Uneventful flight (as you want them to be) from Iguacu to BA. I was told by my hostel in BA that the domestic airport is only 5kms from hostel and the taxi should be between AR$50 and AR$80, so I collect my luggage (50 minutes wait by the carousel - must be siesta time!) and jump into a taxi who starts driving off before I asked for a price (I notice no meter), he says AR$180 which is obviously his gringo price so I ask him to stop. As my luggage is on the front seat next to him, I am careful to leave the back door open until I have collected my bag at the front before letting him go.
I walk back a few yards towards the airport and arrive by the buses. There is an air hostess who speaks English and I show her where I have to go and she chats to the bus attendant and says if I take the following bus to Pacifico, my hostel is just 4 blocks from there and the bus is AR$20. Sounds perfect to me. The only problem is that you cannot pay cash on the bus, only with a prepaid card. I obviously don't have one as I have just landed so she and the attendant suggest that I give AR$20 to another passenger who can scan me in. All fine apart from one thing. When the bus arrives I am the only one on it! The bus attendant explains my situation to the driver (a lovely Peruvian man) and he said come along for free! So I end up with my own private bus ride to the stop. I try to give him a tip but he refuses. What a lovely man!
It is midday and very hot, and my 4 blocks turned out to be more like 12! As I get off the bus and walk across the street, I notice a young guy who was sitting by the traffic light. As soon as I cross he gets up and cross too. I immediately senses that he is actually following me so I slow right down and he walks into a shop. I carry on and he's right back out again behind me. As there is no more shops but a big wall, I slow right down again and pretend to talk to a lady next to me so he has no choice but to pass me. I let him walk far and cross the road. He doesn't bother me again.
After breakfast, I go out for a walk with Olga, a young german girl from the hostel. We take the metro and visit the San Telmo area. Lovely place during the day with lots of antique/vintage shops, restaurants, etc. Lots of french cafés, we could be in any European city. I find a creperie with Breton people running it! Unfortunately we had just eaten We also get lost around La Boca area which is a little run down, you know you're lost when there are no tourists arounds Eventually take a bus (buses in BA are very complicated to understand, fortunately the people are very nice and always willing to help) and get to Florida street which is where everyone change their money at the 'blue dollar rate' as the ATM gives you terrible exchange rate. Olga had a contact there so we go to him. It's basically a newsagent stand with a tiny area at the back. So I change some dollards which I brought with me and get my pesos at 1-14 as opposed to the official 1-8.
Up late and Olga and I decide to take the free pm walking tour of the city. Our guide is very good and knowledgeable. BA has nothing left from the colonial time, everything has been wiped out and the city has been rebuilt with a clear European feel. They call it the Paris of South America. It is a real mishmash of architechtural styles. Our guide tells us that they have taken a lot of ideas from Paris but change it. For example in Paris centre no buildings are more than 4 storeys high so here they copy the style but make it taller. There is art deco, modern, renaissance all in the same street corner.
We visit the Cafe Tortoni, the oldest cafe in South America which dates back to 1958. There is a huge representation of Evita Peron on a building showing her talking to the people. Married to General Peron, she was first lady for a while and worked for many causes for women and children. She was very much loved by the people of BA and when she found out she was diognised with a terminal illness, she made a speach from the balcony of the Pink House (president house) telling the people that she would not be able to carry on working for her causes, etc. she was very moved by the reaction of the crowd who loved her so much and turned to her husband and starting crying. This is where the song 'Don't cry for me Argentina' comes from.
I wanted to see a Tango show but not one put on for tourist and just a block away from our hostel, every night there is dancing by the locals. Exactly like I do ceroc at home, you can join the classes, so we go along and learn a bit of tango.
This time we do the morning walking tour which takes us to a different area with the same guide. There are beautiful parks with huge gum trees, we see the opera house, a statue of San Martin, considered to be the father of independance for South America, a clock tower donated by the British and finish at the Recoleta cemetary which is the 2nd largest mausoleum in the world after Pierre Lachaise in Paris. Impressive, this is where all the rich and important people are burried and this is also where Evita is burried.
BA is an expensive city and I soon realise that I have not brought enough dollars for my whole trip to Argentina. I am told by some guys in the hostel that there is a site called Azimo which let's you send money from your account and converts it into pesos at a good rate and you just have to pick it up at a specific point in the city. So I decide to do this and after a very lengthy exercise not helpled by show wifi I managed to registered and do all that is need. Now I just need to collect the money, so after the end of our tour, Olga goes off to do some shopping and I get on the bus to the address where I need to collect. Very dodgy area of BA! I am lucky on the bus, I find a lady married to a french guy who explains where to get off the bus. I evenutally find this place, a kind of mini post office kiosk inside a gallery in a really dodgy area. I am collecting probably more than most of these people make in a month! I can't wait to get out of there, with my money split between my bag and money belt, I try to appear and walk more confidently than I really feel. Eventually I find the right bus and make it back to the more affluent area of Palmero where I am staying. Feww!
Olga has left this evening so I decide to go back to the dance classes round the corner on my own, tonight they do tango and cuban salsa classes, great fun!