Day 1: Center City Bs.As.
From the bus station we walked through the multi-block plaza San Martin down Calle Maipu, over the pedestrian Calle Lavalle, down Ave 9 de Julio y took a right on Rivadavia to our hostel 'Downtown Mate.' It was cheap for it's central location w/internet, TV, hot h2o y desayuno included. Haven't had a shower in a week it was my first order of business. After a little downtime we set our down Rivadavia towards Plaza de Mayo stopping at a cafe/diner for an average lunch but some nice atmosphere. The sights around the plaza include Casa Rosada (the equivalent to the white house) a catedral y various buildings many of which retain their historic architecture that is found on every street in this ciudad. Still suffering from bus lag we went back to our hostel where Nate slept and I watched movies. We venture out once more that day, compromised and ate at McDonald's for dinner.
Day 2: Center City Bs.As.
En la manana we set out around 10 and spent 7 more hours exploring the bustling city center. First over to a beautiful church across from this residential walkway which was gated up and impassable. Then over to Plaza del Congreso to tour the congress which was also cerrado due to excessive security for the elections. The plaza was still beautiful despite the growing homeless camp. With time to spare we walked north to the Consolate de Paraguay to get our Visa - which was much easier then getting them for Brasil in the U.S. They handed us the forms, told us to get our pictures taken next door y exchange some pesos for $65US at a nearby cambio. Searching for the cambio was the trickiest part but an hour or so later we handed over our passports to return for them the following morning. Starving we ate at a fancy looking yet cheap y crappy restaurant. From there we went to Plaza Lavalle to tour the Teatro Colon which was closed for renovations - strike 3. Afterwards, we hopped the subte (short for subterranean) across town and stopped at a 'must see' subte stop which wasn't much to look at. Above ground back in la Plaza de Mayo we headed north to 'La City.' After another iglesia we toured Bart. Mitre's old residence then over to the Police Museum which was interesting y gruesome with the last exhibit being nothing but graphic old crime scene stories with equally graphic pictures to go along with the stories. It was fascinating, gross y way better than an episode of Law y Order. We returned to the hostel to siesta until dinner at the tenador libre next door. Bs.As. is the cheapest place we've been thus far.
Day 3 - San Telmo y Montserrat: Bs.As.
This morning we packed up y out of Downtown Mate and figured the subte back to the consulate to pickup our pasaportes (which was a breeze.) Back on the subte we faced the massive crowds y packed cars, passed an influenza clinic right in the dirty, center of it all across town to the neighborhood of San Telmo. The huge, old hostel in an old mansion right off of Plaza Dorrego was half the price (50pesos) of Downtown Mate (100pesos.) After brushing up with the guidebooks we decided to walk north past everything y work our way south in time for siesta (good idea Nate.) So up Calle Defensa we went to an iglesia y the oldest farmacia en Bs.As. To another church then over to a Jesuit Antique Market where we bought old Argentinian pesos from the days of mass inflation. We wandered down the cobblestone street y in and out of antique markets all morning As soon as we stepped out of the last one a man handed Nate a cheap menu to the restaurant we were standing right outside of y we went in. We both ordered pollo smothered in crema and it was absolutely delicious. We now sit back at our hostel filled with quiet charm journaling. - After an afternoon of browsing even more anti que markets that were so jam packed they looked like the scene from Return to Oz where Dorothy is walking through the room of misc. antiques trying to figure out which green figures are here friends, and of baskets filled with surprise packages we went back to journal y use the internet. It was then when I found out that MJ had died. We had been seeing MJ playlists all the time on their music channels and thought they just loved him - but now we know why. After seeing a bargain travel package to wine country Mendoza, Argentina we took the subte back across town to the travel agency where they took our names y e-mail and told us to wait for them to write so, wanting to save the south end of San Telmo y La Boca (soccer nation) for tomorrow we searched for a restaurant nearby the hostel. We wanted to go back to where we had lunch but it wasn't open so we went to where I got my delicious media lunas for breakfast and ordered calabresa pizza, which was equally yummy. Unfortunately it soon turned into Pizzeria Uno with tourist and we left.
Day 4 - San Telmo y La Boca
This morning we hung around the hostel y used the internet in order to give the shops time to open up. When it was time, we headed south towards La Boca, the crazed soccer neighborhood that once declared it would become it's own republic. We stopped at the Plaza de Defensa, on old residence with courtyards, balconies y tall ceilings turned half antique junk market. Then, we walking through another parque to get to La Boca territory. The sights are on the waterfront and most people get here via tour bus due to the supposed bad reputation this neighborhood has for tourists - but we weren't buying it and we walked. And what the other tourists missed as they ate at an overpriced, disgusting, tango trap was a local roadside parrilla which was just heating up so we made a note to come back for lunch. From la parrilla you could see the dark blue y amarillo stadium rise up over the city. As we walked past there was a group of boys waiting at the gate to the practice field, two older men peeking through a hole in the fence, and a group of boys hanging out with the parking attendance - all waiting for a chance to meet their favorite player. Bypassing the tour, we walked further into the heart of La Boca to Calle Caminito, the postcard perfect street of brightly painted, Dr. Seuss houses stacked atop one another - and was it ever packed with tourists which I wasn't expecting and made me like it a little bit less. As it was only a few streets of street art stands, shops, restaurants and people dressing in Boca Shirts y Tango Outfits hoping you'd take your picture with them for a peso we had seen all there was to see before lunch. We walked along the dirty, factory laden waterfront and back up the avenue to the parrilla which was now open for business. Nate got carne y papas fritas and I got a choripan! a simple delicious meal of a chorizo sausage between a baguette. I drenched the bread in chimichurri and had teh best meal for 5 pesos (1.25U$D) After lunch we we back to the hostel for a siesta and internet. After, we wandered aimlessly around the streets of San Telmo that weren't in the guidebook until dinner, where we sit now in the same place we had the best lunch at yesterday.
~ Tomorrow will be my 25th Birthday ~
Day 5 - Feliz Cumpleanos a Mi! - San Telmo, Bs.As.
My birthday started off with my birthday back rub. We slowly got ready and then ate at McDonald's for brunch. As the clock struck noon and church bells echoed throughout the plaza, we toasted to me. We sat there playing games, watching various street performers including tango dancers, a one man band y sketch artists, and drank beer after beer until dusk. As some point I was determined to find the ganja and befriended a Jamaican with some. He took us back to his apartment after stopping to pick up some produce. There were 3 guys y a chica there but I don't remember anyone's name. They wanted to go to a fiesta after midnight but we didn't stay to see if they ended up going. We danced, smoked and could have gotten to know each other.
Day 6 - Palermo, Bs.As.
The day after my birthday was a slow one. We got up and made the mistake of leaving our lovely cheap hostel for one in Palermo. After walking to 3 different places with our heavy packs, tired feet y headaches and wondering if we should just go back to San Telmo, we ended up going to an overpriced place filled with obnoxious other backpackers for 150pe$os. We ate at another tenador libre, hitting the crappy lo mein hard and walked around the parks for the rest of the afternoon. We got dinner at a place right around the corner but Nate wasn't feeling well and didn't eat.
Day 7 - Back in San Telmo, Bs.As.
The next morning we got up early and took 2 subtes back to the awesome hostel in San Telmo. This time we got a room with a balcony over the street! Vendors were beginning to set up for the sunday antique market which we would check out later. 2 subtes back to the sights for the day we went to the Recoleta Cemetery, tried to tour some palacio's y failed, went to the Immigrant Museum y walked around. The cemetery was cool, full of masoleums that you could peak in and see the coffins and the basements full of coffins on racks - I feel creepy just writing about it. And the Immigrant Musuem was cool too - they built a hotel, hospital y cocina for the immigrants to stay at for free for 5 days right off the boat to allow them to time adjust, familiarize themselves with the city, learn some spanish, find jobs y housing among other things - they had old pictures of people jammed into the cafeteria. Tired, we went back to the hostel and sat on the balcony people watching y observing life below for a while. It rained then stopped and we sat on the balcony playing cards. Being a little drunk and pushy I fought with Nate about going back to their apartment to see if they were home to hang out. We fought long enough and compromised just in time because as soon as we stepped outside we saw Morris. We sat in the plaza for a few hours drinking beer and his roommates and other friends joined us. I went off to watch the tango for a while and Julian followed me because he was the only one who noticed I went anywhere. We sat and watched the good, the very good, and the bad with some homeless druggie who was enjoying our company. At some point we went back to their apartment and did I don't know what for many hours until I ended up walking halfway across the city looking for beer. I got back from my journey to find Nate mad and wanted to go home - understandably.