Arrival : 16th jan after long flight via Houston.
I can´t believe the adventure has finally started and I am in South America after a busy lead up to departure trying to get house, travel and wedding plans finalised. Watched 4 films and finally slept remaining journey after long US customs transit. On Homestay organised by Spanish school EBA is in Recoleta, a nice residential part of BA. I am staying with a middle aged couple Luis and Silvia who have 4 children. Its the peak holiday season for Argentinians so they are all elsewhere on holiay or living in the US. After couple of hours relaxing and shower aim to head out but huge summer thunderstorm! Instead fall asleep for a while and head out later at 6pm when temperature has cooled and its more pleasant. Walk from Recoleta to plaza mayor where situated La Casa Rosada (presidential building from where Peron and Evita made their speeches from the balconies to thousands of their people gathered in the sq) I walk on to find the EBA spanish school where id spend my next 10 days. - surprisingly small unindicated entrance but in a busy area, in heart of business district. I end the day with lovely dinner with the other girl staying at the house in puerto madero, the harbour area (not unlike Canary Wharf). We eat a lovely sea food meal but with prices not so dissimilar to europe... I may need to find the smaller less chic eateries in next days if to keep going for 4 months!
Mon 16th Jan : after doing the 40 min walk in the 30 degree heat on previous day decide to take a collectivo to school. The collectivo´s (buses) are actually fantastic - only just over 1 peso (less than 25p) v frequent all through the night and people form orderly queues while waiting for them. At school i`m in a mixed group of 3-6 people - a middle aged american surgeon who is taking a break from work but in process of patenting a new bone screw invention, two aussies heading back home via some travels in africa / s. america after 7 years in UK, a german spending 3 wks via work benefits program and a brazilian. There are generally lots of Brazilian students looking to purify their spanguese! The teachers v nice and a half day´s morning classes fly by! Maria and I (the girl from the house) spend the afternoon doing tourism. Visit the cemetry which has the tomb of Evita and the Belles Artes museum to escape the heat (which houses some rodin,picasso and argentinian artists).
One major difference in Argentina like in spain is that evryone has dinner v late usualy not before 9pm so difficult to find alot open / busy in certain eves. We go instead for traditonal milenese meal this time (sort of breaded chicken but with toppings!)
Tues 17th : classes as usual but in avo substitute some tourism for a few beers (quilmes is the local one)with the aussies and others from school. in early eve wonder around shopping district and congresso. BA has some very European styled buildings and 11 laned roads.. bit of a struggle to see the green man on the other side of the road! End the day with quick and easy dinner of empanadas (although will need to watch that i dont eat too may of those!.. simiar to pasties..)
Wed 18th Jan: much of the same routine with classes then getting to know the town and other students. In eve first night out in a Milonga club (similar to a salsa club with a couple of lessons then dancing.. ) at la Viruta in palermo (a v trendy part of town) A fab night out with even a small show provided by the teachers and the opportunity to meet more locals to practice a little of spanish. Only difficulty is as eveything happens v late its a little more of a struggle to get up the next day for school!
Fri 20th jan - tango lesson early eve in bien porteno near congresso. a tango cafe specialised in teaching. we learn a different style of tango then in the milonga the previous day. aftrwards out for a brazilian night out. some impressive line dancing done in the club to what im told is axe (pronounced acha) music..v impressive to see. (check out utube for some examples :)
Sat 21: after a late start wonder around palermo markets and parks. first steak! :) in eve off to more milonga...
Sun 22nd: sundays are filled with lots of markets,music and dancing.. We check out the Recoleta and San Telmo markets but resist buying anything.. at least for now. This is v difficult as the portenos (thoses from BA) are v fashionable and the shops are great with lots of little boutique style shops and stalls.. i feel like such a backpacker with the few t-shirts ive brought! San Telmo itself is v nice - a v argentinian flare which is different to alot of the nicer residential areas of BA which have a v european feel. In the late avo once it cools down we escape the crowds and go for a walk in the parks behind the puerto moderno area. a lot of music and people enjoying their sunday sytrolls or simply relaxing.
Mon 23 after class head I head to Tigre with the American student. Tigre is the place about 30 mins train ride out from BA , that all the locals escape to for their short breaks from the city. Its in the delta area so all transport is done by small bardge boats. Its interesting to see how the houses/ shacks lined along the river sides rely on the the barges - as a form of taxi, to get clean water (exchange old bottles for new ones that the barges provide), disposal of rubbish (which they hang on their piers). We take a small boat ride around the delta but its sweltering hot and in the short time all we see are the tourist hotels and the nicer kept parts of the delta. I´d recommend takign the longer boat ride to get to the more remote parts of the delta where the locals live an actually more difficult life due to inaccessibility.
Tues 24 - After class go to Evita museum as weather is not so good. V. interesting to see how Evita was as much loved and hated towards the end by her people. Museum is however v. pro Evita and focuses a lot on the good that she done for women and children.
Thus 27- prepare for fred's arrival! Looking forward to his arrival as it means the real adventures will start soon! Fred arrives tired as expected but we go to grab a bite to eat around Recoleta and visit the cemetry and evita tomb. in the eve fred gets his first taster of tango at the milonge club (not bad not bad at all !) and we go for drinks in palermo viejo.
Fri 28 . visit all of BA in 1 day (shopping and business district, where i studied spanish,obilesk,casa rosa and puerto moderno. ) Early eve head to San Telmo for Freds first steak at El Destino. Really recommended !! Best steak ive hd so far in an intimate and authentic atmosphere and good price! in the eve we head to the theatre metropolitan (best to go to a real theatre performance than the overpriced dinner shows that fill up with bus loads of tourists) this particular show we chose is with m. zotto who is world renowned. after taking you through the different styles of tango over the years and regions they end with some more modern performances which are extremely impressive!!
Sat 30-head to La Boca as early as possible as we`re told that from avo its not v safe. head down by taxi to avoid taking bus through dodgy areas. la boca is near the harbour and became known for the colourful corrigated houses which were coloured with leftover paint from the boats. These days the two streets that are deemed safe to wonder around are super touristic with cafes set up to make the most of it. It is nevertheless interesting to visit. A little unsure if we are venturing past the dustbin lined threshold that divides tourist from rest of the neighbourhood we head down the road that leads to the football stadium 'la Bombera' and team where maradonna belonged in his earlier years. The blue and yellow colours chosen simply because a swedish ship was passing at the time. Having survived the walk to the stadium we take bus back into town and in the avo head to the caballeros. - horse races. Huge stadium and although we dont attempt to understand how to place a bet we enjoy watching the horses as they prepare them and parade them for everyone to see.
In eve we have our last BA steak meal in las Canitas another nice area like palermo with many bars and restaurants.