Tag: Buenos Aires

Onward to Africa

After a whirlwind couple of days at Iguazu Falls we arrived back in Buenos Aires in time to explore one more neighborhood of the city and eat one more delicious steak dinner at our favorite parilla before heading to the airport for our overnight trans-continental flight to Africa.

Our flight from BA to Cape Town, on Malaysian Airlines, was a surprisingly short 7 hours. And Malaysian Airlines – top notch service and plane.

We had one quick afternoon and night in Cape Town before heading up north to Zambia and Botswana. After some much needed napping, we explored the lovely – though extremely touristy – V&A waterfront. We were treated to some Christmas-themed live music being performed in a band shell near the water and we enjoyed it while eating our first (of many) meals of fish and chips.

Holiday cheer at the Cape Town Waterfront

Santa, made from Coke crates at the waterfront

Cape Town Waterfront

The next day we headed back to the airport and flew via Johannesburg (stop #1 of 10 in this airport) up to Livingstone, Zambia (yes, named after David Livingstone the famous British explorer). Driving from the airport to our hostel was definitely a glimpse into the Africa you might imagine – mommas with babies tied around their backs, women carrying unbelievably large loads balanced effortlessly on their heads, men trying to sell you anything from sunglasses to cell phone SIM cards, barefoot children playing on the side of the road, vans exploding beyond the brim with passengers, and trash along the side of the road.

Zambian kids

Traditional village home

We arrived at our hostel and were welcomed into a little oasis. You would never guess from the street that this place would provide such clean, comfortable rooms and come with fabulous perks such as wireless internet and a fabulous swimming pool.

Great first hostel in Africa!

By the time we arrived, we were pooped. In the previous 7 days we had slept in 7 different places with 3 of those nights spent “sleeping” on public transportation (2 on a bus, 1 on a plane). We were happy to have arrived safe and sound and looked forward to seeing more of Zambia when we had our heads on straight.

Fuerza Bruta

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Fuerza Bruta (Brute Force) is the name of a theatrical performance that we went to go see in Buenos Aires. It was recommended to us by our new friend Ninon so we thought we’d give it go, but it’s like nothing we have ever been to before and I am not sure if I should even try to explain it.

Fuerza Bruta

Wall running

It’s not a concert – though music is being played. It’s not a play – though there are actors and perfomers. It’s not Cirque du Soleil – though similar elements are there. It’s bizarre, it’s crazy, it’s unique and it’s entirely entertaining.

Slip and slide

Slip and slide 2

After the show I looked it up online and noticed that performances are put on throughout the United States. If you happen to live in or visit one of these cities and are interested in doing something a little bit different one night, check it out and let me know what you think.

Oh, and don’t wear heels and consider bringing a raincoat!

Fuerza Bruta - near you?

An Argentine House Party

When we were in La Paz, Bolivia, we had the opportunity to meet some family members of our good friend Estefania. Estefania is Bolivian but had been living in Colorado for many years. When she heard that our travels were taking us to her home country, she generously offered to introduce us to her cousin Ale. Ale was a super fun gal and invited us to her little sister’s first communion brunch where we proceeded to meet more of Estefania’s family including other cousins, aunts and uncles and even her grandparents.

Well, as it turns out, Estefania’s sister lives in Buenos Aires, so we were once again hosted by her family. Ninon is Estefania’s younger sister and we met her over at her apartment in the energetic Palermo neighborhood. Ted and I went out to dinner with Ninon and her friend to an amazing parilla (steakhouse) in her neighborhood – it was one of the best steak dinners we’ve ever had.

I was curious to where the night might take us after dinner, as BA has a ridiculous nightlife scene with crazy clubs that don’t close until 6am or later. Since I had never met Ninon before, I wasn’t sure if that is what she had planned for a Saturday night or not. Ted and I are not big clubsters (big surprise there), though I was willing to give it a go if that is what Ninon had in mind.

Well, as it turns out the club was not in out future and we instead headed over to a house party of one of Ninon’s friends (phew!). Though there are a lot of differences between our people and counties, the good old fashioned house party is surprisingly familiar anywhere you go – everything from not really knowing anybody, to the majority of people congregating in the kitchen; from a few guys hanging out around the keg in the backyard, to folks in the living room dancing to 80s music. To their credit though, a house party is not immediately over in Argentina once the place has run out of booze and the dance floor had a much higher percentage of men dancing than we see at home.

And though we didn’t think we were up for a 6am night, it was certainly after 5am by the time we got ourselves back to the hostel. Thank you Ninon for showing us a fun time!

Sadly, we did not bring our camera this night, so no photos of Ninon or the party :(

Wandering the Big City

Buenos Aires (BA) is gigantic. Over 1/3 of all the people in Argentina live in or near BA, and that is an incredible statistic considering the large size of the country. Like all cites, BA has different neighborhoods that each have their own character and feel. The wonderful part is that, in general, the city is very safe and quite easy to get around. We spent our time in BA seeking out different neighborhoods each day to try and get a feel for each place.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we stayed in the San Telmo neighborhood which is a laid-back part of town with an alternative, artsy vibe. We spent a number of days wandering the cobblestone streets and markets of this older, classier section of town.

San Telmo

Another day we walked and walked for hours. We past governmental buildings, plazas and fountains; we crossed the widest street in the world (14 or 16 lanes across); we walked through the busy and popular pedestrian mall and shopping area on Avenue Florida. And when we couldn’t walk no more, we popped on the cheap Subte (subway) and 20 minutes later we were back at our hostel.

Cruisin the streets of BA

Flor de Metal artwork

One of the nicer neighborhoods in town is called Ricoletta. They have a famous above ground cemetery there (similar to New Orleans) where Buenos Aires’ elite have been buried for centuries including Argentina’s much-loved Evita (Eva Peron).

Ricoletta Cemetary

Old theater-turned bookstore

On a Saturday morning we headed over to Palermo where BA’s beautiful, wealthy, and fabulous go out to brunch. After coffee and some people-watching we wandered over to an area where there were some indoor and outdoor markets selling everything from clothing to food to artwork. The indoor markets were very cool as they were set up temporarily within the walls of popular bars and nightclubs that weren’t open at that time of day. It was pretty unique to see individual artists displaying their work among booths and drink bars.

On our last day in town we headed to Boca which is known for its colorfully painted buildings and outdoor art displays. Though the section of town was pretty to photograph, it has lost a lot of its charm and authenticity. It is now a cheesy tourist trap in a 2 block by 2 block area. The ‘real’ part of the Boca neighborhood is apparently unsafe for tourists to wander freely.

La Boca

La Boca

So, the city is huge and diverse, and there is no way to possibly see it all, ever I could argue. Though we just scratched the surface of this big, energetic place, we can hands down say we saw enough to love it but left plenty to see for a future visit.

Paris of the South

We had some pretty high expectations of Buenos Aires (BA). Everyone we talked to about the city had nothing but good things to say about the place. We are now those people.

After spending several weeks in Patagonia where cities are non-existent and large groups of people are few and far between, I have to admit that I was a bit overwhelmed when we first arrived. I’m not a city girl by nature and walking through the popular pedestrian mall full of shops, restaurants, buskers, children eating ice cream cones, teenagers flirting, people walking their dogs, and the slowest, laid-back walkers anywhere – I was exhausted from just navigating around everything!

European Influences Abound

However, that buzz and energy is what this city is all about. This city doesn’t sleep. No one eats dinner until after 10 pm and if you are going dancing, don’t think about it until 2 am at the earliest. The people are beautiful and well put together at all times. Everyone from 12-year-olds to grandmas are wearing high-heel shoes and decked out in trendy outfits. Hair is done and make-up is on even if you are just pushing your two-year old in a stroller at a park. We were certainly in awe and would stop sometimes just to sit still and people watch.

San Telmo Antiques Market

The neighborhood where we stayed was called San Telmo and is famous for its Sunday antiques market. We are not particularly into antiques but in addition to the stores, there is also a central square surrounded by cobblestone streets and a variety of great restaurants and other shops. We had a beer on the square and watched some free tango dancing in the street one afternoon. Tango dancing is everywhere and there are plenty of opportunities for tourists to take classes or go to dinner and a show where tango is performed. We opted for the free shows put on around town (usually associated with a restaurant) which simply required a tip for the dancers when the show was complete. Tourists and locals alike would stop to watch the dancing as the beauty of the movements and the dancers themselves were always worth a look.

Street performers

Tango dancers

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