I spent just over a week in Buenos Aires in total, and it was pretty much the last stop on my South American leg too. After the two days I covered in my last entry I was just left with Ciaran and Kristian from the trip about, and we only met up occasionally really. So this was actually the first time I had to fend for myself properly in South America. Which wasn’t hard to do as such, but it was frustrating in struggling with simple basic communications when trying to order food etc.
I pretty much wasted the majority of Saturday and Sunday trying to do some shopping. It seems that in South America half the shops close at the weekends as only every other store was open, and the place was generally much quieter than during the week. I eventually managed to find a reasonably priced and decent looking pair of sandals to replace my previous pair which were very much falling apart! And also I picked up a few bits and bobs I generally needed. Typically things seem quite expensive though, and only a little cheaper than back home when it comes to clothing. I couldn’t find a decent pair of shorts for much less than 100 pesos for instance, which is about £16.
The street markets however are quite popular in Buenos Aires and on Sunday there’s one in San Telmo which just goes on and on for ages, but there isn’t a great deal of variation between individual stands and everythings just kinda samey. I did quite want to buy a hat but the style I liked was never in my style, and I could never find them in a normal store either…
On Sunday evening I’d arranged to meetup with Kristian and Ciaran to go watch the Boca v Quilmes game. We ended up booking it through the hostel for 300 pesos. The ticket itself was only priced at 40 pesos! But they make it difficult for tourists to buy the cheap tickets and force them into these kind of tours. We got some pizza, beer and transport to and from the game too. The game itself was pretty dull and the standard of football wasn’t anything to write home about at all. Boca are in pretty poor form this year and are languishing in the lower half of the table and Quilmes are even lower down. At the game we got plenty of football mind, they had the reserve game on before the main match started, and then they had some random 10 minute match on at half time which was pretty crazy with the goalkeeper heading up for corners the opposition scored twice in that game! As for the atmosphere at the game it was pretty good. There was one stand full of the hardcore Boca fans and they had a band who didn’t stop all game, and the fans in the stand didn’t stop singing all game. It’s a pitty it wasn’t like that the all the way round the stadium mind. The main stand was all seated and there wasn’t too much singing. Our stand was standing but didn’t quite have the same hardcore support that the other did – well a good portion were tourists! Boca won the game in the end with a scrappy goal half way through the second half.
Monday I hired a bike and covered a lot of ground! I cycled from the hostel all the way down to the other side of town going past many of the things we saw on the sightseeing bus a few days ago, and I filled in the gaps where I didn’t quite get the right photo! It was a really hot day too and I ended up skipping lunch as I never went past anywhere worth stopping! I made it down to the River Plate stadium, which seemed bigger than Boca’s, but a little run down all the same. That evening I once again met up with Ciaran and Kristian as it was Ciaran’s last night travelling. He’d spent 3 months doing most of South America and was heading back to cold Ireland in the morning! Firstly we went to this “La Bomba de Tiempo” which is a percussion concert, with lots of drumming. It was kinda similar to the West African drumming my Mum does back home, but quite a lot better and not so repetitive! (Sorry Mum!) That was over by about 10pm, and then we went to grab some food, an all you can eat buffet at like 11pm! It was pretty good and I was well and truly stuffed and really sleepy after that and very much ready to call it a night in truth, but it was Ciarans last night and he wanted to goto a club, which was reasonably close to the hostel so I went along expecting to stay for 1 drink. After 1 drink I decided some Vodka and Speed (Red Bull) was very much required, 3of them later and I was very much wide awake and enjoying the night club. It played a really good mix of everything, from the usually cheesy night club stuff to 3 song rock song segments and 3 song 60s segments. I eventually called it a night and headed back to the hostel.
Tuesday was moving day, I moved from the hostel I was staying into another one on the opposite side of town that Kristian has moved into, it was in an area called Palermo that I’d heard good things about from various people. Moving all my stuff on the subway was quite fun, I did that in the middle of the day when it wasn’t so busy, there’s no way I’d do that at peak hour! I bumped into Kristian once I got to the hostel and we went for Pizza for lunch. There’s quite a lot of Pizzerias in Palermo, and little like takeaway ones too where you can eat standing up at a bench, which is kinda handy when on your own. After that I went for a short siesta which became a 5 hour siesta, I meant to get up for the Man Utd game that was on that afternoon but I didn’t! The hostel was pretty cool and very much more social than the other one, there was always a few people sat up on the roof garden enjoying a few beers and chatting in the evening and most people joined in. That’s what I ended up doing all 3 nights I stayed there. Unfortunately it was always really late before anyone fancied going out anywhere and by 3am I’d always had enough and was ready to call it a night – you know so I could actually do things the next day.
Wednesday was spent wandering around the general area of Palermo and seeing the various neighbourhoods. There’s not really much to say other than it’s a nice area to stay in if you ever visit Buenos Aires, and with the subway only costing $1.10 pesos or about 20p! You can easily get most other places with in BA.
Thursday was rather eventful mind. I’d said to the chaps at Reiza that whilst in BA I’d make my way to the track and take some ref pictures for our current projects. However arranging for this to happen took more effort than it should have really! Firstly the track is a good 15km away from the centre of the city and not exactly easy to reach on public transport. I’d asked them to arrange a rental car for me, but I ended up having to sort that out myself on the morning of the Thursday, all I had was 3 little leaflets for car rental from the hostel and the first two didn’t have anything available! I managed to get a car from the third but it was about twice as expensive as should really be paid for a 1 day rental of the most basic car. Anyway after using an online translation tool to get the hire car, I tried to put into the GPS how to get to the race track. The GPS was a huge big pile of shit. There’s no other way to explain it, it had a whole two roads for the entire of Buenos Aires! I decided to head back to the hostel and to download enough of google maps onto my phone so that I could figure out my way to the track myself. Driving on the wrong side of the car and road was quite disorientating too, I often put my left hand down to change gear and found nothing there! Anyway I managed okay and using google maps I found my way to the track in the end, with a few minor detours. Then getting into the track that was another challenge! I obviously knew no Spanish and the man on the door didn’t want to let me in! Thankfully it seemed Renato managed to get through to the head office earlier in the day to let them know I was on my way. Through a little translation with a random other chap who was nearby I managed to be allowed in and was allowed to walk around the paddock to take pictures and allowed up the top of the main race control tower. There was a Renault Test Day going on for I think the TC2000 Championship so I wasn’t allowed onto the track, although I managed to sneak onto part of the infield that the testing wasn’t using. Anyway I took as much as I could dodging the weather and then headed back into town and got rid of the car asap! The less time I had with it the less stressful it was, as the driving of others in BA is a little bit crazy and chaotic. The rental people were bemused that I’d brought the car back 6 hours later when I could have it for a day. But I was leaving the next day and keeping the car would just have been an extra unnecessary hassle.
On Friday I left on a Ferry for 4 days in Uruguay as my final destinations in South America before heading back to Buenos Aires to fly off to Sydney. Uruguay was quite disappointing in truth. I first went to Montevideo for an evening and a day. The place was really quiet and rather small for a city of over a million people. There was really one main street in Montevideo and away from these it was really quiet. The first night there was hardly anyone speaking English in the hostel. The second day I walked for absolutely ages covering most areas of the town but it was largely unspectacular. At least in the evening I met a bunch of other people in the hostel, there was a group of 5 chaps who’d ended up travelling around together in South America who I got on quite well. We went for some food and then tried to go out in town but the place was pretty quiet with only one small streets worth of bars.
The next day I took the bus to the town of Colonia which is directly opposite Buenos Aires on the other side of the River La Plata (which is a good 50km or so). The town as you may have guessed from it’s name was a Colonial town a few hundred years back kinda similar to Paraty, except not as nice or as busy, at least when it came to night life anyway. I managed to walk around the entire of the town in about an hour after I arrived and that was pretty much that. The next day I wasted trying to find database backups that didn’t exist for the server my website is hosted on. The server had a pretty substantial data corruption on Saturday and it looks like I setup the backup processes wrongly misreading one of the options… As a result I’m going to have to repost all articles from the past 2 months. Thankfully I did have a full backup from the end of September and all but one or two articles I wrote in Word rather than directly online. I did meet up with the chaps I met in Montevideo that evening and enjoyed a few beers whilst watching the Man Utd v Arsenal game and then got some food. I also met up with Kristian again that evening as he came over to Uruguay to see it for a day or so.
So today, Tuesday, I’m presently on the Ferry back to Buenos Aires where I’m just crashing for a night before heading to the Airport and onto Sydney tomorrow. After grabbing some food when I get to the hostel I’m gonna have to spend a while trying to get the websites backup and running which will be fun – and I wont get it finished either. South America has been a good introduction to the place, I’ll be back to finish the rest of it, but it hasn’t blown me away. The being unable to speak the language has really annoyed me at times so next time I will definitely be doing some crash Spanish courses before heading out, as everywhere apart from Brazil speaks Spanish down here. I’m looking forward to Australia much more than I was when my trip was nearing its end now. Anyway that’s all for now. Hopefully I can get this posted soon.
Written on 14th December 2010.