My next series of Travel Journal entries are actually going to be belated entries from around this time last year when I went to South America with a couple of friends. I know, I know, I’ve been really lazy with sharing photos but I’m finally getting around to that!
Our first stop in South America was Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentina – the land of Che Guevara and Evita Peron!
Right away, the first thing that struck me about Buenos Aires was how very European it was. It reminded me a lot of Madrid and it’s no surprise, as the Spanish were the ones who had colonized South America. Buenos Aires was probably the most European city in South America that we encountered. And for those who are worried about whether South America is dangerous – my personal view was that I felt incredibly safe in Buenos Aires – in fact, in most of the South American countries we were in, I didn’t feel at all in danger. Naturally, you make sure to hold on to your bag at all times and keep alert about your surroundings – but I’d do that no matter where I was – and I expect you to as well!
We landed in Buenos Aires late at night and got to our apartment in the neighbourhood of Palermo Soho. While Palermo was a nice, quiet neighbourhood with a few really nice restaurants and bars within walking vicinity. Though bustling at night, our neighbourhood was pretty quiet at night and it was really hard for us to find an ATM so we could get some cash out and purchase some bottles of water, wine and food for the night.
(Side note: I had done my research beforehand on getting money out in South America. Most places, including Buenos Aires, will only let you withdraw a very small amount of cash out of an ATM each day – which can be pretty crappy considering you are also charged fees for each withdrawal – and sometimes it can be difficult finding an ATM. My friends and I have walked for ages, looking for an ATM sometimes and all but giving up before suddenly coming upon a huge street of banks lined with ATMs on all sides. Your best bet in Argentina is to head straight for the middle of the city or toward the more commercial districts. Be aware as well that sometimes the ATMs are in closed-off areas that are locked after a certain hour for a night. Also, at the time we were in Argentina, the US currency had been banned though I’m not sure if that is still going on).
However, we finally managed to get some money, some wine and some food and we were back on track!
The next day, however, was the day we finally had our first proper meal in Argentina. We had steak, of course!
One thing I found interesting when I had done my research about food in South America was how much Americans talked up the healthy fresh food in South America. To be honest, when we got there, I didn’t think it was actually as healthy as a lo of the Americans made it out to be (though it was incredibly yum!) There was plenty of fried food, especially potatoes (more on that later in other countries) and lots and lots of meat. Argentina is well-known for its steaks and South America is a particularly carnivorous continent. Coming from Australia where we’re so used to lots of fresh salads and greens and lots of seafood, it didn’t feel as if the food was as healthy as what the Americans were raving about. Though I will maintain it is delicious, especially those groovy steaks!
Another interesting thing was when one of my friends got up to grab a salt shaker off the bar at this restaurant. The waiter seemed dismayed when he found out what she had done and explained to her in Spanish (which she translated for the rest of us) that you need to ask a waiter for the salt when you wanted it because of strict guidelines in Argentina which are aimed at improving the health of Argentinians. I later Googled this and found it to be true.
Anyway, once we’d finished our meal, we started off to explore Buenos Aires!
On the recommendation of my friend’s cousin, we booked tickets for the Buenos Aires city bus tour. It was a tour that takes you around the city and lets you get off at various stopping points to explore further before being picked up a later bus. The buses can vary a little in their arrival times and our headphones didn’t work half the time, but it was still a great way of getting around the city and checking out the various sights and taking note of those you’d like to come back later and explore further. You can also ride on the upper storey of the double decker bus for maximum viewing pleasure or duck down into the air-conditioned lower storey (which we did!) when it started to get way too hot on the top during the afternoon.
One of the first stops we got off at was Caminito, a colourful and touristy barrio of Buenos Aires.
I completely forgot to look the other way while crossing the road to get to those pretty painted horses and almost got knocked over by a car. Whoops!
As the bus was constantly moving, it was pretty hard to get some good, clear shots. But I especially liked this one of the Floralis Generica, a giant metal flower which ‘blooms’ and then shuts its petals up once more throughout the day. Unfortunately, I’ve been given to understand that the flower doesn’t open and shut anymore since but it’s still pretty worth checking out.
Other sights we caught while zipping along in the bus but which I couldn’t get clear enough pictures of include the Plaza De Mayo, the Obelisk of Buenos Aires and the Galileo Galilei planetarium which was a pretty futuristic looking sphere-shaped building set in the park near the Floralis Generica.
We also snapped photos of this colourful billboard featuring the attractions of Buenos Aires.
Recoleta was another one of my favourite parts of Buenos Aires with its green parks and pretty buildings, though probably this might be due to the fact that it’s also one of the more affluent neighbourhoods in Buenos Aires.
We later went back to the National Museum of Fine Arts and saw some great paintings there.
How gorgeous is the sunset in Buenos Aires? We were pretty glad as the evening came on as it was quite hot that afternoon on the bus!
More on Buenos Aires later!