Time to start up the blog again, albeit a bit late! So we finished our CELTA course which took place over 4 weeks in Belgrano, a very nice district of Buenos Aires, and involved a lot of blood sweat and tears! We still had time for a bit of fun with our coursemates, one of whom we lived with in Casa Diego (named in honour of Diego, our friendly landlord (complete with granny, aunty and dog!), our delightful bedsit! Anyway, now that we are fully qualified teachers we thought we’d take the opportunity to get back on the road and do some travelling until we finally run out of money and are forced into looking for a job!
We started off by looking around the city we’d been living in for the past month but hadn’t actually seen much of due to our spending every waking minute planning lessons or writing essays. The last evening of our course we all went out and celebrated at Anna’s flat which meant that the first day of freedom was not as productive as it could have been, although we did eventually drag ourselves to the city centre for a look around Plaza de Mayo and then on to La Boca district – once we’d found some change for the bus, which you’d think would be fairly easy, but not in Buenos Aires because there is a severe change shortage and no one wants to give theirs up so they have change for the bus!! Anyway, eventually we made it after convincing some maxi-kiosco owners to part with a few pesos worth of coins! We started off our tour of the “dangerous” neighbourhood at the famous Boca Juniors football stadium, La Bombonera, which was quite exciting for me, less so for Kirstie and Ellie! Next stop was the heart of the district (well the tourist bit anyway) with all the coloured houses, tango dancers, cafes and the usual accompaniment of people trying to sell you just about anything they can think of – there was even Maradona’s ‘twin’ who was posing for photos! Had a nice wander round in the sunshine and took lots of pictures of the colourful houses and sat down for a beer to watch some tango dancing. Finished up with a nice stroll along the waterfront before finding our bus home (again not as simple as it should have been!). No sign of any of the ‘dangerous’ neighbourhood it’s supposed to be, although i’m sure its not advisable to wander out of the main tourist areas.
The next day we decided to make the most of our last day in Buenos Aires and head out early to Recoleta Cemetery, the Argentine equivalent of Pere LaChaise in Paris and the resting place of Evita among plenty of other famous Argentinians (most of whom we know because the metro stops and roads are named after them, but have know idea what they are famous for!). The graves were amazing, like mini houses, and some of the richer people even had statues and special plaques! Spent about an hour wandering round admiring the crypts and wondering who everyone was before it started to get too hot so we made our way back through Recoleta to find a bus (we remembered our change today) down to Puerto Madero to meet Matt and Kirstie for lunch. BA’s answer to the London Docklands, Puerto Madero is a really nice harbour area which has been renovated into lots of nice cafes and bars and makes a really nice relaxing afternoon stroll along the waterfront, where there is also a bit of a breeze so its not unbearably hot. Once we’d walked the length of the waterfront we made our way into San Telmo, the hippy district, where the Sunday street markets and entertainment were in full flow. Mainly just a collection of junk and antiques which kept Ellie happy, although the Tango dancers and Brazilian drumming band were also pretty cool. After a quick look round the market we spent most of the afternoon sitting in the shade drinking beer and watching the world go by, which is a great past-time in Buenos Aires! We finished off the day with a farewell meal with all our coursemates in Palermo at a Parilla (steakhouse), where we finally got some really decent Argentinean steak! Packed up our grotty bedsit and said goodbye to Buenos Aires, quite sad as it really is a beautiful place and we’ve made some great friends, both local and gringos, so hopefully we’ll be back one day soon…. but for now, time to get back on the open road!
A few things we thought we should add about Buenos Aires: The portenos (BA locals) are very friendly (and everywhere else in Argentina), the ice cream is amazing, some of the colonial architechture is easily as good as in Paris or Barcelona or anywhere else, the people talk very fast, everybody has a dog but everybody also has a tiny flat and has to employ someone to walk their dog during the day, the dog-walkers are awesome – unemployed people who have a group of dogs to walk, sometimes up to 20 dogs! there is a LOT of dog poo on the pavements, the bus and metro system is great and very extensive and easy to use once you get your head round it (as long as you have the correct change, otherwise its a nightmare), the parillas are awesome (as they are everywhere else we’ve been so far), the nightlife is great fun – although nothing starts until after midnight at the earliest, apparently the milongas (tango dances) are great – but we haven’t made it to one yet. All in all its a great city and we’d love to go back and work there one day!
(for anyone interested in doing a CELTA course, we’d highly recommend International House http://www.international-house.com.ar – very professional and great fun)