Monday, 31 August 2009

Right i'm off!

So there is just one more day in Buenos Aires left to tell you about, then Uruguay then Brazil, but I need to head off to the bus station now so I can get to Bolivia.

Until then xxx

T-t-t-t-TANGO!!! 2 August 2009

Ok, slightly out of chronological order, but after the day at San Telmo Market, Pippa, Harri, the Swedish girl Caroline and I went to the TANGO!

We arrived at the address given to us by Rich and Rhiannon. We walked in and were not impressed. Miranda, Emma and Sophie had paid out and gone to a fancy tango show with glitz and glamour and we had just arrived at a school hall with tables round the edge and loads of locals in jeans and tshirts doing the tango. Pippa was not impressed with me. I told her that Rich and Rhiannon had said it was amazing. We paid about two pounds to enter and were given a marble. What's the marble for? we asked the lady at the entrance... For the Rock and Roll was the response. Confused! Were we supposed to dance rock and roll while balancing a marble on our heads? Huh?

We sat at a table and watched the beginners class. They were doing the tango. We had intended to join in with the tango class, but we were late and had missed the beginning and there was no way we could pick it up mid way. But, after a glass of wine Harri and I decided it wouldn't be too difficult and we clumsly joined the class trying to pick up the tango. The Spanish speaking tango teacher was not very helpful and gave us dirty looks and made no attempt to help us.

After fits of giggles the class came to an end. Shame. We still hadn't learned to tango.

Then we heard an annoucnement that siad the tango class would begin in fifteen minutes! huh? we quickly realised that Harri and I had joined the tail end of the Milonga class, not the tail end of the Tango class.

So, when the tango class began we were ready for it. The dance hall was slpit into beginners, intermediates and advanced. It was jam packed with people of all ages learning and perfecting hteir dance moves.

We fed Pippa more wine so that we were all ready for the beginning og the tango class. Alhtough we couldnt understand a work of the spanish dancing lingo we quickly picked up the steps. When it came to dancing with partners all of us girls were on form, however, some of our partners didn't quite have the knack! they may have been 100% argentine, but that didn't make them great dancers. We all fumbled through and got to grips with the tango! We were really good b the end of the calss.

In the gap between the tango and rock and roll class the dance teachers did a bit of a tango show and it was amazing to watch the professionals at play! such a beautiful dance!

We were on fire for the rock and roll class and we even contemplated joining the intermediate group. Although as we danced the rock and roll we all began to wonder what the purpose was of the marble! It still hadn't come clear!

After the rock and roll class came our aanswer. as an interlude before the dance floor was open for free dancing was a rock a roll dance contest. 6 couples showed off their best rock and roll moves. they really were incredible, there was lots of lifts, swinigng around and lots of jiving! it was aaweomse to watch and after we voted for our faourite by placing our marbles boxes that corresponded with each couple! the ones that we voted for won!

Sophie, Emma and Miranda came and joined us after their fancy tango show and we all danced, people watched and admired the awesome dancers.

And depsite our initial aapprehensions when we arrived we had a really awesome night! really awesome!

It was great to see so many people together dancing and having a great time. I guess its what it must have been like in the dance halls in the olden days! ahh bring back those days!

La Cabrera # 2, Same again!, 3 August 2009

Oh yes, another Wagu Steak. Equally as amazing as the first!

More amazing wine. Also dabbled in the white Torrontes this evening.

A toast to the humble cow... the fine provider of exquisite leather goods and incredible meat!

Bad service. Oh no. Free bottle of wine. Free Tiramisu. Best tiramisu ever! Two free glasses of champers! Free Chocolates. It pays to complain!

I love La Cabrera!

Another trip to Palermo, 2 August 2009

Tour guide Amz was enlisted again on Monday to take the girls shopping in Palermo. However, my knowledge of Palermo is not very vast and we spent quite a while lost as I tried to navigate my way to the shops.

I felt much cooler on this occasion in Palermo. The previous time I had been wearing my ski jacket, this time, i was wearing my leather jacket! The height of coolness. We all felt very Sex and the City as we ate lunch in a great little plaza and drank Cosmopolitans.

I took the girls around the shops and they all got the bits and pieces that they needed. I was having a detox from spending, given that I had bought a bag, a jacket and a painitng in the previous two days!

I did however try on THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DRESS IN THE WORLD EVER! I had spied it in the window of a posh looking shop and with Pippa's encouragement I went to try it on!

Oh my goodness it looked so pretty, it looked great on! Black, lace, beads and sequins. Long sleeves. Super short. Shuper stunning! Three hundred pounds! Given the incredible beading and lace work it was so worth it. As it stood admiring myself in the mirror with the price tag in hand I said to the girls... 'Do i buy the dress, or do the Inca trail?' The girls told me that as beautiful as it was I HAD to do the Inca Trail. So it was not to be!

We continued round the shops a bit longer till everyone's shopping lists were ticked.

As we were close to the incredible chocolate ice cream shop I took my tour group for chocolate ice cream. The girls also agreed that the chocolate ice cream was incredible! rather than getting a small individual tub, harri and I found it financially and stomach satisfyingly beneficial to share a quarter of a litre tub! Gorge!!!

From the ice cream we headed back to the hostel... we needed to get ourselves ready for dinner... at La Cabrera! AGAIN!

Another Sunday, another day at San Telmo market, 2 August 2009

I loved San Telmo market the previous week when I went with Rhiannon and Chris, so it certainly wasn't a chore to go back again with Pippa and Harri... but it did lead to a dint in the bank balance... a dint in the form of a gorgeous brown leather jacket, a bargain at less than fifty quid! Pippa also made an investment in one as well, and we both became instantly cool just by being owners of beautiful leather jackets.

We had the biggest, fattest empanadas (like cornish pasties) for lunch. They were probably the size of a calzone and tasted amazing... although I did get a bit of a cheese overload. I didn't mind though because I had a new leather jacket! Woohoo!

Tour Guide Amz, 1 August 2009

Pippa and Harri arrived in Buenos Aires this morning. They aren't staying in my hostel, but there hostel is just across the road. After breakefast I went over to the hostel to meet them.

The two of them were sitting in the kitchen area of their hostel looking very very tired. They had had a really bad flight over night from Lima and hadn't had a wink of sleep. But on seeing me they burst into life and the three of us began talking at lightspeeds catching up on all the things we had done since Santiago.

Three other girls, Miranda, Emma and Sophie, who were on Pipp and Harri's GAP tour were also in the same hostel and after a quick catch up the six of us set off to explore Buenos Aires.

I was designated as tour guide and I guided them round the highlights of Buenos Aires telling them all the FUN FACTS that I had learnt since I had been in Buenos Aires.

At this point in the trip I started to repeat the things that I had already seen, but I didn't really mind. I always love it when I can show people around my favourite places in London, and now I had a similar thing showing people round my favourite palces in Buenos Aires.

We walked to the Plaza de Mayo and saw the Casa Rosada, El Cabildo and the Cathedral. I took the girls inside the Cathedral as it is just so beautiful. We had a hilarious moment watching the changing of the card by the crypt of General San Martin. They came from behind us and made us all jump and then we watched their military precision which was going very well, untill one of the guards half fell over in the middle of the changing of the guard. We all continued to watch trhough stifled giggles!

From the Plaza de Mayo we made our way along the chaos that is Avenida Florida, then to Buenos Aires' Big Ben at Plaza San Martin and onwards to the big metal flower. I pointed out the spot where i was nearly mugged! Then I did a whistle stop tour of the Bellas Artes museum picking out all the best paintings. After this we did the cemetry and then the Saturday market in Recoleta.

The girls loved it as I gave them all the facts and tourist spiel. I felt that all I was lacking was an umberella for my tour group to follow.

After all the touristy stuff we entered the market. I had been very restrained the week before, but somehow with the influence of Pippa and Harri I ended up with a gorgeous painitning and a gorgeous leather handbag... when in Buenos Aires!

After a hardcore day of sights we were all pretty exhausted so went for a quick nap before dinner.

The girls were so impressed with the Tenedor Libre where i took them for dinner and we all gorged on meat and salad! I was given the title of best tour guide ever!

We finally finished eating at midnight and we were all really tired. Harri, Sophie, Emma and Miranda went back to the hostel. Despite our tiredness Pippa and I decided to stay up and we found a great little bar in San Telmo with an awesome Rock and Roll band playing. After lots and lots of talking Pippa and I eventually rolled home at 5am!The music was really cool and we were so chilled, we just didn't realise the time!

The best ice cream ever! 31 July 2009

Petra invited me over for dinner again tonight. We were planning on going to a Tango concert after dinner. But we discovered incredible ice cream and ended up eating ice cream all night.

I'm not really a fan of chocolate ice cream, it never really tastes like chocolate. But this ice cream we bought was incredible... it actually tasted like CHOCOLATE. It melted in my mouth like actual chocolate does and was absolutely incredible! AMAZING!

I'm a wanderer, 31 July 2009

I spent today wandering around Belgrano, a posh residencial area of Buenos Aires.

It was cool.

I took lots of photos of graffiti and street art.

It was a cool place to wander.

An evening of muchos Espagnol... 30 July 2009

Petra's House.

So after shopping Petra invited me back to hers for dinner. I had a date with Elisa and Mercedes later that evening at a music club near to Petra's house so I figured I would hang out there until I had to meet the girls. As we were cooking dinner two of Petra's friends came over and they ended up joining us for dinner. These two friends were Argentine, and thus were fluent in Spanish. Petra is also fluent in Spanish. I am not fluent in Spanish. The evening was hilarious and I actually managed to understand the conversations and evening made some input into the conversation! It was not easy and it took a great deal of concentration but it was good! Woohoo! Another Spanish success.

The Pena

A Pena is a folklorica music club, and Elisa and Mercedes were there and waiting for me with some other firends. By the time I reached them I was late, very late! But they didn't mind. They were all falling asleep and Elisa informed me that the band that were playing as I arrived were really bad. I could tell they were bad! Awful in fact! I sat and chatted with Elisa in English and then she announced that she was going to leave beacuse she was tired and had work. I stayed a bit longer as Mercedes told me in her broken spanish that the next band were much better. Now, when i've been with mercedes and elisa, it ahs always been elisa that has been the translator and carried the conversation. SO with elisa gone conversation became very difficult. No it didn't become difficult, it became more challenging. One of the other friends spoke a bit of English and the four of us got through and my spanish jsut seeemed to get beetter and better from nowhere. I even managed to have a conversation with them about superstitions! Go me! Go my spanish!

The taxi home.

At about 2am I was falling asleep, it had been an evening of real concentration and it really tested my spanish abilities. I climbed into a taxi to head back to the hostel... I had a chatty cabby! My night wasn't over yet! I still had to get through the 15 minute journey maintaining conversation in Spanish. And i managed. I did it!

I lay in bed that night really proud of my ever improving Spanish skills! Woohoo!

SHOPPPPPING!!! 30 July 20009

My besties left me today. They were making their way towards the South of Argentina for some Glacier fun.

So, with no besties to keep me company I made my way out to Palermo again to meet up with Petra for an afternoon of shopping!

Petra has been in BA for two months researching for her thesis, but the reality is that she has had more success with shopping than with her research, this obviously isn't great for her thesis, but it is great for me as I had an aaawesome shopping guide.

I actually didn't buy a single thing, Petra added a couple more bags to her collection, but the shopping experience was fantastic.

I have never been in such beautiful shops ever. They were all so nicely designed insde with cool wallpáper, cool fixtures and fittings, and were jsut toatally cool. I would have liked to take photos of the shop interiors! I would also have liked lots and lots of money to spend! I was very restrained, I nearly bought some beautiful boots, but i was saved the dint in the bank balance as they didn't have the boots in my size. such a shame!

It was great to wander around all the little boutiques and explore the area. I was really glad to have Petra with me as well as I really don't think i would have found the shops without her!

A run with a pick pocket and some awesome art, 29 July 2009

Wednesday was free day at the MALBA museum and Rhiannon and I dragged Scott along to see some art and culture.

The MALBA museum is famous for its Argentine modern art and we had heard great recommendations from the people who had trekked out to Palermo to check it out.

We hopped onto the subway at about 10 am in the morning. It was suprisigly busy on the subway given that rush hour was over.

As the train moved between stations I got pushed away from Rhiannon and Scott. SO there I was stood on the train holding on to one of the posts minding my own business. Then i felt something pushing the top of my thigh. It was my bag pushing onto my thigh. Then I realised that there was someone's hand pushing the zip along on my bag. I realised that the man next to me had a coat over his arm and I couldn't see his hands... but i could feel them, and they were worming their way into my bag. I froze. What could I do? I was certain that his hand was in my bag, but I was also doubting it at the same time... All of a sudden my reflexes kicked in and my whole body convulsed and I jumped a jerky jump letting go of the post I was clinigng onto and losing my balance completely. I didn fall, but in the process I managed to clear a space that enabled me to move away from the guy who had his hand in my bag. As I calmed myself from my little convulsion and readjusted myself the guy who had his hand in my bag looked to me and said in a horrivle nasty voice 'What is your problem?' I said that nothing was wrong. I knew he had his hand in my bag, but I was also doubting it, so I didn't want to turn to him and accuse him of trying to snatch my bag. It was really weird and I jsut couldn't face the confrontation. The train came into a station and the man got off the train pretty sharpish. I moved over to Rhiannon and Scott. They asked me what had happened, they thought someone had trodden on my toe. I explained what had happened. Luckily, once again, all my valuales were in the pockets of my jacket and my bag only contained a few tissues and a stolen lollipop from La Cabrera.

We carried on on the train and then took a walk to the art gallery where we spent the day exploring modern art of Argentina. It was actually realy cool. In fact, it was probably better than the bellas artes museum. There were a lot of pieces that made you think, and made you question, but it was very cool.

After grabbing some lunch we went into the Japanese gardens and ate oreos.

We rounded off the day with another meal, the last Besties supper, at the Tenedor Libre next to the hostel.


Now, I'm not really a big fan of steak. Scandal, I know! But I just don't really get the big deal. At least, that was until this evening.

Myself, Rhiannon, Scott, Chris, Caroline (Swedish girl from our hostel) and Petra (the Ozzie girl I met in Cordoba) all made our way out to Palermo to La Cabrera, the restaurant that Lonely Planet refers to as SPLURGE! Rich and Rhiannon had seconded the Lonely Planet's recomendation so it just had to be done.

The restaurant was lovely, very rustic, lots of bare brick, black boards and cool posters and art on the walls.

After much dilemma over what to choose Rhiannon and I went for the Kobe Wagu Steak (Rich and Rhiannon had told me that you get so much meat that sharing is the way to go!). The boys told me that Wagu was the best steak in the world, and although it was the most expensive thing on the menu, I figured that as I was in probably one of the best steak houses in the world I should probably try the best steak in the world.

With the dinner order placed we sat and munched on bread. The bread was incredible, and we all get very excited. If the bread was this good, the steak woud be amazing!

In order to save money we went for the cheapest bottle of red on the menu... it was also incredible. Can't remember what it was, but it was bloody good!

We had sneakily ordered some starters... blood suasage and chorizo sausage. And when they brought the starters out we were again blown away by the incredible food.

Just ebfore the steaks came out we all had a bit of a panic... no one had ever asked us how we wanted our steaks cooking! noooo! would things turn out disastrous...? no of course it wouldn't, the bread was just too good!

The steaks arrived...! We had all decided to go for the Wagu, the boys had one each but us girls shared one between two.

My knife went through my meat like butter. I slowly put the piece of meat in my mouth. Inside my mouth was an explosion of mouthwatering tasste sensation. I think my words were 'This is the best piece of meat I have EVER eaten'. The meat was cooked and seasoned to sheer perfection.

Instantly I became a steak lover.

I don't think I have ever eaten a meal before where i have savoured absolutely every single mouthful. When it came to the last piece of meat I was devestated. Total perfection!

I declared to the table that I never wanted to eat another thing ever again in my life, i wanted the taste of the steak to remain in my mouth forever!

Then I was given the dessert menu. 'I´ll have the forest fruit pavlova with mascapone por favor'.

After dessert came free champagne and free lollipops. Incredible. I think this is actually the best meal i have ever eaten in my life ever. I just can't describe how amaxing it was!

After dinner we went for drinks in a bar. Inside the bar there was a pink disco ball, but this was no ordinary pink disco ball... oh no it was shaped as a camel! Kitsch!

I slept that night dreaming of steak!

Evita, 28 July 2009

So last time I wrote about Evita I told you how much I loved the film, but since being in Buenos Aires I have learnt so much more about Eva Duarte and I thought I would share with you some of the things I have learnt about this amazing woman.

1. She never actually sang from the balcony of Casa Rosada, she just gave an empassioned speech. Damn you Lloyd Webber for changing the course of history!

2. Evita set up the Evita Trust. To put it crudely, she was the Jim 'll Fix It of her day. People all over Argentina would write letters to her asking her for things. For instance beds for a hospital, a football, bicycles. Little things, big things, the people of Argentina wrote to her for the things they needed to improve their lives, and she then went around the country by train and hand delivered all the things to the people! Incredible. I met a man who had written to her asking for a small ball for him and his friends to play with, she came and brought him a full size football, sports clothes and trainers. She was certainly a bit of a legend!

3. When she died Argentina actually ran out of flowers! Flowers had to be imported from other countries!

4. After she died she was embalmed and laid to rest in her old office where she used to work from. She was maintained everyday by a doctor. However, when Peron was otherthrown by the military coup Evita's body was stolen. Her body reappered in Italy 16 years ago. Her body travelled the world and at one point was held by a necrophiliac! How awful!

5. Eva was an illegitemate child, her mother was her father's mistress and although she went by the name of Duarte (her father's name) she was never recognised by officially by the Duarte family. BEcause of this, she hated the middle classes and aristocracy. This makes it kind of wrong that she was eventually laid to rest inside the Recoleta Cemetery in the Duarte tomb, as her father's family represented what she hated...!

6. Madonna looks nothing like Evita.

An unusual tourist hotspot, 28 July 2009

A cemetery. Now who in there right mind would think that a cemetery would be a tourist attraction. Ok, maybe some goth-types who like to sacrifice animals in graveyards beneath full moons, but in 'normal' circumstances...?

Recolletta Cemetery is on all the tourist maps of Buenos Aires and it is indeed IN.CREDIBLE!

Rhiannon and I were in touching distance of the cemetery when we were at the Recoletta Market on Saturday, but we decided not to go and explore it that day as we wanted to take advantage of the FREE English speaking tour of the cemetry that took place on Tuesdays. So, Tuesday came and Rhiannon, Scott and I set off early to reach the cemetery in time for the English speaking tour that began once a week at 11am. However, we didn't set off early enough and missed the tour! Dammit!

Rhiannon had already been to the cemetry on a previous trip to BA and so Rhiannon became our guide and with the help of a map that we bought we made our way around the cemettery.

As I stepped inside the walled cemetry I fell sombre with respect, but then this feeling of sombreness was quickly overwhelmed with a feeling of WOW! Inside the cemetry it was not as i expected at all. It was astounding. I was totally blown away by the extravagance of the tombs, they were just beautiful. Huge stone, granite and marble scarcophogi were everywhere. They had the most intricate statues and carvings and some had stunning stained glass inside them.

It almost felt wrong to take photos, but it was all so strangely picturesgue and photogenic that you couldn't resist.

The cemetery is home to the bodies of Buenos Aires' elite: the aristocracy, the famous, the war heroes. And the tombs are laid out in a grid form that makes you feel as though you are wandering through streets. At the bac of the cemetery are some incredible statues.

In fact, the cemetery as a whole, feels like a microcosm of the ritzy side of Buenos Aires from the city's prime (something that is not so much visible anymore as you walk the city's streets, post all the conflicts that have arisen in the city's recent history). The styles and architecture on display are fantastic and it is absolutely resplendent.

A great sense of mystery overwhelms you as you wander around the cemetery. Who were all these people? What were their stories?

One grave really took my fancy, the tomb of Rufina. Rufina Cambaceres is known as the girl who died twice. (Please note that this is a story that has been a victim of Chinese whispers and so the story has been manipulated and changed. This is the version as I know it.) Rufina died very young at the age of 19 and after her funeral was laid to rest inside her family tomb. A few days after her coffin was placed insied the crypt a cemetery caretaker was tending to something inside the crypt when he realised that something was not quite right with the coffin. With the family's consent the coffin was opened and Rufina was in there dead, but not as she had been laid in the coffin. There were scratches on the inside of the coffin and Rufina'a hair was all dishevelled. It was realised that Rufina was buried alive. It is said that she woke up inside her coffin from a deep narcoleptic sleep and tried to scratch her way out of the coffin to escape. She suffocated before she managed to escape. Tragic. There is another story suggesting that Rufina was actually drugged by her mother. This story suggests that Rufinaś mother was having an affair with her daughter's fiance, and that her mother drugged Rufina so that she could spend time with the fiance. However, the mother gave Rufina too much drug and she fell into a coma. Ooo conspiracy! Rufina is officially the only person who has died inside the cemetery. A statue was erected outside the tomb to remember her.

Another tomb of note inside the cemetry is that of Eva Duarte, aka Evita. We found the tomb without any touble as there was a HUGE pile of flowers in front of the tomb (the anniversary of her death had been two days earlier). The tomb itself wasn't so impressive by comparison with some of the otehrs, but we took the obligatory photo and paid our respect.

The cemetery was simply amazing. Creepy, but amazing. There were so many cats slinking round the cemetry which maddde it eerie. People are still buried inside the cemetery today.

Sorry, I've had to write this post twice as the computer crashed just as i finished writing about it first time, and because of this I haven't really done the place justice second time round. I will try and write some more another time so I can redeem the post!.

My Besties, 24 -30 July 2009

Because it's been a while I can't remember if i actually introduced my BESTIES properly. So, my Besties are Rhiannon*, Scott and Chris, three Aussies from Melbourne who are travelling together around South America.

When I first me Rhiannon and Chris there was instant banter as if we had known each other forever. It wasn't until I met them that I realised how much I missed banter, I haven't had any constant bantering in my life since I left the union which is now over a year ago. (Note to the sabbette ladies (i doubt Ben and Jonny are actually reading this, but if you are take note), have no fear because I still love our legendary banter!)

When Scott arrived the banter continued and we became an awesome foursome hanging out and exploring B.A together.

The term 'bestie' is a mickey take of Paris Hilton's BFF show and we all use this ironic term of affection when together.

As it goes, I actually think I will get to meet up with them in Bolivia which will be very cool.

*Not to be mixed up with the lovely Rhiannon Fitzgerald who is the Rhiannon of Rich and Rhiannon fame!

Blame Laura! 31 August 2009

So, it has certainly been a while, and I am sooooo far behind with this blog that it is unreal! But anyways, I'm on my own again now and I've got a couple of hours to kill before I get my next bus onwards to Bolivia. So let's see how far we get...

Monday, 17 August 2009

A quick run down of where I am and where I´ve been, 17 August 2009

So I left Buenos Aires on 4th August (I know I haven´t written about all of that yet but I will soon!!)

5th August - Colonia, Uruguay
6th August - Montevideo, Uruguay
7th August - Montevideo, Uruguay
8th August - Porto Alegro, Brazil (Bus Station)
9th August - Sao Paulo
10th August - Sao Paulo - Laura Arrived
11th August - Sao Paulo
12th August - Sao Paulo
13th August - Brasilia
14th August - Brasilia/Alto Paraiso
15th August - Alto Paraiso, Loquinahs
16th August - Alto Paraiso, Parque Nacional Chapada dos Vedeiros
17th August - Alto Paraiso/Brasilia (Bus Station)
18th August - RIO!!!

So, yep, heading to Rio tonight for a few days before hitting the beach and exploring the B.E.A.Utiful Brazilian coast!

As ever I am writing lots in my diary so I will have loads and loads of stories to tell you when I get a rainy day for typing!!!

Monday, 10 August 2009


Oh my goodness, I´ve been online for 4 hours and still haven´t told you ALL the cool stuff I did in BA! I had hoped to have it all done by now, but sadly it is not to be.

Well, I need to head off to the airport to go meet the lovely Laura Wells who is joining me for the next three weeks in Brazil!!!!

So, next time I write I will tell you all about incredible steaks, a run in with a pick pocket, shopping, leather jackets, leather bags, tango and lots lots lots more.

But for those of you worried about my whereabouts, I´m in Sao Paulo tonight and for a couple of days, and where we go from here only time will tell... Until next time xx

La Bomba Del Tiempo, 27 July 2009

Ooo before I write about this I should mention Scott. Scott the third Ozzie had arrived in BA while we were on our walking tour! So when I got back from my late lunch with Ed he was there. I was worried he might break up the BESTIES bond that had been firmly fixed between Rhiannon, Chris and myself, but instead he just brought a new element to the BESTIES clan and we all got on as if we had all been best friends forever. Ohhh! How cheezy!

Sicne the first time i met Rhiannon she had mentioned this drum show with hippies that takes place every monday!

Today was monday, and we were very excited about drums. We all got ´rugged up´ becuase the venue was outdoors and we worried we might get cold!

We got there and there was a great vibe in the queue. There were loads of stoners as you would expect and loads of gringos which we didn´t expect.

IT had already started when we got there and there was an incredible atmosphere. The drummers were amazing, as was the accordianist - soudns strange but it rocked. You tube them and check them out! I was even tempted to buy a t-shirt! The beer was served in plastic litre glasses and we all drummed around and soaked it all up. Unusually for Argentina, it was all wrapped up at 11pm and everyone left. But it was still an awesome night out. And secretly we all saw it as a bonus that it wrapped up early as it meant we could have an early night!

The Perfect Tenedor Libre, 27 July 2009

So after the walking tour I met up with Ed (the guy who I did my Sky dive with in Cordoba). We had been trying like mad to meet up with each other, but our plans kept on clashing and we never quite made it. So after the tour we had scheduled a lunch. And again, we went to the Tenedor Libre.

I had the biggest plate of salad you ever did see. Followed by the second biggest plate of salad you ever did see.

Not meat, no fried stuff, just pure healthy salad! YUMMY!

AND... No desert!

PERFECTO, and, believe it or not... i still felt as if i got good value for money!!

Walking Tour, 27 July 2009

As I said before, I had seen a great deal of Buenos Aires, but still knew very little about its history. That all changed the day of the walking tour... All of a sudden the city took on a whole new meaning and the aesthetic beauty that I loved transformed into a new love when I started to understand the history and the politics of this great city.

The tour started with a video that showed pictures of Buenos Aires in the Peron years, in the 70s and in 2000. In the video I saw all the familiar sights and streets filled with rioters and mourners. There was fantastic footage of the Prime Minister being air lifted from the Casa Rosada in 2000. The city was coming to life in a whole new way.

Out on the street our guide informed us that Avenida 9 de Julio (the street I crossed every day) was the widest avenue in South America, and that it actually used to built up with two blocks of buildings. The two blocks of buildings were demolished in an attempt to make Buenos Aires more Parisian in its aesthetics. Coool!

He also told us about the famous obelisk that no other building could be built up higher than the obelisk. And that the obleisk was treated with a great deal of suspicion by the locals and some saw it as a symbol of an omnipresent eye watching over the people. He also said that as part of world aids day they put a giant condom over the obelisk.

We then walked to the old HSBC tower, now the Israeli embassy, which during 2000 a police officer used as a vantage point to shoot 5 civilian protestors! This has of course led to outrage.

He then took us to the Plaza de Mayo and pointed out the Cathedral, the Casa Rosada, and El Cabildo. He pointed out the balcony which Evita stood at. And he also corrected me and told me that she didn´t actaully sing from the balcony, she just made a speech! Shame! He also told us that the Casa Rosada was pink because cows blood was used as the tint in the paint. They sure love their cows in Argentina!

He also told us about the Mothers who march every thursday in the Plaza. These are the mothers of sons and daughters who were kidnapped and presumably killed in the 70s.

The protestors who camp out in the plaza de mayo were veterans of the falklands war who were demanding more pensions money. But the things was these veterans were not actually entitled to more pension because they didn´t actually fight in the war, they were in the army at the time but hte war finished before they made it to t he battle.

We learnt so much it was awesome.

Then he took us to an Evita Museum (not THE evita museum), her former office, where her body was kept after it was embalmed. There were loads of pictures of her throughout her life (I don´t like the fact that madonna isn´t really evita!) and there was a guy there who told us about the dy evita came to bring him and his friends a football. I´m going to write more about Evita in another post, because she is just incredible and i learnt so much about her.

Then he took us to a site where one of the concentration camps of the 70s could be found. It was under a building and it had been forgotten about until they came to constuct a highway. When the building was demolished they found the concentraion camp!

I saw the city in a whole other light again and I was amazed. I remember the first time I went to BErlin and fell in love with it when I learnt about and saw all the History, the same feeling came over me during this walking tour. I was in love with BA on a whole new level.

San Telmo Market, 26 July 2009

Everyone in the hostel was going to San Telmo´s famous antique market on Sunday. About ten of us set off together, but as is the way with markets everyone got lost and ended up going separate ways.

But us BESTIES stuck together and worked our way through the market the three of us. (ALSO, just to point out, rhiannon, Chris and I became BESTIES as a mickey-take of Paris Hilton´s BFF that we had a conversation about the first night we met, we adopted the term ironically to define our little trio).

The market was cool, the whole street was lined with people selling all sorts of things tourist stuff, jumpers, leather jackets, vintage sunglasses and bags. There were magicians, street performers and food vendors everywhere.

The three of us were starved but we promised ourselved a big steak lunch so we passed on the big fat empanadas. The street performers were amazing and walking around was just incredible, there was such a great vibe going on. I´m going to say that the vibe was a mix between a Sunday on Portabello Market and a Saturday Afternoon in Covent Garden, but the vibe was far superior to both of these.

We spent the whole day just looking at stalls and watching the street musisicnas and performers. The best performer was a great little old lady who sat listening to a walkman with a home-made drumkit in front of her. The drum kit was made of tin cans, lids from spray paint cans and other bits of plastic and metal. She drummed along like a crazy thing, i guess she was playing along to whatever she was listening to on her walkman, and then from no where she stops and produces a fan with a sign saying SHOW ME THE MONEY! She started jumping on her drum stool shouting SHOW ME THE MONEY! SHOW ME THE MONEY! Wetting ourselves with lauhgter we obliged and through a few pesos in her pot. SHe was an absolute star.

We had a great steak lunch, the famous bife de chorizo, a real sunday steak with loads of great salad. yumm!

Chris then decied to buy a magic set, admittedly it was all in Spanish, but Chris was certain he had the magic touch to be able to make it work!

The actual antique part was really cool too, loads of old fur coats, chandeliers, colourful water siphons, gramaphones, Happy meal toys the standard antique fair. We played Antiques Roadshow as we wandered around and estimated the prices of the things we saw.

It was such a cool atmosphere and vibe going on that we literally jsut wandered around from stall to stall, from entertainer to entertainer. And other than buying lunch, I was incredibly restrained and didn´t buy a thing.

When we got back we tried to fathom out magician Chris´s magic set. This involved typinf spanish into google and then trying to decipher the mystically written translation. Chris mastered two tricks and then we resigned ourselves to an UNO tournament!

The post you have all been waiting for, 25 July 2009

The one where Amy nearly got mugged.

Now, please note, the lack of appreciation for the Big Flower is absolutely unrelated to the experience that I am about to account. The Big Flower was just average, but the Big Flower experience becomes all the more exciting with this here tale...

I tried so hard to see the beauty and splendour of the Flower, but I just couldn´t quite catch it. My feet were aching a little so I decided to take a seat on a bench and try and admire the flower some more.

As I approached my chosen bench I checked that it was clean so that I wouldn´t be sitting in any dirt or anything, and there I sat watching the world go by when a middle aged couple came towards me.

I had seen them doing the touristy thing and taking a photo of the flower a few minutes before and here they were coming towards me talking in Spanish about the fruit on the tree above me.

I didn´t really understand what they were saying, but I assumed they were warning me about the fruit that may fall from the tree and hit me on the head... I had all sorts of visions that I would become another statistic in the coconut death toll. I thanked them for their warning and got up from my bench.

Then I understood the man saying ´Agua Caliente´ aka Hot Water. I was perplexed, what did hot water have to do with falling fruit. I thanked the man and his wife and then noticed I had gunk on my arm.

It all became clear... I wasn´t at risk of death from a fruit falling on my head and knocking me out, I was sat under a fruit tree and the sap was dripping on to me. Claro! Of course! And I quickly figured that hot water was the way to get it off.

But then alarm bells started to ring as I noticed more gunk on my bag. If the fruit on the tree was dripping sap, why was there no sap on the bench when I sat down?

I had a flashback to a conversation I had in the hostel the night before where a girl was telling me about ´the mustard trick´ in Ecuador. ´So me and my boyfriend were walking along and a couple came up to us and pointed out that we had mustard on us. My boyfriend took his back pack off his back, took his jacket off and the couple helped us with tissues to mop down the dirtied coat. My boyfriend realsied he also had it on his leg so started to mop that up too. There was a bit of a fuss, and then i noticed a third person come over and make a sweep for my boyfriend´s back pack which was on the floor. Luckily I noticed what was going on and put my foot on the strap of his bag just in time. When the couple realised that their time number was up they backed off and did a runner as did the third guy.´

Instantly I knew that this wasn´t tree sap. I thanked the couple for their help in pointing the gunk out to me and I walked towards the large group of people that had gathered near the flower. As I walked away the woman came up to me with a tissue. I told her that i was fine and produced the tissue that I had eaten my lemon drizzle cake on and started to mop myself up as I moved closer the large group.

Ok, they didn´t get anywhere near to my hand bag, and at their closest theyr were three feet away from me, but I still felt ridiculously violated. I walked to a mall with a toilet that i had used earlier in the day and mopped myself up. Tree sap! This smelt like Immac Hair Removal Cream, it was minging, and a night mare to clean up. It was all over me.

I wandered back to the hostel and replayed the scene over and over again in my head. There must have been a thrid person who had daubed me in gunk without me realising as I wandered round the flower. I just couldn´t fathom it all. I had come so close to being mugged that i scared me a bit. By the time i reached the hostel I was fine and I had calmed myself down and so I recounted my story to Rhiannon and Chris who listened intently as I told my tale.

Now, if this sitaution hadn´t worked out the way it did, and they had done a runner with my bag all they would have got would be a bag with an empty purse, a map and a lollipop. You see, my coat has loads of pockets, like 8 pockets, so my camera, phone, money, keys are ALWAYS stashed in these pockets. It certainly made me realise just how important it is to be alert and on the ball. You here so many tales of robberies and muggings in South America that it could almost put you off travellign the place, but I realised that by being switched on and cautious I had managed to evade any real danger. Of course, given that my bag is empty, I would have hadned the bag straight over if they pulled a knife on me. But I´m still thanking my lucky stars that this incident turned out to be a near hit.

Recolletta Market, 25 July 2009

Recolletta is another Barrio in Buenos Aires, and is the Barrio where the famous Recolletta Cemetry can be found, but today I was not heading to Recolletta for the cemetry (oh no, that was scheduled for Tuesday at 10.30 when there was a free English tour), but instead for the Market.

I´ve become weary of markets in Argentina, they all sell the same llama jumpers, the same mate cups, the same knitted socks. And like the markets in Asia, it was all getting a bit repetitive.

Recolletta Market was different, it broke the monotony of all the other Markets i´d been to in Argentina.

Rhiannon and I (Chris was sleeping off the previous night) headed out to the market and were both in shopping heaven. There were some great paintings and then loads of great little stalls with cool leather handbags, belts and all sorts of jewellery. I was pretty resttrained and didn´t buy anything. I was paying close attention to things I liked, but kept reminding myself that I could always come back next weekend and buy the things I really wanted.

Then, I spied something that I really had to have... TOFFEE STRAWBERRIES! You know how you get Toffee Apples, well these were the same concept but with Strawberries instead. INCREDIBLE! The crunchy outer shell of toffee was a great contrast to the soft squishy strawberries. YUMMY!

The strawberries were great, but it had triggered my spending gene. The strawberries haad been super cheap, and all I wanted to do now was buy something else... it didn´t have to be food... anything would be good. And then i saw it... a gorgeous dress. It was love at first sight and as soon as i had it on my back I knew it was meant to be. With my new favourite dress in my hand I plodded round the rest of the market happy with my spendings.

Rhiannon and I were both feeling a little ropey and soon the market got too much for us. It was massive and just went on and on. Rhiannon headed back to the hostel, but I powered throguh with a slice of lemon drizzle cake and two dulce de leche churros. Hmmmm.... cakey goodnees!

I was so close to the famed cemetry that I almost couldn´t resist, but when I noticed that the Bellas Artes museum was close by too I decided to head to check it out.

On the ground floor was lots of European Art, the typical Monet´s, Manet´s, Van Gogh´s, Matisse´s that you get everywhere. Of course they were cool in themselves because they are such great works of art, but upstairs was the home to the real treasures. The upper floor was home to all the Argentinian artwork. It was great to see some paintings of old Buenos Aires from when it was nothing more than a fort. And some of the paintings of the Old Docks were cool too. There was also some great modern art on display too that was really special. It was great to see the Argentinian art and see how if reflects the European art from the same time.

After the Bellas Artes Museum I decided to check out the Big Flower. Now, I hadn´t heard of the Big Flower until Chris mentioned it to me the previous night... ´Ít´s just a big metal flower that opens and closes with the sun, it´s cool.´ It was close by to the museum so I figured I would check it out. As I walked to the flower I was in a new area, I had never been here before. I walked through a sculpture park that was actaully quite cool (much better than the sculptures in Resistencia) and then I saw the big flower.

It wasn´t a particularly pretty flower but it was big and impressive. I didn´t see it open and close either, apparently that only happens at sun rise and sunset and I didn´t fancy sticking around that long to check it out. I admired the flower and took the obligatory photo, but I wasn´t particularly enamoured with it.

And then... I nearly got mugged!

Friday night in Buenos Aires with my new BESTIES, 24 July 2009

When I got back to the hostel that evening it was empty. There was hardly anyone around. When I went into the kitchen I fell across two Ozzies from Melbourne (why is it that I always, always, always bump into Ozzies?). The three of us quickly got chatting and after dinner found our way into the hostel bar and made our way through three bottles of wine.

Chris and Rhiannon were wicked. We were all in constant fits of laughter and there was instant banter between the three of us. Now, I have to say that banter is one of the things I miss more than anything since I´ve been travelling. My last year in Cardiff was an absolute banter-fest with the other Sabbatical Officers and the newspaper team, and I jsut haven´t really been in an environment filled with stupid banter since then. It was great to fall back into the banter again.

Rhiannon and Chris were travelling together, but they didn´t really know each other very well. They knew each other through a mutual friend Scott who was due to arrive on Monday, and the three of them were travelling around South America togehter.

As we sat around the bar more people came in and everyone started to talk about where to go and what to do on a Friday night in BA.

With three bottles of wine down our neck, Chris, Rhiannon and I decided to go with everyone in the hostel to the recommended club Crobar. We bought our tickets from the hostel for a reduced price and all made our way out to Palermo.

Before leaving the hostel we had noticed that the tickets were dated for Saturday... we were a little confused, but figured that this was fine, after all, it opened at midnight on friday, which strictly speaking would be saturday.

However, when we got to the queue of the club this wasn´t the case. The spanish speakers amongst us protested and protestedd that we go it. But no, unless we paid another 50 pesos were weren´t getting in. We had already paid 20 pesos for the tickets so tried to bargain that we just paid 30. They were having none of it. There was lots of waiting around in the cold, and we quickly got very sober.

So we all piled back into taxis to the hostels on a mission to get back our 20 pesos that we had paid for the tickets. When we got back to the hostel guy was really apologetic and gave us refunds and free alcohol. This satisfied us all. By this point it was nearly 3am and I was most definitely not in the mood for going back out again in search of another bar. Myself and Rhiannon ended up chatting till 4 before we fell asleep.

It hadn´t been the perfect Friday night, but it had been a laugh none the less and I had made two new BESTIES in the process.

Free Entry Days, 24 July 2009

I always hate looking through the LP and finding out that certain places have free entry on certain days. Normally my trip never coincides with the free entry days, but knowing that i had ample time to explore BA i decided to make the most of these Free Entry days for once.

On a Friday there is free entry into the Cabildo and the Casa Rosada! The two are opposite each other across the Plaza de Mayo and the Cathedral is right by them too so I figured I could spend the day exploring all three sights! Woo!

I had seen all these buildings from the outside on my walking tour the day before and i was excited to get inside and have a look around.

I was hesitant about the Free Entry at El Cabildo, I didn´t want to seem like a greedy tourist eager for free stuff, and so as I entered I asked how much entry was. The lady waved me in and told me it was gratis. Awesome.

I have to say, I am very glad that entry was free... I first of all looked at paintings of El Cabildo (the Town Hall) throughout the ages. At various points of Buenos Aires´ history it had changed from being really big, to smaller, to bigger, to taller and then to it´s current statte. It was interesting to see the changes and I managed to understand the Spanish which explained why these changes occured - although I can´t remember the reasons now. The next room was an exhibiton on lights... and the history of lights in Buenos Aires. Again it was all in Spanish, but I persevered and learnt all about the town criers who would announce the time and the progression from candles, to gas lamps, to electric street lights. It was rivetting stuff and was great for expanding my Spanish vocabulary. (Note... I am still waiting for the perfect opportunity to throw into conversation the vocabulary that i learnt at the Cabildo, but funnily enough the occasion has not yet arisen). The next room documented the history of El Cabildo as the prison of Buenos Aires. More great stuff. Like I said, I´m glad I chose a free day for this one!

Next up was the Cathedral. I never like going into Cathedaral´s and churches by myself as a tourist. I prefer safety in numbers when I go into churches. Not that churches and cathedral´s are particularly scary, i just don´t feel comfortable being a tourist inside them, it feels a bit wrong. But saying that, i love churches, they are just so pretty. From the outside, you wouldn´t know that this was a cathedral, it looks like a greek style temple with pillars and a triangular plinth at the top! Inside it was simply stunning. I wandered around and saw the crypt of San Martin and some other beautiful statues of saints. I then pulled up a pew and sat admiring the stunning arches and paintings. Incredible!

Next up the Casa Rosada. As I crossed the plaza, I realised that I was running early, I had expected the Cabildo might take all morning to explore, but i had only been in there an hour (and i was only in there for such a long time because I was translating all the information boxes). It was only 11am I had already seen the Cathedral and the Cabildo. I rocked up at the gates of the Casa Rosada and set off to find the museum entrance. I found the museum entrance... the guard told me that the Casa Rosada was closed for refurbishment! WHAT! I was outraged! I really wanted to see inside Argentina´s Presidential Palace, and most importantly, I wanted to stand on Evita´s balcony!

I was at a loss... what next? My plan for the whole day had come to a close in less than two hours.

I looked at my map and realised I was close to Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires´ newest Barrio (neighbourhood). I headed down to Puerto Madero. It was a beautiful day and as I arrived at Puerto Madero I had an instant craving for sushi... Puerto Madero is a lovely little Cardiff Bay type area, swanky bars, nice restaurants, plush apartments... the perfect place to find sushi take away!!! I wandered along the riverside, past Hooters and TGI Fridays and took a look at some old ships that were moored in the docks. It was very nice indeed. Then I found a sushi restaurant, but I was mightily disappointed when I saw they didn´t have any take out sushi. But I still had a feeling that there was more sushi to be found so I wasn´t too disheartened. I crossed at the Woman´s Bridge, a very modern looking nice bridge to the restaurants at the other side. There it was... a take out sushi bar! Oh yes. I picked some pieces and found a nice sunny spot where i could sit to enjoy my sushi and watch the riverside. It was lovely. The area was nice, but it had the same vibe as Cardiff Bay in that it had no real soul. There were a lot of business milling about on their lunch hour, but by the end of lunch there was no one around and it was a bit of a ghost town.

I then decided that I was going to get myself lost in the city. I ended up wandering all over and seeing some great areas. I love getting lost and finding new things. Of course I wasn´t really lost, my trusty map meant i knew where i was, but i just kept wandering around. I then happened across a big crowd of people and a sign saying tour at 4pm. Porque no? I went inside and started reading the english explanations on the walls (the cabildo experience had tired me from reading the spanish). I was in the Block of Enlightenment and somehow without paying I got caught up in the tour and taken round the Block of Enlightenment. The tour was all in Spanish, and the tour guide spoke Spanish so incredibly fast that it was impossible to keep up. It was cool to look around the old hub of intellect in Buenos Aires, the Jesuits had established a school on the site and a church and it was revered highly amongst the people to this day. The highlight of the tour was being taken down to the tunnels. Apparently there is a network of old tunnels under BA that run between the docks, the churches and other important places. The Jesuits used them to move important people around the city, of course they have also been used for smuggling. Now they are closed off and shown off as a tourist attraction. It was kind of cool and showed me more of the history of BA that I hadn´t seen as I wandered around.

I had seen a lot of BA already, but I didn´t really know a great deal about all the things I had seen. There was a free walkng tour from the hostel on Monday so I booked that into my diary so that I could learn about this great city and appreciate it more fully.

Another Tenedor Libre, 23 July 2009

Did I tell you about Elisa and Mercedes who I met on my trip to Cafayate? Well, they live in Buenos Aires and have been in email contact with me since we first met back in Salta. Elisa told me a restaurant which was really great where we could meet for dinner.

I couldn´t find the street on my map so I asked the receptionist for directions... She told me I was going to a place that was OFF THE MAP! Oh yeah, venturing off the map! Her directions sounded really complicated so I took a cab.

Taxi journeys can sometimes be average and boring... however, this was an awesome taxi ride. The entire taxi was filled with disney stuffed toys, the windows were filled with disney stickers and worryingly the rear view mirror was also covered in Disney stickers. Brilliant. The driver showed me the dangly disney thing that hung from his rearview mirror that lit up! Pure brilliance. I´m not sure it quite beats the Elvis cabbie in Hertford but it was pretty special none the less.

I got out at the restaurant and met Elisa and Mercedes and discovered that this restaurant was another Tenedor Libre. I had been taken by surprise, I hadn´t had the time to contemplate the eat as much as you can dilemma... arghh!

The three of us took a table and started chatting. The girls had been on holiday when I met them and they told me stories about what they had seen and i told them stories about what i had seen. We did a lot of chatting in Spanish and English (so we could all practice) AND, because we were talking so much we didn´t do a great deal of eating. Well, we did. We ate enought so that we weren´t starved, but it was more about the conversation than trying to eat your moneys worth.

It was funny, at my previous tenedor libre experiences i have always sat with fellow backpackers marvelling at how the locals just don´t get the ´eat as much as you can´element, and then here i was, eating with locals in the same way.

It was a lovely evening and I was perfectly satisfied with my meal and with my company. My spanish is definitely coming along well! The girls invited me to a folklorica evening for the following week and we said our goodbyes.

My taxi back was distinctly average.

Feeling a little ropey after several late nights i went to bed early.

Havanna Alfajor, 23 July 2009

I have been a bit addicted to Alfajor´s since being in Argentina... remember the Dulce de Leche filled Waggon Wheel type things I mentioned before! They are divine... but someone mentioned to me in Mendoza that the best Alfajors could be found in Havanna, the Argentine equivalent of Starbucks...

So when I fell across a nice little Havanna´s looking over Plaza San Martin I decided to take a coffee stop... and an alfajor.

Oh, my, goddness... AMAZING. Not only did these alfajor´s contain the best tasting Dulce de Leche but combined with incredible chocolate and chocolate biscuit too. With a white chocolate and hazelnut latte it was perfecto! Yum!

Definitely the best alfajor´s in argentina, and I am certainly a coinnessuer!

Exploring Buenos Aires, 23 July 2009

I consider this day to be my first real day exploring Buenos Aires. I mean, I had been to La Boca, but other than that I hadn´t really seen a great deal of Buenos Aires other than a shopping mall, a restaurant, and a night club. But Rich and Rhiannon had headed off to Mendoza and the city of Buenos Aires was mine to explore at my leisure. I knew I was going to be staying here for a while so I didn´t want to rush around and do everything straight away, so tody was going to be a day for getting my bearings.

It was a beautiful blue sky day and so, with my map in hand I created one of my extensive city walking tours.

My hostel was in the Micro Centro of Buenos Aires and was just a short walk from the Plaza de Mayo which was surrounded by the Casa Rosada (the one where Evita sang from), the Cathdral, the old Town Hall and all the big banks. From here, I then wandered along Calle Florida, which I guess is the equivalent of London´s Oxford Street. It was hell and I was constantly harrassed for Tango Shows and Leather Jackets... NO GRACIAS! I hated it. I took in the Galerias Pacificas which was a a really nice shopping mall with all the fancy shops, and then carried on to the Plaza de San Martin where they have the Argentine equivalent of Big Ben... hmmmm, maybe not!

From here I made my way to the Congress building taking in all the pretty Parisian style buildings with wrought iron balconies on my way... As I wandered along the streets towards the Congress building I could here lots of noise and bangs. I carried on walking and came to the Congreess building... Ah! A riot! Tere was a massive crowd outside the congress building... so incredibly big and there were fire crackers going off. An ambulance with its sirens whizzed passed me. I though to myself that this was the sort of thing that the FCO website warns you to keep away from. But this was action... and I wanted an awesome action shot. I didn´t get too close as I snapped away with my camera, at first anyway. Despite the fire crackers it all seemed quite tame, there was lots of smoke and noise, but these protestors were aiming all their abuse at the Congress building. Most people on the street just wandered by without batting an eyelid. I almost felt like I was the only person who could see the riot because people were so unfazed by it all!

I got a bit closer, and as I walked closer i realised that even the pigeons that filled the square didn´t flinch at the fire crackers. I got closer and closer, and then i decided that I had gotten close enough and I turned around and made my way away. After i ahd walked about 10 paces away there was an almighty crack... i must have jumped three foot in the air... as did everyone else around... even the pigeons scarpered! My heart was in my mouth and i carried on walking and picked up the pace.

I walked on and on and with no real direction i just followed random streets that looked interesting and soaked up all of my surroundings. I loved it.

Then, I came across another protest. This was a marching protest and they walked and banged drums as they went. Although therre were no fire crackers, this was a little more scary, the protestors had their faces covered by scarved so that only their eyes showed... and in their hands they carried clubs. I skipped back a block, but most people just carried on as normal.

By the end of my day walking around I must have come across 5 different protests! When i got back to the hostel i enquired about the protests... I was told that people protest about anything... money, poverty, communism, anti-Peronism. No one really knew what any of the protests were about because they were so common place. When i mentioned the firecrackers the hostel receptionist told me that it was normal.

I was totally in love with Buenos Aires. I had seen some incredible sights, some beautiful architecture, soaked up an incredible vibe and had a couple of run-ins with riots. I loved it.

A night on the lash in B.A. 22 July 2009

Buenos Aires is pretty famous for its nightlife, but the prospect of going to a club at 1am and leaving at 6am is one that my 23 year old body isn´t quite accustomed to anymore. The tickets that we had been given in La Boca were for a club call The Museum that opened at 9pm and finished at 3am. This sounded great to us! Ok, it wasn´t hardcore Buenos Aires clubbing, but this was still clubbing in Buenos Aires.

The hostel didn´t permit you to bring drinks in from outside the hostel, so in true stingy backpacker style we sneaked some vodka into some Pasa Del Torros (a great grapefruit fizzy drink) and sat in the kitchen drinking ´Pasa Del Torros´. Of course it went unnoticed to the hostel staff that we got more and more drunk and rowdy as the evening wore on.

My friend Petra that I met in Cordoba came and joined us at the hostel and we had a good group together with the English lads and an Ozzie couple.

At a reasonable time of midnight the eight of us poured into a taxi and to The Museum. We were welcomed to the sound of the Killers `Are we human? Or are we dancer?´. As the 80s/90s cheese flowed we could have been anywhere in the world: Bryan Adams, Queen, Madonna, Bon Jovi, all great tunes.

I say we could have been anywhere in the world... but there was one thing that acted as a constant reminder that we were in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires... THE MEN!

I had been in the club all over 2 minutes before some guy tried to pick me up. And it wasn´t just one guy, but two guys who wanted all my love and attention. They spoke to me in brilliant English and were chatting me up in a truly sleazy way as they kissed my hand and complimented me for my beautiful attire (i had disguised my walking boots with leg warmers that i had bought from the mall earlier, I was certainly not in my best attire... oh i miss my heels!). I managed to lose everyone as I was waylayed by these cassanovas but thankfully Rich stayed close by and was ready to pull me away. I made my apologies to the guys and made a sharp gettaway. I stayed close to Rich as we found the others so to avoid attention.

Even in the queue for the bar I had all the guys around me letching on me.

The worst thought was when I made my way alone back from the toilet... I was collared by a guy who grabbed my hand and kissed it. He then proceeded to chat me up and started playing with my hair. I moved his hand off my hair. He apologised. Then, he reached for my earrings and complimented my earrings. I took his hand again and moved it and told him politely where to go. But even this could not dent his ego. To stop his persistant approach I mentioned my boyfriend who would not be happy about him coming on to me. The guy´s response... ´your boyfriend doesn´t need to know!´ I walked off and even though he tried to pull me back I kept walking and found the others. I didn´t leave the group for the rest of the night!

It wasn´t particularly intimidating, just hilarious! The egos of the men were so inflated and they thought they could have anyone they wanted. It wasn´t just us gringos that got this sort of attention, but the local girls too. It was hilarious to watch... and when the guys got a girl to kiss them... they really went in for the kiss... All the booths were filled with couples giving each other mouth to mouth! I´ve never seen kissing like it. There were couples who remained lip locked for hours without coming up for breath. Seriously lip locked! It wasn´t really a suprise given that every single bench in Argentina has a snogging couple sitting on it, but it was still an impressive feat to behold.

At 3am the lights came on and we headed back to the hostel. The Museum had been an interesting cultural experience.

Random shops in Buenos Aires, 22 July 2009

After exloring the ´safe´ part of La Boca Rhiannon, Rich and I headed to a shopping mall to buy some leg warmers for me, a scarf for Rhiannon and a jumper for Rich.

Now the shopping mall wasn´t a particularly exciting experience... but the journey to the shopping mall was incredible...!

In an attempt to encourage spending in the middle of a recession free taxis were running people to the city´s shopping malls. Great idea! So we jumped in a free shuttle taxi to Abasto Shopping Mall.

As the taxi drove around the streets of Buenos Aires we drove through various districts, the Fancy Dress Shop district was pretty cool... every shop was full of Fancy Dress constumes..! FULL! But this was not the best... oh no! And what I´m about to tell you even beats the shop in Chengdu that sold Petrol Pumps... Once we drove through the Fancy Dress Shop District we hit the SHOP MANNEQUIN SHOP DISTRICT!

Yes, that´s right, shop after shop after shop, full to the rafters with Shop Mannequins. Male mannequins, female mannequins, child sized manneguins, fat mannequins, thin mannequins, pregnant mannequins, mannequins with blonde hair, mannequins with brown hair, mannequins with crazy hair, even a Shrek Mannequin. It was freaky, it was weird, it was bloody brilliant! These shops were everywhere, on both sides of the street for about 6 or 7 blocks. Incredible!

COLOUR! 22 July 2009

Since I´ve been in Argentina I´ve been surrounded by lots of greens and browns. The colours I have seen have been very natural and earthy. All the knitwear, all the paintings, all the jewellery, in fact everything... brown and green.

Now, I have no problem with natural earthy colours per se, but I do love bright colours and I just haven´t seen any, anywhere, since I landed in South America!

Untill... Buenos Aires, and more specifically... LA BOCA!

La Boca is the notoriously rough part of town, but with it´s poverty comes a vibrancy of life and with it´s brightly painted houses and buildings Caminito exemplifies this vibrancy.

Straight off the bus the colour was everywhere. It wasn´t a beautiful blue sky day, but the these buildings didn´t need sunshine to bring them to life, they were bright enough even on this cloudy, baltic day.

Not only were we bombarded by colour, but by promoters for all the cafes that lined the street.

Initially Rhiannon and I indulged in the conversation with the promoters, and we were happy to take their fliers and make conversation with them... but by the end of the street we were sick of it. We were absolutely sick of it. Everytime we stopped to admire a pretty building or papier mache model of Che Guevara or Evita we we harrassed. ´Come see tango!´ ´Come to my restaurant!´´Eat my food!´

We found a retreat in an art gallery and then had a fairly quiet walk along the art street. There were so many colourful paintings it was beautiful! I have been buying paintings from all the different countries that I have visited on this trip, and at last I was seeing paintings that I wanted to buy again. As this was my first day in BA i decided not to rush my painting purchases and gave myself time to contemplate.

We decided that we would go for a coffee in one of the cafes, it was freezing and we needed to get warm. We ended up in a great rustic place with a bit of tango going on and ate some great soup. As a bonus we got free tickets for a club in the city that evening. The tango was awesome and Buenos Aires was already living up to the high expectations that I had set for it.

Another Tenedor Libre, 21 July 2009

Remember I told you about the restaurant that I went to in Cordoba where you could ´eat as much as you like´, well, when I wrote about it the first time I couldn´t remember the name of the place, but I can tell you know that it is called a Tenedor Libre. And last time I wrote about this amazing highlight of Argentina´s fine cuisine, I told you that I ate so much that I couldn´t finish my wine. And I think I also uttered the two words ´never again!´. Well, guess where I ended up on my first night in Buenos Aires! Oh yes, another Tenedor Libre.

I arrived at the hostel singing to myself and was shown into a giant dorm (12 beds) where my arrival woke Rich and Rhiannon who were dozing in one of the bunks. Oh yes, we actually managed to meet up for the second time on this trip!

I dumped my bags and the three of us chatted about our antics since we had last seen each other. Rhiannon quickly informed me that she had signed me up for a free Spanish lesson due to start in an hour and informed me of the plan for dinner... ´a great little place where you can eat as much as you want for 20 pesos!´ My whole body shuddered at the prospect. ´Great!´ I replied with feigned enthusiasm. I promised myself that I wouldn´t over eat at this one. But then I figured I wouldn´t get my money´s worth! But then again, I was with familiar company and I figured that over eating with people you know is much easier than over eating with people you don´t really know. I was in an awful dilemma. As the dilemma rattled through my mind Rhiannon gave me the lowdown on the other guests in the hostel... who to avoid and all that! It was great.

The time came around for the three of us to learn Spanish which was total hilarity, but more about that in another post.

After the Spanish lesson I had the great fortune to meet one of the guests who Rhiannon had warned me about. And as Rhiannon had informed me, this delightful girl came over and struck up a conversation which she dominated and led, and when I responded to her with the utmost politeness, she got up and walked off. It riled Rhiannon something chronic, but made me laugh. What an idiot.

After chatting and laughing it was time for the... TENEDOR LIBRE! Dun, dun, durrrr!

With two other guys who Rhiannon and Rich had met in Rio we headed round the corner to the Tenedor Libre.

I told myself to be good, and, I was good. The quality of the food here was actually better than the TL in Cordoba, there was some good sushi and of course the steak was great and the salad divine! And most importantly I ate for enjoyment rather than excess. Result! I had achieved the impossible and avoided overeating.

But then... there were the plates and plates of desserts... Every cake looked awesome and I just had to try a bit of each one... that was what pushed me over the edge! As it happened, the desserts weren´t that great and were a big disappointment. But the ice cream redeemed the desserts.

The five of us emerged from the restaurant in pain after so much eating and after a failed attempt to find a bar we staggered back to the hostel and fell asleep.

The verdict on Tenedor Libre #2... needs more practice!

Evita, 21 July 2009

So, I am a big fan of the movie Evita. I guess I would love the musical too but I have never actually seen it. But for me, the movie is just perfect, but it is the sound track that I love more than anything. I love nothing more than listening along to the sound track and belting out the songs at the top of my voice. And when I sit and listen to the album I can actually visualise the movie so perfectly (yes, I have watched it many a time, probably too many, but it is just a great film).

So anyway, because of my love for all things to do with the movie I knew I was going to love Buenos Aires, and subsequently ever since I arrived in Argentina I have been eager to get to BA: 'I wanna be a part of B. A. Buenos Aires'. But, ever since I have been in Argentina I have refused to play the Evita soundtrack to myself on the iPod. I knew that once I started on the soundtrack I would not be able to stop playing it over, and over, and over again!

That was until... the journey from Rosario to Buenos Aires... A four hour journey... I listened to the sound track on repeat. I listened to the entire soundtrack 4 times! 4 times!

Now, I always get excited when I'm on my way to a new place, but this was a whole new level of anticipation and ridiculous excitement!

The journey to BA was horrendous, it was a total downpour the whole way. I had a romanticised ideal in my head that as I pulled into BA the sun would appear and the whole world would turn sepia. Ok, well maybe I didn't expect the world to turn sepia, but i certainly hoped that the sun would come out.

It didn't. I arrived in rain. Lots of rain. I walked to the metro in the rain. Then I got off the metro and walked to my hostel in the rain.

But even though it was cold and wet and miserable, the rain didn't bother me... I was singing along to all the Evita songs in my head and for once, even the bad weather couldn't dampen my spirit!

So.... Buenos Aires, 21 July - 4 August 2009

Yes, that's right readers... I spent a whole two weeks in Buenos Aires!!! 2 WEEKS! That's the longest amount of time that I have spent anywhere IN THE WORLD in the last 6 months!

There are several reasons I chose to stay in Buenos Aires for such a long time, but the main reason was that I just loved the place!!! I spent my days exploring the city in absolute awe. It was beautiful, vibrant and an exciting place to be... at one point I even thought to myself I love this place more than New York City. Extreme I know, but I quite literally lost my heart to BA.

There were two other reasons that I chose to hang around in BA (in no particular order):

1. I was due to meet Laura on 10 August in Sao Paulo, I didn't want to get to Brazil too early as it is rumoured on the backpacker grapevine to be a bit expensive, so I figured I would kill time in BA before heading on to Uruguay and then onwards to Brasil!

2. I heard stories that Uruguay was 'distinctly average' and not worth more than a few days travelling through. Everyone told me it was a great place to go and live for a few months, but for someone travelling through any more than a couple of days was most unnecessary.

3. Pippa and Harri were due to arrive in BA on 1st August and the prospect of fun times with the girlies was worth sticking around for.

4. I've met a fair few people while travelling around Argentina from Buenos Aires, all of whom I wanted to try and catch up with at some point while I was there.

So with all that I ended up spending an incredible two weeks in Buenos Aires. So here begins another epic blogging sesh...

Can i just point out that I am currently using the free internet in the hostel as there is no one waiting to use it, however, when someone comes to kick me off I will head to the nearest internet cafe to continue... so, if you are reading 'live' then you may experience some delay.