We decided our first stop in South America would be Buenos Aires. Personally I knew nothing about the city and didn’t really bother to do any research. We stayed at the Estoril hostel, which was six floors up with a rooftop patio/bar area. Friendly staff showed us to our dorm and around, we quickly realised that it was rather basic, but clean enough.
BA has a very European feel to it, the buildings all look old and rustic. Very little English is spoken, this fact I was aware of and is proving to be a fun challenge, though it seems daily I’m reminding myself of the basics of Spanish. By the end of the year I expect that will change.
Quilmes is the beer of choice around here, a decent drink though a little bit lacking. We went to find a bar that the guidebook said stocked 50 beers, the barman offered me Stella, I was suitably offended and disappointed and returns with a couple of Quilmes, beers over here tend to be served in litre bottles and shared between two. Bars sell them for around $25 Pesos (£2.70), not too bad for almost two pints, Brama is also commonly found, unsure what happened to that at home after it went though a big marketing campaign.
To work off the nightly drinking, we put our shoes on and did a few runs of the city. The eastern side of the city has a nature reserve with a calm 7.8k loop, first time was after a night of heavy rain and left us running though bogs, frustrating to say the least.
The reserve is a welcome calm from the city which is constantly noisy. Traffic is chaotic and the drivers are mental, horns are used constantly, lanes seem to be more of a suggestion, you regularly see three cars across two lanes, tooting and changing at every chance. Being a pedestrian and attempting to crossing the road starts off daunting but you soon learn to be confident and push out or the cars will just keep you waiting.
At this point we started to wonder why BA is held in such high regards, there really isn’t much to do in the city. We took the guides advice and headed north to Tigre which is a town where the locals head at the weekends. Instead of taking the direct train, we chose to switch to a coastal electric train and jumped off at Barracus. Just outside of the station lies a fantastic facility for kite/windsurfing, rock climbing and at one point skateboarding, though the pipe was in dire need of some TLC. Watching the surfers do full flips from the side was very impressive, keen to get out and get back on a windsurfer at some point soon.
Back on the train we arrived at Tigre and wandered towards the water passing the themepark which I almost dragged Annie into. The waterfront is full of boats offering trips along the open waters of the Delta, which is a series of waterways passing various homes and buildings. In amongst the tourists were water taxis and locals going about their daily lives, it was rather fascinating to see, as far as we could tell (the captain was speaking in Spanish) though the homes all looked remote, they appeared to have power and phone lines even without roads connecting them up.
Back to the city, the morning of our flight coincided with the BA marathon, I wasn’t aware of this before we arrived or I may have just entered if I kept the miles up, but alas we were leaving. Being nice and early for the airport bus, we got on with the exact change only to be turned away for not having coins. There is a massive lack of coins in BA, you always get $2 peso notes (22p) but coins are rare. Once we got off the bus, we realised we just had the required six peso coins so waited for the next bus. We waited for about 40 minutes before getting too anxious about missing our next flight so decided to hail a taxi, I think waiting would have been a better idea.
The taxi driver was hands down one of the most incompetent drivers I’ve ever seen, for reasons I suspect were financial motivated, he did not use the motorway but tried to cut under it on some backroad to the airport, this road was manned by the police and closed, so we were all being directed around the park due to the marathon… The driver basically put us in the worst situation possible, stuck in traffic chaos with our 13:20 flight getting closer and closer. What was a 25min taxi took us 80mins, we got to the airport at 12:45, utterly raging at the fact we were looking at paying for new flights due to his fuckup.
We ran to the checkin desk and the lady didn’t seem to blink an eye at the fact our flight was due to take off in 40mins, checked our bags in and off to the gate we dashed. It’s now becoming clear that time keeping over here isn’t something that the Argentinians bother with, the flight was already running 35mins late, phew!
Off to Igauzu we went….