Leg Two - Buenos Aires to Uruguay

Day Eight - Buenos Aires Today was our first sightseeing day in Buenos Aires. We headed out in the morning and walked down Av de Florida, which is the main shopping street. So many shops and so many people! We visited Galeria Pacifica, which is a big fancy shopping mall with a really ornate roof with classic paintings. So beautiful, but kind of weird that it´s a mall!

Walked down to Av 9 de Julio, which is a 16-lane road. Pretty crazy! We walked down to the Obelisco,which is a really big tall monument to commemmorate the founding of the city.

We went to Plaza Dorrego for a fancy dinner. The restaurant had a tango show. It was very dramatic. After the dancers had finished, they collected tips from the diners. We´re getting very good at handing out tips! We also learnt that if you give nearly the right amount of money when you pay the dinner bill, you don´t get change. Apparently it´s a tip...

Observations...

  • Saw the first Mac for the trip today. There´s hope for the future.
  • Why is the toilet water level so high?

Day Nine - Buenos Aires

Today was another big sightseeing day in BA. Caught the subway to Plaza de Mayo first thing and visited the historical buildings there - Museo de Cabildo, an 18th C building; Catedral Metropolitana, which has the tomb of liberator Jose de San Martin; Casa Rosada, the pink presidential palace (pink? yes!). It was weird to see the tomb at the cathedral and think that there was a 150-year-old body inside there!

We walked down to Puerto Madero, which is an up and coming area on the wharf. Saw an old navy ship there.

Back on the subway. This time to Palermo, which is an upmarket leafy suburb just out of the central BA area. We went to the zoo - Jardin Zoologico. Saw lots of animals we hadn´t seen before - bears, a condor, antelopes. They all seemed pretty well cared for, but felt a bit sorry for the condor, which was in a smallish cage. We had lunch at the zoo, and Ryan waited for the food at the counter and said yes to all the lady´s questions because he didn´t know what she was saying - we ended up with heaps of different condiments!

Next we headed off to visit the apartment our friends Amanda and David are moving to in February. Really nice area, apartment looks good. Snapped some photos there. Then stopped off at Persicco, an ice-cream boutique, for a snack. This was a recommended stop from Amanda. Definitely worth it!

Since we were nearby, we headed to the Evita Peron musuem, which, unlike many musuems we´ve been in, has an English translation of all the text on the walls! Really interesting visit there.

Caught the subway back to San Telmo, where we were staying. It was peak hour, so the subway was packed. It´s pretty up close and personal in there! Stopped off and picked up the laundry we dropped off that morning at the laundromat - it was all clean, neatly pressed and folded, and it only cost $12 pesos, which is around NZ$4.50.

Observations...

  • White lab coats are school uniforms here. What?
  • How come hardly anyone speaks English, but all the music, movies and TV programmes are in English? Odd.
  • Subways are great, but not so good at peak time.

Day Ten - Buenos Aires

Had a sleep in this morning after our busy day the day before! Took the subway to Recoleta, which is near Palermo. This was the first rainy day of our trip. Quite nice for a change!

Wandered through Recoleta Cemetary, then decided we were getting too wet, so headed out to find an umbrella and some lunch. Went to supermarket and bought some food for lunch. Recoleta is a very posh neighbourhood - lots of botoxed women and flashy men. All the shoppers were carrying Christian Dior and Mont Blanc bags. We looked a little scruffy eating our supermarket lunch on a park bench!

Back to Recoleta Cemetary for a proper look. Bought an umbrella from some guy on the street. There is always a guy on the street selling what you need!

The cemetary was  really interesting. It is full of big tombs with whole families inside. In some of them, there are 25+ bodies inside! And what´s really weird is that you can see the coffins through the windows of the tombs. They´re all just stacked up on shelves inside. The tombs go down below the ground and most are about 4-6m above the ground. We visited Evita´s tomb. Heaps of tourists there.

We went to our first Lonely Planet recommended restaurant - La Rotisseria. We had schnitzel. It was very cheap and tasted all right.

Observations...

  • All the money machine gives us is $100 peso notes, but no one wants to accept them.
  • They´re big on supermarket deliveries here.
  • We´re learning to eat the stale bread which is given to you before every meal.
  • Still lots of people doing jobs that don´t really need to be done.
  • Shop owners here enjoy standing at the front door and scaring away potential customers.
  • People know of the All Blacks here. Ryan tells them we always beat the Pumas.

Day Eleven - Buenos Aires

Wendy´s sinus infection returned today, so we took it pretty easy. Went back to Av de Florida and wandered through the shops. Things really quieten down on Sundays here. There were so many men on the street yelling out "Cambio, cambio", which means "change, change". Not sure why there are so many money change places around. Wouldn´t most travellers just use ATMs?

Headed back to hostel and then down to Plaza Dorrego to check out the famous antiques fair that happens down there on Sundays. We thought it would just be a little fair in the plaza area, but turns it out the plaza area has the little antiques fair and then a handcraft market spills out from there that is literally a couple of kilometres long. Bought a bunch of souvenirs. There were heaps of street performers, which were great to watch - experimental orchestras, dancers, solo musicians, theatre perf0rmers, mimes.

Had our first exprimida de naranja - freshy squeezed orange juice. There are people on every street corner with a manual juicer and a big bucket of oranges. For $5 pesos (NZ$2), you get a cup of juice. Tastes so good! After walking through the fair for miles, we were starving, so bought these huge empanadas - bread turnovers filled with tomato and cheese. We bought them from a bakery man riding a bike with a huge basket of empanadas on the front.

Observations...

  • Sugar cereal for breakfast and caramel to spread on your toast? No thanks.
  • Cash, cash, cash. No Eftpos.
  • The ants here are huge.
  • We got waited on in McDonalds. What?!

Day Twelve - Buenos Aires to Colonia, Uruguay

We caught the ferry from BA to Colonia today. After we checked in, we headed through immigration, which was a man and a lady in a little booth. The man stamped us out of Argentina and the lady stamped us into Uruguay. Very efficient!

When we arrived in Colonia, customs again was almost non-existent. Walked from the ferry terminal to our hostel. Really nice room there - quite cosy. Much nicer than the rooms we have had. Had a walk through the town centre - very quaint, and everyone rides motorbikes or scooters. Went out for pizza for dinner - weirdest pizza ever! Ryan loved it; Wendy hated it. It was covered in thousand-island sauce and had palm hearts, green olives and mozzarella on it.

After dinner we went down to the beach and had ice cream while we watched the sun set. When we got back to the hostel, we saw a little sign that said "Uruguay is an hour ahead of Argentina". Glad we found that out sooner rather than later!

Observations...

  • Motorbikes, minivans, mini trucks and 4wd bikes galore.
  • Inflatable toilet seat. But, hey, it works.
  • Pedestrian crossings work in Colonia (unlike in Argentina!)
  • First caravan sighting.

Day Thirteen - Colonia, Uruguay

We started the day with a walking tour of the barrio historico in Colonia, which is the main attraction. The Portuguese built there in the late 18th C. Lots of little brick houses and cobbled streets.

Walked down to the shopping mall. It´s nothing compared to Albany Westfield, but I guess it´s pretty fancy for a small seaside town in Uruguay!

Headed out for an early dinner and came across a big police parade. Not exactly sure what they were all doing, but it looked impressive! We went to La Drugstore for dinner and ate in a vintage car on the road. Very quirky! Lots of people laughed when they walked past us! We paid for dinner with our US dollars, which are very widely accepted in Colonia. You can pay with US dollars, Argentine pesos or Uruguayan pesos.

Observations...

  • People queue up at the banks. Like, 80 people were queued there.
  • People don´t like giving you change here.
  • Most things you buy are made in the country you´re in.
  • We had a cutlery charge for dinner. What?!

Day Fourteen - Colonia, Uruguay

A very hot day in Colonia today. We headed down to Thrifty rentals and hired two bicycles for the day. The bikes were a bit rickety, but not too bad. No helmets - no one wears helmets in Colonia!

We biked out along the coast to Plaze de Torres, which is an old bullring. It´s pretty huge!

Biked back along the coast and stopped at a restaurant for lunch - we were the only people there.

On our bike ride back through town, we passed the lighthouse we had seen the day before, and this time it was open, so we went up and saw the great view from the top.

We had a barbecue at our hostel for dinner. Huge slabs of meat, chorizos and salads. Met a few other travellers from the hostel - notably an Austrian guy who seemed to be travelling aimlessly for eight months and all we´d seen him do was watch sports on TV at the hostel!

Observations...

  • They watch soccer 24-7.
  • There are so many bugs in Colonia.
  • There doesn´t seem to be any road rules. Hey, suits us... on our bikes!
  • Police here look very friendly, but can´t say we´ve made conversation...