I arrived in BA on 27th Feb after an overnight bus trip from Chile. The first thing I heard was the news about the earthquake that I'd just missed in Chile - it all happened as I was on the bus out of there… Pretty fortunate as I was thinking of visiting the epicenter prior to the quake, and I'd visited a number of places that were also badly hit shortly beforehand. But life's full of misses and maybes like that…I hoped that the people I'd met in Chile were all ok.
Spent ten nights in BA and loved the place. I was primarily there to try and learn some more Spanish, I studied from 2pm-6pm Mon-Fri with a one to one tutor, it´s been beneficial for the rest of my trip although it also highlighted how much there is to learn! (I've just done another two days in Bolivia and hope to keep it going when I'm back in the UK).
But no one can go to BA and just study. The nightlife there is incredible, was hard to balance it and my studies but I just about managed - luckily my lessons were in the afternoon! BA operates on crazy hours, it's common that people don't even go out till one or two in the morning, nights often finish at eight or nine AM and then people sleep through most of the day.
I stayed in the Palermo, a richer, leafy area of town close to a load of parks. Went for a couple of runs, along with all the other joggers, rollerbladers, skateboarders etc. BA's residents are an active bunch. Enjoyed lots of fine, thick juicy steak in BA, bought cheaply and cooked up at the hostel - man I don't know how I'm going to go back to Asda frying steak. The wine is similarly cheap and good, about 1 GBP for a very drinkable bottle of red. Very easy to get a habbit there!
As well as enjoying BA's nightlife, checked out some of the sites, markets, fairs etc. The city is buzzing and particularly at the weekends - everyone comes out in the days to get together in public, it's a very social place, as South Amercia in general has been. Spent an evening with a friend of a friend - Ceci - who kindly agreed to show me around, took me to a an eatery where the locals go and gave me a chance to practice my Spanish. Also went to see Boca Juniors play local rivals Racing, although unwittingly buying fake tickets meant we never made it in....gutted! One of the highlights of my time there was a visit to see 'La Bomba De Tiempo' - about 20 or so drummers and percusionists up on an outdoor stage, with the odd trumpeter, hammering out tribal beats and rythms to a crowd that by the end is ging wild.
Caught a bus to Rosario, the birthplace of Che Guevara and allegedly home to the most beautiful girls in Argentina, on Tues March 9th. It was my first couch surfing experience and stayed with an Argentinian girl, Agustina. It wasn't ideal as she still had two Peruvian couch surfers staying so there wasn't really a couch for me - I slept on my sleeping bag on a tiled floor! It was a good opportunity to practice my Spanish though, chatting to Agustina and her wide and welcoming circle of couch surfing friends. Went to a couple of couch surfing meetings ( /drinking sessions) which were interesting. Rosario wasn't one of the more memorable places I've been though, not much to see or do and so I was out of there after two nights.
Took the bus to Cordoba on Thurs 11th, at the bus terminal a kind local offered me a lift from the bus terminal to my hostel just as it started raining, another chance to practice my Spanish and discuss football. The owner of an international haulage company, he proudly showed off his tickets he had booked for the World Cup in South Africa. Cordoba has something like seven universities so is quite a lively place, on the Friday and Saturday nights went to a big nightclub area out of town, where a few clubs are concentrated. The Saturday was especially good, went to a sick electronic club with a wicked crowd. In the days in Cordoba I spent a bit of time working on my Spanish, helped by a Colombian girl in my hostel, visted the city's sights and a few museums. Took an hour bus ride to Alto Gracia for an interesting visit to the Che Guevara museum, situated in the house he lived in as an adolescent.
On the night of the Mon 15th I packed my bags and made my way to Cafayate on the overnight bus. Arrived in Tucuman early in the morning where I had to change buses, had to kill four hours in the run-down, industrial part of town before taking the midday bus to Cafayate. The journey to Cafayate was pretty scenic, driving through the rugged Andes and cactus filled scenery. True to what I'd been told, North Argentina has wonderful landscapes and I noticed the change in the people, Europeans making way for darker, more indegenous people. On the journey I met Australian Jade and Austrian Joe and Karin who I'd end up hanging out with for a while.
Cafayate is a small, pretty little town, set amongst a beautiful mountain landscape. It's most famous for it's plentiful vineyards. I checked into a quaint little hostel and immediately met two cool American girls who I hung out with along with the others from the bus. As a grape lover, the free and plentiful grapes growing in the garden were a winner! Hired mountains bikes one day with the three I met on the bus, together with Claire and Ana, for a tour of the vineyards and a local cheese factory. Was a pretty awesome day; great weather, wine, cheese and good company, what more could you ask for. Spent four days and nights in Cafayate, was a nice place to chill out after the hecticness of my stays in the larger cities.
Arrived in Salta on Fri 19th March after another very scenic ride from Cafayate. A lot of people travel further off the beaten track in this area of Northern Argentina to take in more of the landscape. I wanted to to but unfortunately didn't have time, though I still got a taste. Salta, the largest city in Northern Argentina, is a good night out and is a pleasant place in the day too, more sociable parks to enjoy in the good weather, markets, sights etc. Went to a museum housing Inca child mummies found about 6000 metres up, perfectly preserved high in the mountains. I didn't realise until I reached the end of the exhibition that they were actually child sacrifices to apease the Gods, pretty macabre stuff. On the evening of Sun 21st four of us from the hostel went out for our final, delicious, steak and red wine in Argentina, before taking the night bus to the Bolivian border.
If time and money allowed could have easily spent more time in Argentina, I really only scratched the surface. Lots of areas (such as Patagonia and Northern Argentina) I'd like to go back and explore, and I could easily see myself working and living in Buenos Aires or Salta for example. One day maybe, one day...