And we're back in South America! One year ago, we were setting off for a new continent, like the Spanish. This time we're back to see what else this land has to offer us, also like the Spanish! Having previously crossed Peru, Bolivia and Chile off our list, we're back to add Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay to the mix. We'll hopefully see a fair bit over the next three weeks, but it's a big, big continent and so far we've barely scratched the surface.
First stop was Buenos Aires, Argentina's capital and what will be our base of operations. We'll be back here again another couple of times in the coming weeks, but for now we had three days to get a feel for the place.
Before all that, our Atlantic crossing wasn't as stress-free as we would've liked, with our one hour connection time in Frankfurt immediately cut to 30 minutes as our flight from Dublin was delayed. This meant that as soon as we touched down in Germany, it was a mad dash through the airport, corridor after corridor, made all the more dramatic by Ais' bag flying open along the way, spilling its contents across the floor. But, we made it to the gate just in time, all sweaty and dishevelled, and then... it ended up not leaving for another half hour. Oh well, some impromptu exercise at least!
Although we managed to make it from one plane to the other, we found out when we landed in Buenos Aires that our bags did not. Not the start to the holiday we were hoping for. We had most of the important things in our hand luggage, so no immediate emergencies. The only thing I could've done with was my camera. You'd think I would've learned from last year not to leave valuable items in my check-on luggage.
Frankie nooooo! It still hurts...
So, our first day in BA was a luggage free one. But on the plus side, at least we didn't have to lug heavy backpacks around with us! Admittedly, a very minor plus point...
As we were still in limbo with the luggage situation and we were just fresh from a 13 hour flight (probably the longest we've ever been on), our first day wasn't the most action packed. Though having said that, we casually strolled a good 20km in total. Buenos Aires is just a very walkable city with lots of parks and waterside greenways.
We first wandered around La Reserva Ecologica Costanera Sur, which I think means "The Ecological Reserve... of Costanera Sur". You would never believe you were in one of the world's biggest cities, and just a short walk from the main square. We walked from there to Plaza San Martin and onto Recoleta which, as it was a Saturday, was filled with market stalls and buskers, so there was a great atmosphere around the place.
Those pics are all from Ais' phone as I, of course, was cameraless.
The next morning, still no word about our bags, so off we set for yet more exercise, as we joined a walking tour of the city. We've done quite a few of these around the world, and it's always a good way to see the place and learn a bit of regional history. The weather has been ideal since we landed too, especially considering it's winter here; nothing but blue skies and warm by Irish standards.
And good news! When we arrived back at our hotel, our bags were there to greet us and I finally had my camera again. Who knows where they had been and what they had seen in the last 36 hours.
Our spirits were up and so what better way to celebrate than go to Tierra Santa - the world's first religious theme park! It's a little slice of the Middle East in South America with singing, dancing and resurrections every hour! Now that's Christianity streamlined.
What the above photos don't show you is that when the 40 foot plastic Jesus rises from the ground, he does so to an over-the-top chorus of "Hallelujah", before slowly moving from side to side, lifting his head up and down, and then descending back from wherever he came. Truly a bucket list moment. The designers of Christ the Redeemer must be kicking themselves!
I would seriously recommend Tierra Santa to anyone who is religious, and even more so to anyone who isn't at all! It was so bad that it was good! The place was pretty busy and it's hard to tell if people come here for the kitsch value and don't take it too seriously, or if everyone else was in reverent awe, and we were the only two giggling heathens!
A great day out for the whole family.
Our third and final day in Buenos Aires (for now) led us to some of the different neighbourhoods, or barrios, of the city. The first was La Boca, one of the most colourful, and notoriously, one of the most dangerous, though we had no problems here. There isn't a whole lot to see really, with just a few streets of coloured buildings, some nice graffiti, and La Bombonera, home of Boca Juniors.
It's worth the trip out, but honestly, you don't need more than an hour.
The district of Palermo was similarly arty, and in fact, the whole of Buenos Aires is truly vibrant, with colour and music everywhere you go.
And that was that for part one in Buenos Aires. The follow morning we caught a flight to Jujuy (fun trying to pronounce that at the airport!) in the northwest of Argentina, where we would be spending the next six days. We made our BA video diary there, and it was a good move as the scenery was some of the best we've encountered anywhere in the world.
I'll chat about this, and the other places in the area, in my next blog, so brace yourselves for a whole lot of pictures of colourful hills!