Buenos Aires

We left Sydney on Friday at 10:30am and managed to arrive in Buenos Aires three hours later after 14 hours of flying and another spent in Auckland airport. But we may as well have been operating in a different time-zone from the moment we checked in, arriving half an hour late and eventually being seated apart for the whole journey. That gave us the chance to make friends with our fellow passengers though. I received several hours of free tuition in Spanish from Carlos, an elderly gent from Uruguay.

Our guesthouse, Posada Gotan, is in a quiet neighbourhood out of the BA traffic and it’s charming in every way, not least because it’s run by Thibaud, a French expat whose parents from Rennes are in town because his wife Argentine wife Gabriella, a local television presenter, had a baby on our first day, 3 weeks premmie (sounds like a sit-com huh?).

The food’s sensational here. High quality Argentine beef is everywhere. With all the meat and the pools of cheese on every dish I’ve reached cholesterol overload already. Salads and vegetable dishes are a bit thin on the ground. Despite all of Carlos’ best efforts on the plane, my language skills are still seriously lacking. We went to a little bistro in the high-class neighbourhood of Recoleta and ordered off the menu. I wanted to ask if a dish was beef so I tried the word for cow, vaca, putting a bit of a question-mark on the end. The waitress nodded enthusiastically and rubbed her stomach. I reasoned if it was a hearty meal we should share it so I ordered two plates. I know you can sense this one coming, but it wasn’t hearty at all, it was tripe and I’m ashamed to say I just couldn’t stomach it (sorry).

Palermo Viejo is an old quarter full of clothes and homewares. Design is cutting-edge here, there is some really funky merchandise. Leather goods (from all those local vacas) are a speciality and trendy shoes and backpacks are everywhere. Young design students set up co-ops in warehouse spaces and sell their clothes from stalls inside the one shopfront. They are very cheap and very trendy. Palermo also has stacks of bars and restaurants which adds to its touristic appeal.

Another popular area is San Telmo where we went today for the Sunday antique markets. Old tools, weapons, records and lots of lace is everywhere you turn. We found a US Army issue kevlar helmet from the Gulf War on sale. It was the last day of the Tango Festival and there were dancers in the streets. We’d just sat down on the balcony of a beautiful old terrace that had been converted into a shopping arcade when two elegantly dressed dancers flipped on their stereo and started twisting and turning in front of a gathering crowd. They finished, to a round of applause then the senor pulled me to my feet and led me through some very basic steps. He seems to think I was “very good” but I bet he tells all the women the same thing. I’ll blame it on not having worn stilettos out for a day at the markets.

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