The What of Buenos Aires

I probably waited too long to write about Buenos Aires, but I never knew where to start. Do I start with what I did there, describing my actual visit to the city, or do I start with my answer to the question, “Why did you like Buenos Aires so much?”

These are two separate posts but one doesn’t make sense without the other, so I’ll start with what I did, in running list form. It might not be eloquent but I don’t know if I ever could get it to be. I’ll try to summarize.

Day 1 I arrived early in the morning from an overnight bus and 2 hours later I was on a walking tour of the city, arranged by my hostel America del Sur. I learned some BA history, saw the main tourist sites, and watched some tango. I was even coaxed into doing a tango move on stage for a photo opportunity. I changed money on Florida Street; my first experience with the Blue Market of BA (where you get almost double the normal exchange rate). I had asado dinner at the hostel, and while I was waiting sat with a group of incredibly welcoming travelers mostly from the UK and Australia. I ended up at a housewarming party with them – Alex’s Palermo apartment. My first night in BA, a Friday, and I was at someone’s apartment getting to know a great group of people. A welcomed night of normalcy in a stream of hostels and bars. Out till almost 4 am.

Day 2 I went to the La Boca neighborhood with three new friends I’d met the day before – Jessica, Juan and Tom. We wandered and took pictures of the Boca stadium and the colorful buildings and graffiti around Caminito. I had my first choripan sandwich: the Argentinian version of a German favorite, chorizo sausage on a roll with chimichurri sauce. That night I went to Fuerza Bruta with Jess and Tom; I’d gotten lucky when Kye needed to sell his ticket that morning and jumped on board last minute. Incredible, a must do for anyone in BA. When we got home we cooked dinner and joined the rest of the group to watch the fight on the big comfy couch in the basement. I was convinced to go to a birthday party in Palermo for one of the girls who works at the hostel. Unexpectedly chill bar, still got home at 4 am.

Day 3 was rainy but we braved the San Telmo Sunday Market anyway. I had lunch with a friend of a friend, Sam. It’s amazing how friend networks extend all over the world. I returned to the hostel, to the couch downstairs where inevitably I would find my new friends, the people I would come to call my BA family. You know what sounds nice? A good beer. Just a casual beer at a pub. Not Quilmes. Alex, Tom, Brendan, and I chilled at Gibralter for a while. We got back and Ana convinced us all to go to Club One. Minds blown. This club was nuts. Was it really Sunday?

Day 4 I wandered the city alone: Puerto Madero (another choripan); the Obeslik; Teatro Colón; El Alteneo, an old theater converted into a bookstore; the Congress building; back to Florida Street; home to San Telmo. I collapsed on the couch. Brendan, Tom, Will, and I made a delicious dinner and I had my first Fernet and Cola night. Thanks Andy for helping me adjust to this taste before BA. I’ve had enough Fernet to last me a lifetime now. Everyone went out together for La Bamba del Tiempo – a 20 person drum ensemble on stage. Amazing music, 1L drinks, lots of dancing. The show ended and the drummers led us on a street party parade. Cheap street beers along the way. We were all having the time of our lives. The party ended at a club; more drinks, lots more dancing, even more pictures. Could this night get any better? 5 am we got home, my wallet was gone. Shit. There goes my license. We got panchos (gross cheese-covered hot dogs).

The next day I woke up too soon after going to sleep with a miserable hangover. Off to Uruguay.

I returned two days later and had to go to my new hostel in Palermo. I missed America del Sur, so I went back to visit. Hung out with and unfortunately say bye to Tom, the first of the BA group to move on.

Friday. Productivity day. Blog posts to write, 401k funds to move, US dollars acquired in Uruguay to exchange. That night I met up with another friend of that same home friend for the Palermo pub crawl. New fun in a new neighborhood. Does any night ever end before 4:00 am?

Saturday. Is this Day 5 or 6? I don’t think Thursday really counts, so let’s call it 5. I slept well past hostel breakfast and treated myself to brunch outside in Palermo. It’s what you do there anyway. Ana came over and we played in Palermo park: we tried to join some group choreographed dancing (we were so lost) and attempted some rollerblading/skating. We didn’t fall! Victory wine and cheese for dinner, had back at America del Sur of course. Louise and Katrina from Mendoza were there now – what?! They had made friends with the same people I had now made friends with before they went to Mendoza. Of course. It was a special La Bamba del Tiempo night. Our traveler group and the hostel girls all went together. Too many drinks, one big blur.

Sunday it was back to America del Sur for everyone’s favorite sandwich shop, El Banco Rojo, and nursing our hangovers in Recoleta park. We wandered briefly through the Recoleta Sunday Market, and I got my Argentina bracelets with Ana’s help. Back to the hostel. Movies and take-out Chinese food for dinner. Bus back to Palermo with Alex; no Club One for us this time.

Monday it was time to be a tourist again. I met two nice Dutch girls at the hostel and we explored Recoleta cemetery together followed by empanadas. I wandered back to the hostel through the Recoleta and Palermo neighborhoods, soaking in the city. Met up with Alex to explore Palermo more. We were somehow matching exactly: tan alpaca sweater, blue shorts, slip on shoes. The point was to just walk the streets, window shop, dream about what it would be like to be in Palermo with money to spend. We ended up in the park, said hi to some ducklings, it was a beautiful day. Dinner at Burger Joint, which has just as fantastic burgers as everyone said it did. Back to America del Sur. It was Raj’s last night so we all went to Club Severino. More dancing, more pictures, even more fun. I love these people. Home at sunrise.

Tuesday it rained. I took advantage to hibernate, blog, get a great salad at a local organic vegetarian restaurant (my body thanked me). Got a text: Brendan was leaving sooner than I expected, so it’s back to America del Sur. I arrived just in time to say bye to Will. This was happening already? Lounging with everyone on the couches, Brendan finally went to catch his bus. We were all so sad. Alex, Ana and I made dinner, then we went back to the basement to watch a movie but were relegated to the bean bags on the floor. Who were these new people on our couches? I said bye to Louise before I left, and on my way out I said bye to America del Sur.

Wednesday it was just Alex, Ana and me left, and we were all in Palermo now. Alex and I had another Palermo day, taking advantage of the Wednesday deals. We picked up some insanely delicious ice cream for lunch on the way to the MALBA, which is only AR$25 on Wednesdays. Great museum, incredible light exhibit. Alex imagined the whole thing as a DJ set. Dinner at La Cabrera. This fantastic Argentinian steak house has a happy hour deal on Wednesday from 7-8: 40% off the entire menu. We ate like we were not backpackers – half a filet minion for me, a whole one for Alex, tons of side sauces (plus free fries from our generous waiter, despite honestly saying we had no money), and we shared a bottle of Malbec. One of the best meals of our lives. After dinner I met up with Ana, who had moved into my hostel, and we were surprised to see Kye from America del Sur was our new roommate too. House party at Alex’s. It’s almost over.

Thursday was my last day. Ana and I were slow to start but eventually made it to my friend’s recommended place for open-faced empanadas before doing some shopping and getting drenched in a downpour. Ana said BA was crying for my last day like it did on Brendan’s. Around 4:00 Alex came over, and he, Ana, Kye, and I had tea with sweets. How British (Alex and Kye are Brits, Ana is Ecuadorian). It was my last night in BA so Ana, Alex and I went out in Palermo. Ridiculous night. I can’t even describe it. Out till sunrise, we were still hanging out in the hostel common area when they were setting up breakfast. I couldn’t believe I had a flight in a few hours.

Friday I got in a cab and went to the airport. It was all over. Time to change continents. In the BA airport I was just sad to leave, messaging friends and instagramming pictures of BA. I used my layover in Santiago to transition; I tried to move into a mindset that was looking forward to the next part of my trip in New Zealand.

So there’s the answer to what I did in BA. I’m sure you can guess why it meant so much, but I’ll save that for another post. I need some time to figure out how to write that one too.

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