The day before I arrived in BA, I realised that Nikki (who I met through Ellen in El Chalten) was also staying at the same hostel as me. It is always great when there is someone you know when you arrive at a new place and we pretty much spent the week together exploring BA.
Buenos Aires is an amazing city but its also a very late city. It is standard to go out for dinner at 10pm and there is no point going to a nightclub before 2am. However you kind of need to make a choice – either day activities or night. It is really hard to do both – trust me, I tried!!
Nikki and I both stayed at Milhouse Avenue hostel which is located downtown. The hostel is big which makes it easy to met people especially as the hostel organises activities each day and parties each night. I didn’t often go to the nightclubs the hostel was going to as they are generally pretty shit and just full of tourists.
The highlights of my week in Buenos Aires are:
Graffiti & Street Art Tour
The street art scene of BA is incredible! Nikki and I did a tour with GraffitiMundo around Palermo and neighbouring suburbs to check it out. Our guide was a local girl who is also a journalist. She knew the scene inside out including knowing some of the artists. It was because of this, she was able to explain the history of the Street Art movement within Buenos Aires which for me also put into perspective a lot of the city and country’s history. Also, by knowing the artists she was able to give a much better inside into the art we were looking at.
The tour started off walking before we jumped into a minivan. This meant that we could explore slightly further a field. I really enjoyed the tour because it gave a different perspective of a beautiful suburb in the city. It also gave me a much better appreciation of the art I was looking at.
The football season has just recently started and the hostel orgasnised for us to go to a game. The game we saw was San Lorenzo (last season’s champions) vs Racing (last season’s highest goal scorers). The stadium is a little way out of town so there was buses to transport us out to the game. We were there a bit early so we got to see the stadium fill up – not that it was completely full. Only the members stand seem to be full, everywhere else still had plenty of space.
The football itself was average at best – I apparently offended some local guy when I said that but to be honest it was not a great standard. The crowd and atmosphere on the other hand was amazing! It really made the game worth going to. I have never seen such passionate sports fans ever before. There was heaps of drums and people singing and dancing the entire game. They were very passionate about their team regardless of them being in the right or not. At one point a San Lorenzo player tripped a Racing player and was carded as a result. It was deserved but the fans don’t see it that way. It’s crazy!
It appears that Argentina has a love of getting you smashed on red wine before you do an activity. Today was no different. The Argentina Polo Day was recommended to me by a couple of different people and to be honest, I’m glad I did it.
We were picked up from the hostel just before 10am and were bused out to a Polo Club about an hour out of the city. Upon arrival we handed a glass of red and the most amazing empanada I’ve ever eaten. With our bottomless glass of red, we were explained the basics of Polo before we watched a game. Because of the amount of rain yesterday, they had to use the practice pitch which is smaller and therefore there was only 3 players for each team instead of the usual 4.
After watching the game was lunch was served. We had an amazing and large asado for lunch and of course some more red wine! They gave us fruit salad for dessert which we were a little excited about – something healthy – until they then poured white wine over the fruit!
Once we finished lunch we were told to put our wine glasses down (a complete contradiction to the rest of the day) and that the day was going to get serious! We had to get on horses to play a game of polo. It started off just walking around the pitch on horses trying to hit the ball. I found this really difficult as you can only play right-handed. My hand-eye coordination is not great at the best of times let alone my right hand from a moving horse!! After about 40 mins of practice we played a game. Some of the club members were also or horses amongst us to help us out. About 3/4 of the way through the game, I hit a wall after all the wine and food. They were yelling at me to get into the game but I was more than happy enough to just walk around pitch on my horse!
We were looking on Trip Advisor for things to do in Buenos Aires when we discovered a place called Tierra Santa. There was very mixed reviews of the place with the general consensus it was awful. After a day of Polo, Nikki and I decided to check out. To start off with I feel like I should say that I am not religious at all and I apologise if this offends anyone.
Tierra Santa is a Jesus theme park. There is no rides but a lot of what I’m assuming is bible scenes enacted out by quite creepy looking statues. It felt weird to be walking around the place laughing at what we were seeing because it is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. Some of the scenes were really explicit and not something I would want to be explaining to children. The best bit is that each hour a 16m tall Jesus rises from some rocks and has 30 mechanical movements all to the music of hallelujah.
The park is only open for a few hours in the evening on weekends. It was so bad it was good and definitely worth the $6 the entrance cost.
We did an afternoon bike tour though the Southern suburbs with BA Bikes. The tour was good but for me there was too many people to really enjoy it. This meant that it got dragged out and went for a lot longer than what we were expecting. The highlights of the tour were visiting San Telmo, Plaza Mayo, Puerto Madero, Boca including a great view point for Boca Juniors football stadium.
I had not heard of Konex before but it was somewhere that Nikki wanted to go and once she explained it to me I was definitely in. Konex is a venue that is based in a former factory. Each Monday it hosts Bomba de Tiempo which is an improvisational percussion based music show. There was 16 musicians in the show we saw including the director/conductor. For a couple of pieces a guitarist and violinist joined them on stage which really added to the music. It really was an amazing show – they are all very talented artists.
One night Nikki and I attended a Tango Experience. We had a beautiful 3 course meal, salad, steak and dessert which of course included ducle de leche and wine. Once again they were not stingy on the wine. Between dinner and dessert we left the dining room and went to a smaller room downstairs for our tango lesson. It was just a couple of basic steps but it was hilarious to watch the guys try. You had to give them credit for trying but they looked so awkward. I didn’t really enjoy dancing with the guys because they had no idea what they were doing but I did dance with the teach a couple of time which I loved. He changed the speed and tempo of our dancing to try to catch you out but it was good fun.
After the lesson went back into the dining room for dessert and a show. The show went through tango over the years and how it has changed. The dancing was incredible. At the end of the show they got a few people up from the audience to dance. Nikki was sitting at the end of our table so she got picked.
The hostel put on a walking tour to Recoleta. There was some interesting sights along the way including Floralis Genérica which is big flower sculpture in the park next to the Law University. However there was one reason I did this tour and that was to visit the Recoleta cemetery which is now home to the famous Maria Eva Perón. I found it quite ironical that her grave is in one of the most prestigious cemeteries in Buenos Aires when that was everything she fought against but then again it’s not something she had a say in. At least it wasn’t a really ostentatious grave.
One of the things I have loved about Argentina is not only the red wine but also the food. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten as much steak in my life as I have during my time here. But then again nobody ever came to Argentina to each chicken. On Valentine’s day Nikki and I took each out to a restaurant called La Cabrera. It had been recommended to us by a few people so we had to go. We arrived at 8pm and had to wait about an hour for a table. There is a bar across the road where we had a drink while we waited. Not only is the food at La Cabrera amazing, the service is also incredible. The servings are huge so we shared a steak which came with a heap of sides/ condiments, a salad and a bottle of wine. Admittedly it was expensive by Argentina standards but it was very cheap by Australian prices. Especially as it was the best steak I think I have ever eaten.
Around the corner from the hostel I saw a sign for a pizza for A$34. This seemed to good to be true so we decided to check it out. It was at Ugi’s which is a chain that can be found around the city. The pizza was a basic mozzarella pizza and the shops are basic at best – butchers paper for napkins but the pizza was good! We went back a few times as you just cannot beat a pizza and 2 beers for A$62!!!
See full gallery here.