We were warned about Aerolinas, but at the time the idea of an airline being delayed because it hadn't paid for its fuel was quite amusing. Equally amusing was being asked when we went to check in at 4pm whether we were flying 'today or yesterday'. Somehow less amusing, it turned out we were flying 'tomorrow'. Initially we were told we 'might' leave at 1.30am, which eventually turned into 5.30am. Unoficially we were told that the problem was that they had somehow neglected to send a plane from South America for 'yesterdays' flight and were still trying to catch up. But of course they wouldn't provide us with a hotel for the night because we might be leaving at 1.30 and at 2am and it was too late to request a hotel. If ever a situation called for a dodgy kareoke joint, this was it and with the airport bus to Queen Street.....
At 3am Argentina time we arrive in B.A eager, despite the sleep deprravation, to give the locals a quick Spanish clinic. Unfortunately thier Spanish wasn't as good as ours, so the airport shuttle office had to resort to pleading with us to speak to them in Englishplease.
Our plan to take our first few days slow and relax didn't quite pan out. We were staying in the city's central district (Hostel Estoril) and for a city as big a B.A it is surprisingly easy to get around, buses are frequent and very cheap and the subway although run down is very efficient. On our first day we set off on a 'short' walk to explore the city centre and arrived back 8 hours later completely exhausted.
B.A. is a very European city and has some amazing old buildings but at the same time it's a bit rough around the edges with lots of buildings in desperate need of repair, a lot of graffiti and families living on the streets.
The San Telmo markets held every Sunday were amazing - km after km of antique stalls selling every old thing imaginable but nothing boring enough to make it on to Antiques Roadshow. After the market closes at 5 every Sunday, the locals gather in the square to show off their tango skills; and some of them put Candy Lane and Brendon Cole to shame.
After perusing the San Telmo markets it was a quick bus ride to La Boca, the suburb famous for its brightly painted houses. La Boca draws people in to its touristy centre but overall its a pretty rough area and apparently those who wander too far will be promptly mugged. Hamsah managed to negotiate a front row table at one of the cafe's where we spent a large part of the afternoon watching tango dancers. It was here (when trying to buy popcorn) that we were disappointed to discover speaking Spanish is not as simple as adding on 'O' to the end of an English word and saying it in an Indian accent (Quiero bobcorno?).
There were unusual and valuable things in La Boca's Modern Art museum, not least of which was the immaculate toilets.
Hamsah had to be peeled away from the Hermes window in the suburb of Recoletta. The major attraction in Recoleta, for those not sophisticated enough to appreciate the Hermes store (eg. Dean) is the Recoleta cemetery - the resting place for BA's rich and famous. The cemetery is almost like a small scale town full of elaborately designed tombs.