Argentina's metropolitan capital, Buenos Aires is often referred to as the Paris of the South and after a brief walk around the city its easy to see why. It's 14th century (built in the 19th century!) French architecture dominates what's left of the city's Spanish origins.
After another 18-hour overnight bus (this time a full cama (the bed bus!) with hot food, drinks and extra large lazy-boy style seats) we arrived in BA feeling fresh.
Unfortunately we made a school boy error and arrived with no cash. As its a capital city, we thought we could simply withdraw cash on arrival at the bus terminal for a taxi. Anyone who has been to Argentina recently will know that most cash machines now run out of cash, frequently, most often at the weekends. The ones in the (rammed) bus terminal were no different. Luckily a woman in the tourist information centre took pity on us and helped us out with a black market currency exchange. With enough Brazilian Reais exchanged for the budget sub-way, we headed off into the city.
To pay for any public transport in BA you need a blue 'Sube' card which can be purchased from any kiosk showing the symbol. We are still not sure if these are free to foreigners if you show your passport or 25 pesos (£1.25) as the woman at information told us? In any event, we paid 40 pesos for ours at the subway station kiosk - special gringo rate! The sub-way is cheap as chips though, only 40p a ride and after a few stops we were above ground again and walking to our double room in hostel 'America del Sur' in the San Telmo (nice by day, dodgy by night) (but a good hostel).
To get a better feel of the city, we decided to take the 'free' walking tour operated by the Hostel to the down town area. The walk took in the last Spanish heritage of the city, gave us a brief history of the city's origin and deposited us slap bang in the middle of the plaza de mayo area (famous for the pink presidential palace) for us to explore (George now wants to watch Evita having seen the famous balcony).
With a new found fondness of walking tours (or just scared of going it alone after the Great Rio Snatch!?) on day 3 we joined a more official tour operated by Buenosairesfreewalks for an in depth tour of the Recoleta area. Our guide (Martin) was an extremely passionate Argentinian who explained all about what was going on in his country (inflation) and what he didn't agree with (politics) and what he loved (football). He outlined things that we simply couldn't have found out about without taking the tour (I would 100% recommend it to anyone visiting BA). The tour ended at the famous cemetery, where anyone who's anyone in Argentina is buried. The cemetery (a mini village made up of small house like crypts and statues) feels more like you're wandering around an art museum (George loved it and wants a plot).
On our last day we walked around La Boca, again with our hostel crowd. The main highlight for me in La Boca is obviously the football stadium, home to Boca Juniors which quite frankly makes Elland Road look nice (Dirty Leeds!!) The rest of La Boca is streets full of colourful shack style buildings with spitting image style figures on the balconies waving ominously. It all just feels a bit tacky and like a massive tourist trap. It's really different from the palaces of Recoleta (maybe still worth doing both to see the difference?)
BA of course is the official birthplace of the Tango, La Boca in particular taking credit for its origins. George (with her new found love of Strictly) would have loved nothing more than to drag me along to a lesson but unfortunately we just didn't seem to find the time... (😁).