After our “Zen-week” in Colonia del Sacramento, arriving in Buenos Aires was a big change. It was like walking from a meditation-session, straight into a survival tour.
Making sure the cab drivers didn’t rip us off or give us fake money and, when not IN the taxi, dodging them on the streets to survive the day. I thought we were relatively successful in doing so, but writing this story I realized something.
On arrival I was following the route to our hostel with my iPhone to make sure the taxi driver wouldn’t take a detour. On our way some streets appeared to be blocked and the driver excused himself for the detour he had to take and that he had no way of knowing the street was blocked. Later we found out this was the famous Sunday-market. The name says it all, it’s there every sunday! Yes, these guys are smooth.
Finding a place to sleep
The first nights in Buenos Aires had more surprises for us. The first hostel (Hostel-Inn, Palermo) was a truth nightmare. Our dorm had no way of blocking light or sound so the noise from the reception guys kept us, and others, up all night. So, actually there was no nightmare because for that we should’ve been asleep. The next morning was the most grumpy breakfast club ever and we decided to leave the hostel. Next door there was a nice little family hotel and since the owner seemed nice and the price very low, we felt saved. And it was really nice… except for one thing.. or, actually 4 things… called cockroaches!! If it wasn’t so funny that Imre was making herself heard through the hotel screaming, it would be really disgusting. This is when Imre and I remembered our Portugese formula „Barato = Barata” (Cheap = Cockroach) The next day we went to a proper hostel (Terranova) and finally had some good nights.
On the beaten path
Of course we went to the Sunday market, but our ‘backpack-policy’ protected us from buying stuff we didn’t need. Despite being extremely touristic, the Sunday market offered some nice handcrafted products for reasonable prices. Especially combined with the advantages of the ‘Blue Market rate’, it can be interesting to buy something. The market is a popular place for pickpockets and watching the tourists with their big cameras around their neck in plain sight, I almost couldn’t blame them. Almost.
The Recoleta cemetery is an impressive sight, especially because it’s located in on of the most expensive shopping districts of the city. The beautiful, house like, graves that form a little city within a city form a sharp contrast between the people chasing the wind outside the walls of the cemetery. In particular the big Heineken commercial that was visible from (and meant for) the graveyard couldn’t be more ironic.
Palermo has become more popular than it already was and therefore has different named sections like; Palermo Hollywood, Palermo SoHo et cetera. Anyway, it’s a really cool area with a laid back atmosphere. Nice shops, bars and streets that have much less traffic than it’s surroundings. Somehow it reminded me of „De Pijp” in Amsterdam, but that is more because of the vibe it has. Like (most places in) Buenos Aires, very touristic but absolutely worth a visit.
A visit to Buenos Aires wouldn’t be complete without visiting La Boca, right? Well, first I’ve visited La Boca in 2006 and over the last 8 years it has become more ‚Disneyland’ than ever before. Yes, I know, it is an important part of the history and culture in Buenos Aires but with all the tourist stuff going on you almost have to look for these cultural aspects with a magnifying glass. You have to realize the whole La Boca experience consists of 2-3 little streets which are crammed with everything you can imagine in a touristic place. Oh yes, there’s also that famous soccer stadium… If you decide to become adventurous and walk around the block, DON’T!! No, also not that interesting looking street over there, just don’t. We’ve heard an incredible amount of stories of people being robbed in broad daylight. The bicycle renting company made us clear that we absolutely should not go to La Boca with the bik (something that I did 8 years ago without a problem). Many people ignored this advice thinking it was exaggerated, in a short time the company lost many bikes because of this. Other people told us they got robbed as well in La Boca and had to wait in line at the police station with 16 others coming from the same area. Anyway, if you go there, be careful and save your Indiana Jones attitude for later, La Boca is not to be messed around with.