Spanish classes, Tango shows and amazing food.
Well week one of BA was full of fine dining, breaking rest and site seeing as Harsh mentioned. It was also primarily spent in Palermo. In fact this should have been our final days of the trip. However as we had relaxed for an extra week in Ipanema before we decided to extend the trip by a week in BA to do the city justice before we left.
Staying in the City Centre
We thought it would be nice to see a different aspect to living in BA and moved hostels a few times to experience different suburbs. Immediately after Palermo we moved into the town centre in week two and stayed at millhouse ave. A hip hostel that came recommended from a few friends along the way. Whilst the lay out of this place was grand, clean interior, large common areas and nightly events, the place lacked the warmth of tango backpackers in Palermo. It did not help that when we first moved into the room which was a 6 bed dorm, the top bunks that we had been assigned was detached from the wall. I did not fancy myself staying safely horizontal after a night on the piss so we decided to invest in a private room instead. I think this was a good decision as it was an amazing room and we did not have to contend with noisy twenteens. Speaking of noisy, we did manage to satisfy our curiosity of attending the hostels self promoted Monday night jam sessions. Whilst this displayed the singing prowess of fellow travelers we quickly realised we felt far more at home at a hostel that appreciated full bodied Malbecs over Heinekens.
Apart from checking out the hostel Jam Session we also attended one of BA's Monday night institutions. Konex, an outdoor venue that was filled with travelers and local students whom were entranced to the pulsating percussion rhythms of drum group lo Bomba. We bumped into friends we had met in Palermo, Dejan a Serbian born Swiss resident and his friend Milan whom we refer to as "The chef" as we had once seen him cook up a storm on the hostel rooftop BBQ. These two were also trying out some basic Spanish whilst in Ba and thoroughly recommended "Native tuition" to the both us. We had been meaning to try Spanish classes all trip and whilst the final week of our trip seemed an odd time to start we could not resist having on our CV -Studied Spanish in Argentina.
So on the Tuesday Morning after checking out of Milhouse we made our way to Moreno street and were greeted by a tall sultry, long haired Latin beauty, Julia who introduce herself in espanol. I was quickly beginning to realise why the Chef and Dejan had thoroughly recommended this school. " Miss I did not do my homework I deserve to be spanked". Ok let me stop day dreaming and tell you more about our lessons. We were lead up by Julia to room 1c where we were introduced to Mariella the school's owner, who was going to be our teacher-Damn I thought to my self "we don’t get Julia- Faked out again. Jokes aside Mariella was great, spoke fluent English and was really patient with our poor command of the Spanish dialect and our initial penny crunching hard ball negotiation tactics to get a two for one deal. In week two of BA with attended about five classes totally twelve hours. We still struggle to speak with any confidence but we have definitely become more confident understanding the numbers and basic verbs. The great thing about our package is we secured 30 hours which the remaining hours are to be completed via Skype on-line when we get back to Oz with the online specialist teacher Noelia.
As mentioned before we wanted to try out a few different locations whilst in BA. Immediately after Milhouse we decided to give San Telmo, the inner city suburb famous for it strong Tango roots. We stayed at the hostel Inn which was affiliated with Tango Backpackers in Palermo and was more our chilled out style than Millhouse. We were lucky to be placed into an unoccupied four bed dorm for three of our four nights we stayed here. This meant we basically got a private room for the price of dorm. San Telmo as I said was famous for its Tango and also its Antique market which we missed last Sunday. To be honest we expected to walk down to the town square and be bombarded with Tango dancers but the town was pretty dead during the weekdays and even nights. I think it was due to low season. This was a bit disappointing at first but the hostel was in a good spot to commute to our Spanish lessons and explore the city centre during the day. We did manage to see the place liven up when we attended the Sunday craft market though. This was good but hey we are in BA where is the Tango? I here you say.
We did manage to attend two very different Tango experiences when we stayed at San telmo; a non tourist underground tango venue and a tasteful but upscale show.
The non touristy show was very low key, only a handful of couples and a four piece orchestra. We were told in now uncertain terms by the Local bar owner that this place had know one like us and it was where the portenos went to enjoy tango. What the place lacked in quantity it made up for in quality as we saw some amazing exponents of the dance of love here whilst we sipped on a Malbec and hammered a pizza. After seeing this no frills venue we were ready to see a more elaborate tango experience and got this the next night at a venue called Complejo tango.
This was not in San Telmo but we were picked up from our hotel and taken to a place about 5 minutes from Congresso station. The evening started with a 45 minute tango lesson for the group of 8. We learnt some basic steps and were unexpectedly granted a certificate at the end of the session when we were escorted to the dinner venue upstairs. Much to our liking the place was very intimate each table was close to the stage much like a cabaret venue. We were treated to amazing Malbec Wine all night and the meal included entre, Main and dessert. To our surprise the food was extremely tasty, fish for Shetty and the old faithful steak for me. At exactly 10pm the show began just as our white chocolate mousse and warm chocolate cake was being served. Talk about intimate, the dancers and singers performed literally on our laps. After two bottles of Malbec even my usually reserved self could not help jumping out of my seat and attempting to tame the lead female tango dancer, Shetty not to be outdone followed suit and was eager to put into practice her recently acquired "ocho's" with the handsome male lead. The entire show was spectacular, from the pick up and lessons to the meals, choreography and offcourse the never ending bottles of Malbec.
Whilst in San Telmo we also managed visit nearby La Boca famous for its coloured art houses, street markets and Soccer team Boca juniors.
We made it to La Boca twice and were met with a very touristy vibe packed with touts trying to pull us in to their restaurants which had mediocre tango displays. The touts were well versed in the clientele’s culture and referred to us as Shuruk and Kajol when we approached. Despite the usual tourist trappings the place did have a festive atmosphere and was filled with a good vibe and great souvenirs. We even finally managed to purchase the "Buenos Fu$king Aires" top that had alluded us the whole trip. Unfortunately we chose the wrong restaurant due to an attractive tango display and got the worst meal of our stay at BA and maybe even SA. A salt infested smoked deer, who the touts stressed was in the sheep family when harsh expressed she did not eat beef.
Back at Palermo and enjoying the asado's
After our stint in the Centro and San telmo we were ready to end our trip in the Place we most liked in BA, Palermo. So we lugged the backpacks for one last time through the subway and checked back into Tango Backpackers. It felt like home seeing dejan, The Chef and our non stop talking French friend Igor in the reception. We even managed to get our old room back.
These final four days were spent simply doing the things we loved and wanted to do in BA. This included attended more Spanish classes, visiting the recolleta cemetery and offcourse enjoying the nightlife and eating till we burst.
The cemetery had to be seen to be believed, BA's elite from artists to filthy rich and famous politicians were laid to rest here in marble and granted monuments as large as mini chapels. The highlight was seeing Eva Peron(evita's grave) judging by the loads of bouquets and well wishes in front of grave it seemed the whole of Argentina had avoided advice and definitely cried for her. Okay enough of the morbid setting back to some more lively action.
I have to mention one night spent going out with Harsh and Dejan our Serbian friend. Dejan invited us to girl’s place that he had met on couch surfing for some drinks with friends, thinking it would be a mixed crowd we attended. Much to mine and Dejan delight and Harsh's dismay we were greeted at the posh apartment by no fewer than 13 Argentine female college students. As Arnie would say "Imagine the pleasure"
Speaking of Pleasure we just had to revisit La Cabrera our favourite steakhouse again and gauge on the amazing grilled meats, Bife de Ojo for me and Juicy pork for shetty. Offcourse washed done with our favorite drop and an encore performance of the warm chocolate lava cake. This time shetty was quick to pounce on the cream. As our British friend faizal would say in his eloquent accent "it was absolutely beautiful".
We also got to try BA's all you can eat venues tenedor libre like the one we experienced in Mendoza. We had two very deferent experiences. The First was a very cheap $8aud PP venue which was tasteless and not worth another line. The second one we were in gastronomical heaven. A herd of succulent cattle erected alongside each other on a coal filled asado, a separate cooking station for the following; Ocean catches, wok fried Asian specialties, authentic pasta and wood fire pizza, freshly prepared sushi, made to order French Crepes, along with a buffet of salads and Desserts. All these for only $18AUD PP, luckily we had to walk about 7 blocks back to the hostel to get us back to a more normal digestive state. The feeling of bloatedness did not prevent us from trying this place on our last night here again, the juicy lamb, pork and beef was just too hard to resist. Damn we have to go back to OZ tomorrow and would have to pay about $75Aud for an equivalent buffet in Melbourne
Our final day here in BA is fittingly pouring with rain; I guess it will put us in readiness for Cold Melbourne. We spent it doing some last minute shopping, sipping on yet another beautifully presented layered cappuccino. Then making a rushed run to the international terminal.
As I write this both of us have mixed feelings of sadness and excitement. Three life changing months and it has finally come to and end, Good Bye South America. Next stop Melbourne. Can’t wait for a chicken curry at Browns Rd.