February 21, 2009

Back from Buenos Aires!

Jesse booked us a flight to Argentina rather spontaneously. With just nine days to plan, I hit the books. We needed surprisingly little time to arrange the trip - the hardest part was finding an available place to stay, but that worked itself out within two days of booking the flight. It made me realize how easy it is to just pick up and go somewhere totally new and different. The trip was something of an adventure, but I had a lot of fun despite all the bumps and stress. I've got the travel bug now.

Although Buenos Aires is known for its European flair, it's still rough around the edges. Jesse was in love from the moment we arrived, but it took me a few days to settle into being in an unfamiliar place. The streets feel louder than in New York City (or maybe just Brooklyn) thanks to diesel-powered vehicles rushing through the streets. Cars drive willy-nilly without regard to lanes or the lack of stop signs. The sidewalks grow diry on garbage days, when people literally pick through all the trash. Not many people speak English, unlike traveling in Europe, which made things kind of difficult since we don't know Spanish. But at the same time - people were nicer than in Europe about encouraging us trying to communicate in haphazard Spanish.

We ended up taking cabs almost everywhere, which I normally never do, because although there are buses on every street, figuring out the intricate maps of it overwhelmed me. And because the blocks there are so much larger than NYC blocks that maps deceived me. Like when what I thought would be a ten minute walk in light rain turned into a twenty minutes walk through a downpour that drenched our clothes because we hadn't thought it necessary to hop in a cab. Ugh, oops. But not to worry, because when you factor in the 3 peso : 1 US$ exchange rate, sometimes taking a cab was as cheap as taking the NYC subway. And the cabs there run on natural gas, so it's kinda better for the environment?

Since it's on the other side of the equator, I was excited about stepping out of winter and into warm summer, but it was overwhelmingly hot - like the sweaty heat of New York City summers. And the sun was so strong, we got muy sunburned. But luckily, it cools down a great deal at night there, probably thanks to a desert-ish climate. It was a drag coming back to winter; now I can't stop daydreaming about my plans for this summer...

But there was so much to see and do and eat. We lingered at cafes and bars; we lost a day because of rain so we didn't get to go for a boat ride up the river delta like I had hoped; we indulged in a hot tub after a day of walking; we saw a traditional Argentine folklore show at La Pena del Colorada; we were entranced by ordinary people dancing tango at a milonga (tango bar) called La Catedral filled with Argentine hipsters, putting Brooklyn bars to shame; we drove through the plains to Rosario, a smaller city up the Rio de la Plata; we drank a lot; and we ate a lot of meat and cheese.

I think my favorite part of the trip was getting to see my friend Meag, who now lives in Argentina in domestic bliss with her boyfriend. We had hardly talked in the six months since she moved, and suddenly there we were together again, the four of us sightseeing and eating and laughing our way through the second half of the trip. Saying goodbye was surreal, to go back to not seeing them again for who knows how many months and years, until the next time one of us makes the trek to the other continent.

So we are planning to go back. With just six days to see two cities, there wasn't enough time to do and see everything that Argentina has to offer. I'd love to go back and take a tango class, stay up in a club till 6am, see more of other areasof Argentina, hike in the wilds of Patagonia, go to a traditional Sunday asado (their version of family barbecues in the summer, with a lot more meat), eat more empanadas. Jesse has a plan for us to take Spanish classes together and then travel all over South America. I don't know about that, but I'll concede to making more of an effort to learning Spanish for our next trip - I want to go to Peru, and Brazil if my sister returns to work there, and back to Argentina of course.

To be continued

1 comment:

Marie said...

This is so exciting! I booked a flight to Argentina for next December and am just so excited. Any and all advice much appreciated :)
M x