I got up early and went to meet Phil at the Hotel Palo Santo in the Palermo district of the city 🙂 Obviously great to be reunited with Phil but this also meant that I had the added bonus of not having to sleep in a room with nine other people and having my own bathroom…and towels! Never underestimate the joy a real towel can bring…travel towels just don’t cut it!
Both a little worse for wear…Phil from a few days of plane flights and travelling and me from an excess of wine the night before, we decided to take it easy. So we started off the trip by having a stroll around the district and visiting the “Burger Joint” – a cool little fast food place serving Mexican and Jaimacan burgers, fries and topped off with a glass of ale, what more could Phil want from the start of his trip?! That evening we wandered to a local winery for a wine and cheese tasting menu, the Argentinians definitely know how to make a good wine!
The next day we got up and had a lovely breakfast outside…consisting of three courses – yoghurt with fruit salad and granola, fresh OJ, coffee, croissants and bread with dulce de leche and jams and an omelette. This set us up for the exhausting day we had ahead! We met up with my friend Samantha and went to a district of the city called La Boca, a poorer neighbourhood in the city where artists reside and where the houses have been brightly painted, there are craft shops and tango dancers. A little touristic in nature as we’d been told, but still fun to poke around and have a bite to eat and a beer.
We all got the bus back into town and walked to a nature reserve within the city bordering the Atlantic – not so much of a nature reserve as a large park, but it was a sunny day and we had a lovely walk around it. Feet aching we made it back to the subway and Phil and I waved goodbye to Samantha as we headed back to our hotel for a free wine tasting session! Perfect start for setting us up for our evening at a tango show. We were picked up from our hotel and taken to a tango venue (Cafe de Los Angelitos) where we had amazing raised seats overlooking the stage. We were fed a three course meal with unlimited wine (dangerous as our glasses were permanently topped up), before the tango show begun at ten. The show featured a male and female singer a brilliant live band and about ten dancers performing an array of tango routines with lifts, spins and everything inbetween!
The following day we had a bit of a later start after the exhausting previous day and as I had an early birthday surprise for Phil prepared that afternoon, we could not stray too far from our area of the city. I ended up taking Phil to see the Recoletta cemetery, wander the neighbouring market and have a bite to eat. We headed back to our hotel at four ready for Phil’s surprise…
I had bought us Boca Junior football tickets! Only locals can buy the tickets and unfortunately tourists have to buy them at an extortionate price through a tourist agency and you have to “pretend” to be local. We were picked up by mini bus and dropped near to the stadium, where there was a sea of blue and yellow. In Argentina away fans are banned from watching matches due to hooliganism so the entire stadium is filled with cheering home fans. Make up, perfume and anything that could be thrown at players is confiscated at the entrance. We had designated seats in the stands and had a great view of the pitch. Huge security fences surrounded the pitch to prevent fans getting on and items being thrown, inflatable walkways were blown up and down when players needed to come in or out of the dressing rooms and armed policemen with shields protected players who were substituted or sent off. The atmosphere was better than a uk cup final and this was only the third of the league! Newspapers were torn up all over the stadium and when Boca Juniors entered, the newspaper confetti was thrown everywhere, the live fan percussion band started, flags were waved, elaborate long songs were sung, fans stood on railings waving wildly and we joined in with the celebrations! Throughout the entire match the percussion band did not stop, the fans did not stop singing various team songs and everyone was on their feet. It helped that the opposing team Estudiantes had two players sent off and that Boca Juniors won 3-0. I knew Argentinians liked football, but it was absolutely incredible – if you make it to Argentina you have to go to a football match!