Saturday, June 22, 2013

Buenos Aires I: Awkwardness in Argentina

I have already told you that our friends Stephan and Laura visited us in Montevideo. And of course Sebastian and I had to pay them a return visit in Buenos Aires. Because why not cross the river and see what the other side has to offer?

And so we started planning. Well.. kind of. We waited to get our bus/ferry tickets until the week before the weekend we had picked for our trip and just when we were about to go to the bus terminal and make a decision on the way of transportation, my dearest Pablo sent me the link to a website named “woow” which is like the Uruguayan equivalent to “Groupon”. You buy a promotion online, get a coupon code and with that code you can buy something for cheaper.

It just so happened that said website had a fantastic promotion: a back and forth trip to Buenos Aires for 712 Uruguayan pesos. Plus administrational fees of 130 pesos which meant an aggregated cost of 842 pesos. Which is equal to about 30€. Not bad. Well,… pretty good actually!

So we checked out the company that offered that trip and found out that they offer two different prices for the trip. One for residents and one for foreigners. Now guess which one was about 200 pesos higher! So we really weren’t sure whether or not they would let us get through with the coupon and sell us the tickets or if the fact that we are foreigners would somehow affect that purchase. We decided to go for it, because the worst that could happen was that we would have to pay the difference. And even with 200 pesos more, it would have still been a pretty good deal. 

So we bought it. And it worked. Yay, for cheap fares!

It just so happened, that the deal didn’t involve a trip via Colonia which is the more common route. Instead we went to a place with the sounding name of Carmelo which is further in on the Rio de la Plata delta. From there we took a ferry to an outskirt of Buenos Aires with the also very sounding name of Tigre and there we spontaneously decided to get our backpacks and leave the route for a bit. Mainly because it looked so pretty and the train from Tigre to the center of Buenos Aires only cost 4 Argentinian pesos (40 cents). And that was definitely an expense worthwhile because we got to see the cute little town of Tigre.

When we arrived, the town was still fast asleep...

Since I don’t do my days without breakfast, our first stop was McDonalds. Not exactly our first choice for breakfast but we didn’t find any cute café nearby so McD’s had to do. After that we explored our options and decided to go on a boat ride through the island scenery of the nearby rivers. 

Yo no soy marinero...

On said tour they explained to us what the whole island-living there looks like. Including garbage and supermarket-boats. I found it pretty interesting how they adapted all their lives around the fact that they are living on islands and completely depend on the waterways.

Now tell me that's not a cool name...

Parque de la Costa

Cool light effect caused by people buning fall leaves

Garbage boat

Island School. 
Imagine going to school by boat!

Sparkly water :)

Abandoned shipwreck

After that we explored the city some more and went to the most popular sight, the Mercado de Frutos. Said place was a market of all kinds of things, mainly Artesanía and food. But most of the stores were closed since it was winter and I guess sales are kind of slow with the lack of tourists during that season. For us it was time for lunch, so we had ourselves some Chorizos. We didn’t really explore all the little stores afterwards because to be honest, Sebastian is kind of a rushed and impatient tourist. No time for unnecessary strolling. Now there are probably more places to see in Tigre, for example the Mate museum. But we didn’t really feel like it and so after some strolling around we hopped on the next train to the city.

Caution! Beware of the creeping Tigers when crossing the street!

Meet Lola

No picknicks?! :(

Very cool tree

Repuposed: an Oldtimer as a Coffee Cart

Happy flag :)

Now that train ride was also quite interesting. By now we are used to all kinds of street artists entertaining the passengers of buses. Well here it was a train. Potato, potahto.  But on that train there were a lot more artists and at some points even whole bands. It’s also quite common to sell things on public transportation. So every now and then someone walks up to you and places his goods in your lap. And after he made his round her will come back and takes it from you unless you want to buy it. It’s just the normal means of selling small and cheap stuff. Like candy and socks. But that all is still pretty normal and we knew it from Uruguay. Now what was rare was that there are a lot more street children in Buenos Aires who of course also beg for money and food on the trains/buses/subways. And just when I turned away to look out the window, one of those kids spat in Sebastian’s face. He told me that apparently since he had his drinking bottle in his hand, some street kid wanted to have a drink. And when he said no the kid just spat at him. Rude! But then again I guess you can’t blame the kid for being thirsty.

After a while we eventually got to Retiro station where we met Stephan who came to pick us up. We then left for Pizzas and Sebastian, Laura and I continued on to Laura’s barrio, Palermo, where we strolled around for a bit before getting back to her place and taking a well-earned nap. At some point she woke us up, because we had made plans with Stephan to have dinner. I really didn’t want to get up again but then again a delicious steak was calling for me. So off we go. We ended up at a very good steak restaurant where we each got a steak that was accompanied by a salad buffet. Verrry tasty, to say the least. One might even call it “the best steak I ever had!”. And so we ate and talked German and enjoyed our company. And at some point we decided we should capture the moment on film. Well… on memory card. What’s the difference?

Que rico... Definitely the best steak I ever had!

So we contemplated whether we should ask one of the waiters or the people at the table next to ours. Since the restaurant was quite big and there was no waiter nearby, we settled on the people next to us. So that meant a woman in her best years and a much younger man. We asked ourselves (aloud) whether they were mother and son or two lovers on a date.  I think Stephan’s comment here was something like “I think they definitely got the tender-vibe going on”. Anyway, we didn’t really know and It would have been rude to ask. So instead we asked in perfect Spanish, whether one of them could take a picture of us just to find the lady replying to us in perfect native-born German, that she in fact could speak German and that she could understand all that we were talking about. Oooops!! That was kind of… Embarrassing!! And highly unlikely. I mean what’s the chance!! Luckily they didn’t seem to take it the wrong way and snapped our picture anyway. But we all resolved to be more careful with what we are saying. Lesson learned.

The hosts

The guests

Very awkward group picture...

And with that little awkward anecdote I am stopping for today since that was pretty much it for the first day of vacationing. So Laura and I went to her place to get a good night’s sleep and the guys went to Stephan’s apartment in the center. But before that we decided on a time when we would meet the following day to go for some sightseeing. Even though that kind of sort of accidentally turned out to be rather flexible… but more about that in the next blogpost. So stay tuned!

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