South America, Day Two: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Today we wandered, more confidently, towards Recoleta (take two), where we successfully found the cemetery… and after a few [hundred] wrong turns, Evita’s resting place. The mausoleums are magnificent and, although the cemetery was flooded in sunlight, there was something – actually, a LOT – eerie about the place. Perhaps that’s something to do with the coffins that you can see behind the moth-eaten curtains and the distraught statues wailing overhead. I was expecting to see a lot of cats (we had been warned) but we only saw the one. We overheard a tour guide telling her group of tourists that there’s an old woman who comes to the cemetery every day, just to change the cats water.

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Then we got robbed… by Starbucks. No doubt this was our punishment for not boycotting them in the first place. Two coffees came to around a tenner… well, they did on our exchange rate. (While I’m at it, do not change your dollars in the official currency exchange places… do it on the street… you’ll get triple your money’s worth. Basically, none of the Argentineans trust the banks so the on-street currency-conversion trade is much more lucrative for tourists and locals alike!).

We then got further screwed over by La Esquina de Garafa (‘the corner of ARSEHOLES’). Our milanesas were rank, the waiter felt up Vicki’s boob (twice!) and then demanded a larger tip. He didn’t feel up my boob so we didn’t oblige.

Now we’re off on a private tour of La Boca and San Telmo. Apparently it’s pretty dangerous so I’m wearing my combat pants. So far, we’ve felt safe but grown men – the kind with muscles and shaved heads – wear their backpacks on their fronts. As two petit blondes with absolutely no core strength (ok, I’m speaking for myself here), we’re now doing the same. They should be called ‘Frontpacks’.

Quote of the day: “Why is there a ‘K’ on that statues bum?”

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Why indeed. He also had a gold penis. These Argentines have a silly side, it seems!

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…And a bottle of Malbec later… and a steak sent from heaven above…

Ok, so we did our private tour around La Boca and San Telmo. La Boca has to be one of the most colourful places on the planet. It seems such a shame that the place is so dangerous. It’s such a vibrant and artistic neighbourhood – and yet, it’s a hotspot of poverty and crime.

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Our tour-guide, Ceri, was fantastic. Originally from London, although born in Canada, Ceri speaks fluent Spanish and has an ability to befriend anyone and everyone who crosses his path. He knew an awful lot about the history of Buenos Aires (then again, as a tour-guide, it would be a pretty poor state of affairs if he didn’t). He also spoke to us plainly… about everything from ‘what to do in the event of a rape’ to cocaine. Rape and drugs aside (there’s something you don’t say everyday), he also gave us loads of advice about a) a gluten-free diet in South America and b) how to go about getting prescription drugs over the counter.

What a dude.

We saw most of San Telmo through our Malbec lenses… and by this point, he knew Vicki was a carpenter, and showed us some quirky interior design shops.

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This guy is an actor, dancer, DJ, carpenter, tour-guide, teacher and… a bit of a nightmare when he was young apparently. My kinda chap.

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