Sorry I have not written in a while. I don’t really know why. Perhaps it is because I was too happy just enjoying life in Buenos Aires 🙂 Sorry to rub it in! Ha but remember… I worked 7 DAYS A WEEK FOR 8 MONTHS FOR THIS! I do not think I will ever stop saying this! Haha.. My mum even rolls her eyes now when I say this.
Its a bit hard to sum up 2 months into one blog.. I could not even remember half of what I have done if I tried.. Just sometimes the odd memory will surface and I will smile. Most of the time.
So I have tried to summarise my main memories and favorito things about BAAAAAA. Ha, although I am not one for getting to the point as you know. This, as all my blogs, is long. Get yourself a cup of tea. Or in the case of some people I know, something stronger.
Enjoy – next up Bolivia!! This is when I anticipate my blogs will resume normality 🙂
Being based in one city, familiar with your routine, friends and family, you do not really meet that many new people or engage in new, meaningful relationships. I mean, who has the time!?
However, once you arrive in a new place, amongst others who have also left their lives behind, people are probably a bit open and warm. No one is going to want to make friends with you unless you are. And in an unknown city, making friends is a big part of the experiences you will have.
So basically, you will wake up in a hostel room, say hi to someone, tell each other your names and if you like each other at this point (i.e. quick psycho analysis), telephone numbers will be swapped or a day spent filled with sightseeing. And that is as simple as that. Friendship formed. Or not.
In doing this, I have met some wonderful people. Friends even. Multi-national friends 🙂 And through these friends I have had some amazing experiences.
The important thing that I have learnt about myself is that actually, whilst I am quite happy and smiley to others (friends/strangers) most of the time, if I don’t like someone… I don’t like them. There is no pretense or politeness here… If I do not think someone is a good, nice person then I do not have time for them. Or if they are just not my cup of tea as it were. And to my suprise, there have been quite a few of these on this trip!
So I realise that there is a judgmental side to my personality and this is not necessarily a good trait as sometimes impressions can be deceiving. But….. I am ok with that – hahah! Just as I am ok with the fact that some people may not like me either. Especially when I give them one of my blank, dislike stares. You can’t be friends with everyone. And who has the time!????
Also, I have learnt to like spending time by myself. Whether going for walks or sitting in a coffee shop having lunch. It has been nice. Sometimes. Maybe it is an age thing…
I am, as it were, getting a bit old now. Humph.
2. The people of Argentina
Last year I had heard that Buenos Aires was quite dangerous and that petty robbery was common. Indeed from people that live here, this does seem to be the case. However, personally, I could not have felt more safe here than had I been roaming the streets of London. And I have spent many nights here leaving a bar at 3am walking home solo – maybe I was just lucky as it were. Touch wood.
The amount of people that have stopped to help me simply because I have a map out.. or even when I was just standing in the street day dreaming and not needing help – just faffing about. Men AND women before you make assumptions! You cannot go too far here without someone smiling at you. Just because. I remember at the beginning of my stay here I bumped into one guy my age in the street and after a brief natter about my being new to BA, we spent the rest of the afternoon in the pub drinking Fernet and him giving me tips on things to do. All innocente. Well on my part anyway and it was 3pm!
The people here are quite similar to Italians, arms flapping everywhere, kissing each other on the cheeks a million times, loud voices (I only noticed this the last few days as I was a bit ill with tonsillitis and everything seemed a bit louder anyway but jeeez Argentine people are LOUD!) and very warm. Nothing is too much trouble. To me the best example I can think of to summarise the people of Argentina is when you say ‘thank you’. Guaranteed the automatic response everytime is ‘de nada’ – which means ‘its nothing’. And thats simply how it is here – its nothing to help others. Its simply a way of life.
Some touching moments of kindness witnessed:
I was sitting in a cafe – picture the scene – sun, empanadas and pretending to learn Spanish. It was muy tranquilo. Then a lady comes over trying to sell me one of her poems – I have English too, she confirms. Naturally, as instincts have taught me, before I even looked at her poems I was like ‘No gracias’. Shoo. She then heads over (slightly dejected) to another table with two Argentine women. They do not read her poem as they are in the middle of a chat but they do hand her some money. The lady then goes to another table with two men and low and behold, they take her poem, discuss it with her and each other! Lord. Well, I felt bad and ran after her to buy a poem. In English of course. It was about happiness and was quite touching really. I still have it.
The care they have for each other was also apparent on the subte (underground to us). Buskers were often there singing and playing music. And the Argentines – how do they deal with this? Well obvs they start singing along, clapping and mostly everyone reaches in their pockets at the end of the ‘show’ to hand over some cash. Not me. I am still wary of being pick pocketed and again, my phone is my most prized possession……
One other thing that struck me was the relationships between men. They are soo affectionate towards each other and often when rushing through the streets of Palermo late for some shindig or another, I would notice many men having dinner with each other. Whether it was a group of men, young or old, or just two men, they looked very relaxed and happy just to sit and debate whatever it was that they were discussing over coffee or wine.
Now don’t get me wrong – it isn’t all fairy dust and Mother Theresa’s everywhere here. Notably the maintenance man who left me trapped in a lift longer than necessary because he couldn’t be bothered to get up off his seat. Karma please. And the waitress in this local Mexican restaurant. I mean I have never seen service like it. No tip. Oh and the girls I initially met in San Fernando when I got here – blog 1. Karma x 2 please. That is all. Hahaha.
What. the. heck.
Oh my gosh, there are some people that take to languages like a duck to water. Then there are some that drown. Sink. Never to to seen again until Duck Heaven. This is me. I am in Duck Heaven.
I am TERRRIBLE at learning languages!! Awful (and if I am honest, a bit lazy too!).
I had planned to navigate my way around the rest of South America by now with my new found spanish skills. This will not happen and I will be resorting to the latin america phrasebook brought for me last year. Hahaha. Oh well.
Dr Guapo – I need lessons please 🙂
4. Stuck in a lift x 2 in ONE DAY. Its amazing I am here to tell the tale.
Well…… Its painful to recollect really. But for my art (aka this blog) I will tell all.
So it started in the afternoon. Mum and Shatish (her long term partner, my step dad) went to change dollar to peso on the blue market. Mum was a tad apprehensive as she expected some sort of Mexican cartel thing I think. Anyway, I had been to this place before.. Its wierd. Like an apartmento building with offices inside. You push the intercom, say a codeword and then they buzz you in. Then you come out with a higher rate of peso to the dollar than one the normal market. It is very exciting.
I left mum outside the building as I did not feel cool going with my parents. You then go up in the … lift… shudder.. and ring the buzzer for the flat. Code word again whilst they then buzz you through two security doors until you are in a nice, little office with a smiling young man. This time it was Juan. Again with the Juan’s….
I changed my money, swapped numbers with Juan in case I needed more peso (and he invited me and my friends to a house party) then headed down the death trap. I was a bit nervous as I was carrying 7000 peso anyway. Then thud. No movement. Huh? Ground floor already!? I opened the cage…. and low and behold I was trapped between two floors. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
Have I mentioned I am claustrophobic and to be honest its only in recent years I started using a lift because at work that is a lot of stairs. And I figured it was either death of two ways really – by life or if I climbed the stairs at work. The stairs was the higher probability of fatality. OR SO I THOUGHT.
So obviously I don’t know the word for HELP in Spanish. I mentioned it has been super safe here so far right. So… ‘Holllaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa????’ is all I could muster in panic to the apartment doors. Silence. No. I checked my phone.. no signal… OBVIOUSLY!!! Mum had texted me before I was in the lift to check all was ok as she imagined me kidnapped for my dollar and never to be seen again. I could imagine her panicking on the street outside. Not good. ‘Hollllaaaaa??’. I tucked at the external gate which was imprisoning me in between the two floors. Sob.
I ran the alarm in the lift but all it was was a bell. Sob. Argentine’s are notoriously slow at getting anything done. Sorry, but its true. I would die here. Mum would have a mini heart attack outside because she couldn’t find me and would then spend the rest of her days (once she recovered from the heart issue) searching the streets of Mexico. ‘HOLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA’.
Then suddenly, movement from downstairs. I could see another lift approaching (they are all in a line with cages etc.. its very old school – like the lifts in the posh apartment buildings in central London). It was a bit scary to be honest as I didn’t know who was in this life and I suddenly felt like prey and the predator was coming in another lift to get me, the trapped fish in my cage. I have quite an overactive imagination I have also discovered.
Anyway, it wasn’t my prey but rather a fish free-er who stood in front of me and stared at me expressionless, like I was a naughty student who got caught breaking the lift. He did not say one word to me the whole time as he yanked open the cage door and then pulled me out of the lift. I think he under estimated my weight as he almost toppled in on top of me when he first tried to lift me out. I did not care, I wanted out as I flung myself at him. I think I must have said Gracias, muchos gracias about a million times. Still silence. Then I realized I had been ringing the alarm and shouting ‘Holllaaaaa’ for sometime before he got off his seat to rescue me. Then dislike filled me. I stared at him like he was prey.
I arrived at the ground floor to find mum panicking and me practically falling on the floor shaking and sobbing. Not quite but we were both quite anxious after this whole experience. I then had my first coffee. Not sure why. I dont think that helps calm the nerves but it seemed necessary.
Anyway, before this whole thing comes to a close. We get to mum’s hotel later and Shat, mum and I get into the hotel life which was cosy for three with my backpack too of things for mum to take back to the UK. AND I KID YOU NOT THE LIFT STOPS MOVING. AGAIN. I looked at mum ‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Not again!!! I cant cope with this again. What are we going to do. We are stuck.’ Mum, ever so calm ‘It’s ok, we are here’. Sorry that did not help. I started panicking. How could this happen twice in one day!? WHYYYYY!? Sob.
Then Shat pointed to something on the wall which apparently meant stop. He had learnt this from his short 10 day stint here. I did mention above that I am terrrrrrible at spanish and that even my step dad was picking up words faster than me after two months here. He said we should push that button as it might have stopped the lift.
‘DONT TOUCH ANYTHING’ as I feared plummeting to our deaths. It was not even that tall a building. Three floors. Overactive imagination. Not sure why I feel travelling is good for me. I am clearly not a calm person in the face of danger. But after ringing the alarm and having nada response I grudgingly agreed to push this button. Viola, the lift started. I looked at Shat in disbelief. He smiled, he knew it meant stop and thought the backpack had pressed on it when he leant against the wall. Half of me wanted to kill him but I was too relieved that the lift was moving and I ran out of it.
I do not use lifts by myself now. This is the moral of this story. Stairs. Also, my step dad was here 10 days and picked up spanish faster than me.
Oh my days. I do not mean to offend because I love Buenos Aires and it is my favorite city. But seriously what is going ON with the pavements here!?
It started last year when I kept tripping on them. But this year, I noticed a distinct lack of pavement slap bang in the middle of a normal street (Calle – one Spanish word I have learnt. Pronounced cashay in Argentina). It is like an earthquake has happened or some kind of bulldozer has landed on parts of the pavement.
This was especially interesting to me when drunk as I repeatedly pointed out all the missing or broken pavement slabs to my friend Joann. Poor Joann. I also took a few photos but not many so as not to offend and also so as not to get my phone stolen. But seriously, I cannot get over how this is just a normal thing here. It is not as if it is in the poorer areas either but ALL areas – even in front of the President’s Palace – as mum noted.
There is also a serious amount of dog poo on the Calle’s of BA. This was worrying for me as I anticipated walking around drunk, at night, in the dark with flip flops. Hmm. Thankfully touch wood – nada.
Lastly, the pavements that look normal but are not. The ones where you tred on them and the underneath has sort of disappeared so there is a pond underneath of still, mucky, warm water. Never heard of these types of pavements? Neither had I until I got here. These are the worst because you cannot anticipate them and you will be blissfully walking, jumping over poo and missing pavement slabs only to land on a pond pavement and then sludge alllllll up your leg. Its amazing how far up your leg it will go. Just after you have showered and are on your way to Spanish class. Urrggggggh. Then you have to wipe it off with your hands. Urgggh. Because obviously I do not carry tissue paper.
LOVE THIS PLACE. Pan Asian food. So expensive. But so worth it. I will die happy remembering this place. If you are ever in Buenos Aires EAT HERE – and bring lots of pesos. It was my most expensive meal to date. But who’s counting when you’re eating these bad boys… I think the way I am looking at this pudding pretty much sums up my dining experience here… And with great company too. My lovely friend Johannes.
7. Medialunas, empanadas and Fernet – but these are a few of my favourite things.
LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.
Maybe I am secretly Argentine?! Most people it is alleged hate Fernet (raising my eyebrows in suspicion). My mum has a theory that people who hate animals are horrible people. I have the same theory about Fernet. I have spent muchos time (and money ahem) drinking this wonderful beverage. I have researched and they do in fact sell this in the UK. Saves me having to ditch my clothes and fill my backpack with Fernet instead.
Medialunas are small croissants and these, alongside empanadas (and Fernet) have been the SOLE cause for my weight gain. But I dont care because they are worth it. Every time. I will miss you. But not Fernet because we will be reunited soon my love! I have also learnt to make empanadas so I should be ok with these back in the UK too. Phew.
8. La Bomba de Tiempo
Its quite touristy – like anyone who is anyone in the backpacking world – will go to La Bomba because ‘it is sooo cool man’. Well it is cool. And they serve the biggest Fernet I have ever seen. Sold.
(I borrowed this link from a friend – I was a bit busy holding my massive Fernet to film……)
9. Overnight buses
LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE. I mean, what is not to like? Doing nothing for 14-20 hours. Just sitting in a comfortable, reclining chair watching the world go by listening to Ed Sheeran. And you get food and a blanket. And sometimes you even get wine and bingo. Say no more.
On these I traveled many miles – Mendoza, Salta and Iguazu Falls. I have to say Andesmar and El Rapido are my favorite by far.
10. Palermo Parque (that is Spanish for Park!)
Oh my – where all the beautiful people hang out. And me.
I have spent many hours in this park just listening to music and watching all the men… ahem and women I guess… run or roller blade past me. I am sorry I did not take any pictures…. I did want someone to shout at me in Spanish.. although I guess it would not have been so bad as I would not have had a clue what they were saying. But beautiful park with lakes and shizz, beautiful people and great weather. Many happy memories. One with Joann and wine. That was a particularly nice afternoon.
Also more recently with the Dr Guapo peddling on a peddle boat. Well, I pretended to peddle. He has strong legs.
Well, some might say its not too indifferent from home (i.e. when living with my mum she did all my laundry) but as most people live in apartmentos… washing machines are not common place. So there are launderettes around. Ok but nooooooooooooooo! They wash your clothes for you and iron them! Well now…. all under a tenner. Bargain. Everything needs cleaning….. Even if I have only worn it once. Ah, this is the life of a backpacker!
12. Soria, Dubliners, The Burger Joint, Niceto, Don Julio, Ice Cream parlours, Cafe Tortoni
Oh, this is one of the reasons why I wanted to stay in a place for some time rather than skip through. You can get to know a place and all its finest qualities. Here I refer to the eateries and refineries.
Soria was recommended to me by my housemate Jose in the first week this quickly became a regular for meeee. It also hosted weekly language meet ups for those that wanted to practice their newly learnt language skills. I tried and got ‘next’ confused with ‘fish’ so kept saying ‘fish week’. Yes…. that is what I meant to say. Everyone loves fish week…… Best to stick to what you know, speaking English and drinking Fernet. Many happy times in this bar. Or ‘bare’ I should say.
Other lovelies – Don Julio for the best steak EVER
The burger joint. Oh.My.Burger. How many times have I eaten in the Burger Hut in Palermo?! A disgusting amount of times. Amazing atmosphere, amazing burgers and fries AND amazing price. Muy bueno! (aka very good!). Hahaha.
Cafe Tortoni – Mmmmm Submarinos. Another favorito. Hot milk with a chocolate bar dipped in. Hot chocolate. SO YUMMY.
God I will miss Buenos Aires. But my waist line will not.
13. Franks Bar
Just worth a mention because I have never been to a bar that you need to know the code word for (thanks Katy) and that you enter by typing in another four digit code into a telephone booth keypad to gain entry to the bar. SUPER COOL. Ok inside. If you like watching older people (Ahem…… borderline….) make out and drink expensive cocktails. Although I was so excited by the prospect of having to type in a number I forgot it. Oops.
14. Manu Chau
My first and only (Ed Sheeran I will NEVER forgive you for holding a concert here 5 days after I leave. Never) concert. I did not know his music and there was no alcohol in the grounds but it was a cool, open air concert experience where you could get high on all the weed floating around in the air.
15. Grafitti tour
Love graffitti. And BA is full of it. So I did a tour with Graffitti Mundo. Very good although it was three hours long and I did not have time to do all of it. More importante matters to attend to. But very interesting and indeed as I am now in Bolivia, I can see that there is not so much of it in the same way as BA.
16. Love Buenos Aires
I said I couldn’t remember all the things that I had done during my 2 months here but these are some of the memories that will always make me smile.
– Meeting Rahul. Lovely guy (even if he is a pervert. Haha he is not but it annoys him so mucho!) and I hope we will remain friends for a long time. I met him in my first week and he really helped me settle into BA.
– Hanging out with Argentine people. Here I again hot footed it across BA to the Tigre area at 3/4am to party with Facundo and co. So exciting. However, there was not just the partying aspect. I also saw a different side to Buenos Aires as the Tigre is about half an hour out of BA and it has a river, is more greener than BA itself and was just a breath of fresh air really.
I also made friends with a lovely girl named Dany in Salta and to me, she was the epitome of how typically nice Argentine people are. She also brought me a Llama key ring.
– Meeting Joann
Ah the lovely Joann. My time in BA would not have been what it was without her. Too many memories to list them all but sitting on her balcony drinking fernet, attending Soria, Mendoza and noteably our last drunk night together singing and dancing to Bruno Mars in the street to cure her hiccups. I will miss you my dear. Until Copenhagen. And remember ‘Follow the Llama…’.
– Meeting Dr Guapo
Ah – Ariel. Annoyingly I met him in my last week so getting to know him was short lived. Probably for the best or I would never have left BA! Hahah! Mum would not be happy. I hope to keep in contact with him – not because he is beautiful (he is), or that he is a doctor (and I am a hypochondriac) but because he was lovely and despite him not really speaking muchooo English and my not really speaking any Spanish (his English was much better than my Spanish.. obvs) we managed to get along really well. We shall see I guess.
– My housemates Jose and Quincy
Ahh, such a great couple. I could not have asked for a better apartment to stay in and such lovely housemates. They were so relaxed, Jose even took me bike riding to the muesum to help me ‘get creative’ and write my blog. It did not work but the muesum was fun. Many fernets shared with them and one night when I was a bit down – they took me to a cool house party. They also taught me to LOVE salad – they make the BEST salad.
Conclusion (unless I remember more things)
So to summarise…… BA you have been magical. You will always hold a place in my heart. Despite the lift incident and your pond pavements.
I hope to be back soon because for some reason I am very happy here. Not that I dont miss each and every single one of you in the UK or the UK itself. But there is something about this city that makes me not want to leave. Well actually, it is alllll of the above and moooore.
Darn my rubbish ability to learn Spanish. Why is there not just ONE universal language!!???
Chau amigos – until my Bolivian blog. Where I experienced the worst pain known to mankind…