So thankful to have had one of my closest friends show me around the amazing city of Buenos Aires. It was difficult to say goodbye, but Kristin and I will be reconnected in just a few weeks!!
As we depart for our final destination on the road to Rio I find myself realizing how many authentic activities we were able to enjoy in Buenos Aires thanks to Kristin and her very welcoming friends. Since my last post (Buenos Aires Part 1) we have participated in a tango class, paraded through the rain at the Santelmo market, walked the colorful streets of La Boca and tried maté for the first time. I believe many of these experiences wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t have our very own tour guide!
The morning after the Asada (an Argentinian BBQ) we were in need of a sleep-in and lazy morning. Too much meat and wine the night before and rain in the morning made me want to snuggle up in bed all day. Once the clouds parted and the rain slowed down we ventured into town to see the Santelmo market. Much like the markets in Cusco, the Santelmo market is held on Sunday’s and occupies tens of blocks of the pedestrian side walk through Buenos Aires. Anything and everything can be found here, hand made goods like leather belts and shoes, homemade foods like empanadas stuffed with chicken and veggies, and an entire flea market full of antiques!
After parading around the market we stopped at a small bakery to grab a quick bite to eat and to hide from the rain. 2 chicken empanadas later we were back on the damp street, meandering around the local salesman. We purchased a few handmade gifts and made it back to the apartment before the rain returned.
Due to the rain we had a very lazy day, enjoying tea while huddled under blankets binge watching the new hit; Stranger Things (side note- this show is a must watch!!! With a quick 8 episodes, there’s no time to drag on the plot- it was a trilling season and I can’t wait for the next one to come out)
Grabbing some pizza for dinner, it was a great day of relaxation and regrouping. Much needed when budget traveling and busily exploring a large city.
With a few groceries left in the fridge we decided to make up the rest of the eggs and have a nice breakfast at the apartment before starting our day. We gathered our dirty laundry and sought out the closest laundromat. Much like when buying a new car, you never notice how many of that exact car there are on the road until you own one and begin to notice them everywhere. Well this same phenomenon happened with us and laundromats. Lugging around large laundry bags through the streets of Buenos Aires in need of a place to get them cleaned- we walked almost 10 blocks before finding one. A nice woman who seemed to have quite a lot of business was able to take our stuff and have it returned by that evening. By that time we were thrilled to not have to lug our stuff around any farther! But on our way back we saw two other laundromats that were much closer to the one we went to funny how that works!
After dropping our clothing off we headed to the ferry terminal to get some more information on day Ltrips to Uruguay. While boarding what we thought was the bus to the terminal we were quickly kicked off and left on the curb. The language barrier was a problem and We soon learned there is not a city bus to the specific port we needed to get to. The bus we tried to take was an express bus that brought passengers to the end of the line. No stops between. What we needed was a private taxi and a little more research. We stopped for a cafe con leche (coffee with milk) and decided what to do for the day.
After some research we decided Uruguay was a quite expensive day trip and wouldn’t really fit into our budget. Between the taxi and the ferry we would be paying close to $100 us plus food and activities while there. This didn’t seem worth it since many people have said Uruguay is so similar to Argentina- especially the town we would be visiting just across the border.
Kristin ended up suggesting a tango class that night- a must do for tourists in Buenos Aires! One of the most authentic things we have done, the tango class was great! Knowing nothing about tango we signed up for the beginners class and for a Monday night the class was surprisingly really full!! The building was an eclectic hodgepodge of art and furniture, making the place feel so unique and one of a kind. But to be honest, I’m not sure I’d want to see the place completely lit. It was a little run down, but that added to the affect and made it feel that much more authentic. Learning first the basic feel of tango independently and then joining a partner. After learning the sequence of steps we were off. And surprisingly I think John and I weren’t too bad! The class lasted also 2 hours, followed by a live band and the more professional dancers took the floor. With a few glasses of wine and a few more dances, time passed quickly and next thing we knew it was 1am! South Americans really know how to stay up late, with everyone else still dancing and drinking, we couldn’t keep up and called it for the night. Tangoing our way back to the apartment!
Our final day in Buenos Aires began of course with a nice hardy breakfast. Going to a local cafe, we ordered eggs and bacon (not really bacon though, pretty much just thinly sliced ham) coffee and juice! After filling up, we walked the streets which were bustling with vendors and salesman looking to hit the late morning foot traffic.
After class, Kristin and one of her friends came to our apartment to teach us about maté – a traditional loose leaf tea seen everywhere in South America. Kristin was so thoughtful and got John and I our very own maté cup and maté!!! Pouring the loose leaves into the cup and adding hot water, the cup is then passed around in small gatherings. The straw is specially made with a filtered end to ensure none of the loose leaves get sucked up. First taste was a little bitter but not too bad. After refilling the cup a few times with hot water but keeping the same maté for multiple uses we were ready to explore the town. Maté is caffeinated and most people use it as a coffee substitutes, refilling the cup throughout the day to stay energized.
We took a public bus about 20 minutes to La Boca, where the streets were lined with colorful houses and colorful people ready to pose for pictures as tango dancers. Along the streets were little vendors selling items very similar to those in the Santelmo market. We walked around a bit, stopping for a bite to eat. The restaurant had beautiful viewing areas of the streets and staged rooms to show how the original immigrants lived. La Boca is known for its immigrant population and those immigrants would live in close proximity surrounding a small courtyard, here at this restaurant they were preserving the history of the immigrants and allowing us to dine where they once dined. The food was great and after exploring the staged houses we went back to the streets to see the little shops. When the sun set it began to cool down and we were ready to return to the apartment.
It wasn’t easy to say goodbye to Kristin but I know we will be seeing eachother soon. It was wonderful having her tour us around the city and bring us to the asada and tango class! I really don’t think we would have had those experiences otherwise.