The Beautiful City of Buenos Aires

The thought of having to travel 19 hours in a bus to get to Buenos Aires,felt like a waste of a few days. It was nice to be sat on the plane knowing it was less than an hours flight.

With my travel companions still in tow we arrive in Buenos Aires, a city that will become my most favourite capital city of my whole 6 month trip.

The hostel was located in Recoleta , only a 20 minute Uber ride from the airport. Voyage Recoleta Hostel is a an old 19th century 6 floor town house. It’s has a big kitchen, (perfect for cooking Christmas dinner) communal area, terrace and massive rooftop which was great for partying and getting to know the other guests.

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This would be our home for 10 days over Christmas and New year, and more importantly my birthday which was today 23rd December.

The only down side was the plug situation, in that the fittings were no compatible for any of our adapters and the hostel had run out. As you can imagine after a long journey this did not put me in the best of moods.

One hour later and £15 worse off I had found an adapter so I could charge my phone and iPad.

That evening by recommendation from Victoriano and Sebastian who had I had met in Ecuador we went to La Clotilde restaurant for steak. What a great choice it was too, great atmosphere full of locals diving into massive plates of steak and bottles or red wine.

Although I had dropped a hint about a birthday cake to the boys , I always knew they wouldn’t succeed, so instead they got me a chocolate brownie with a candle – very sweet of them. Though tonight would be my gift to them by taking them to their first ever gay club.

Let’s just say, Keno needed more dutch courage than Esteban or myself. So we walked around to find a bar that was open close to the restaurant. This was proving more difficult than we expected at 12:30am. You would have expected the city to still be alive, maybe we were in the wrong district.

Stepping out of the taxi at the club, more drinks were required before Keno would enter. Across the road there was a good looking crowd and great music coming from Avant Garten. Great outside space and really good cocktails the perfect place to get in the mood for dancing.

Finally, he was ready and we joined the queue for Crowbar, a large warehouse style club that was way to empty – meaning we were too early. A few rounds later and it starts to fill up, and I’m feeling really old.

The boys on the other hand are loving it. I go out for cigaret at the side of the club, to find another club which is playing much better music and full of guys more my type.

I soon realise that we have walked into the the wrong club, and ended up in what I would call a school disco for under 20’s, not the night I had in mind. I checked with the bouncer and true enough we should have been in Rheo Club. After some convincing and the door being kind to me and the mistake, I manage to get us into the correct club.

We danced all night finally leaving at 7am, but not before a kiss or two all round. I pulled some local hotties and both Keno and Esteban pulled a couple of girls. Leaving the boys told me that it was one of the best nights they have ever had. Result

Christmas came and went and was celebrated with the rest of the hostel and once the misty hangovers had cleared it was time to explore the city properly.

First on the list was the Recoleta Cemetery, an absolute must while in BA. Here you will find the graves of notable people like Eva Peron and other important people to Argentina, all buried in amazingly designed and sculptured tombs.

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Recoleta is a beautiful neighbourhood where the rich and elite have lived for 100’s of years. Puerto Madero is nice to visit for the day with a marina full of yachts and surrounded by bars and restaurants, very much the modern part of the city where the new money has moved to.

The Floralis Generica is a sculpture made of steel and aluminium and located in Plaza des las Naciones Unidas. The flower slowly opens at sunrise and closes again at dusk, it is just as stunning in the days sun as it is lit at night by coloured lights.

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New Years was only a few days away, but I needed to get out of the city and spend some time by the beach. My friend Darren flew in and we caught the bus 5 hours to the coast to relax in Pinamar. Along the coast there are many resorts where the locals go for holidays, they reminded me very much of the British seaside towns, just with warmer weather.

After 3 days, it was back to BA for New Years. The night started at Plaza Serrano, where we met up with Keno and Esteban, and the British boys you may remember I met back in Santa Marta in Colombia. James, Ed, and Max with the new edition Courtenay. Chris was absent due to a motorcycle accident in Medellin.

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Midnight came, with shots in our hands we welcomed in 2018. The square was packed, fireworks went off and a samba band started to play. Everyone was in the party spirit, dancing in the streets, drinking and enjoying life.

Bayside Club was our next destination, big Dj’s with few 1000 people and only 500 peso to get in, which is a bargain for NYE. Another 7am finish after lots of dancing to amazing music, with a really mixed and friendly crowd. I have to say being gay in BA is wonderful, no one cares and everyone just gets on. A wonderful city to be out and proud in.

Last day in BA and my last day with Keno and Esteban, so we saved the best till last. La Boca, an amazingly colourful area of the city by the docks. The birth place of Tango and so much of BA’s rich European history.

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La Boca was the first stop for many migrants coming from Europe. Here they would live together in large dwellings or slum like places. Italians, Spanish, Swedish so many nationalities came to Argentina and why so many today have European surnames.

I would recommend taking the La Boca walking tour for 300 pesos, and then enjoy the best ever steak sandwich at CABJ opposite the La Boca Stadium.

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It was an emotional goodbye to the Keno and Esteban after nine weeks of travelling together they were heading off to Uruguay and Brazil, while I headed further west to fly to Mendoza.

Lots of red wine drinking and some more white water rafting, zip lining and a the fantastic Cacheuta hot springs in Mendoza it was time to  say goodbye to Argentina and make the long bus journey to the border with Chile and travel to Santiago.

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Northern Argentina and the Iguazú Falls

Catching one of the very few passenger trains to still run in South America, requires some pre booking as it only runs four times a week. Two trains going north and the other two south.

Sadly we were travelling the wrong day to catch the train from Uyuni to the border town of Tupiza. Instead we opted for the early 6:30am bus, that was advertised to take 6 hours straight to the border.

What the old lady didn’t tell us when we booked it, that we would waste over an hour waiting in town no less than 2 hours away. She also fibbed about how frequent the buses run from the border into Argentina. Another 4 hour wait!!!

It turns out that you have to change busses at Tupiza and get a little shuttle bus for another 2 hours, take a taxi from the bus station to the border crossing and then get a stamp and walk across, to catch a 10 hour bus to Salta. Always so simple…

Salta is the first large city in Argentina from the border and a good place to spend a day or two to take it easy. There is a more western influence here, the population is much less indigenous compared to Bolivia.

Also the first city in South America where there appears to be a Highway Code. The city is one big grid system, with traffic lights only at the big junctions. Drivers quite happily give way to each other, it all terribly civilised.

My original itinerary would have taken me South to Rosario and then back North to the Iguazú Falls. Which would have taken days and days. Instead I found out you could go direct from Salta, or via Corrientes for a nights stop over.

Gaining back a few days, I decided that it would be nice to see another city. The thought of 22 hours travelling again was not something I wanted to do again so soon.

Corrientes is a beautiful city built in the banks of the Paraná River, old colonial buildings adorn the main squares in the centre, with a large shopping district to the East , while bars and restaurants follow the river line for quite some way.

Corrientes is known for its heat and humidity in summer months of January and February. It is also host to Argentina’s biggest carnival, where people from all around the country descend on the city for a week of parties.

Our first night we had planned to get drunk and go to a club. We actually ended up playing drinking games in the room and doing what all kids did today. Send snapchat messages of our antics. There was some hard slapping of the face and all manner of fooling around.

A normal Friday evening in Corrientes is sat with your friends on the banks of the river, with your cool box stuffed with drinks and food. While music plays out of the back of your car parked right next to you. Often competing with the car and group just a few meters away.

Toilet breaks are a short walk to the side of the river and the local shop does roaring trade in keeping the cool box full of booze. Curfew I am told is at 5am.

We decided to continue partying through to the early hours of morning and go straight to the bus station for the 7am departure to Puerto Iguazú. This did not make me the most cheery of travelling companions thats for sure.

Arriving into Puerto Iguazú after about 7 hours of sleeping and watching Suits on Netflix. I was excited to have finally made it. The town itself is pretty small and is obviously catered towards the tourists that come and visit. We stayed at the Nomads Hostel Iguazú which was a stones throw from the bus station. (250AR/£6.5 per night)

Trying to avoid the expensive mass market offering for dinner we consult trip advisor and head for Gela Guela to try out a local dish. A mound of fried beef on a plate with, chips and a variety of dipping sauces.

The following day was a leisurely start with a slightly improved hostel breakfast than the usual stale bread pancake you get. There was a real bread roll and even a cake.

It’s a short walk to the bus station to get the bus to the falls. The bus is pretty regular and easy to find and costs 150AR/£3.90. 30 minutes later and we have arrived. Tickets for adults are 500AR/£13.17, but there is the choice to take the guided tour that includes a boat to the bottom of falls for 900AR/£23.70.

We opt for the normal entry and the 4 to 5 hour walk around the three different routes that are available to see all of the falls. Since arriving in Iguazú the weather has been at best, moist. Wishing for the sun to shine, we had to contend with the clouds and humidity.

The first walk takes us along the perimeter of the river, and give us a view of the falls that just gets bigger and bigger the further we walk round.

We take every opportunity to stop for the photos and the need to cool down, I’ve not known humidity like it. Thankfully we get quite close to the bottom of one end of the falls and feel the spray cover us and cool us down.

Next we climb up the steps to a platform that crosses above the gushing water so we are now walking above the falls. We see for the first time the expanse of the massive Iguazú River that feeds these magnificent falls. It was enormous and went on for ever.

Following the footbridge across the river towards the mouth of the falls, the clouds were getting darker and rolling in quickly. Arriving at the main platform, the sight of the gigantic river just fall off the cliff into a hole as wide as the Canary Wharf Tower is tall, is mind blowing.

Having got wet by the spray, the clouds decided to pour rain down that was so heavy every last little part of my body and clothing was soaked through. It was a fun end to a fantastic day.