Travel Journal

Buenos Aires

(Monday 15 June 2009) by Brennan-adventures
Hello, me again.
Thought I would upload the blog and photos from Buenos Aires. You will then have a bit of a rest from us for a week. :-)

We arrived back in Buenos Aires around 9pm, and the taxi dropped us off outside the apartment block where Marilene and Vicente were waiting for us. We went to the door and couldn’t figure out which button it was for our apartment in the dark. There was a button for the porter so we pressed that…… not much good when you don’t speak Spanish and he speaks no English!! We then saw a man coming towards the door, assuming he was the porter, asked him when he opened the door if this was the correct building and he said yes and waved us in. He carried on out the door… he was a resident!!
Up in a rickety old lift to the 5th floor and rang the door bell…… Nothing! Rang again and a quiet voice asked if it was us before opening the door….Whew we knew we were in the correct place and reunited with the amigos. :-D

Next morning was the dawn raid to surprise our English friends.
We decided we needed to arrive at their Hotel before 8-30am in-case they disappeared out for the day before we arrived. Mike had printed out a map… unfortunately the map was incorrect and we spent 40mins walking in the wrong direction. Flagging down a Taxi we drove back the way we came; past our road then onwards to another district. :-?

When we arrived at the Hotel the receptionist handed us the telephone to phone their room….. The line was so clear that Andy and Babs realised we were downstairs waiting for them…. It was a good reunion and breakfast before all retuning to the apartment to pick up the other Amigos and make plans for the day ahead.
We walked miles that day; saw the balcony Eva Peron stood on; walked around Mothers Square… this is where the mothers of the “disappeared” Petition for the information about where the graves are of the men and boys that were taken away; tortured and killed. Their bodies were then disposed of when there was a military government here. ........So far there has never been any information given to them.

Vicente told us the same thing had happened in Brasil, but when the military government was ousted the new government said there would be no information available about the missing people. They paid the families compensation and nobody has ever protested.
In Argentina, however, they are very political now, but there does not seem to be any answers for these poor families. There was a protest camp set up about the Malvinas war (Falklands). They are angry about a few things……
Firstly they feel their government mislead them about invading in the first place.
Secondly the veterans are not being given a good enough pension.
Thirdly some of their young conscripted soldiers were tortured by their own side.
Although we were speaking English and reading all this information, we were never once made to feel uncomfortable or blamed for the war.

After a lunch break we travelled to the Tango district.
There is a square with bars where during the day you can see Tango danced on the streets. We spent an hour or so there watching a couple dance and the boys getting up close and personal with the girl!! Later Marilene and Vicente showed us a few steps they had been practising earlier…;-)

That night we went to see a Tango show, Dinner was served first before watching the show. Dinner was a 3 course set menu with at least 4 choices in each course. The steaks here are from either Aberdeen Angus or Herefordshire cows. The steaks are ENORMOUS, at least 25-30cm long and at least 2-5cm deep, they are sooooooo succulent though. It was sad to see so much of mine going to waste, I just couldn’t manage it.:-(

The show was a very slick affair - there were 3 couples dancing, ages between 25 and 55. It was nice to see the different styles for the different ages. The young ones had the fast footwork and lots of lifts, the older couple were more controlled but seemed more sensual to me.
There was also a live 6 man band playing, two of the men playing the squeeze boxes were at least 75-80 and needed no music. There was an interlude when another band from Peru played…. One of them played the smallest guitar I have ever seen, and the man playing the pipes was brilliant. You could imagine the wind over the Andes then the birds calling when he played!!

Next morning we all met up again at a newish sculpture. It is shaped like a flower and made of metal. This flower is powered by photoelectric cells and opens and closes at dawn and dusk.
We then went to see the grave of Eva Peron. When she died people stole her body from her grave. The government managed to get the body back, and it was decided to bury her within the tomb of her brother-in–laws Family. On this tomb is a small plaque dedicated to her. I didn’t get a photo as there was a huge queue to stand in front of the grave, and we decided no to wait.
We did manage to find a really old café that looked like an old fashioned tea room back in the 1950s and served tea with milk, and extra hot water!! Outside this tearoom is a red letterbox and two old fashioned red telephone boxes… seemed really weird seeing them there.

That evening we were meeting an Argentinean Professor who Mike had met in Barcelona last year. He had moved back to work in Buenos Aires, but his wife was still having to work in Spain for another 2 months. He took us to a steak restaurant, we got there around 9-30 and eventually started to eat about 10-30pm. This we were told was early for Argentineans at the weekend - some people start eating after midnight…. This time Mike and I shared a steak, it was a better solution , however the chef did not like the concept of "well done" steaks both times when it returned it was still quite pink inside…. Babs and Andy were suffering poor things, it was their first experience of having to eat so late and they had chosen a steak each… All the Brits wanted their steaks cooked "Well done".. by the time it had been sent back twice we couldn’t wait any longer… we could probably have gnawed off one of our own legs to eat!! All of us Brits had a big problem getting through so much meat. :-x
At some other tables there were hot griddle things being brought, piled high with different cuts of meat/sausage and offal. I have never seen so much meat and believe me all of it was polished off in double quick time…..
Another uncomfortable night’s sleep with such a heavy tum!!

Next morning Babs and Andy were leaving to fly to the falls then onto Salvador in the north of Brasil. Marilene and Vicente were flying back to Brasil around lunchtime. We, however, had the day free.

When we were here 4 years ago we found a local market on the outskirts of the city that had live music and the locals dressed up in Gaucho costumes. There was also an area that horses were sold or shown off. We decided to go and see what had changed.
The market had grown, and it seems to have lots of artisan stalls with really reasonably priced unusual things… I however had to think of the aircraft baggage allowance, so could only look!! :-(

The market is still mostly frequented by locals and other Argentineans, not many tourists. The people in this area have a more Indian/Peruvian look, and the area is VERY poor. You feel very safe though.
The music stage was set and when the music started playing the people on the street started dancing. All ages, some in costume some in normal clothes. There is one dance that both the men and the women wave hanky sized pieces of cloth around their heads. Now you would think this would look silly…. But the men here make it look like the most natural thing to do in the world, and sooooo macho while doing it!! *_*
When dancing with their partners there is not much hand contact, but a lot of gazing into their eyes. It is wonderful to watch. One of the dancers must be at least 90, and he has the most amazing spurs on his gaucho boots.
There was also a show being staged as on Monday it is a public holiday. Before the show started the national anthem was plated and the flag was raised. In the crowd the men took off their hats and everyone stood tall and sang loudly, it was quite moving.
The food was more meat…… cooked on BBQ’s. To be honest even the smell was quite off putting after the late meal of concentrated beef!!
The BBQ’s are quite different here. At one side the charcoal is stacked up and set alight, once it becomes ash-like it is raked under the metal griddle plates to cook the meat.
The restaurants were also serving the griddle piled with cuts of meat on the table. I do not know how if you eat this at lunch time do you can eat more at night???

What can I say about Buenos Aires….. Get on a plane and visit, it is fantastic and everyone is so friendly and kind. The prices are cheap and the food fantastic. We think the city in the last 4 years has become more vibrant and exciting; we will definitely be back again.

  • Fab photos by Sheila
  • Mum by Mum
  • Re Buenos A. by Babs

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