I landed in Buenos Aires at around 8am local time (two hours ahead of Chicago) and made it through customs by about 9. After taking a shuttle downtown from the airport, I walked about two miles to my hostel (in retrospect, a cab would have been nice). I arrived at Milhouse Hostel around 11am. After three hours in Argentina, here were the first five things I noticed:
1) It’s winter (I knew this already, but it’s odd that the trees have no leaves in August).
2) Graffiti is EVERYWHERE.
3) People do not pull over for emergency vehicles.
4) There are no modern-looking buildings. Yes, many look European, but in general the exterior of the buildings look, well, different.
5) Everyone I speak to in Spanish responds in English (and for now, that’s okay with me).
Given that I had a few hours before I could check into my room, I went to grab a bite to eat. The next few jetlagged hours were a blur: Checked into my room around 1:30pm and slept for four hours. Showered and met Gea, Cat, and Michael from Holland, Ireland, and South Africa respectively. Never ate dinner. Had a few drinks at my hostel before going to a party at another hostel. Left the party at 2am to go to a hip-hop club called Lost. Took a cab home and got back around five. Hilarity ensued.
After a late breakfast (lunch), I walked around Puerto Madero with Michael till 2:30ish. Despite the many people that insist traveling alone is liberating, I was frustrated that after my first day the only people I could really talk to were other travelers fluent in English. (On a different note, I asked a German who was on the tail end of his three-month South American tour about his success meeting Argentine women. He told me every girl he hooked up during his backpacking adventure was from Europe.)
Jake showed up around 7:45pm and checked into the hostel. Shortly after we finished dinner around midnight, the food and wine hit us (mostly the wine) and our desire to sleep became a top priority. Neither of us felt motivated to experience the world-famous nightlife in Buenos Aires at every opportunity that presented itself, so we crashed.
After we checked out we set our sights on eating some authentic Argentine breakfast. In Buenos Aires, this translates to Italian coffee and Mexican churros at a place called Cafe Tortoni. We stumbled across Plaza de Mayo (pronounced “my-sho” in Castellano, the Argentine Spanish dialect) and into the Casa Rosada. It took us a good half hour once we went inside to realize that it is the Argentine version of the White House in the US. Afterward, we wandered around the ecological reserve along the coast while we waited for Jake’s friends to let us know what to do next. It just so happens that when he was a junior, Jake’s high school hosted ten students from an Argentine town called Tandil a few hours south of BA. Many of them now live in the country’s largest city to attend university, and were happy to reunite with their old friend.
To be honest, I don’t remember their real names, but their nicknames are as follows: Juli, Merci, Pachi, Vicki, and Maura. We took the subway to Juli and Merci’s apartment where we met them and walked to our rental apartment. For only five dollars more than we paid at the hostel, we got a fully furnished apartment with a private bathroom in the nicest neighborhood in BA. Not bad. The six of us went to Palermo Soho, another one of the hippest and nicest neighborhoods in the city, for tea around 6pm. Teatime is how this city of night owls is able to eat dinner between nine and midnight, and it consists of a snack almost identical to breakfast. Since all of us are college students we were more than willing to cook a cheap meal for dinner, Argentine-style, which consisted of empanadas with cheese, onions, ham, and peppers. They were fantastic. After a failed attempt to go out due to the holiday on Monday (called San Martin), we all parted ways for the evening around 3am.