To The Port
My first trip organised by Nick Thomson Destinations Travel Edinburgh and first out of the city was a boat trip through the Tigre Delta. On arrival back at the hotel the previous day, I had my instructions handed to me at reception. One of the provisos of the booking was being told the night before the form of travel, the tides would determine; boat out train back or vice a versa. I knew exactly where I had to go, the departure point was the same place as the previous boat trip. I chose to use a taxi once more, the metro is fast and efficient but doesn’t cover parts of the city and in the heat it wasn’t worth arriving tired and dusty to start the day.
The vessel was bigger and much busier than the day before, some people arrived with guide, and others like myself were waiting for our guides to join us. I had by this time located my companion for this trip. I had never travelled through a river delta before and was looking forward to it. Our guide turned up and not long after we set off.
Cruising The Delta
The Tigre Delta is to the west of the city and we were soon in a large expanse of water, as we made our way towards our destination, the channels narrowed and on the banks peppered among the lush sub tropical vegetation were buildings, ranging from small huts to others far bigger. Our guide explained they were holiday homes and many were rented out. The majority had their own boats, all with outboard motors. People did live here permanently, and children were picked up on the school bus boat to take them to their classes. The delta was teeming with vibrant energy; people were all waving to each other from other boats and the shores.
Our destination was the Island of Tigre and the little village there. The plan had been to use the hop on hop off but the companion was a bit difficult and said she’d prefer to walk and it was much longer than it initially seemed. My feet were swollen and very sore but a loosening of the laces as memories of life living in the heat in Spain came to my aid.
Buying a Penguin
My first stop had been to get some water then I wandered round the market, all local produce. Again, gifts easy to obtain large wooden spoons for a friend who makes cauldrons of soup with her pupils and a box made from local hardwood “alamo” for another friend who collects boxes. I also bought my self a water jug called “pingüinos – penguins because of their shape; the lip is like a penguin beak, very typical in Argentina. Hand made in ceramic and each one was individually painted, Graciela potter and shop owner told me. She asked where I was travelling to and she gave me a hug and almost burst into tears to find out one of her pingüinos was going to Scotland. It arrived safe and sound, now part of my jug collection.
Our meeting point with our guide was at the hop on hop off bus stop, my companion was having a freaky at his none appearance as the bus was due at our stop at 2pm, then it dawned on us he was going to be on the bus. We did the full route but we had lost time because of the long walk to the market so not able to do any hopping off, though the town was bigger than initially imagined.
Return to the Future
My companion wanted to stay and explore more. A lot of places were closed and I was glad she was going. While we were waiting for the train our guide, whose names escapes me now, explained the large tiled map on the wall of the train station showing the route we had travelled though. The trip had been relaxing weaving through the delta and wandering round Tigre. The high speed commuter train catapulted us back to the 21st century as soon as we entered the carriage. It took thirty minutes to return to the city, the boat had taken over two hours and we arrived in Constitution station. I felt like I had arrived in London, the station had been built by the British who had also built most of Argentina’s railways. It was based on a design for the station in Calcutta.
My guide escorted me to the metro entrance within the station, only four metro stops from the station outside my hotel. However, when I got off I discovered I had to walk through a very long interconnecting tunnel, it was air-conditioned, but I had come to loathe these long tunnels when I lived in Madrid. I finally emerged and made my way to my room.
Art in the Evening
Tired but not daunted I had discovered that there is a very civilised timetable for art galleries and museums, many open till late 8 or 9 o’clock in the evening. Frustrated I hadn’t taken advantage of this at the weekend I had a short rest and freshen up and hailed a cab to visit the National Gallery of Art.
The first thing that struck me was you walked in got your ticket and there was no tight security check. Nice but how long will it last? It was lovely, air conditioned with seating at regular intervals. I wandered round for three hours, seeing an amazing collection of art, a Degas ballet dancer, some Argentine artists, some enormous Ming dynasty vases; it was a veritable eclectic mix. Nevertheless, I remain a sceptic regarding modern art, my personal criteria is if I think I could fling some squiggles on a canvas and flick some drops over it I don’t rate it. My subjective opinion I acknowledge. I can sit for ages looking into a picture, especially the Impressionists but “modern art” does not capture my imagination. I rested for a while in the small roof garden of the gallery overlooking the Faculty of Law.