We Are Old – Buenos Aires, Argentina

13 Feb

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BA Has Us Now

We’ve been in BA for the better part of a week now (5 days to be exact), and this is the first time I’ve had the chance to write about our time here. Needless to say it’s been a whirlwind!

We arrived in BA about an hour earlier than expected to the Retiro bus terminal where we made our way to the subway. The walk there was a busy mix of business people, travelers, street vendors and beggars (mostly mums with small babies or toddlers) and the smell was a meld of hot garbage, citrus fruit and street meat.

The subway here is relatively easy to figure out. You can either buy a single ride ticket or the equivalent to London’s Oyster Card that you would top up as you need. There are 5 lines, so more than Toronto (I ask you which city has fewer lines than Toronto?) but far less than other cities I’ve had to navigate through.

We arrived to our hostel, Millhouse Hipo, and found that they had no record of our reservation. Finally we were told that fairly recently Millhouse opened a second hostel a few blocks away Millhouse Avenue, and were sent there with our bags in the sweat-through-your-clothes midday BA heat.

We checked in, were given our hostel bracelets, clean sheets and made our way to our room where we met our only roommate at the time, Doreen, another lone traveler from Holland. She had been at Millhouse Avenue for about a week prior to our arrival and recounted that the past week our room had gone through 2 fumigations, mattress removals, mattress replacements, and so on due to bed bugs. Great.

Out came the headlamps as we inspected the cracks and crevasses of our mattresses and pillows. No bed bugs to be found. We were all grateful that the sheets given to us were plain white as it made inspections easier.

Once we had gotten settled in we split up to explore. J.J.’s iPhone has stopped turning on or off so we set out to find the Apple store that had been suggested to us at our hostel on Santa Fe, a short bus ride to the Yorkville-like part of BA to the Recoleta neighbourhood in the south of the city.

We lined up behind the locals as it appeared that the first people to arrive at the stop were the first people to board when the bus arrived, and again public transit was easy peasy with the bus drivers and other passengers being very helpful.

We had no luck at the Apple store in getting J.J.’s iPhone repaired as they didn’t carry iPhones or do any repairs so we decided to wander around, popping in and out of stores and getting lost in hustle and bustle of the after-work crowd.

We arrived back to Millhouse after dark and had a few beers while we decided what to do that night. The boys played pool while Tal and I finally had our long-overdue video Skype date with our much-missed bestie, Clegger, and some guest appearances from her boyfriend, Jamsy.

By the time we’d signed off it was nearly 11pm and time to grab a quick poncho (hot dog) for dinner. This was a first for me but the others are seasoned vets of the poncho by now, knowing all about how they come with crushed potato chips on top.

Then it was back to our hostel for the party. Every night the Millhouse hostels alternate hosting a party in the bar where the lights go down, disco balls come out, and a DJ spins from 11pm – 2am, a warm up to the BA nightlife (we learned that the bars here don’t open until 2am).

We showed up at the party and stood by the bar to order drinks, only to realize you have to get in a huge line where you buy a ticket for the drink you want and then you move to another line where a bartender makes the drink for you, system I hope never makes its way to Canada.

Once we had our drinks (vodka Redbull – not because we love them, but because they’re the cheapest option), we started to look around. Thought #1? We are old, especially J.J. Single people in their early 20s definitely came to Millhouse to party. I’m talking spilling-drinks-all-over-the-floor party (to the point that J.J.’s flip flop actually broke because the floor was so sticky!), make-out-on-the-pool-table party (Aussies). At one point the DJ threw on a tune to run out of the DJ booth to make out with some girl staying at the hostel before hopping back in to mix in the next beat.

We partied until the lights came up at 2am, signaling that the bars were now open for business. We decided to call in a night as the effects of the overnight bus ride the night before were starting to kick in, and save up for the following night.

Historic Downtown by Day, Burlesque Shows by Night 

We got up and going around 11:30am and decided that all 4 of us would walk south of our hostel, through historic downtown, first to see Casa Rosada, BA’s presidential offices and one window of the casa in particular made famous by Evita.

There was an free photo art exhibition featuring a number of political figures taking place just inside the front gates of Casa Rosada that we wandered through.

We then walked down by the water which looks like a mixture of Toronto’s Distillery District (I know I’ve said that a few times now about places in South America), London’s Millenium Bridge and Toronto’s Concrete Jungle (Yonge and Lakeshore).

On our walk, Jonny was stopped by a local girl in her 20s and a camera crew. The girl was trying to win some sort of trip and to do so needed Jonny to serenade Tal with a love song. I won’t go into any further description as I have a video that I’ll post to Facebook soon!

We had lunch at a little café down by the water and aside from the girl taking our order having a terrible attitude, the food was good, the décor was clean, modern and cafeteria-like and the bathrooms were the nicest we’ve seen since traveling!

Next we walked further south along the edge of the Ecological Park and found an outdoor patilla selling huge sausages served between big pieces of French bread. Having just eaten, less than 15 minutes earlier, I couldn’t believe the 3 others were up for having sausages!

On the way back to our hostel we walked along Florida avenue which is a shopping district lined with a mixture of cheap and mid-range stores with a few pricier ones thrown in for good measure.

Since J.J.’s Havianos had broken the night before (they’re fake Havianas from Thailand that we call his Havianos) we had to find him a new pair, as well as a pair of close-toed shoes he could wear out to the bars. He insisted his Nike Frees would be fine – we already look old at the Millhouse parties, we don’t need to throw in the dad-look of Nike’s and jeans to the bar (sorry Dad!).

A successful afternoon of shoe shopping later, we walked back to Millhouse to cook our own dinner before getting ready for a big night out – the nightly Millhouse party and then our first BA club experience.

The pre-party was at Millhouse Hipo and we headed there around 11:30pm and did the whole line up for drink tickets thing before we could get drinks. The pre-party wasn’t as wild as the previous night’s – the DJ stuck to his booth and I didn’t see anyone on the pool table.

When the lights came up we ended up buying tickets to the trance/electronic bar, Club 69, instead of the hip hop bar. Those who know me well know that I would be and was very opposed to this group decision. Always, always, hip hop over electronic, but we were told that this was the bar to go to and so we did, despite my many, many pleas to revert to the original plan.

In spite of myself, I ended up having a really fun night. There was a burlesque show which included very scantily-clad women (especially in the derriere – you can’t even get a bikini bottom to come with covers for your bum cheeks so you can imagine a burlesque show!) as well as drag queens dressed in corsets and long tulle can-can skirts who appeared to have showered in glitter before making their appearance.

We ran into our roommate, Doreen, at the bar and offered to split a cab back to the hostel with her, but not before Tal opened her bottle of water and swung it above her head like a lasso, drenching a very unimpressed guy standing nearby.

We had the cab driver stop at Riko’s, the poncho place around the corner from Millhouse, that we’ve come to know and love, despite him never having any papas fritas (fries) even though they’re on the menu.

We rolled into bed sometime around 4:30am, as you do in BA and settled in for a restless sleep in our hot and humid dorm room of 8.


3 Responses to “We Are Old – Buenos Aires, Argentina”

  1. Erin M February 13, 2012 at 23:50 #

    Ahhh the smell of fresh garbage! brings me right back hahah…. please tell me that going to San Telmo on a Sunday is on your Agenda??? I’m oozing with jealousy over here in the -15 degree Ottawa weather! I would do anything to be walking down the (often broken) sidewalks of BsAs while air conditioners are dripping on my head if I could go shopping in Palermo or drink a mate in one of the many amazing parks in that city or eat yummy steak and drink a malbec in a crowded restaurant. ahhhhhh so very jealous and excited that you are all there to experience BsAs awesomeness!!!
    besos, E

    • kaitlinhaynes February 14, 2012 at 08:49 #

      I’m loving all of your comments, makes me feel like you’re here with us!
      Coincidentally, I have a draft waiting for photos to accompany the post all about Sunday in San Telmo so stay tuned! We also did some window shopping in Palermo yesterday – how did you know?!
      Miss you and try to join!!! xo

      • Erin Mutrie February 14, 2012 at 19:26 #

        Dios mio (Oh my god) I’m soooo celosa (jealous) of you all!!!
        Also… so awesome that you guys went to a Boca game. I never did that and regret it big time!

        keep up the blogs! You are doing an amazing job of keeping us all updated. Even though I find it super exciting to revisit places that I have travelled to through your eyes, I think I am even more excited to learn about all the places I haven’t been to that you guys are going to experience.
        Stay safe and update often!
        p.s. Happy Valentine’s Day to the four of you xoxoxo

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