Travel Diary: 2013, Week #4

Travel Diary: 2013, Week #4

Monday 21st January

In the morning, I tried to go for a haircut at a cheap but decent looking hairdresser we had passed a couple of days ago, but I was unable to locate it. It felt a bit like a muggle looking for the entrance to Diagon Alley; it wasn't where I remembered it being, and it seemed to have simply vanished or become invisible.

After a lunch of leftovers from the previous day, we went out for afternoon desert at La Esquina de Flores, where I learnt that even more of the Spanish words I knew for fruits and vegetables were useless here, as they have completely different names in Argentina than in Spain. In the evening, we debated going to the cinema, but instead plonked ourselves on the sofa and watched a film in our apartment.

a detail in Recoleta cemetery

a detail in Recoleta cemetery

Tuesday 22nd January

From our apartment, after a café stop, we walked following to shade to to marvel at the opulence and decaying grandeur of La Recoleta Cemetery, many famous Argentinians' final resting place. To escape the heat, we then quickly ducted in to a very posh, air-conditioned shopping mall to cool down before heading home and picking up pastries and fruit for lunch.

In the evening, we were met by the owner of our flat and her boyfriend and taken for dinner at a traditional bar in San Telmo, the oldest part of Buenos Aires. Zab had perhaps one too many glasses of wine, and almost fell asleep in the car on the way home.

Zab outside Naturaleza Sabia

Zab outside Naturaleza Sabia

Wednesday 23rd January

An early start meant getting up, having breakfast and being our of the apartment by 11am, and thanks to a very useful website , we managed to

work out how to take a bus from our neighbourhood to the furthest area of downtown near the old port. We found the art gallery we had come to see, but unfortunately they were between exhibitions, so only the bookshop and café were open. Of course, Zab wanted to stop for coffee.

We then walked to a restaurant we went to last week and sampled their very good value lunch menu. Armed with more leftovers, we managed to get the subte back home in time to rest. Later, we went to another café, and upon ordering a milkshake (for me), a coffee (for Zab) and a cake (to share), we received not only those items, but also a glass of water, a small bowl of ice cream, three different toppings for the ice cream, and inexplicably, a white bread ham and cheese toasty. We didn't eat the toasty.

Thursday 24th January

In the morning, rather unwisely it turned out, we decided to visit the park on what turned out to be the hottest day of our visit. We trudged through the inescapable (almost) midday sun and sat one of the rarely shady benches in the rose garden by a lake and watched the ducks. On the return trip, we stopped in a café, of course.

The afternoon was mostly filled with uninteresting chores (pharmacy shopping, washing clothes) and organisational jobs (checking flight numbers, emailing people), but reached its climax in a fight against some very strong wind to prevent it blowing away our drying clothes. In the evening, we went out for a seriously amazing meal (more on that soon).

Friday 25th January

In the morning, we went out to run a few errands for our final day in the big city (including, most importantly, picking up some baklava at our local Armenian bakery), then came home for lunch and a rest. Later, we went on the second free tour, which was in a much smaller group, and taught us more about the people and cultural history of the city than the first. Then we ate at a simple restaurant while virtually gatecrashing one of Zab's sisters' birthday dinner in London via skype.

Saturday 26th January

After getting up and doing the final bits of packing and tidying up the apartment, we tried to work out where to catch one of the elusive buses to the domestic airport for our flight to Patagonia. We ended up walking almost half the distance to our destination (which wasn't all that far, but in the midday sun with our backpacks on it felt much further!) and then waiting at a bus stop where every single bus except the buses we wanted stopped. Finally, though, ours came.

The transition through the airport was smooth, and the three hour flight to El Calafate was uneventful, except for the changing scenery below us. When we landed, we felt as though we were in a different country all together. Once we'd checked in to our hotel, we wandered along the busy main drag to work out our options for a trip to the famous Perito Moreno Glacier, just out of town.

Laguna Nimez

Laguna Nimez

Sunday 27th January

We decided not to go on the glacier trip today, but on Monday instead and booked places for one in the afternoon, getting a better deal than we'd seen the day before by asking the receptionists at our hostel for a recommendation. We then followed another of their suggestions and visited the ecological nature reserve at Nimez lagoon by Argetina Lake.

There, we enjoyed the stunning scenery and saw flamingos, kestrels, swans and various kinds of geese as well as many other kinds of birds we didn't recognise or know any name for. Back in town, we ate half a chicken between us, and picked up supplies for the next day.