Another trip another continent, and if your going to choose a gateway into a new land you might as well make it a grand one, as one of South America´s heavyweight metropolises, Buenos Aires certainly fits the bill.
As always, leaving home before a trip is a somewhat daunting prospect, with feelings of excitement, anxiety and impatience all mashed up into a imcomprehensible ball of emotion. All of which is rapidly forgotten after a few days of exploring, that first cold beer in 25 degree heat, and the impending realisation that your already basic Spanish has been degraded over time to a level which most 8 year olds could surpass in primary school lessons.
All of this aside I can safely say that it would be hard to surpass the city of Buenos Aires as a first encounter into this vast continent. Unapolegtically classical the city´s European architecture is majestic, standing firm against the warm breezes flowing in from the South Atlantic from which the city gains it´s name.
After a day of exploring the city streets, and its protests as although it was internation womens day, the people here seem extremely politically active and engaged. I took off towards the dock area of Puerto Madero, with its boxy, maritime architecture it reminded me a little of the Albert Docks back in Liverpool, although I don’t recall ever being stranded at the docks by a tropical downpour lasting a good couple of hours. Come to think of it a good tropical downpour in Liverpool would make a nice change to the monotonous drizzle that without fail seems to begin somewhere north of Crewe and continues on to envelop Merseyside.
It was with some excitement I waited for the rain to arrive as the lightning rolled in from the east, the sudden darkness turning the new high rises of Buenos Aires into a somewhat threatening and intimidating skyline. Needless to say I was glad to have my book to hand (Haruki Murakami – 1Q84, would recommend) as the excitement dissipated and I was left wondering quite how long the storm would last.
For a carnivorous traveller I can imagine Argentina to be a culinary wonderland thanks to its open barbecue parrila’s flaming thick steaks all through the day and night. But thankfully the capital has some great vegetarian tenedor libres (similar to buffets) which I found in the hipster areas of Soho and Palermo. A good opportunity to test out the camera I had bought at Gatwick which performed surprisingly well capturing the districts street art well into the night. Hopefully the quality of photos will improve on the mediocrity of Central America where with a camera lacking a viewfinder and the screen broken, I was giving a whole new meaning to “point and shoot.”
All of which brings me to something I feel no trip to Buenos Aires should be without for any football fan, watching a game at one of the cities six teams. Fortunately it just so happened that the most famous team in the country and arguably the continent F.C Boca Juniors was playing at home against San Lorenzo, another team from Buenos Aires making the game a “classico.” After paying a hefty fee and being whisked around by seemingly every bloke aged 20-30 currently residing in the Boca neighbourhood (3, 4, 5 no wonder the commission on the ticket was so high) me and my compadre for the evening a lovely French guy called Yessi, were in.
Way up in the rafter the atmosphere was still amazing, the two clubs womens teams were playing each other before the mens match (which I think is a great idea) and the stadium was 3/4s full well over an hour before kick off. An eventful game finished 3 – 0 Boca with the tackling in the last 20 minutes less about winning the ball and more about causing considerable permanent damage to the opposing player, which was needless to say, very entertaining. With shouts of PUTA ringing around the stadium the final whistle went after 90 minutes of incredible singing, dancing and general flailing of the arms from all 50,000 spectators (interestingly no San Lorenzo fans present)
After a few drinks back in microcentro that was the Buenos Aires chapter closed, possibly I will have to return in a convulouted way somewhere between Uruguay/Brazil/Paraguay but who knows.