Strange Places and Familiar Faces – Buenos Aires, Argentina
After my terrible bus ride from Sao Paulo to Foz do Iguacu I decided that for the 20 hour bus ride to Buenos Aires I would buy the most expensive ticket I could get. For $150 USD I received a full cama-suite (cama=bed) spot on the bus to Buenos Aires. This bus was incredible. I had a full reclining leather seat/bed, personal LCD TV screen with on-demand movies and television shows (in English), I was fed fine h’orderves, served fine whiskies and cocktails. I even had Wi-Fi! Talk about the bus of the future. Totally worth it and 20 hours later I arrived in the capital of Argentina refreshed and ready to explore. My old business client and friend Mariano of El Centro de Investigaciones Toxicologicaswas even nice enough to pick me up from the bus terminal and give me a quick driving tour of the city. Easy travel, gotta love it.
Here in Buenos Aires I was to rendezvous with another good friend of mine who had ten days or so off in between jobs and decided to fly down to South America in the dead of winter to do a little bit of travel with yours truly. Crazy notion, I know but it was absolutely awesome to see a familiar face from home. This would of course mean a little bit of a change of pace for myself. No more crowded dingy hostel dorms with cold showers and street food for dinner. No, now it was to be fancy hotels, hot showers and people calling me sir whilst serving me various meats and adult grape juice. A very foreign concept for me and my wallet, but a welcome change nonetheless.
Our days here in Buenos Aires were spent cruising to the different neighborhoods of the city. First stop was Palermo Soho which is the area where we were staying. It is a very chic part of town and anyone who is anyone in Buenos Aires goes here. A really nice place to stay and a beautiful neighborhood, but not really my style. We also took the subway to Recoleta where the famous cemetery presides over another well-heeled area of the city. For centuries the Buenos Aires elite have built very ornate and borderline over the top mausoleums for themselves and the generations to come. It was very interesting for me to see the old tombs and the coffins that lay within – dust, cobwebs and all. The other main draw here is the tomb of Eva Perron (second most visited grave on the planet behind Jim Morrison in Paris) who served as Argentina’s first lady from 1946-1952 where she became a powerful leader in the pro-labor rights and union movement. She also campaigned for the women’s right to vote and was generally a left winger. My type of girl. It was however very strange for me to see people taking all manner of photos in front of her and her families’ tomb, something I did not partake in.
We also made it to the world famous San Telmo Sunday antique market. San Telmo is the old historical quarter of the city and the architecture is incredible. The market itself was a lot of fun as well, it was like looking into the past, like raiding your Grandmother’s attic. All of the goods were so ornate and just oozed authenticity. Their were also live tango performances and all manner of street performer providing their craft to the delight of the masses making thier way down the historic cobblestone avenues. A real delight for me.
This city was really great and I enjoyed very much riding the subway to the different barrios and walking for hours on end getting a feeling for the nuances Buenos Aires has to offer. Mariano was also so gracious as to take Jani and I out to a real authentic Argentinian dinner full of fresh roasted meats and the best red wine in the house. The restaurant was fantastic and no chance in hell would I have ever been able to go here without a local guide. I thought is was so cool that we showed up at 11:30 at night and the place was packed to the gills with people having dinner. Once we finished, around 2am, the place was still full and this was a Monday. I really like this type of schedule. To often back home I have to eat at 7pm, 8pm. I much prefer the late menu and late lifestyle.
For all of her charms and beauty, I really could never get a firm grip or feel the pulse of Buenos Aires. Magnificent she is, but it lacked the charisma and energy of other city centers I’ve been to. Feeling this I got a wild idea and Jani and I headed across the Rio de la Plata (more like an ocean) on a boat bound for the oft never visited Uruguay.