I’ve been staying in Argentina’s capital for three weeks on account of the fact I’ve been waiting for mail to arrive. I am now bored of waiting for mail to arrive so I’m outta here tomorrow but here are a few things I’ve been up to in Buenos Aires aside from sitting on the roof in the sunshine sipping cold beer, attempting to learn Spanish but failing miserably when the people I try and practice with just tell me to speak English because it’s easier for everyone involved, missing everyone at home in Auckland, and getting brutally attacked by mosquitoes on steroids. Anyway. Just a few of the shit loads of things to see and do in Buenos Aires.
Large penis-like structure in the middle of 9 de Julio.
Fabulous as a landmark if you get lost; ¿Dondé está el penis-like structure grandé, por favor?
Cementario De La Recoleta
Yep, it’s a cemetery in one of the posher parts of Buenos Aires and yes, its a tourist attraction on account of the fact the graves are the size of bloody houses. Seriously, they’re huge. How the other half live (and…um… die) ay, I doubt I’ll ever get to live in anything this fancy while I’m still breathing, never mind once I kick the no doubt rusty bucket with the hole in the bottom that hasn’t been replaced because I can’t afford to eat, never mind have someone build me a bloody grave. It’ll be a stick driven into the ground when I finally kark it and only that to mark where I am so they don’t accidentally dig me up again.
The whole place is big too which didn’t bode well for me. I can get lost in a department store, I had visions of getting stuck there until dark, wandering the corridors of the cemetery, wishing I hadn’t watched all those zombie movies in my early 20’s. It’s kinda cool though, many of the graves have beautifully carved figures of angels, some are in a state of disrepair. Some are filled with workman’s rubbish whilst some are still tended to with candles and flowers.
Anyway, there’s only so many photos of graves, no matter how ornate, you can take before you start feeling a bit creepy so I wandered round for 10 minutes, found Evita’s sarcophagus quickly by following a tour group then headed off. A mate at the backpackers said you need at least 2 hours to “do it properly” although I’m not too sure how one would do a cemetery properly. Probably best not to ask.
The only way to escape tango in Buenos Aires is to take up residence under a rock or walk round with your eyes closed and your fingers in your ears but neither seem like particularly good fun and the latter will probably result in something even less pleasant than tango. It’s best just to give yourself over to the tango overload and it really is everywhere. All the souvenirs have a tangoing couple emblazoned across them, when you go to check out the markets at San Telmo on a Sunday or head to La Boca for the day there are people dancing then asking if you want your photo taken with them for a small fee.
Ok, so it’s not that tango is unpleasant, its actually fabulous to watch but I’ll be avoiding the lessons thankyouverymuch, I’ll save myself that embarrassment instead of highlighting my total lack of balance and coordination whilst pressing myself uncomfortably close to a member of the male species and which one of my left feet shall I move next, señor instructor person?
Although, despite the perpetual tango, La Boca is fun. Its one of the poorer areas of the city and you’re advised not to visit too late in the day and stick to the tourist strips which you can’t miss on account of all the colours and the restaurants, every single one having people outside to try and tempt you in for the “free tango show” while you eat or drink. And if the people of La Boca are poor then they certainly ain’t gonna be eating in these places, jay-sus, me and the lass from the hostel I went with nibbled slowly on empanadas (like pies, but better) and sipped a water between us whilst watching the dancing.
Another reason to check out La Boca is the colour of the houses. It’s an unashamed assault on the retinas, apparently when people settled here to work at the port they built their houses out of that corrugated steel stuff and scavved the leftover paint from the shipyard to paint them with. I love it. It follows my beliefs when it comes to painting; never let class, style or colour coordination get in the way of a good decorating session.
Other Suburbs Worth Checking Out
San Telmo for the markets on Sunday. Buy stuff and things you don’t want or need, probably with with tango related themes. They also seem to have a minor obsession with Homer Simpson and of course, that local god, Maradonna. You can even find coasters with a picture of Homer dressed in a Maradonna kit hand-balling a football into a goal net. I’m not even shitting you.
Palermo because its pretty and has a rose garden and you get to chill and snigger at the the roller-bladers when they stack it onto the concrete. Oh, and there’s also a zoo there but apparently it’s not a good zoo and the animal’s living conditions aren’t great and I’ve seen enough zoos to last me a lifetime so I skipped on that. Much more fun watching the ridiculous amounts of joggers and pointing and laughing at the group exercisers that aren’t quite sure what they’re doing as they try and follow the over zealous guy on a small, temporary stage. I have earned the right to laugh. I’ve been that uncoordinated person at the back trying to get their limbs to do what they want them to do in the correct order. I’ve given all that shit up now in favour of a simple hand-to-mouth exercise whilst clutching a large beer.
Tigre because it’s also pretty and you get to ride a boat up and down the river and check out the museums unless you rocked up on a day when they were all closed apart from the Museo Naval De La Nacion. But then you can kill some time crawling all over the missiles and the big guns and playing with all the moving dials on random military type things before slinking out because you just read the sign that said the room was under constant video surveillance. Oops.
Nom Nom Nom Nom
We need to talk about the food. Oh my god. The steak. The steak is so fabulous its absolutely worth a mention in any blog. You’d be fucked as a vegetarian in Buenos Aires on account of the fact most of the food is made out of dead stuff and what fabulous dead stuff it is too. You order your steak (my personal favourite, bife de lomo (I believe this is tenderloin) con fritas) then they bring you half a cow cooked to perfection. I like my cow still mooing; walk it round the room a couple of times, chop its horns off and wipe its arse. Perfect, melt in the mouth bovine goodness. I’m drooling on my keyboard just thinking about it and there’s this really decent place around the corner on Av. De Mayo that will deliver such amazingness to your table for a mere AR$45. That’s about NZ$16 or about £8. I went in there a few times but once with a friend from the hostel. We weren’t too hungry, we just wanted to share a rare steak. He brought it to us and, with a flourish, cut the damn thing effortlessly. With a spoon.
And a worthy mention; Garrapiñada. They smell soooo bloody good, they make them there in the street. They’re sugar coated nuts, usually peanuts (mani) but also almonds (almendra) and they’re so damn moreish. Fortunately they’re not in short supply and you don’t have to walk far before your find more to replace the calories you just burnt walking from one garrapiñada stand to the next. This city is making me fat. Fatter. It’s making me fatter.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Stayed at: Lime House Youth Hostel