Buenos Aires 8 Day Trip to Uruguay

I made my way for the third time to the port, again by taxi. I thought I was going to be one of the first to arrive; the BuqueBus terminal was heaving. I was on the eight o’clock departure, but it never crossed my mind about customs and passport control. Despite the long queues, we were moved through seamlessly. Border control is uber efficient with your passport being stamped twice in minutes, staff from Uruguay sat beside their Argentine colleague, the same happened on return. I was impressed; this is due to the agreements under MercoSur, the South American Trading Block.

A high-speed catamaran flies over the fifty two miles between Buenos Aires and Colonia de Sacramento, the small port I was going to visit, there are also direct daily ferries to Montevideo. The ferry had no outside deck so unable to get a breath of sea air, which I love, I visited the duty free which was groaning with customers but looking like a carbon copy of most other duty frees I had visited. I changed some Argentine pesos for Uruguayan pesos; I didn’t need to, as they accepted Argentine pesos as well as US dollar.

On arrival, we picked up a map and shown which coach to take to arrive at Colonia. I had heard about South American coaches, they cross all over the continent, they are spacious, have comfortable roomy seats and a lower leg rest. They come out from the lower half of the seat in front and do they make a difference, a novelty on arrival, much appreciated on my return.

We made our way through narrow streets and were dropped off about five minutes walk from the hop on hop off service, ticket included in the price. We had a live guide who wasn’t very good and she was also to be our guide for the walking tour also included.

What did impress me were the beaches we passed on the bus. There were hardly any people on them, vast pristine expanses to go and settle for the day. I am not a beach lover, though don’t mind the odd day to read, relax and listen to the sea, but I was in sight seeing mode.

The little town was set on a promontory, and has the distinction of being the only port on the river Plate founded by the Portuguese, the European influence very much in evidence. It had some steep inclines and many cobbled narrow lanes. Left to our devices after the walking tour, I located the lighthouse as a landmark to get my bearings. I was still finding the new world designation of blocks here, there, and every where a bit alien and not suited to my inner compass.

the lighthouse

Shadow and sunlight, views from the alley

It was a popular spot for Porteños, Buenos Aires inhabitants, to pop over for the day or weekend at the beach and to get some duty frees. Hopping off at the duty free mall was one of the most popular drop off points on the bus. Most shops were all tourist orientated especially the tempting looking cheese, which Uruguay is famed for. I was tempted but I  remembered cheese doesn’t scan well as I recalled having to empty my carry on luggage returning from a trip to Guernsey, with the islands’s goat cheese, at security in Birmingham airport.

After the walking tour, I made my way to a square with a church and found a bench to rest my feet, suffering in the heat on the hills and cobbles. A couple sat down beside me and we got chatting. they popped over regularly from Buenos Aires. Conversation got round to politics which lead to the current US president, South American opinion little different to everywhere else. They were concerned about the lemon producers, Argentina is the world’s largest producer of lemons, and Trump had banned imports; the US was their largest market. Just one of a long list of grievances, which will no doubt be one of the many negative legacies of his presidency. Once again speaking the language opened so many possibilities and I had found everyone to be very pleasant and friendly.

Time had moved on and I made my way back to the other square with the lighthouse, it was time for some food. I had a chivote, a Uruguayan fast food specialty, in ciabata style bread, the local cheese oozed over a slice of breaded steak and salad. It was enormous, quality and price a very good deal, filling an understatement. I found another row of shops saw a lot of things to buy but I didn’t want to change anymore money, then I found the ice cream shop.

Fast Food Uruguayan style

Now that’s what I call a sundae

I love ice cream, my favourite flavour classic vanilla. I don’t normally choose chocolate ice cream because I find it too cloying but they also made orange ice cream not sorbet so I went for the classic combination. I made the right choice the orange tingling and refreshing, on this hot afternoon the chocolate giving the perfect back note.

Still having time to kill I decided to use the hop on hop off once more. A different guide who was much better than the previous one, who had sounded worn and flat. I looked at the sparsely populated beaches and wished I had time for a wander but I had a ferry to catch and a bus to catch to the ferry.

I made my way back to the bus stop, wandered into the local produce shop and once more was tempted by the cheese especially after I had now eaten some, but common sense prevailed.

At the ferry terminal, I saw my Brazilian hotel mates who had also been at the Tango performance. They called me over to join them in the queue and we made our way through security and passport control. We located seats, we were all tired, we sailed out of Colonia in the sunset to arrive in the pitch black in Buenos Aires, the cities lights twinkling against the brooding summer night sky. My ticket had included drop off at the hotel. Colonia had been pleasant but I wished I had opted to visit Montevideo the capital. Another time.

Sunset over Colonia

 

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Buenos Aires 7 : It’s Not every day you kiss a gaucho.

To the Ranch                                                                                                                                             It was hard to believe I’d only been here a week as I already felt totally at home and today was to be my Argentine experience. I was going to visit a ranch to see traditional Gaucho traditions. On this occasion, I was first to be picked up. We collected people for the ranch and also for Temaiken, they were to be dropped off at the bio park first, as I had been earlier in the week.

Making Friends 

With only five left plus guide and driver, we all began chatting; there was still thirty minutes journey time to the Santa Susana the ranch or hacienda. Although remaining in the Provence of Buenos Aires, which is roughly the same size as Italy. This trip turned out to be a special day because of the lovely people I met, a couple from Holland, a couple from New York avid animal lovers and the driver and our guide Camilla and all those who lived and worked at Santa Susana. So once more a big thank you to Nick Thomson of Destinations Travel for booking me on this trip.

Trotting in the Pampas 

On arrival, we were offered fresh empanadas, the others were impressed that I had taken a cooking class, they were delicious and no one refused seconds or thirds. The first activity was a horse option, riding a horse, which I have never done and no plans to learn, so my option was taking a trip on a trap. It was rather high, climbing into the trap via the stepladder, bar running straight down the middle, it swayed side to side with every step. It was with relief that I sat down on the sideways seat. I was sole passenger on first trip and was to be joined by Eleanor and her husband George for the second. We jiggled and wobbled sitting side ways in the trap, when Eleanor saw the horses and foals she said, “as long as we didn’t see lunch.”

History in the House 

Feeling quite at home o the ranch. en casa en la hacienda.

We then wandered around, visiting the house, now a museum, seeing the kitchen, bedrooms, and communal areas and a lovely little chapel. Followed by a stroll round the gardens. Born and brought up in a hilly city,

I normally find large areas of flat land depressing but I loved the vastness of the Pampas stretching into a very distant horizon. A friend commented on a photo that I looked quite at home.

Lunch 

It was now time for lunch, similar starters to the food tour at Sunday lunch, I tried the sausage, I couldn’t handle the morcilla, the black pudding, it was too mushy for my personal taste. The beef as I had come to expect was amazing. The whole back had been barbecued then sliced into thick pieces, laid on large trays. The servers came to each one of us and we chose the piece we wanted from the tray, there was plenty of chicken as well. Dessert was crème caramel with dulce de leche, Argentina’s caramelised condensed milk.

Tango and the Rebenque 

Lunch was followed by a performance of Argentine dancing and singing including a tango routine that I thought was better than the night before. The star piece was the Gaucho with their long whip, the rebenque with balls attached, which clack together and moving so fast they are difficult to see but make an electric noise. The audience was larger than I had imagined,  there were over fifty of us for lunch as a large group of Scandinavians had also come to visit.

The Kiss 

Gauchos are famous for their horsemanship used primarily for cattle rearing. We were lead outside where we were to witness another performance of the gaucho skills; alongside the mounted horsemen were the dogs who synchronised with horse and rider. Various speed feats were performed, the last, perhaps its origin in medieval jousting was putting a lance like spear through a ring, to remove it hanging from a long line.  to remove the ring, which was then given to a female member of the audience, and kissed by the gaucho, the significance, a proposal would take place within the year. Like all the women, I got my kiss, the proposal well I’m not holding my breath.

Delight and departure 

It’s not every day you kiss a gaucho.

In the shop, I bought a beautiful colourful tapestry of a Native American woman making her way to the well, mountains in the distance. The trip was married by the news that the Dutch couple’s son had been in a car accident but before arrival in Buenos Aires they had been able to speak to him from hospital, the wonders of modern technology, they had been scheduled to fly home the next day. I have become FB friend with Camilla, Eleanor, and George. No more forays to gardens or galleries this evening, my day had been replete aa I was to be up at crack of dawn to catch my ferry to Uruguay.

 

 

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Buenos Aires 6 – Travel Agent to the Tango via the Orient.

Getting the ferry Tickets

With no trips planned, this was my shopping day and my first port of call was the Buque Bus Ferry offices to organise my day trip to Uruguay on Saturday. There were two day trips on offer, to the capital Montevideo and to a little historical port called Colonia de Sacramento, the only port founded by the Portuguese on the River Plate. Paperwork done, tickets in handbag, I had opted for Colonia, I made my way down Avenida de Corrientes till I found an entrance to Gallerias Pacificos the city’s signature shopping mall. Shoppers’ paradise, as well as shops, it included an art gallery and the Jorge Luis Borges cultural centre. I wandered round; summer sales were on including everything half price in the handbag shop. I resisted and decided to go around the whole centre before shopping. I had found the whole in the wall in front of the hotel that morning.

Shopping Mall with a Reading Room

Now this is what you call a shopping mall

I declined temptation at the make up stalls, duty-free was only a few days away but I did go into the bookshop. Stocked up on books in Spanish, I like to read in the language to keep my hand in, and a lovely selection of bookmarks, some for a friend. I took respite in the culture centre, the contrast leaving the shopping area to find seats and reading tables dotted in a Zen like atmosphere endeared me to this city even more. Flicked through my new books and photos on my phone, refreshed; the handbag shop was calling.

Almost missing the handbag shop, I had a good look and with 50% discount came away with two. I tried to find the metro station but still couldn’t get my head round the three blocks two blocks way of giving directions, laden with shopping bags, I got a taxi back to the hotel.

Oriental Calm

Japanese Garden map

Unpacking and admiring my purchases, my plan after a short rest was to tick off a location from my bucket list – the Japanese gardens. They were not to disappoint, transported to the east, through the oriental entrance gate. The gardens had been donated by the Japanese community in Argentina. Long narrow flags with oriental characters, symbols of peace, heaven, serenity etc., fluttered along one wall. The exhibition centre had a display on the Japanese Tea ceremony one of my favourite rituals despite not being a fan of tea; I love the symbolism and connection to nature. I wandered, sat and observed several times. Needless to say, I saw a cat fast asleep on a rock pushing me on a guilt trip once more. I bought a prayer, read it, then tied it to the prayer line leaving it to flutter alongside its many companions, then I hit the peace bell to finalise the ritual, now realising the origin of the beautiful sound that embraced the garden, adding to its soothing tranquillity. I do remember that north was my direction of success and I needed to buckle down with my studies. With my name crafted in Japanese, I left the garden, it closes at six p.m. my day was not over, this evening was my visit to a Tango performance.

Prayer lines

Tango

A couple from Brazil, residents at the hotel were also booked on the Tango evening. We were lead through the tourist production line, photo with the tango dancer, into the shop selling Argentine wares. Invited to sample some wine and liqueur most of my fellow travellers were put off with the in your face selling. The ticket included dinner and I opted for Patagonian trout which was lovely but did not like the potatoes neither flavour nor texture. At my table were a couple from Sweden and a mother and daughter from South Korea. We were all horrified at the $30 US price tag per photo with the dancer.

it takes two to tango

The performance was average, we were too far away to appreciate the tango steps and the show included other dances and a very non PC comedy routine, it was refreshing to hear someone not curtailed by PC sterilisation, but some of it was offensive. Most of the audience didn’t speak Spanish so not sure how much was understood. As we boarded the mini bus to take us back to our respective hotels a discussion broke out as people compared prices and there was quite a disparity. It was settled eventually, with a partial refund given by the venue.

A day well spent another trip out of the city beckoned the following morning, but a good night’s sleep was required.

 

 

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Senses of the Sea (Bilingual)

The sea fragrances seep into soul and self.
Filtering through
seaweed scented brisk breezes.
Crisp penetrating aromas
Soothing shell and spirit.

The Sea pageant dances into the horizon.
Unfolding,revealing,
bobbing buoys and boats,
shades of light, shifting sands.
Snapshots of the oceanic sky

The sea caresses slippery sand
pulling away
footprints, coating toes and soles.
Hugging and tugging at earth’s edge,
the sublime watery universe.

The sea flavours hint and seduce
Coating and crusting
lips and tongue licking
salt and delicious delicacies.
Light, tasty and morish.

The sea echoes reach the sky.
Lapping waves ripping tides.
Birds call and squawk. Horns and motors
cutting through soothing airs,
drowning in gusty gales.

The sea moods burst and bubble,
Ebbing and flowing
nested in seaweed.
Frothy highs, dipping lows
Capture, mirror
The essence of being.

The sea mind makes mystic serenity
Captivating, energising,
liquid language, whipping words,
Potent hybrid serendipity.
The compass journey,
the perpetual power of the sea.

The sea’s stories, myth, and mystery.
told and moulded,
in mariner’s rhyme.
Sea horses, sea sirens, shipwrecks,
mermaids, and albatrosses.
Standing the test of time.

Seeing the Sea from Seil Island, Mirror image Scotland

Las fragancias marinas se entran al alma u el yo.
Filtrando a través de
la brisa fresca con aroma de algas
Aromas agudos salados
concha y espíritu calmante.

El desfile del mar baila en el horizonte.
Despliegue revelador,
flotando boyas y barcos,
tonos de luz, arenas moviendo.
Instantáneas del cielo oceánico.

El mar acaricia la arena resbaladiza,
Separando, desapareciendo
huellas, de dedos y plantas de los pies.
Abrazar y tirar al borde de la tierra,
el sublime universo acuoso.

Los sabores del mar insinúan y seducen
Recubrimiento y pone costra
Labios y lengua lamiendo
sal y deliciosas delicias.
Ligero sabroso y morisco.

Los ecos del mar alcanzan al cielo.
olas relamiendo, mareas violentes.
Los pájaros llaman y graznan. Cuernos y motores
cortando los aires tranquilos,
ahogándose en ráfagas de viento.

Los estados de ánimo del mar estallan y burbujean
Refluyendo y fluyendo
Altos espumosos, bajos caídos
Espejo de captura,
la esencia del ser.

La mente marina hace serenidad mística,
Cautivante,energizante,
lenguaje líquido, palabras de azote,
oportunidad híbrida potente,
El viaje de la brújula,
el poder perpetuo del mar.

Las historias, el mito y el misterio del mar.
dicho y moldeado,
en la rima de marineros.
Caballitos de mar,sirenas marinas,naufragios,
tritones y albatros.
Pasando la prueba del tiempo.

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Buenos Aires 5 Temaiken Fascinating, Informative, and Surprising

Where was I going?

I was now half way through my holiday and my next trip was to visit a bio park called Temaiken. I had signed up for this at the hotel and wasn’t sure what it was. The hotel pick up took us to various hotels in the city once more, those of us visiting the park were given our tickets and told to be ready for pick up at 4.30pm, then pointed to the entrance. The place was heaving with families, it was summer so the children were on holiday and it dawned on me I was in some type of zoo. I groaned saying to myself, I’ll never find enough to do in six hours. I was to eat my words.

The same but different

Temaiken is massive and it does a lot of work rescuing and saving animals and birds that have been captured for the exotic pet market. I really felt I was somewhere different when I saw the South American swans, they have black heads and necks but white bodies.

Black and White Swans

The Ray family

I slowly made my way around and sat down in front of the fountain, beside a large building. Feeling refreshed from the water spray I entered the building which was the aquarium; it was huge. Built like a tunnel, things were swimming above and around you. I was taken by the ray family, never having seen such a tiny one before.

Is it a roar or a meow?

Leaving the aquarium I found a seat and checked out the map, I’d been here just over an hour and had only scratched the surface, the place was huge and so where the animal enclosures. The tigers, lions, and cheetahs had enormous spaces to roam, however all the big cats were behaving like all sensible felines; they were all fast asleep in the shade of large trees. The only large cats I saw move were the Patagonian Pumas who were jumping in and out of the caves and the pool that formed part of their enclosure. Pumas meow and don’t roar, the info board told me, cue guilt about Sophie my cat.

Puma Pond big drinking bowl

Not so Angry Birds

However, the place that fascinated me most was the aviary, not really comfortable around birds, I was impressed by the statistics of the birds they had saved, some able to return to natural habitat where possible. All their info was posted on  very large angry birds billboards at various points throughout the aviary. Although enclosed, the roof was very high so much so it could hardly be seen, it was like entering the jungle, mimicking the lush habitat that these beautiful creatures had been snatched from. It was sectioned into different world wide habitats and felt more like a greenhouse in a botanic garden than a large cage. I came across another fountain, this one you can walk through, the water showering above making a canopy from the water, I savoured the sensation of moving water. Birds were wandering around freely, but large requests asking visitors not to feed them were everywhere. There was a cocky turquoise one who had clearly adapted to his habitat and its visitors. It was no surprise that certain types of people would want such a beautiful bird as a trophy but they belong in the correct habitat.

Rescue Centre

There were several eateries in the park and I had now been here for four hours so decided to make my way to the entrance and eat at the place nearest the pick up point.   En route, I passed the rescue and recuperation centre and vet’s clinic. This held the recently rescued animals and birds that were being treated and returning to full health. A little mirikina monkey , caught my eye, she had been so injured and traumatised by being kept in a tiny cage attached by a collar, she couldn’t return to the wild but seemed happy enough in her large enclosure. Next to her was a meloro bear, brought to the park having been hit by a car, he can’t be retuned to wild like the monkey they wouldn’t survive in their natural habitat but now living symbols of what can be done to save them, but even better that these animals were left where they belong.

Unexpected Surprise

Lunch wasn’t great a chicken burger joint and not wanting to get lost, I had taken several wrong turns during the day,  I made my way back to the main entrance and sat down. It was nearly 3 o’clock. I could not believe I had spent so much time here. It was still a while to the bus but the souvenir shop called but decided to wait till my feet recovered.  At four o’clock shopping done, I left the park and met up with a woman from Bolivia waiting for same bus,  and we got chatting till the bus came. They were here with their children on holiday. I loved speaking the language and how it helped me to communicate with some lovely people. We made our way back to the city in rush hour and I was dropped in the main street near my hotel. No museums or art galleries this evening, eat at the restaurant next door they did a good meal deal and rest. Over my evening meal I reflected on my day, totally unexpected and it had brought home the horrors of animal trafficking for trophy pets but the also the better side of human nature  as the staff at Temaiken show in their daily work caring for all those in their care.

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Buenos Aires 4 Out of the City, into the Delta.

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.

On Board

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.

The path of the three river mouths

Tiger Island

 

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.

Hopping Off

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.

The Roof Garden

 

 

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Buenos Aires 3 Inspiration for a Poem

More Trips

My first Monday in Buenos Aires, a city I was falling in love with at every corner, I did two trips. A city tour in the morning, giving more opportunity to explore places I had only glimpsed from the hop on hop off and in the afternoon a small boat trip to see the city skyline form the River Plate.

First of May Square

The bus was large and roomy and we set off collecting people from various hotels, then to a meeting point where we all changed buses to our corresponding trips and set off. Our first stop was Plaza Primero do Mayo, first of May Square. It is not big, which makes the large state buildings seem even more imposing. It is home to the Casa Rosada, the Pink House, the Presidential Palace. It is pink because blood from the slaughterhouses was used to waterproof the white wash. The square also gives its name to the movement “Madres de Primero de Mayo”, Mothers of the First of May. Their symbol the white headscarf, one is painted on the stone tiles in the square amid hundreds of minute wooden crosses, each one holds a white poppy, in honour of the disappeared, los desaparecidos.  The people who went missing during the brutal military dictatorship which terrorised Argentina in the mid seventies and fell on losing the Falklands War or as the islands are known in Spanish Las Malvinas. It was a haunting moment as historical knowledge became a lasting personal impression and lead to the composition of my poem “Los Desaparecidos”, also posted in this blog and performed in The Just Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2017.

Footie

Our next stop was a place I never planned to visit. I remember when telling my brother, football fanatic, where I was going I stated I wouldn’t visit Boca Juniors Stadium. The hop on hop off passes by, this trip makes the stop. We were given the option to stay longer here or at the next stop La Boca Caminito and the markets there, by majority we opted for the second stop. Most of us got off the bus, the fans queuing up to take photos beside life size plastic models of Maradona who played for Boca and Messi in his Argentine national shirt, who didn’t. One fan of the other Bs As team River Plate, stayed on the bus refusing to step into enemy territory, Football clearly connecting to our tribal instincts. Gift shopping easy though, three Boca junior track tops were purchased for my football loving family members.

La Bombonera The Chocolate Box

La Bombonera

La Boca’s stadium is called La Bombonera, because it looks like a chocolate box. It is also painted blue and yellow. The reason for this is curious. La Boca takes its name from the mouth of the small tributary that leads into the River Plate, boca means mouth in Spanish. At the beginning of the twentieth century it was a very poor area, full of European immigrants, mainly Italian. They made their homes from scrap corrugated iron and most worked in the docks. An important industry was repainting ships and they used the leftovers to paint their homes giving the animated rainbow feel that can still be seen today. The Swedish Navy  had their ships repainted there and a large consignment of paint was left over, it was used to paint La Bombonera, hence their vibrant colours that coincide with the Swedish flag.

Lemons

The River Plate fan was fuming and cursing as every one piled on the bus with our footie souvenirs. It was only a few minutes away from La Boca Caminito. I was delighted, I had wanted to get off there, but hop on hop off logistics had made it unrealistic. A wander round more stalls and a visit to an old house now converted into museum. Here I was to learn Argentina is the world’s largest producer of lemons from the woman who was selling organic lemon products, beauty and bath and lovely lemon liqueur. The gift shopping was proving to be fun and very easy.

Meeting people

The morning had flown by and the second trip of the day was a mini cruise to observe the cityscape from the sea. A family of four from Cordoba in Argentina and myself were the only people taking up this option. However, we had to wait an hour and they invited me to join them for a quick sandwich lunch. We found seats and lots of street food vans very near where I had stopped  a few days earlier, where I had seen the statues.

River Cruise

They were a lovely family and they were thrilled that I was able to communicate in Spanish and let their son and daughter ask me questions, which I delighted in answering. Slowly we made our return back to the start point to find we were the only passengers, we had the launch to ourselves. It was lovely to enter the cool of the air-conditioned cabin and we all had a row each. Like all port cities, it is mesmerising the see-saw effect of the buildings coming and going as the vessel weaves and wanders from the shore.

Sun and Shade

Our plan had been to walk to the bus stops that had been pointed out by our guide but it was a much longer walk than seen from the comfort of a bus and we opted for taxis. The rush meant we went our separate ways and I regret not keeping in touch as the children were on Facebook. Lovely memories of lovely people.

Evening in the Woods

Having reached my hotel and not found the taxi extortionate, I decided to complete my day by visiting the Rose garden, part of the Bosques de Palermo – Palermo Woods the Multi Park Complex to the north of the city. Unfortunately, the bridge to the garden was under repair and I couldn’t see an other entrance. I wandered through the park and sat on various benches and people watched as the air began to cool as evening settled. I had forgotten my phone and the worry that I might have lost it or left in the taxi had me return to the hotel quicker than planned. My phone was there, relieved and relaxed, I popped to the little restaurant next door and opted for chicken, the beef was good but I needed a change. Plain, perfectly cooked, served simply with chips and salad. A satisfying end to a very satisfying day.

 

 

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