Our last week in Argentina (and South America) was a good one, full of sightseeing and tasty food, though were both a little unwell. We spent most of our time in Buenos Aires, then endured an Aerolineas flight back to New Zealand, where we’ve been enjoying the start of summer.
Monday 21/11 We made an early start so that we could get a lift into town with Leigh, Noah and Lila, saying goodbye to Lila at her school entrance. Afterwards, we had breakfast with Leigh and Noah at a buffet which offered 27 different types of bread product — impressive. After a final wander around town, during which we failed to find the game a friend of mine asked me to buy him, Leigh and Noah dropped us at the bus station and we hopped on the bus to Buenos Aires. It’s a long trip — 19 hours — but we chose a slightly more expensive seat option which at least meant we saved a few hours of travel time: some of the journeys were 23 hours long! The bus stopped at around 8pm and we all got off for dinner in a roadside restaurant, which was included in the cost of the bus ticket, and was quite tasty. When we got back on the bus, Craig and I made ourselves comfortable and drifted off to sleep.
Tuesday 22/11 The bus was supposed to arrive in Buenos Aires at 7am, but we got in half an hour or so early, and got off the bus fuzzy-headed and unsure of what to do next. I’d filled Craig’s metal water bottle with hot water from the bus’s coffee supply and grabbed a couple of coffee teabags, so we sat in the waiting room for a little while, sipping our coffees and waiting for alertness to arrive.
We’d booked an apartment in Recoleta through Roomorama, but checkin was early afternoon and it was still quite definitely early morning, so we found a cafe for coffee and medialunas, and used their wifi to plan the next few days. After that, we walked in the general direction of the apartment and found ourselves outside Craig’s favourite bookshop in the world, El Ateneo, housed in an old theatre. We hung out there for a while and were having very overpriced coffee in their cafe when our contact for the apartment called and said we could check in early, so we did.
Next, we headed to Avenida Corrientes to buy books. I love Avenida Corrientes; I just wish I had more space in my bag to fit in all the books I’d like to buy. Afterwards we took the long route home so that we could visit Recoleta cemetery, which is full of beautiful tombs. Some of them are in quite bad repair though, which is a pity.
Wednesday 23/11 Our task for today was to vote: the New Zealand general elections were going to be held on Saturday and we had to vote before then. At least it was easier than three years ago, when we were living in Perth and had to trawl the city for a fax machine; this time we could just go into the embassy and vote there. Afterwards we had panchos for lunch and caught the metro a few stops to the Xul Solar museum, which displays the art of a well-known Argentinean artist.
Thursday 24/11 Craig wanted to visit MALBA, the museum of modern art, so we headed there on foot, making our way leisurely in that direction. On the way we visited the Recoleta church, which has a small museum of religious art tucked away through one of its archways. It was well worth the five-peso entrance fee. We also visited La Flor (a beautiful flower sculpture) and had a coffee and medialunas in a cafe before finally making it to MALBA, where we spent a couple of hours. The art was amazing and varied; I particularly liked the park benches.
Our route home took us through several of Palermo’s parks, we bought a drink in one and had choripan for lunch in another before catching the metro home.
Back at the apartment, we discovered that our laptop charger had bitten the dust, so we took a walk to the nearby Mac store to see if it could be replaced. Unfortunately it would take two months to get a new one (!) which isn’t very useful to us. The clerk did let us leave Craig’s laptop with her to get charged for a couple of hours though.
In the evening we ate parrilla leftovers and salad and watched Prince Caspian on TV.
Friday 25/11 We’d planned an early start but somehow didn’t manage it, and arrived at Teatro Colon at 11:45, instead of a couple of hours earlier. It’s a popular attraction, and even with tours every 15 minutes the earliest we could get tickets was at 12:45. And that was in Spanish; if we’d wanted to do the English tour we’d have had to wait until 3pm. The tour was really interesting and the theatre is beautiful — we were lucky to see it lit up actually because we’d been told that there was a lighting rehearsal and that the theatre would be dark. But the workers must have gone to lunch and we got to see it in all its glory.
After a lazy afternoon, Juli and Naty (our friends from La Plata) picked us up and we went for a drive around San Isidro, an old part of the city, before dinner at a fish restaurant. Craig wasn’t feeling too well so it wasn’t a late night, but it was great to spend a few hours with them.
Saturday 26/11 There was some problem with our accommodation booking and we had to move apartments on Saturday morning, which meant packing up and catching the metro to Palermo Hollywood. Luckily our apartment was ready and we moved in immediately and spent the afternoon relaxing. In the evening we caught the metro back to Avenida Corrientes to join in the Night of the Bookshops celebrations — there was music, a Scrabble competition, a mural being painted, and lots of people roaming around. We bought icecream and a couple of books, then had cheap pizza and beer for dinner before heading home and watching a Harry Potter movie on TV. It’s quite novel to have a TV!
Sunday 27/11 We managed to make an earlier start, and spent the morning exploring the San Telmo markets, after which we had our last cafe con medialunas in a bookshop cafe and caught the metro home.
We spent the afternoon relaxing and working then got ready for the epic journey home. To get to the airport had to walk, catch the metro, then catch a bus — a much longer route than taking a taxi would be, but a tenth of the price. Luckily it went without a hitch, and we got to the airport early. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 2:30am, and took off only an hour late — which for Aerolineas Argentinas is actually pretty good going.
Back in New Zealand The flight was uncomfortable but we made it home and through security with no problems, using the self-check machines for the first time. We were happy to note that none of the bottles of wine and spirits we’d packed into my bag had broken during the flight, though it seemed that we hadn’t had to check the bag in after all, since no-one was bothered by the other liquids we were inadvertently carrying in our carry-on luggage.
My dad picked us up from the airport and we collected our car from Ange, who had been looking after it for us. After that, we visited my mum to get some clothes and other essentials from her cupboard, then headed back home to Chris and Sarah’s place.
This week has been full of catching up with people and running errands — we’ve caught up with Craig’s parents and a bunch of our friends, and I started work on Friday. I especially enjoyed getting paid for it the day before because of the way the pay schedule works! The weather has been pretty good too — looks like we’re in for an excellent summer!