I spent 48 hours in Buenos Aires as part of my Grand Tour of South America, which also took in the Galápagos Islands, Iguazu Falls, the Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula.
After flying in from Iguazu, I was picked up by Natalia, who looked a lot better than what I expected a South American tour guide to look like! She gave me a briefing as we took the car to my hotel. I was due to go to a 'raunchy' tango show that evening, and then Natalia was going to give me a half-day walking tour of the city the following day. Unfortunately, she forgot to give me my vouchers and had to call me at the hotel later to fix the booking for the tango show...
The show itself in the Faena hotel was fantastic - although not particularly raunchy. I used to do a lot of ballroom and Latin dancing competitions at Oxford, so I was very happy to be there. It reminded me of the good old days of Day-Glo nylon shirts, flared trousers, sequins and fake tan! The choreography was spectacular, and the dancers were excellent - I had fallen in love with at least two of the women by the end of the show! The only problem came when I was waiting for my driver to pick me up. I waited outside for an hour, but he never showed up! Eventually, I asked one of the staff, only to learn that my driver had already left. Apparently, he 'couldn't find me', even though I was standing right outside the door from before he'd arrived until after he'd left. Almost unbelievable...and very frustrating. I tried the Audley 'emergency' contact number, but I had to leave a message asking someone to call me back. As it happened, my phone was on silent, so I didn't hear it ring, but I did get a text. By then, the hotel staff member had already booked a replacement car for me, but I was still rather annoyed that the duty manager didn't even say sorry!
The next day, I had breakfast in the hotel and then went on my walking tour with Natalia. I needed to get cash out to pay for a couple of taxis, and I had a terrifying moment when an out-of-service cash machine looked like it was going to eat my card. That would've been a very bad start! Fortunately, it eventually spat it out, and then we were off. We started in Recoleta with the cemetery where Eva Peron is buried. I didn't know anything about her life and career - other than the fact that she inspired the musical Evita - but Natalia gave me a potted biography and showed me the grave bearing her immortal words: Don't cry for me, Argentina. (In fact, it was slightly different in Spanish, but you get the gist...)
We then walked towards San Telmo and took in a couple of gorgeous churches and the Dorrego coffee shop, which was where news of Argentine independence was first received in 1816. I didn't know anything about it, so Natalia tried to fill in the yawning gaps in my knowledge of Argentine history. That included a couple of British invasions of Buenos Aires in 1805 and 1807 that have somehow been airbrushed out of our national curriculum! History is written by the victors...
At lunchtime, the tour came to an end, and Natalia hailed a taxi to take me back to my hotel. My overall impression of Buenos Aires is that it's not a particularly attractive city, and there are far fewer old colonial Spanish houses than I expected, but there were certainly some spectacular churches. I would probably have appreciated it more if I'd had more of any interest in Latin American politics, military history and Argentina's rebellion against the Spanish to gain their independence.
By this time, it was raining, so I bought some replacement sunglasses and a Coke and some crisps and retired to my room to the place where I'm always happiest: in front of my computer!
I did a few electronic chores, including publishing a few of my favourite pics and posted about the Galapagos on my blog. Later in the evening, I went out to dinner at a restaurant called The New Brighton. My first choice of restaurant was closed on Fridays (whut?), but the other place looked suitably English and old school. It was surprisingly well lit and nearly empty - even at 2030 - but the food was good and plentiful. I took pictures of every course - just in case any of my stock agency's clients ever want to know what I had to eat on my trip!
The following morning, I woke up quite late - it was after 0500! - and worked on my photos. Identifying tropical butterflies and birds is hard, even with Google. Eventually, I packed my bag and left to catch my flight to Ushuaia for the next leg of my journey. Antarctica, here we come...!