We were dreading entering the city. The GPS wasn’t working anymore, so we couldn’t rely on that, and the map we had as a back up had next to no detail of the city centre. Fortunately, the Gods were smiling on us that day, and we didn’t miss a beat. We rode straight into the city centre, into the oldest part of the city, San Telmo, and directly to our hostel.
We persuaded the staff to let us park Garth in the reception, at the end of the breakfast table and moved into our dorm. The hostel was really well decorated with funky pieces of art, stacks of broken old television sets, and interesting displays of retro telephones and typewriters. The staff were friendly and helpful, but the place was hot, noisy and uncomfortable. The sounds of people talking in the common areas downstairs echoed through the hallways, and were amplified by the windows. Busses passed by in the narrow streets outside the window all through the night, and we barely slept. The next day we looked but couldn’t find another hostel where we could park the bike. So we decided to stay put and deal with it as best we could. We went and looked up our old mate Adrian, who had recently moved to Buenos Aires from Baja, Mexico. Adrian had apparently landed on his feet. He invited us round to his pad, a fantastic top floor apartment overlooking the Market, and introduced us to some of his friends from the city. We ate too much delicious Argentine meat, drank too much wine, and thoroughly enjoyed an evening catching up with our old mate. You meet so many people travelling that it’s hard to keep up, but spending time with old mates from home is just something else. To talk with someone with whom you have history, common friends, and shared experiences are such a breath of fresh air.
We spent the next few days wondering the picturesque streets of San Telmo, the oldest district of Buenos Aires, watching street Tango shows, listening to music and checking out the numerous antiques and market stalls.
Our long lost French pal from Cali, Alain was in town having to bring his bike trip to a halt after he blew up his engine, and together we went to visit the colourful La Boca area .
The single square block was awash with bright colours and even more colourful characters, but if you walked one block too far, you really know you were in the wrong side of town. The change was dramatic. One minute we were surrounded by gringos pointing cameras at the lovingly restored old buildings, then there were just small groups of rather threatening looking tamps and addicts. We turned around and went back to the more tourist friendly streets of La Boca, sat down in a restaurant for a plate of Bife de Chorizo, a typical Argentine steak, and watched the world go by.
We returned to San Telmo and met up once more with Adrian and some more of his Argentine friends and went out for more meat at Dos Niveles, a classic San Telmo eatery. The place was packed with diners getting stuck into various cuts of prime Argentine beef. The food was delicious and very reasonable. One of the things we loved about Argentina was that, unlike its neighbours, it didn’t export all of it s best products to overseas markets.
Ecuador, growers of some of the world’s best coffee, exported all of it’s product abroad, forcing us to drink instant coffee –Nescafe, also known as No Es Café- at restaurants. Most of Colombia’s finest Cocaine was exported; similarly a large proportion of Chilean wine never found it’s way to Chilean wine stores. But Argentina help on to its best beef, and it was always available at low prices in butcher’s, supermarkets and restaurants. Well done Argentina.
Over the next few days, we explored more of the city, the centre and the refurbished docks at Puerto Madera.
Buenos Aires- Centro
Our friend Carlo had bumped into an Argentine Harley rider in a Buenos Aires’ BMW store, and , at his request, had passed on his e-mail address to me, saying we should get in touch on our arrival . We emailed him and arranged to meet at the Harley Davidson store in the North of the city.
We rode to the store and Luis was there to meet us. He owned and ran a small TV company that made bike shows for the Internet, and said that he wanted to talk to us about our travels. We chatted in the store for a while, and then he invited us to go to his house for some lunch. We followed him back to his house, a few minutes ride away from the shop and sat and chatted for ages. He invited us to come stay at his house whenever we wanted, and told us about a Harley rally that he and the other members of his bike club were going to in Mar Del Plata, on the coast a few hours south of Buenos Aires.
We had heard about Mar Del Plata, a popular vacation spot for Argentineans, and had been put off by the stories of packed beaches and literally millions of visitors in the holiday period from January to February. I had to work hard to persuade Jacquie to come with me, but she finally gave in.
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