With a few days of extra freedom at hand, I decided to go and join my friend Sarah again for the Easter weekend. Since she was living in Buenos Aires, this seemed like the perfect occasion for me to go and visit the Argentine capital.

BA is a fantastic place and comes very highly recommended on my list of places to go. Nothing like the Andes or the jungle, but still, quite and adventure in itself, but of a different kind. With European buildings, BA is the most "normal" (by European standards) looking town in Latin America. But the city itself, the atmosphere, the people and the way of life are not quite so European once you get into them. BA is BA. Europe Latin American style! It is a fantastic city full of things to do and see, where one is only spoilt for choice. And since choices have to be made, we made them ...

One thing BA is not short of is nice restaurants and good food, and we made the most of it!!! We indulged in goats cheese salads, traditional dishes by the zillions, home made pastas, profitéroles, tiramisu, ice creams, brownies.... It was very nice to go out, and all the more appreciated since it is far more difficult to find good restaurants in Asuncion. To complement this good food, we attended a number of concerts over the space of the weekend. There is so much on!! We saw, rock concerts, tango concerts, classical concerts and traditional folklore concerts, as well as a Creole mass. This last event was all absolutely fantastic and in typical argentine settings. People were so nice and welcoming and the atmosphere was fantastic... everyone signing, dancing, clapping and laughing all the time as well as exchanging jokes with the musicians etc... We were introduced to one of the bands that proceeded to take us round all the music places in BA till the early hours of the morning. It was fantastic! Some of the groups we saw were absolutely amazing. And all concerts were accompanied by delicious food and fantastic wines...

The cafes of La Boca are a popular place to hang out. Here you can find good food, good music and top class Tango dancing in the streets.

Gaminito Bar in La Boca

Predictably while I was in BA I acted like a tourist, since I was one. Sarah happily and kindly took me round all the sites around town, including the plaza de Mayo, the recoleta, la Boca and its markets (the old immigrant area of town all painted in fantastic bright and different colours, also the home of Tango!!) and San Thelmo and its flea markets. We Tigre and had a boat ride through the islands... all of this is a very fast overview, it would probably take a book to tell you about each thing, they were all so different, so unique, so interesting and so fantastic.... we also visited the rose garden and the Japanese garden (full of millions of giant koi carpe).

Since Argentina is the home of polo, what better place to go and see a match than the Palermo polo club in BA? It was really good! Palermo is possibly THE best polo club in the world. Home to the Argentine Open (autumn) its matches are basically the best in the world. Players here are all top level (many on 10, maximum handicap) and so the matches are very fast and incredibly nail biting. It was awesome... and the teams were all so good that they all deserved to win and matches were extremely close. And the ponies!!! I thought I has arrived in heaven... there was this gorgeous little grey which, had I had a spare million in my pocket, I would have quite happily bought on the spot. The players, true to reputation, gallop up and down the pitch screaming abuse at each other in bad Argentine that would make many cringe. But is all part of the argentine polo experience (Players here have a reputation for swearing). Anyways, to sum polo up: IT WAS FANTASTIC.

Let me tell you a bit about my public transport experience in BA. As u may well know, BA has a very nice underground system, which, although it's a little run down, still manages, in my humble opinion, to put both the Paris and London underground systems to shame. No further comments necessary. Taking a bus round BA is a nice way to travel as you get to see things. The trains ... well, put it this way, the British built the train system, so it looks, feels and sounds a lot like UK train systems: totally disorganised and falling to pieces... only I think that lack of funds have made the argentines more flexible, self-sufficient and certainly more capable maintenance-wise and the trains actually seem to hold together and NOT break down all the time like their UK counterparts, despite the fact that they look as if they were built a couple of centuries ago.

The taxis... well... take a roller coaster, multiply the fright factor by 1000, send it flying in the air every so often and you are maybe starting to have a vague idea of what a taxi ride can be like in BA. They are not all total psychopathic mental suicidal speed freaks, but when you get one... oh boy! Hang on! On the Sunday we had the ultimate ride... I think taxiing in BA can be classed along side snowboarding, parachuting, bungee jumping any other extreme sports you can think of... the rush is somewhere in the same league. Anyway, this taxi ride we had on the Sunday was meant to take 25 minutes and only took 10. The taxi driver floored it and flew! Literally. We flew! Up in the air, round bends, whenever there was a bump... fly away!! Winding through heavy traffic as if we had a F1 race to win, only this was minus roll bars, fire suits and a load of security vehicles ready to come and save you when you finally crash.... anyway, the best bit - or worst, depending on how you look at it - was when, on one of these really wide 10 lane thick of traffic avenues, the driver starts to just cream all red lights and charges straight towards a central isle full of bushes and trees... I honestly thought I was going to die. Never once did he take his foot of the accelerator, oh no, instead he pressed it harder, and at the last minute yanked on his hand-break and did a sideward spin round a bend and onto a little side road I had not even seen... Mental. There is only one way to describe that guy. Mental!!! He really has a death wish and I feel sorry for the poor person who will eventually crash with him. My legs felt like jelly when I got out!!

On a side note, BA is very good for shopping, clothes, music, souvenirs, anything really, and is also really cheap. So we spent a nice time shopping and spending money. As with the restaurants and concerts etc, it is merely a question of being spoiled for choice, especially since there are not very many big chains over here and any shops have people who make the clothes for them by hand and each item is therefore unique. I think that pretty much covers all. I have fallen in love with BA. I really wish I could have done my work placement there. There is so much to do and see... it would be impossible to try everything even in a lifetime!

The Pink Palace

The Waterworks Building

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