Explorations of the city continued….
I decided to go on a free walking tour which explored the history of Argentina, the culture of the people and discussed major historical figures. Cue mild awkwardness when we reached the Falklands memorial to commemorate all those who lost their lives during the conflict. Being only a small group of five people and myself the only English person, I had to field a fair few questions about the topic…Argentinian people strongly believe the island is theirs and are taught in school that it is one of the states of Argentina. Fortunately the tour moved on to talk about their hero San Martin, the life and times of Evita and a discussion of various historic buildings in the city…phew! Architecture wise the city has hundreds of amazing French style buildings giving the city a European feel and sense of grandeur.
Every Sunday the San telmo street market is held. The single lane streets of this district are closed off to vehicles and lined with street vendors selling art, jewellery, clothing and all sorts of nil ask inbetween. We picked up some fresh churros en route to the main square. Here, the majority of stalls are antique sellers with all sorts of crazy paraphernalia – from assorted old money, to toys, telephones, odd shoes, old sweet wrappers?! A couple performed a tango show right in the middle of the square in the sweltering heat and despite a somewhat bizarre setting managed to create a great atmosphere.
After five nights in the same hostel, I parted ways with Erica and moved to he millhouse party hostel to meet Samantha (my Aussie friend from Rio). The hostel was huge! Six storeys high with about a hundred people when full! I was stuck with seven boys for the duration of my stay n the dorm so you can imagine it didn’t smell all to pleasant! Millhouse Avenue has a sister hostel down the road and they share events between the two. We sided to head along to the other hostel for some wine and to watch the free tango lesson that was taking place….one bottle of red wine later, we got told off by the teacher for being noisy and were made to join the class as two girls had to leave. So having already missed the first half an hour of the class, our partners were unfortunately lumbered with two slightly tipsy uncoordinated partners. However, fortunately for our male counterparts – mine from Chile and Samantha’s from Brazil, the second part of the class involved rubbing our leg up and down the outside of theirs and wrapping it around them. Unsurprisingly they were quite keen to keep practicing this part of the dance. At the end of the lesson we had the humiliation of having to perform our routine one by one in front the rest of the class and the audience of other hostel guests. Thankfully having wine on board eased the embarrassment of my incompetence and went someway to helping me think I was a tango queen!
The first weekend we were at the Millhouse hostel we managed to acquire tickets to the Lullapalooza music festival held in Buenos Aires – a two day music festival featuring dance, indie and emo music as well as some random spanish bands we had never heard of. Bizarrely the festival was a dry festival because the organisers apparantly wanted it to be family friendly. Mark, one of my room mates from Ireland, took this as a challenge to attempt to smuggle in whisky. The ingenuity with which he went about it was actually pretty remarkable and very entertaining! He had bought two quarter bottles of whisky, decided he couldn’t hide them discreetly on his body, so created “the sandwich pouch” – a zip lock freezer bag full of whisky, which was put within another couple of bags and then cling filmed around his crotch area. When in place it sort of had the appearance of a bag of urine….so off he set…Apparantly had to stop the taxi en route as it started to leak, put the whisky in yet more bags and continued to the festival….he was successful in his smuggling, however took a little too much alcohol with him and ended up leaving four hours before the end and with a memory of only the first band…..Myself and Samantha just did the weekend festival dry, danced like crazy people and ate the most amazing festival food of slow cooked torn beef with guacamole and some weird root vegetable mashed into a patty with cheese inside. Highlights of the weekend were definitely Calvin Harris, Foster the People and Bastille who were all amazing and got the crowd dancing…a tough job for an entirely sober crowd. The best thing about a festival in South America?- people are short so no matter where you are in the crowd you can always see the stage and the band! Awesome!
On one of our exploration days of the city we went to the Recoletta cemetry – an amazing old cemetry filled with ornate family crypts. A picture really does speak a thousand words (see below)- one of the most beautiful but eerie places, filled with some of the rich and famous from Argentinas past. It is definitely worth a visit! And it is surrounded by lovely craft markets and choripan food stalls – yum!
Samantha and I spent the next few days exploring the city and visiting coffee shops before we parted company. I packed my bags on a Friday morning and waited at Palo Santo Hotel for the arrival of Phil and the start of my “luxury” holiday!