So the marathon bus journey is now behind me! We left sunny but cold Bariloche at 3pm and arrived in cloudy but mild Buenos Aires the next day at 12pm - a journey of 21 hours! Apart from the idiot at Bariloche bus station who went mental at me because I didn´t tip him for moving my bag 2ft (he for me typifies Argentinians who I´ve found to be aggressive and rude on the whole), and apart from the fact the airline style dinner wasn´t served until 11pm (too late!) the journey was OK.
On arrival into Buenos Aires, the 2nd biggest urban area in South America, Joaquin took us on the usual orientation walk. This was after everyone had finished gauping at the lobby in our 4 star hotel, which is really posh looking and a welcome change from the hostel accommodation of Bariloche. We walked through the hectic main shopping street to the main square, which was strangely awash with Falklands War protestors who´d set up camp with a load of flags. Not quite sure what they had hoped to acheive 27 years on but it felt weird for me to be there as a British person! In the evening some of us opted to go the local pub to watch a massive world cup qualification tie between Uruguay and Argentina. The Argentinians could quite easily have missed out on qualification for the first time since 1970 but they didn´t, emerging 1-0 winners in a scrappy tie. I would have liked them to fail but it was fun to see Maradona going mental at the end, and I have a feeling there would have been riots here had they lost. Football is an absolute religion to all South Americans, and the game build up was the big news here all week long. You could feel the city breath a sigh of relief at the end!
Following the game we then went off for a final group night out with the people who are leaving to a nearby tango show in the old district of San Telmo. The ticket was about 30 pound which I thought was expensive. It wasn´t really my thing, but I felt compelled to go with everyone else going and with Buenos Aires being the home of tango there can´t be any better places to see it. The theatre was much smaller than I´d expected and we got seated on a table near the stage. The show itself lasted around 2 hours, but that didn´t drag as much as I´d expected. There was a lot more variety to the performers than simply tango dancers. We had a fun panpipe band (which brought back fond memories of Peru) and a couple of crooning old singers who were apparently well into their 80s. Some of the female dancers were also pushing 70 (though they looked about 45), and to see them move the way they did was quite impressive. After the show we went to a nearby Polish bar, which was round the corner from a police siege. We could see the police aiming their guns at someone but I don´t know what happened in the end. Having got our drinks in the bar and set down next to the coat hooks we were greeted by a man who asked if a bag hanging up was ours, to which we said no, and he proceeded to walk off with it. We thought he worked there and was moving it out of our way, but it clicked when a young girl came up some time later that he was actually stealing it! The girl´s boyfriend was not happy with us!
The next day we awoke to bright sunshine, which was a welcome change from the cloud of the previous day. Me, Thomas (who departs today - my replacement room mate is a mid 30s Irishman) and Caroline went on a long walk all through the modern and revitalised port district right up to the bohemian neighbourhood of La Boca, home of Boca Juniors football team. The neighbourhood itself turned out to be a huge disappointment. It is famous for its multi-coloured houses, but they were simply spread across 1 small block, and the rest of the area was pretty run down. The small block was also tourist central, meaning plenty of people harrassing you into restaurants and things. Foolishly (we should have learned by now) we got snared into 1 for lunch, and the food was appalling with lots of hidden costs, including tips for the "free" tango show which was being performed right in front of where we ate. After dinner we walked the few blocks down to the Boca Stadium, which you can usually go in. It was one of the things I was most looking forward to in Argentina, but unluckily for me yesterday was the 1st of 4 consecutive nights of gigs in the stadium (some weird Guatamalen singer) and we were prevented from going in as the preperations were taking place. Huge disappointment. I still bought a Boca Juniors jersey though, which I got for a very reasonable 22 pound. Official football shirts here are similarly priced to those back home, but Boca had just changed kits so their old 1 (the design of which I preferred anyway) was being sold off cheap.
Today was once again a lovely sunny day, and I spent it walking the opposite side of the huge city centre. The architecture in places was very French in its style, and there were a lot of high class apartments about. The major attraction of today was the huge cemetary in Recoleta, which is home to some massive shrines belonging to the richest people in Argentinian history. They were basically small houses with the coffins visible inside. The most famous grave is that of Eva "Don´t Cry For Me Argentina" Peron, who shared a fresh flower covered shrine with some members of her family.
On the whole, in spite of the people and the crowdedness, Buenos Aires is a city I really like, and perhaps the most livable place I´ve visited in the whole of South America. The food here is also top notch and I´ve had a couple of unbelievably good medium done steaks, which is an Argentine speciality. There are lots of different neighbourhoods to explore, each with their own character, and there is an awful lot going on. Its very green and relatively walkable if you are a tourist, and I shall be sad to leave tomorrow. Next stop is a slow 3 hour ferry trip north to the town of Colonia in Uruguay. I will update again there!