Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Buenos Aires and New Years

Buenos Aires: an incredible multicultural city full of life and a pleasant surprise as we normally don’t like huge cities. Luckily, Harry had an old school friend, Niccolo, who was living in BA when we arrived and we were shown around all the hot spots, beautiful parks and how to make real empanadas! If I could describe BA in one word it would probably be empanadas... or mate... ok, empanadas AND mate!

The waterfront by the pier, Buenos Aires
The bus ride to BA was a nightmare! We (mistakenly) went with the bus company Expresso Singer (P525 for semi-cama) which was supposed to depart Puerto de Iguazu at 5.45pm but it was delayed until 9.00pm!
We continued to ask when it would be arriving and they constantly lied by saying “in 30mins”. After 3 ½ hours sitting on our backpacks waiting for the bus, we were extremely annoyed when no one apologized when the bus finally turned up! Plus my veggie meal was not entered into the system AGAIN! Useless company! What was meant to be a 16h bus ride ended up taking 22h! Not impressed!
After quick travelling from Cafayate to the Iguazu Falls to BA, it was nice to be able to stay at Niccolo’s flat and just see BA from a residents point of view rather than tourists’. We didn’t actually do much, more just walk around the city, see some beautiful sights such as the parks and pier and cook food... A LOT of food...again!
Reunion of two old school friends
One of the many beautiful parks in BA
Harry got a bit obsessed making empanadas which are basically, pastry with whatever filling you like and they are cheap and fun to make.
Home-made empanadas
Another obsession (probably more an addiction) was the drinking of mate, herbs in boiling water drunk through a straw in the core of a vegetable such as a butternut squash. It’s basically like drinking loose leaf tea except it gets you hooked (but it is not drugs... at least that’s what we were it wasn’t! I think.)
Harry breaking in his new mate cup
There a whole culture behind it. Nearly everyone in Argentina is walking around with their mate cup and a flask of hot water. People sit out in parks and drink a full cup and then pass it back to the person who pours the water who then hands it to the next person. Important rule: you only say ‘gracias’ when that cup will be your last, otherwise you just take it, no ‘gracias’. Weird but its universally known. Glad we had Niccolo as our guide.
We went to an amazing all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant one evening called Brasas Argentinas on the waterfront  (P90 ) and the food was superior to any other buffet we had tried! There was a huge variety of food types such as a sushi bar, salad bar, BBQ, pastas, grill etc. Immense, why did we keep eating like we would never be fed again, I don’t know!

The glorious buffet at Brasas Argentinas, look at the Santa
made of butter in the corner!
For New Years Even, we met up with our friend Nicoloas who we met in Parrot's Diver Centre in Utila for scuba diving who invited us to his families country house outside BA where we got to enjoy an Argentinian BBQ and sing-along by the bonfire at mid-night. Again, far too much food and wine but we just loved making excuses to do so (“hey, its New Years...”).
Brief reunion of the Parrot divers
Harry jammin' away by the bonfire
We were warmly greeted by Nicolas’ family who were absolutely lovely and great laugh, especially Nicolas’ baby parrot which hilarious looked like a cross between a bare chicken leg and a small dinosaur!
It looks like a baby pterodactyl 
We headed back to Argentina for a couple more days before we set off all the way across the country to Mendoza in the west for, yup, more wine tasting!

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