mum/dad/in-laws) who’d been to this one a few months earlier. When travelling it’s strange how often you bump into people you’ve seen previously, however being sat down right next to a couple from London who we’d met on the walking tour was bizarre. Following dinner, were impressed watching talented dancers showcase how tango has evolved through the ages.
With our first destination complete, the only thing left to do was get a cliche mandatory selfie of us with our backpacks on, before heading to the airport. Our next destination was Patagonia where we would see one of the most incredible views ever. More on that in the next post…