Sunday 26 October 2014

Buenos Aires

Where's my bucket list gone? Dance until sunrise: check.

My oh my can the Argentinians dance. While we back home go out at 11 and stagger home at 4, these lot don't even get really started until 2. But, as always, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Getting across to the airport on the Argentinian side of Iguazu falls, a town called Puerto Iguazu, is not particularly simple. First, you have to catch one of a multitude of buses that head from Foz do Iguacu - don't trust the Lonely Planet. Their definition of 'every 15 minutes' should be revised to 'every 45 minutes if you're lucky, when 6 will show up at the same time' - which will barrel down the roads towards the border at a thousand miles per hour, screech to a halt beside Brazilian immigration for just long enough for you to jump out, and then it'll promptly take off again.

While you, the gringo (foreigner) need your exit stamp, most of the people on the bus will be Argentinian or Brazilian, and can skip these formalities. And, during your wait, you'll be pestered by 72 young men and women conducting surveys for the Brazilian government, who want to know everything from your first pet to how much money you spent on toothpaste in Rio. They could give the mosquitos lessons in how to be a royal pain.

Then, back on the bus and a quick sprint through no-mans land until you reach the Argentinian border. Here, everyone needs to jump out and get checked, so kindly the bus will wait for you. Seems appropriate, it would be completely empty otherwise. And then, finally, after all of those stops, stamps and screeching of tires, you'll arrive at the Bus Terminal. Now, call me old fashioned, but I think it would be sensible to have a bus going to the airport. You know, for all those people who didn't pack a car into their hold luggage. There's a taxi monopoly going on, but the 'tourist information' a la 'give us your cash' on the lower floor of the bus terminal will give you the phone number for the shuttle bus, but not let you use their phone.

I smiled very sweetly and put on a look of deep admiration for the girl behind the desk, and she relented and called the shuttle for me, insisting that this was not normal and keeping a weather eye out for her boss returning from lunch.

Other than that, the flight was mostly uneventful, I'll skip the minor SNAFU regarding a Canadian and his leatherman, and the attendant who managed to put two flights onto the same gate, resulting in mass confusion on the far side of security.

Buenos Aires is a gorgeous city. Tree lined streets, people and music being played on the pavements, a mixture of european and modern architecture (certainly prettier than the Rio buildings - sorry guys!) and one of those big, blue, beautiful skies that just seems to go on forever. I admit, I'm smitten; I could honestly see myself packing up my life and moving down here. So, BA joins the small list of cities I would happily move to. I can offer it no higher compliment.

The wonderful Sheri and companions, who I had met in Rio, offered to show me around. Rather than describe the culinary adventure I went on, I'll just leave this here:

And then, stuffed and satisfied, we headed out to a masquerade party (at 2am). And wow, the clubs here are impressive. Multi-storied ironwork leads up towards the ceiling, allowing the VIP's up to their tables (VIP passes cost next to nothing, so we had a table, which came with 5(!) bottles of champagne) and the 8 of us partied until dawn - literally. When we were finally ejected at 6:30AM, the sun was up and gleaming, and we emerged blinking into the morning. Great night.

So I've slept all morning, and am heading off to the Sunday Market in a few minutes. I'm debating heading up the Uraguay coast tomorrow, and then coming back to BA for another couple of days afterwards. Then, perhaps to Mendoza to try the wine, or, if money and time permits, I'd like to go down to the glacier and salt flats in the south of the country. Watch this space.

As always, you beautiful people you, thank you for reading!


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