Today was a mixed day of just about everything. Firstly i got up early this morning because i had booked myself on a tour. I found out that the hostel does a free breakfast with giant apples, cereal, bread, tea, coffee and fruit smoothies too! I was also introduced to what i call the vegemite of Argentina “dulce de leche”. Its basically a sweet milk based spread that they use for anything including on your toast/bread. I have to check if customs will let me bring back a jar. I’m sure there will be more “dulce de leche” stories to come.
Ok back to this tour I signed up for in a moment of weakness. The hostel absolutely recommended this tour so I thought why not. I guess worst case i’ll chat to some other travellers. Well no, the worst case was it was full of non-english speaking 5 star hotel tourists (my worst arch enemy). So the tour was off to a bad start as we picked up more and more middle aged South American tourists. We got to the town of Tigre. It sits right on the river delta of the Rio Parana (which actually flows over iguazu falls which I’ll visit later in the trip). Apparently its called Tigre because some intelligent Spanish conquistador saw a tiger. What he actually saw had spots and is really a leopard and just as I had my hopes up, I was told there were no leopards here any more. I let out a sigh of disappointment, while the rest of the bus breathed a sigh of relief. We went for a short 15 minute cruise on the river to see some holiday homes and recreation clubs. I could insert a sarcastic comment here, but i won’t. My day does get better soon.
OK so off the boat and onto the rather excitedly named “tren de la costa” or the train of the coast. I thought this sounds like a nice old train and indeed the station sort of gave me that hope. An electric train which i refused to take photos of for my Dad pulled up and we were pushed onboard with 100 other tourist groups. t’m not sure where the coast was but i never saw it!
So we were all getting off at San Isidro. Yes my hopes for a great day were shattered by now. We were marched around a tourist shopping complex and told we have 30 minutes. I saw a grand cathedral and asked how do I get there. Despite this meaning I would not be shopping at the tourist shop, I was given directions to the cathedral. I walked up a slight hill to find a stunningly beautiful cathedral. Worth the visit alone until I walked back to the tourist complex and actually looked around.
It is here i found the Museo del Rugby. It wasn’t big but is was a museum dedicated to all rugby and especially Argentine rugby. Apparently San Isidro is the home to Argentine rugby and hockey, as It was too expensive to have fields in Buenos Aires, yet here just out of the cities jurisdiction, having a field for rugby or hockey was affordable and flourished. I think football was seen as a game played on the streets as well. I ended up having a great chat to an old gentleman in spanglish. He can’t wait to see the Pumas play in the new 4 nations tournament starting in 2012. He was also pleased I had heard of Patricio Noriega or as he was known in Argentina as “The Duke”. It was a shame I had to leave, he and his staff really wanted to talk to me more and ask me about rugby. If i have time before I leave to go home i will visit him again. Such a friendly person and I warned him about some Australians preferring lesser sports like “Australiano futbol”. He did also gloat, by showing me and letting me handle the ball that was from the game in 1979 when Argentina beat the wallabies for the first time.
So we were herded on the bus to be returned to Buenos Aires. They actually let the package tourists off at places to see the city…. alone without a guide. I got dropped off near the obelisco, dropped my bag in and went for a wander. I’ll need to get photos when I come back of the shopping mall here. The ceiling has a hint of sistine chapel about it. Now here is something i’m proud of. I found a subway restaurant and successfully ordered a sub in spanish. No mean feat really as in English you get asked 27 questions to make your order. Everything went well until the cashier guy spoke english to me. Just to be proud though I repeated the price in espanol. Now before you say “what are you doing eating subway in Argentina?”, I answer it with, the food and culture here is very westernised. They have a proud Spanish/Italian heritage. If you aren’t eating beef its likely to be a pizza or italian food.
OK so just to round of todays entry and work into phrase of the day that is yet to be thought of, here are some observations i noticed today. Firstly i’m sure this happens everywhere, but unless you are in a bus or a 4WD i’m guessing you wouldn’t notice that the guy driving a peuguot convertible has a fluffy dog on his lap. Yes hes a real mans man i’m guessing. Secondly, do you get annoyed by those window washers at the traffic lights? well it seems on weekends when traffic is a fraction of weekdays, the argentine window washers have taken up juggling instead. Now i’m guessing they are desperate for money, because the lights here actually go from red to red and orange and then green. that is all drivers take off on the red/orange lights because they will be green by the time they are in the intersection. i’m assuming they wait for the juggler to get off the road, but i’m not 100% sure of that.
Ok so phrase of the day is straight of the theater’s billboard nexdt door. “La bella y la bestia”, which is a well known broadway musical. I’ve kind of felt like the beast among the beautiful Buenos Aires. However at some ungodly hour tomorrow I fly south to the wonderful glacier land known as Patagonia. I will see a glacier within 24 hours 😉
Now i’ve been spoilt for internet and i don’t know if they have the internet down that way, so it may be a week or few days for my next posts. I’ll still try and do 1 per day, just you might get to read a few days at once.
adios amigos y amigas, ooh my abuelos and my tíos also.