Buenos Noches Buenos Aires.

It’s unbelievable. I arrived in Santiago nine days ago and I am already leaving Buenos Aires. What’s even crazier is that I feel like I have a pretty solid understanding of this city and am ready to move on. It’s time for details.

My CATA bus arrived in BA on Saturday morning. I stepped off my bus with butterflies, but the reserved confidence that comes from reading the first couple hundred pages of Argentina’s lonely planet guide. I found the metro and cautiously guarded my backpack as I found hostel Estoril. They weren’t ready for me, so I tested their complimentary breakfast, which as usual consists of bread, spreads and coffee. I hung out in the lobby, talking to an American and some Aussies while I killed an hour waiting to check-in. I have become buds with the American I met and it turns out he has been living with distant relatives in Paraguay for the last six months. Yesterday, we cruised the city together and he offered to show me around Asunción if I make it Paraguay. I went to the Paraguayan consulate today and I think I am going to take him up on his offer after I leave the Panagea estancia in northern Uruguay.

I departed my hostel close to the intersection of Avenida de Mayo and Avenida 9 de Julio around noon on Saturday. Unbelievably, this is a pretty early start to a weekend morning for a Porteño. I walked for the next eight hours and made my way through Centro, Recoleto, Palermo and Retiro. All in all, I walked a good portion of the northern extremities and got a taste of what BA has to offer.

My good-buddy, who will go by his nickname of ‘Stang’ for future recruitment purposes, set me up with his former latin lover Marien for dinner. Marien was beautiful, intelligent and bubbly — the ideal dinner date and an incredible lady. I wanted an authentic Argentine meal so we went to an asado restaurant, in what I believe was Palermo Viejo. We sat down at our table after 23:00. They brought us some homemade ‘country bread,’ as Marien described it. We also orded some provoleta, which is a salty cooked cheese. It was fantastic. We proceeded to order a liter of Quilmes cervesa and Marien choose three cuts, from the 15 or so offered, for our Asado. I let her handle it and don’t remember what they were. Two of them were perspective-alterning and unbelievable, while the other wasn’t spectacular. The two that blew me away resembled a flank stank and a rib-eye. MMMmmmm. There was a small garnish containing onions and tomatoes next to the meat, and we requested more. This is the type of flavor I obsess over. We orded another liter of Quilmes and a desert similar to custard — but flavored with a fruit from northern Argentina and Brazil. I believe it is one of her favorites. The restaurant was candle-lit and had a spectacular atmosphere. It was still rocking when we finished our meal after one in the morning. The entire meal was less than $10 dollars a person. Buenos Aires is a well oiled tourist exploiting machine, so getting recommendations is essential. This place was a steal. We followed the meal with a trip to a local pub that attempted to be Dutch, but fell short in very amusing ways. Thanks ‘Stang’ and Marien for such an incredible evening.

Yesterday, I went to La Boca and San Telmo with two buds I met at my hostel, including the afforementioned Paraguayan-American. We walked all day and chose to get raped by the touristy restaurant options in Recoleta, instead of collapsing out of hunger — we ate lunch, our first substantial meal after a day of walking, at 17:00.

Last evening, I ran to Puerto Madero and checked out their cranking Sunday evening park festival. It reminded me of my summer wandering Chicago’s lake-side parks. There were street-vendors, live music and lots of teenagers playing football along a thin park stretching the length of the city, and squeezed between two bodies of water. Notably, I crossed a bridge designed by one of my favorite architects, Santiago Calatrava. However, the bridge left much to be desired and is one my least favorite pieces of his work. It is asthetically pleasing, but its unique design doesn’t add any functionality. Modern Architecture is at its most intriguing when it combines asthetics with novel engineering.

Buenos Aires is an interesting city. Like Santiago, it is a city of contrasts — although, very different ones. The architecture in BA is beautiful. Its a smorgasboard of Spanish Colonial, French and generally old Europe with a smattering of art deco. However, there are innumerably many epic buildings that are completely dilapidated, defaced and lacking tenants. Plaza de Mayo is a perfect example of this. Puerto Madero is modern and a sea of glass. La Boca is unique and intruiging. Retiro reeks of France.

My mind is not made up about this city. It has very charming elements, but a long way to go before fulfilling its potential.

Tonight, I am going to a drum performance called:  ‘La Bomba de Tiempo.’ I’m going to head over with some other kids from the hostel, and I have been told by numerous sources that this is a must-see event. I am scepticle. I don’t normally enjoy touristy things.

Finally, to backtrack, I bought some fruit the other day from Peruvians and they recommended I try a Peruvian restaurant in town. I went there for lunch today and was blown away. I had Cebiche (that’s how the menu spelled it) with corn and potatoes. I also orded half a bottle of vino tinto, because the half bottle was 70 cents more than a glass. It was epic.

I am taking a ferry to Colonia, Uruguay at 9:30 tomorrow morning. This will be my third country in ten days. Walking and being resourceful allows you to cover a lot of ground. In retrospect, I am very glad I eased into my travels in South America, because I have already learned a lot and feel much more comfortable and confident as I travel to progressively more daring places.

Adios Argentina.

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2 Responses to “Buenos Noches Buenos Aires.”

  1. me Says:

    I just took the Boquebus yesterday, it was a nice trip 🙂

  2. slammer Says:

    Keep on trucking. Your tales are making the readership jealous. The Puerto Madero is section is almost another city. Some of the themes and buildings seem out of place.
    Viva Argentina

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