Buenos Aires / Argentina

5 08 2010

Translation from Turkish to English: Alper Güner

For all the Buenos Aires photos:

http://picasaweb.google.com/gulenandmurat/BuenosAires#

28.03.2010 – Sunday

From the moment we enter the city, we understand that this city really lives!!! We walk to our hosts´ house because it is close to the port that we get off the ferry. It would normally be only half an hour´s walk but it takes 2 hours because we encounter something interesting at every corner.

It is full of street sellers because it is Sunday. We will stay at San Telmo. Center of the city, tango and the drums. We see the similar drummers that we had seen in Uruguay again. This time they are more crowded and there is someone in front of the group that is waving a huge flag. We hang with them for a while and switch to another street where we meet another group. They all come out of streets one by one. We go to the house because our backpacks become heavier.

Here we will stay with Samantha and Miguel. People call Miguel as “El Turco” because he is dark skinned 🙂 Arab origin people are usually called Turco in South America because they had come with Ottoman passports long time ago. After spending some time at home, we go out to Plaza Dorrego to see some tango. They have tango nights in this square every Sunday night. There are about 50 couples that tango. After a while, couples come aside and leave the space to some professional tango dancers. It is the first time that we see tango this beautiful and we get fascinated.

We also admire the beauty of women here. Most of them are dressed very elegant and nice. We understand that Brazil is an urban legend 🙂

We buy something to eat. Murat tries chorizos (a big and long spicy meat in bread, like hot dog) and I try pizza. It is the best in my life! The food is very cheap but we have to wait until the morning to eat more 🙂

Because I have a lot of sunburns, Samantha cuts a piece of aloe vera at home and tells me to rub my legs with its juice. When I wake up in the morning, all the pain is gone. It is a very fast solution!

29.03.2010 – Monday

The house is so peaceful and calm that we don´t feel like going out. After spending some time at home, we go out, eat a huge pizza and walk to Plaza de Mayo, which is the main square of the city with a lot of people lying around and resting.

Casa Rosada (Pink House) that we know from the movie Evita, in the balcony of which Eva Peron had a speech to the public is also here. The president´s office is in Casa Rosada and it is considered to be the zero point of all the streets in Buenos Aires (BA) and also of all the roads in Argentina.

Plaza de Mayo is also a square to host political manifestations. It is bombed by warships in the port at Eva Peron period and many people died. Still meet the mothers and symphatisans of the people kidnapped and murdered by the military coup here. On the square there are paintings of the symbol of the mothers: the head scarves.

There is a percussion and drums show in the night at Konex Cultural Center which we will attend. It is easily a few thousand people there and a significant number of tourists. We even see some faces that we recognize from Uruguay 🙂

First, some amateur bands play emprovized. Then comes the main band: La Bomba de Tiempo. Then they invite a guest band with 2 dancers. They dance very moving and we compare them to some low quality belly dancers in Turkey 🙂

At the exit, we see a lot of street sellers in front of the gates, selling pizza, sandwich, space cake. We think that the parties after the concert will be very crowded because the nightlife in Argentina does not start before 2 a.m.

30.03.2010 – Tuesday

We walk to the Obelisco from Plaza de Mayo. On the way on Avenida de Mayo is the oldest cafe in Buenos Aires: Cafe Tortoni. We have to wait a queue to get in. It is full of pictures and old photos inside, along with waiters with white towels. There are tango shows every night at the cafe´s halls. We even see photos from the days of construction of the underground of BA on the walls. The line that connects the first two stops pass underneath Cafe Tortoni.

We keep on moving on Avenida de Mayo and meet a crowded manifestation. Thousands of people are marching. In front moves a truck and there are singers on the truck. The avenue rocks with the songs. There is not even a single policeman around and everything seems to be very well organized. We walk with them to the Congresso where they gather. People are used to it since this is the place for manifestations a few times a week.

We go back home to move to our new host, Jose. He lives in Almagro and dislikes football and tango just as Samantha and Miguel.

We take a walk on Lavalle Street in the night. This is the main tourist street with tons of souvenir shops and street sellers. There are parrillada restaurants everywhere. They thrust their flyers into our hands as we walk. There is of course tango where there are tourists around. You can have your pictures taken with tango dancers if you like. All the Argentinians we meet tell that tango is not a part of the daily life and just some touristic thing now.

We feel very safe in BA. The city booms with tourists and people are very friendly.

Another thing we admire here is the wide avenues. Avenida de 9 Julio where Obelisco stands on has 20 lanes in total both ways. It is known to be the wildest street in the world. Traffic is dense but moves with order. The streets are busy at any time of the day. 11 millions people live here anyway, out of a total of 40 million Argentina population.

31.03.2010 – Wednesday

Our first stop is Puerto Madero: one of the richest neighborhood in BA. Once it was a part of the old port. Then the buildings around are restorated and rebuilt as stylish restaurants. Adding the recently erected skyscrapers, it is totally a new environment. We like the apartments and cafes around. You have to walk over bridges to enter the neighborhood. They have placed the old cranes on the bridges as decoration.

We see some guys walking 6 or 7 dogs. In fact this is their job. The maximum number of dogs to be walked is defined by law as seven but only people living in the center respects that. Later on we see 10 dogs walked at a time at other parts of the city.

Tango monument is also in Puerto Madero.

We go to Galeria Pasifico to get online. This is a shopping center with wireless connection. This is a splendid and historic building which actually you can take guided tours to visit.

We go to Plaza San Martin when done. This used to be a bull fighting arena in the 19th century but it was banned in 1819. Here is a giant statue of San Martin the Libertador. When we pass by, a guy comes and talks to us. He talks about Galatasaray and Fenerbahce and seems very happy to see us. Then he asks for contribution for Ministry of Health (!). When we reject, he gets very angry and begins talking about Armenian genocide in Spanish. We ignore him and walk away.

Then we see Teatro Cervantes and Teatro Colon. Teatro Cervantes seems magnificent but they won´t let us see inside.

We go home with Linea A of the Subte (underground). This is the oldest underground line in Southern Hemisphere and in South America. Still the old train is used on this line. This train is wooden and you can open the windows. We sit in the very front and film the journey.

01.04.2010 – Thursday

Today we will be with Jose because it is Easter holiday and he does not work. First we go the oldest underground station, Peru. In the station, there is a permanent exhibition of the photos of the construction.

We go to Recoleta. This is a real tourist´s paradise. Since the weather is fine, people are here to sunbath on the parks with their bikinis on.

We come to see Floralis Generica. This is a giant metal statue of a flower. It blooms every morning at 07.30 and shuts at 08.30 p.m., thanks to the mechanism inside. This is one of Murat´s favorite so far.

We visit the famous cemetery in Recoleta. This is the cemetery for the most recognized people in Argentina, including Eva Peron. Most of the tombs are very brilliant. The simplicity of Eva Peron´s surprises us.

Recoleta is more expensive when compared to any other neighborhoods, including icecreams. Icecream is very tasty and cheap in Argentina in general. We have icecream almost everyday. We eat ¼ kilogram of icecream everyday, because it is much cheaper than in cones 🙂

We walk to Palermo from Recoleta. On the way, we visit Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum) and Museo de Arte Popular Jose Hernandez (Popular Arts Museum). On the entry floor of the Fine Arts Museum is the European art. Upper floor is dedicated to Argentinian art. We especially like the Argentinian part. The other museum takes only 5 minutes because we can not find anything interesting.

There is a huge park in Palermo, actually consisting of many different parks: Japanese Garden, Rosedal (Rose Garden), skater´s areas, large spaces to cycle, for picnic, etc. We can walk only a small part. People are very devoted to sports. Hundreds of people are either skating, running or cycling. Now that we understand how they can remain fit even though they eat so much meat. Argentina has the highest meat consumption per person on the world, with 70 kg per person. In Turkey it is 10 kg per person and we will try to fill the gap here 🙂

Today does not seem to end. We go back home, change clothes and go out for the night. We eat a few empanadas first. Empanada is a kind of pastry, including minced meat, cheese, chicken or whatever you like and is usually very delicious. In front of the discos are hundreds of people, waiting in lines to enter, most of whom under 18. We prefer a Cuban bar. After a while we decide to wander around on the street having beer. We go to a kiosk to buy some beer. Behind the kiosk is like a bar where they play an interesting music and old guys dance in a funny fashion. We watch them a while and Jose informs that this is new fashion and is called Cumbia.

We get our beers and sit around the streets, watching crowds of youngsters. We decide to return home at 3 a.m., when it is still hundreds of people waiting in front of the discos, to enter.

On the way home we hop into a bar called Pelvis. It is a very normal bar, except that girls wearing tangas are serving.

02.04.2010 – Friday

Today we will change our host again. We will stay with Estefania at a neighborhood called Ramos Meija. Estefania lives with her family. She has two siblings and a blind dog. We are their first Couchsurfing guests and we can feel their excitement. In the night, her friends join us and we eat homemade pizzas at home. One of her friends has gone to Patagonia a few times and knows a lot but we can not get a lot of information because our Spanish is not good enough yet.

03.04.2010 – Saturday

In Argentina there are two kinds of grills, namely “Parillada” and “Asado”. This is the reason why all the streets smells like barbecue at the weekends. Since we haven’t tried before Estefania’s mother decides to make asado for us. The difference between Parillada and asado is that parillada has all kinds of meats, such as kidney, intestine, meat, sausage, etc… On the other hand Asado contains only meat, chicken and sausage (chorizos). Actually the names depend on the material used for the barbecue. Asado is made by hanging it to the vertical metal piece named Asador. Whereas Parilla is made on the plate named Parilla. Since people use at home only parilla they are used to differ the meals according to their contents.

What we eat is Asado grilled in Parilla. There are red meat, chorizos and morcilla (called also blood sausage or black pudding). We like all the meats other than Morcilla, for which you definitely need self courage. That’s why we only taste it.

Besides the meat we eat green salad and potato salad with egg. Here they use everywhere egg. Even in the sandwiches sold in the markets. I cannot eat so much egg, as the smell from my primary school times comes to my mind. However Murat eats with pleasure.

After the meal they take us to Caminito in La Boca (the district of Boca Juniors). Since La Boca is not a safe place, the parents of Estefania wait in the car and we wander around the place. Caminito is an absolute highlight for the tourists. In all the restaurants you can find a tango show and if you want you can take a photo with the dancers. Everywhere is painted in different colors. In some of the balconies of the houses there are statues of Eva, Maradona or Carlos Gardel. If you like you can also take a photo with Maradona (!). There is a man here, who is just like him. When you look at the photos of him with the real Maradona, you cannot say which one is the real one.

We take also lots of photos, watch Tango, see some stands and return to the car.

Estefania’s parents take us to the house of her boyfriend, Eric. Eric also lives with his mother and his dog, Apu. There isn’t almost a house in Argentine without a dog. Apu is a very funny dog. It makes sounds like a sea lion and it is cute and a bit old.

Eric is a student at the university and at the same time earns money by selling and buying vinyls (LP’s) from all around the world. He has some rare underground vinyls and he sells them for very nice prices. He knows Pentagram and Hazy Hill of Turkey. We give him some Pentagram songs that he does not have.

At that night we are invited to a birthday party of a friend of Estefania. There are about 20 people. They serve Pizza and empanada. The people eat only and have a talk with the guests around them. They are not enjoying the party altogether but with small groups. Anyway, we are enjoying the party and having a chat with our hosts and taste the pizzas. We are having so many pizzas since we arrived in Argentina.  They are both tasty and cheap…

04.04.2010 – Sunday

We are going to the Boca Juniors match, one of the most legendary teams and tribunes of the world. You can read about it by clicking here.

05.04.2010 – Monday

We have a calm day. At home we do some stuff in internet. Meanwhile Eric’s mother comes and cooks for us pasta with egg.
Most of the students are both working and studying here. Estefania goes to work in the mornings and then to her school. When she returns we play together drums or rather she shows us some rhythms and we try to play. In short time I succeed 🙂

At night we take Apu out. This is the first time I walk a dog.

06.04.2010 – Tuesday

It is time to change our house after staying for 3 nights by Eric. This is our 4. house in Buenos Aires. Since it is Easter, there are too many tourists and the Argentineans are on vacation. Therefore we change our house regularly.

This time we are in a neighborhood called Villa Ortuzar. Our hosts are Edgar and his family. Edgar studies engineering. We are welcomed warmly by his father as we arrive. He is a great geo-politics fan. He asks us questions about the political situation of Turkey. He is very happy that we are from Turkey and that we can answer his questions in his mind.  We can’t talk much with Edgar’s mother, since she can’t speak English. Actually we don’t see her much because she sits in her room together with her 5 dogs.

Edgar takes a short introduction journey with us. First we go to a small sandwich-kiosk. For about 50 sandwiches we pay approximately 30 Argentinean Peso !! Sandwiches are all fresh made. We go to a park and eat them.

We continue to wander around. In the near of Edgar’s house a district called Belgrano R. starts. Here is a place, where the level of income is quite high. The beauty of the houses also proves that. Almost all the embassies are here.

We do not have a plan for the night. I see a nice picture as I surf through the website of Lonely Planet. Suddenly we decide to go that place. Since the house of Carlos Gardel’s, father of tango, is in Abasto, here became a tango-center. We cannot see the dancing people as we walk in the dark. What I like the most is the houses having tango notes on their walls.

We go the shopping mall in the near. We see some people buying cinema tickets since the Argentinean independent film festival has started. I miss the Istanbul film festival. We go directly to the food court. We see there Mc Donalds Kosher.  Because of some kind of a holiday they are closed. Since it is a rare thing to see such kind of a thing, we take a picture.

At night there is the champions league game of Barcelona. Messi scores 4 goals and the whole Argentina celebrates that.  All the news canals on TV show Messi. Messi Messi Messi…

07.04.2010 – Wednesday

It’s our last days in Buenos Aires. We are not sure, whether we can see Penguins in Patagonia or not, people have different opinions. Some say “all the penguins are gone” and some say that there are millions of penguins out there. Nevertheless we decide to go to Puerto Madryn and make our way to Retiro bus station in order to buy the tickets. It is a huge place. To travel by bus is very usual in South America. There are unbelievable bus routes. It is even possible to find a bus between Lima and Puerto Madryn, even though it takes 150 hours.

All the buses to Patagonia are at the same place. It is possible to find the companies from the table at the entrance according to the destination.

We buy our ticket to Puerto Madryn. The name of the company is El Pingüino. The name is a good start for Patagonia.

At night we meet with Diego from Argentina, who is a contact of Murat due to Pirelli. He picks us up from the metro station with his wife and takes us to Palermo Soho. Palermo Soho is a beautiful place with lots of shops where you can actually feel the effect of fashion. We eat picada and drink beer. Picada is a sort of small finger-food that you eat with your drink. They bring salami, bacon, cheese, olive, chicken, etc. in large plates. I am looking forward to prepare such picadas for my friends as I go back to Turkey. It is a very nice night with Diego and his wife. We feel close to them. It is as if we spent the night with our friends in Turkey.

08.04.2010 – Thursday

The last preparations before the journey. I buy a new wind-stopper jacket; Murat is doing final stuff in internet. Little Arda has his birthday on 1st of May. We buy a T-shirt with penguins for him and send it to Turkey. As we are already in the post office we send also some cards.

At night we get on the bus and say goodbye to Buenos Aires. We loved Buenos Aires, that resembles Madrid but full of music, dance and people who know how to enjoy the life.

For all the Buenos Aires photos:

http://picasaweb.google.com/gulenandmurat/BuenosAires#

Gülen & Murat

19.05.2010

Translation from Turkish to English: Alper Güner

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