Buenos Aires was a last minute detour from our originally planned route once we realised we had a few days spare. This detour would take us 916 miles southeast of Salta and mean a 18 hour bus journey. So not really a small detour, but one we hoped would be worth it.
As it was going to be such a long journey we again decided to splash out on 'cama' seats, which are the comfy bed like seats at the bottom of the bus and cost £61 each. Our journey started at 5.30pm, and we were immediately welcomed on board by our steward as he brought round sweets. Not long after that he put a film on and gave us our ham and cheese roll, biscuits and drinks. We were definitely starting to like this way of travelling! After a little nap, a few beers (which we had brought with us) and a lot of South American music videos he brought round our dinner....at 10.30pm! Argentinians love to eat late! With our meal of pork and rice we had a few glasses of complementary wine and another movie. We both finally started to fall asleep at 11.30pm to be woken up by him bringing round the whiskey or Tia Maria nightcaps!
We both had a really good nights sleep, waking up at about 8.30am, at which point they served us a cake and biscuit breakfast with another movie. We arrived in Buenos Aires at about 11.30am refreshed and excited about a new city.
Our taxi ride to our hostel was definitely an eye opener, as we read various graffiti and even big protest banners in the park regarding the Falkland islands (or Malvinas as they call it). Everything was of course in Spanish, but we got the jist, and it wasn't too British friendly! It's soon to be the 30 anniversary of the war, and with all the clear protesting we thought that maybe this wasn't a great time to be a British traveller in Argentina! Only time would tell.
Our hostel (America del Sur) seemed really nice, although we had to wait until 3pm to check in properly. Unshowered we headed to the recommended antiques market a few blocks away. The streets were full of stalls selling paintings, all sorts of weird and wonderful antiques and loads of hand made items which made it a pretty interesting market to walk around for a few hours. We spoke to a few locals who all seemed pretty friendly, and not at all annoyed at us for being British. A couple even seem pleased and told us about their British heritage. One even showed us his ID card to see if we recognised the surname. When we didn't he just shrugged and asked us to say hello to his family if we did ever come across that surname!
The only unfortunate thing about the market was that we gave in too early for lunch and ended up having a McDonald's, only to soon after find an amazing chorizo sausage BBQ with a live band playing. So we had that as well!
We then headed back to our hostel, showered and did our internet chores accompanied by a local bottle of red. It was then time to go out for some steak! We did our research and went to a locally recommend restaurant in San Telmo. This time we splashed out on both a Bife de chorizo (rump steak we think), a Bife de lomo (tenderloin) and a bottle of Argentinian red. Everything was amazing! The lomo was like butter to cut and the chorizo was so tasty. I really don't think we could ever eat steak back home again, twice the price, half the flavour and never this tender!
Night life in Argentina doesn't even begin to start until 12.00 and after eating what felt like our own body weight in beef we headed back to the hostel.
The next morning we decided to take the open top bus tour of the city. It took us round the various historic buildings telling us about Argentinian history. BA is a very European looking town, largely based on Spanish architecture. The Europeans that moved there during the colonial rule wanted to create a little Europe, and did so pretty well. However, the bus tour also took us to the poorer parts of the city, mainly La Boca, which is home to Argentina's most popular football team Boca Juniors, and the poorest of the population. The appeal in this part of town though is the brightly coloured buildings built out of any scraps from the dockyard and any left over paint from the ships. It's also the area the Tango was invented, fusing together different dances and sounds from around the world through it's multi-cultural population.
It was really nice to walk around the main tourist streets, which were full of brightly coloured bars and restaurants. But we were told not to venture from these areas as it was unsafe elsewhere in La Boca, even in the day! We decided to have some lunch and a beer at one of the bars so Kris could watch the England match and Emma could watch the Tango dancers. We had the carne empanada, which are a little bit like Cornish pasties, really tasty and cheap!
We got back on the bus to complete our tour and then headed back to the hostel for some more red wine and blogging. At 9ish we headed to another highly recommended restaurant to have another huge mouthwatering steak and a bottle of red. Whilst we finished off our wine the waiter brought us two free glasses of champagne! This backpacker life isn't bad!!! Although at £37 it was the most expensive meal we've had, but totally worth it, and still a bargin by British standards!
Kris woke up feeling a bit worse for wear the next morning. We think he had wine and meat overload! But we still went on a free walking tour around the city centre organised by our hostel. This included a walk round Recoleta cemetery. Sounds grim but this is a cemetery for the rich and famous of Buenos Aires, and was full of completely over the top fancy crypts. Evita was the only person we had any knowledge of, and that's only because of the Madonna movie, but it was still really interesting to walk around. She also told us about the clock tower that was donated by the British and use to be called The British Monument. However, after the Falklands war it was renamed the 'No More British' monument. No hard feelings then?!
Once we got back to the hostel Kris was pretty ill, so we relaxed for the rest of the evening. He did join me for my steak sandwich dinner, but had nothing himself, which did make me feel very guilty, but not guilty enough to stop me enjoying yet another amazing piece of steak!
Next morning it was time to check out and start our long journey to Iguazu Falls!