Hmm, did I save the best place for last? I think so.
I don’t know if it was the places I visited in this last part or the people I met, but I am in love with Buenos Aires. There is something so intriguing, charismatic and wonderful about this place. There is also the constant fear of getting mugged, run over or breaking your ankle on one of the many broken pavements that keeps you on your toes. Or not if you fall over!
So I left the wonderful Santiago apprehensively and headed to Buenos Aires for part 3 (the last part) of my journey. I decided to get the plane in the end due to reports of muggings at Buenos Aires bus station and I didn’t really fancy encountering this solo as my first time visiting Buenos Aires. Especially with my 17 kg backpack and vast electronic collection. Last time was a fleeting visit with my hero ‘Juan’ and fams to the domestic airport.
So I arrived in Buenos Aires excitedly looking forward to seeing James. However, the carnage in the arrivals area was truly a sight to behold. Orderly queuing appears to have escaped the knowledge of Argentineans as lines formed everywhere in no particular order. People were even climbing on the luggage escalator things to get around the queues! Lord. I missed Santiago. Also it was cloudy outside!? Hmm.
Eventually after about 10 people ramming their suitcases into my ankle I was free and saw the fresh faced James relaxing in a coffee shop. I soon learnt that frequenting a coffee shop would be a daily event with Mr O’Brien for the remainder of my stay in Buenos.
I had booked for us to stay in an apartment in a district called Palermo for our first two nights in Buenos Aires. I have only just learnt to pronounce this correctly much to James’ frustration. Palamo, Parlamo, Palleymoro.. you name it I said it. In hindsight, this was a nicer part of the city. However, nothing looks nice when rain and thunder are involved which is what the weather gods had in store for us when we arrived. This was quite disheartening for both of us as James naturally expected sun here and I had just left gorgeous weather in Santiago.
Never mind, we pottered around this area for the day and discovered that the pavements were difficult to walk on due to missing slabs and uneven surfaces. I tripped on several occasions – one was particularly embarrassing as it happened on a main road in front of all the traffic. We then headed out that evening for dinner and here started my fear of being mugged – much to James’ surprise. In my defence, the streets are pretty dark and all the reading material warns about repeated muggings. Have I mentioned how much I love and neeeeeed my phone?!
The next day, we planned a day of sightseeing and first up headed to the Evita museum which I found very interesting. I have not seen Madonna’s urm ‘screen portrayal’ of this inspirational lady but I will probably watch it back in the UK. It was amazing how much she achieved in her life – especially as she died at 33 years old! My age!! I must admit I felt a tad inadequate with my life achievements compared to hers. We also had a fabulous lunch here and WIFI!!
We then headed to the Japanese Gardens and this is where we first encountered the mosquitos that would persistently attack me for the remainder of my trip here. Grrr. I knew it had been too good to be true up until this point. Critters. No, mosquitos.
We also discovered the area Reccolta which appears to be where the middle/upper class live. The people even look different in this area – more european. It is sooooooooo nice. So clean. The trees even had clothes! Cute. This is also where the famous cemetery is but we decided to visit this on our return to Buenos Aires a few days later. Largely because it was closed when we got there.
The next day we left Buenos for Iguazu and our epic 20 hour coach journey. Now I had read that you get bingo, hot dinners and wine on such coach journeys but alas this was not the case. Starving does not really sum up how I was feeling. Nonetheless the seats reclined pretty much like a bed and I had a great night sleep. James not so much. There was also a dibarcle over the seat numbers as apparently the seats we had – ’16 and 17′ – did not exist so we were told to sit in ’14 and 15′. However the lady who had 14 and 15 naturally believed we were in her seats and a mini argument broke out with her and the coach attendant. James and I simply stared, not really understanding what was being said angrily in spanish. But we got to stay in our seats. Victory = starving comfortably.
So we eventually arrived in Iguazu and there was sun. Yay. James had booked an apartment through ‘air b n b’ which meant we were staying with local person in their home. In this case, we had this sultry Argentinean lady and stayed in her out building. Her whatsapp name is ‘cuteness’. Hm.
It was a really nice apartment but incase you couldn’t tell, I didn’t really take to her – to James’ annoyance I think as he thought she was wonderful. Perhaps it was the fact that her dog looked like the most starved, beaten dog I have ever seen and that she didn’t offer the pancakes and cocktail on arrival as indicated. It was more the dog thing but the latter was the icing on the cake! Not sure if I was getting a tad tired of the constant traveling around at this point as I did notice my general patience and mood seemed to be ummmm quite short at this point. Poor James.
So for the remainder of the day, we mooched around the town and encountered the most thunderous weather as the sun quickly disappeared. Hmm, this was not what we signed up for!
We had heard that visiting the Argentinean side of the falls was better but it was due to rain the next day so we weren’t sure whether to go to the Brazilian side as this would not take as long.. Decisions decisions. I would point out that my decision making process has diminished over the last couple of months so I am not sure how I will cope back at work. Oh well, worries for another time.
Deciding not to let the weather bother us, we opted for a full day on the Argy side and OMG it is soooooooooo breathtakingly beautiful. I have never seen anything like it. Cue lots of photos, selfies and rainbows. We also had the lovely sun bless us with its presence so it made the whole day even better. We also did a boat ride up to one of the smaller falls and lorrrrrrd, this was terrifying but So. much. fun. Even though it was a smaller fall, it was soooo powerful and the water beneath us was crazily volatile. We got absolutely soaked. It was fantastic. We also made friends with a guy from India and Norway. The guy from India was lovely and had a really nice aura about him. So calm. He was looking to meet a lady I guess and trying to escape the pressure from his parents to have an arranged marriage. He said that for most people in India, to get the flight he did, they would have to work 12 hours a day, six days a week for one year. Amazing. Makes me realise how fortunate I am. He also said that in order to get a visa for Argentina, he needed to show a complete itinerary for the whole of his trip. This meant a lot of planning. And when he came back to Argentina from visiting the Brazilian side of the falls, they reduced his duration to stay from the normal 90 days to 20. Shocking. Again, it makes me so grateful to be in the position that I am in.
This day was valentines day (sob) so James and I went to a local restaurant and had a ‘romantic’ dinner 🙂 ha. Twas lovely.
The next day we went to Brazil to see their side of the falls and this visit was surprisingly easy. And I got another stamp in my passport. Yay! The Brazilian side is amazing too but with a reduced number of walkways. The view is still pretty amazing. I cant get over how magnificent the falls are. However, they have these weird animals wondering around that apparently bite you. That was not a relaxing thought as they brushed past me a few times in their ‘packs’. There was also a warning for ‘pumas’ in the area and tips for how to react if you encounter one. ‘Appear bigger than you are, speak louder and don’t run’. Sorted. With these guidelines I look forward to the day I run into one. Alas, not on this visit. THANK GOD.
Then we headed back to Buenos but lordy – the journey home was a NIGHTMARE. We boarded the empty coach and took our seats at the front of the bus. It was a lovely new bus and I was very excited as there were pillows and a blanket.
About an hour into the drive, the bus attendant comes over and says ‘you are not supposed to be on this bus’ – our ticket was for 15/03/2014 not 15/02/2014. Bugger – the stupid webpage kept changing the return date and crashing when I was trying to book the tickets. Apparently the bus was ‘due to be full and we needed to er ‘get off’??????!!!!!!!!! Hm, not quite what we had in mind getting stranded in the middle of nowhere. So at the next town, we are dumped at the bus station and told we need to go back to Iguazu. I dont think so was my initial thought – there was nothing else to do there and it was a 20 journey to get back to Buenos which I did not want to delay. Hmm.
So you think it would be easy trying to change onto another bus?! No. It was the most frustrating experience of this whole trip as no one spoke English or understood what we were trying to do. When we eventually managed, we didn’t have enough cash to purchase the new tickets, or access the internet and they didn’t take cash cards. Arrrrrrrgh. Fear of being stranded was too much and I started crying in frustration at the whole thing. Its that loose tear valve thing I had before. Poor James. Eventually with the help of James boyfriend speaking fluent spanish and James’ mobile acting as an interpreting device, we got on a bus to Buenos which was packed and uncomfortable. That was a horrible 20 hours of my life which I will never get back or want to think about. Even thinking about it makes me anxious. To top it off this massive flying beetle decided I needed some of its attention and buzzes by my ear then landed on me. Shrieking I was. Hysterical I was. The straw that broke the camels back comes to mind as I felt I could take no more from this horrible town. Oh also I lost my Pandora bracelet here too. Cursed?! Perhaps. I remember James looking at me and saying ‘Tara you really need to calm down’. OMG. Speechless I was.
So the next day we arrived back in Buenos – broken and tired. This time we were in the district of San Telmo – a grottier part but with more character. We were only here for one day as we were due to visit Mendoza – wine town. That evening we met with a couple I had met on my tour and had a lovely time catching up with them and drinking wine. I love this couple – they are soooo nice.
The next day so we did a city tour – by bike. Now you think this would be fun – and it was – howeverrrrr I have not ridden a bike for, hmmmm, perhaps 10 years!? And this was a 4 hour cycling tour around the city. Nervous? A tad as the guide pointed out casually that the city dogs like to chase us and the drivers aren’t really bike friendly. Gee.
Despite my general unhealthiness, I managed to keep up with the group and made friends with a lovely Aussie girl. Aussies are great, I really think I should move there. The tour was a brilliant introduction to the city and we ventured into the ‘dangerous’ land of La Boca – one of the poorest but beautiful parts of the city. I didn’t take photos. Again, love for the camera.
After this, we had to hot foot it to the bus station and catch our 14 hour coach ride to Mendoza – WINE TOWN! Woop. This time the coach was amazing – hence our super smiles.
I figure these blogs are quite loooong so if you wish to continue reading… maybe grab a cuppa and then click on Buenos Aires – part dos which shall follow shortly! Oh how my spanish has flourished. Adios. Ha.