Buenos Aires Redux…

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Click here for pics from the last 2 days in Buenos Aires and the flight home. Hi all… the time has come to look back on the final couple days of our trip to Argentina. When I last wrote to you all, I was seated in an Internet cafe in Mendoza writing about that great city. I was about to hop on the overnight bus to Buenos Aires, a trip lasting 13 hours or so. In order to prepare for this, I picked up a litro of cerveza, and some snacks at Norte, a local grocery strore. Funny enough, I got searched by the security guard. Guess I looked shady. Of course, all I had were some chocolates I bought at the local chocolate factory. Tartufo. If you’re ever in Mendoza, I recommend you stop by there. They are an ice cream, as well as chocolate factory. Mmm delicious. I dragged some of the gang there, and the only person who wouldn’t buy anything was Sabine, our little Swiss miss. She felt it would be unpatriotic to buy chocolate in Argentina. Oh well, I couldn’t convince her otherwise. But I digress. We got to the bus station, and I headed to the bar with my new South African mate Allen for a quick Whiskey. Yup, somewhere along the line, he sort of convinced me I should start drinking whiskey. And you know what? It’s not half bad. So, we had a quick Johnny Walker Red Label, then boarded our final overnight bus. It was a pretty sweet ride as usual. The on-board attendant was a really nice guy, and popped in a DVD called ‘The Classic Project’, which was a music video collage of hits from the 80’s. We all had a great time just guessing the songs and singing along. We figure most of the other passengers didn’t really enjoy it as much as us, but that’s life. Suffice it to say, it was yet another long bus trip where I didn’t sleep too much. That’s where the beer helped me though. I managed to squeeze in a couple quality hours of sleep anyway. I wanted to be somewhat refreshed for our last full days in Buenos Aires. Read on for more about the last day.

After getting to the hotel, we were pretty much ditched yet again by our tour guide, leaving the twelve of us high and dry for the last day, to make our own plans. So, we took matters into our own hands, and sat as a group to make our own plans. First off, breakfast. We decided to head to Cafe Tortoni for a quick bite, and to talk about options for the day. A couple people decided to a city bus tour, but that didn’t appeal to Jody and I, since we’d spent so long on busses already. Another couple people decided to just head to a couple communities in town to check them out. Another option we came up with was doing a cycle tour of an area an hour out of Buenos Aires. This area is known as La Tigre, and an area on the shore of the River Tigre close to the municipal area. The whole are is along the Rio de la Plata, and the associated Isthmus, which is an area of hundreds of islands. I also learned that this river is one of the wides in the world, widening to about 425 km!! Who knew? Not me, oh, and by the way, my facts may not be 100% accurate, I’m going off memory. Anyway, back to the bike tour.

To get going, we met at the Plaza St. Martin to meet our guide. After waiting for a bit of time, we finally got going. There were 7 of us from the group that decided to go for the 5 hour tour. Normally, they give 2 guides for a tour like this, but they were short on people, or might not have wanted the last shift on a Friday. Most other tours were only 3 hours, so this would stretch their day out substantially. Guess I can’t really blame them. It was a Friday after all. Well, we hit the train, which was an experience by itself, and finally reched Tigre. What a different world! It was like getting out in a European city. beautiful homes, lush green area, rowing clubs, bike paths and everything under the sun. Including a theme park. I didn’t even know such a place existed in this area of the world. We were blown away by this Oasis.

During our stay in Tigre, we headed to the well-known fruit market, which is actually much more than just fruits. We only had 15 minutes to shop, but Jody managed to do some great power shopping, finding some nice wooden napkin rings and a wooden snack bowl. There were a few other things there that sort of piqued my interest, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy anything I didn’t really want. So off we went on the bikes, to our next destination. We had to get back on the train again, then try to squeeze out a few stops down the line. Not so easy to do when there are 8 of you, and the train is quite full. We managed, but almost got squished in the door. Next stop was a little biking by the river.

Things suddenly got pretty cold and windy. Our guide assured us this isn’t normally the case, and I hope he was right. We almost couldn’t bike against the wind for a while. There was a group of teen boys doing some running training for football I suspect, and they were almost keeping up to us on our bikes. How embarassing. The river was rearing it’s head as well as we went. The waves were literally crashing over the sea wall. It was cool, but sort of demotivated a few of our riders. Eventually, we turned away from the wind while the planes flew overhead. Before we knew it, we were heading back into the belly of the beast. We had to fight the traffic on the streets to get to the trainstation, then pile our sorry butts back into the steel snake.

Back to the town square, and we wrapped up our tour. We were running out of time, since we were supposed to meet up with the rest of the group for our last nights’ supper as a group. We didn’t know the plan, but didn’t want to miss out on this. I think we were all already starting to feel sad about our iminent tour completion. Boo hoo for us 🙁 The only way to get back in time was to power-walk back. We walked at high speed through the city that not even two weeks ago was thoroughly foreign to us. It’s funny how in just two weeks we were all pretty comfortable here, running along the streets, knowing where to go, and what to say and do. I’m really going to miss the life down there.

That night, we headed out to Palermo, the ‘hip’ area of Buenos Aires. As it turns out, it’s sort of like Elgin street in Ottawa, or the hip areas of the Market. We didn’t really feel like we belonged. The prices were higher than what we expected, and the atmosphere a bit stuffy. After supper at a really nice restaurant (yup, great meal, but a little too pricey, and with no ‘local’ beer), we headed to another bar in this neighbourhood for real beers. Sadly it was another too pricey, snobby place for us. This is where our guide decided to ditch us one last time ;-). To salvage the night, a smaller remaining group of ours grabbed cabs back to the hotel, and hit a bar around the corner, where we could get the cheap beers, and finish off our last night chatting with each other again. We made plans to get together the next morning for one last breakfast. Read next post for more.

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