Posts Tagged ‘sightseeing’

Tangueras in tow

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

I am still here. Despite the evidence to the contrary in the form of no updates for three weeks. I have been stupidly busy running around with two visiting tangueras in tow.

A couple of tanguera friends arrived from the UK two weeks ago. They knew some of what to expect but could really use a guide to facilitate their visit and make it as satisfying and rewarding as possible.

They blitzed Comme il Faut not once, not twice, but three times. They drank champagne and ate medialunas and facturas, steak, pizza and pasta, and ice cream. They watched a tango show. They danced at a milonga every night except the night of the show. But they made up for missing that night with a matinee milonga on their last day. They tried traditional, tourist and informal milongas. They rode the open top city tour bus, wandered around the Botanic Garden and visited Eva Peron’s tomb in Recoleta cemetry. They took group classes and private lessons. They shopped in the markets at San Telmo and Feria de Mataderos. They admired the gauchos and their amazing display of horsemanship and skill, and the folk dancers at Feria de Mataderos. They soaked up the atmosphere at El Ateneo and appreciated the ceiling at Galerias Santa Fe. They visited Caminito, had hot chocolate and churros, saw the Palermo flower. They avoided the dog poo and potholes when they walked the Buenos Aires pavements. They rode the subte, colectivos and taxis, and hoarded their monedas. They took afternoon tea at Cafe Tortoni. They shopped for tango outfits. One bought a stunning silver/grey dress and wore it while competing in the salon category of the Mundial de Baile. They enjoyed sunny weather and on a couple of days highs of 25 degrees.

Finally, exhausted but very happy, they were whisked away by taxi for their return flight to the UK. When they come back to Buenos Aires next year they will come for longer and take things a little slower.

After I waved them off I returned home totally cream crackered and slept for half the day. Now I’m catching up on three weeks worth of unanswered emails, photos that need sorting and a neglected blog. There are photos of some of our exploits in my Flickr photostream. When I finish getting them organised there will be separate sets for Feria de Matderos, the Mundial etc.

First confirmed sighting

Friday, July 16th, 2010

It’s official. Sallycat‘s fabulous Happy Tango guide book has been seen in the wild.

My copy ordered from hasn’t been delivered yet, and even when it is, I won’t actually get my hands on it until at least October. So how do I know it’s fabulous?

Because I was privileged to be one of the beta readers back in December 2009 and I have been living my Buenos Aires dream for the last 3 months based largely on what I learned from the book, and before that from Sallycat’s blog.

If you’re thiCover photo from Sallycat's book Happy Tangonking about coming to Buenos Aires to tango, or if you’ve already booked your tickets, be sure to get a copy of Happy Tango before you leave for the airport. The sooner you get one the better. Already got a Lonely Planet or other guide book? Don’t have room in your case for a second? Chuck the one you’ve already got and bring Happy Tango instead. It really is that good.

Colonia del Sacramento

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

It’s hard to believe but I’ve been in Buenos Aires 3 months already. When tourists arrive here they are given a free 90-day visa. It can be renewed for a further 90 days by visiting the officials in Migraciones and paying $300 (Argentine pesos, not US dollars). To remain legal the alternative is to leave the country and return(which can be done on the same day).

The easiest way to leave the country and return is to take a ferry across the Rio de la Plata to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay and back again. So that’s what I did last Saturday. While virtually everyone in Buenos Aires was sat in front of their TV watching a football match I was sat on a fast catamaran listening to golden-age tango on my iPod and heading towards a few hours in Colonia.

There are 3 companies advertising crossings to Colonia and there is a choice of fast catamaran (50 minutes each way) or slow car ferry (3 hours). It’s worth comparing the deals on their websites and booking in advance. A day return ticket cost me ARG $190. All services leave from the Buquebus terminal at Darseño Norte and they share the vessels. Immigration formalities (departure from Argentina and admission to Uruguay) only took a few minutes. Boarding started about 30 minutes before the departure time and departure was a few minutes later than advertised. Not bad for a South American country whose team were playing in the World Cup. The crossing was smooth and uneventful and took about 20 minutes longer than the advertised 50 minutes.

I thought my ticket included a bus tour around Colonia but when I got there the tour people said otherwise. It wasn’t worth arguing about. The information desk had maps of the town. There’s not really a lot to see in Colonia anyway, a small historic quarter, a couple of parks, a handful of museums, a racetrack and a disused bull ring. I would have liked to see and snap a photo or two of the bull ring. It’s 5km from the port and it was hot and sunny and I had just 4 hours until the ferry returned to Buenos Aires. So I decided against walking there and back. One of the taxi drivers at the port offered me a taxi tour of the town for ARG $70 (about £13) and I couldn’t be bothered to haggle. I also couldn’t be bothered to sit in the back of a beaten-up old taxi on a hot afternoon.

After turning left out of the port I walked up Miguel Angel Odirozola to Barrio Histórico in about 10 minutes. It’s got cobbled streets, some ruined buildings, a couple of preserved buildings from the Portuguese colonial period, part of the original city walls, a drawbridge, a lighthouse and loads of restaurants. Admission to the lighthouse was ARG $3.50 and there’s a decent view from the top. Most of the restaurants around Plaza Mayor were doing lots of trade (I doubt it was brisk!) with lunch costing about UR $300-$400 per person. There’s a foreign exchange desk at the port but everywhere is happy to accept Argentinian pesos at a rate of roughly ARG $1 = UR $4, about the same as the foreign exchange desk. The bars and restaurants outside the historic quarter were cheaper.

After lunch and a couple of hours of aimless wandering it was time to head back to the port. The immigration officer wanted to see my outbound ticket stub (stamped with the admission date – probably a good thing I hadn’t thrown it away – no-one had told me I needed to keep it) and passport, and gave me another 90 day visa for Argentina. Mission accomplished!

We left Uruguay almost exactly on time with the sun just starting to set. The Rio de la Plata was as calm as a mill pond and the return crossing was even smoother than the outbound one. It was no quicker though and it was properly night time when I walked out of the Buquebus terminal. The air was heavy with despair, it was almost palpable. Everyone looked miserable and dejected. I didn’t need to ask what had happened in the football.

There are some photos from Colonia del Sacramento in this set on Flickr.