It seems my spontaneous trips are getting more exciting all the time! But this one is going to be hard to beat. My old friend from high school, Duc Pham, decided about a year ago to become an airline attendant in order to benefit from all the free flying and travel he could do with it. Turns out he's not the only one getting the benefits. He gets some discount vouchers every year and he offered to let me use some for a weekend trip before they expired. My friend Heathyr and I were thinking a cold weekend trip to Chicago for some pizza and art sounded good, but then Duc decided he wanted to go to South America instead and invited me to come along. I thought about it... considered it for 2 days... cleared it with my parents... canceled the bookclub party that was going to be at my house... packed my bags full of skirts and sandals and before I knew it I was in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
We hooked up with a couple of German backpackers in the airport and shared a taxi to a hotel. They actually found us while we were sitting in the airport looking through guide books for a hostel. They benefited from Duc's Spanish in bargaining a taxi price and then we followed them to a hotel they were going to stay at for one night and we ended up staying there the whole time. It was a in San Telmo on Bolivar. My room was on the third floor at the top of a winding staircase. It had a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling and a balcony with floor to ceiling shutters looking over the street next to my bed. There were old creaky wood floors, antique tiles and vintage glass windows, a terrace on the roof overlooking the city (and someones laundry), and the shared bathroom across the hall had a dozen layers of peeling paint and plaster in every shade of blue and yellow along with a bidet and a shower head sticking out of the wall. Most the places are converted old homes and have courtyards and terraces and rooms winding every which way so it was a lot bigger than it looks in the picture. I loved that hotel. It was practically a luxury hotel for $12 a night.
(my room is the top left in this picture. Duc took a cool picture of me reading a map on my bed in front of the shutters. I think it's on facebook. )
(This is the view of the city off the back roof of our hotel)Some of the old vintage glass windows in the hotel and below is the staircase up to my room and the wall in the bathroom.
Every morning I'd take a walk while Duc took his time getting ready. I'd wander around and then try and find my way back. Luckily I did everytime, but I found some cool parks and antique markets that way. Then we'd start our day with empanadas and dulce de leche pastries from one of the two bakeries on our street and plan out what we wanted to see that day. Sometimes we wandered around taking pictures of all the murals and graffiti. Some of it is done by real artists and is really cool and some is just gang graffiti but it was all neat. It's funny what they name their gangs there, especially when they pick something American... like Los Waffles. Cracked me up every time I saw it. We shopped at the ferias (street markets) buying shoes (see the very first pictures for my sandals I got), antiques, jewelry, and other souvenirs. We visited some churches, saw some statues, and famous buildings and bridges...
(Don't cry for me Argentina....)
We visited every part of the city including colorful Boca. We made due with some crappy internet cafes till we found that if you buy something at McDonald's you get 20 minutes of internet free on the only good computers in the whole city. McFiestas and McNificas it was! The only difference from what I could tell was they toasted their buns over there. We went geocaching and almost got run over by an old out of control car but got the cache... We watched some amazing authentic Argentine Tango complete with the Buenos Aires Symphonic Orchestra... as well as some authentic goucho dancing with the smaller group of musicians. This video is long. I had a shorter one of them doing a faster tango but this one was so much better. It picks up a little at the end and I apologize for Duc's camera shutter sounds during the whole thing.
(Everything in Tigre is on water since it's on the delta so these are their taxis.)
(and these are people's front porches onto the water)
He did manage to show us how to successfully walk on water. It was awesome.
(This was the day before the game. There's no way I'd have a camera at that place on game day. Plus there'd have been riot police and mobs everywhere if it was game day)
And then we ate! I think we took pictures of almost all our food. Duc has most the pictures of food and there was a lot of it! Pastries, cookies, pastas, liquado, pizza, fresh squeezed orange juice, churros with hot cocoa, ice cream, empanadas, sandwiches, meranges, and MEAT!
(This thing stopped me in my tracks when I saw it in the window. It was almost as big as my head and I still dream about it and wake up chewing on my pillows...)
(I even ate... raw meat. Yes it's true I ate raw meat in South America but look at it, doesn't it look good?? I figured I'd already drank a few gallons of river water that day in my water skiing attempts so how much worse could it get. I myself am shocked I didn't come home with a parasite or something but I didn't. Though I admit I liked the cooked meat better)
We did lots of other stuff but this is the gist of it.
Oh yeah and I saw the temple from the taxi window on the way to the airport before flying home first class. Till you've been in first class you have no idea what you're missing.... Five course meal, slippers, movies, massage chair that lays down completely flat, real blankets, fresh orange juice when you board and a fruit plate just before you land...I could go on. Flying will never be the same for me now. It was just the kind of relaxation I needed right before finding out upon landing that my house had been robbed.