Our flight was at 6:40am, so we had to wake up at 3:30am to make it in time for the airport. After waiting for 1hr + 15minutes for a queue about 5 people deep, we finally got onto our flight. There was a group of Argentinean archaeologists in front of us who had two cart loads of scientific luggage. Slowest check-in ever.
On the flight we sat next to this middle-aged man that looks like he was running marathons for a living. Seriously, who flies with a pair of short running shorts? We tried to use our Spanish and had a nice chat with this guy, but man…. was it ever tiring talking in Spanish. Our Spanish was never great to begin with, but it doesn’t help that Argentineans seem to have a totally different ‘style’ of Spanish, forcing us to pay 110% attention and understanding only 10%.
Funny story at customs though. Argentina has a pretty advanced system at customs with mandatory photo picture and finger print scans. Alan though, had a problem with this because ever since leaving Honduras he’s been experiencing some strange skin issues where his hands started peeling about two layers of skin. It was pretty strange and pretty gross, but seems to be healing by now. Well, when your skin peels off, it leaves your finger prints pretty much illegible…. and the customs officer had to try like 10 times before finally getting a passable scan of his fingers. Almost got pulled into the ‘back room’ for some special screening…because who tries to wipe off their finger prints!?!??!
With the flight, time zone difference and the long wait for our hostel shuttle (it was free!), we got into the city of Buenos Aires at about 7pm. In Quito, which was near the equator but 2400m above sea level, it was pretty chilly in the low teens. In Buenos Aires though, it was summer there and felt like low 30s! Between the airport and downtown, the whole place had this Toronto vibe to it, with wide roads, green space and large trees on either sides of the road, and even the familiar green signs on the roads, it all felt very Toronto to us!
Downtown BA is a totally different story. With massive monuments to independence, large public parks with streets full of glitz and glamour, this place feels very much like Europe in some parts, and Manhattan in others. We found our charming and extremely well-run hostel smack dab in the middle of downtown, and were on our way out for dinner. Strange though, was during our ride into town, we noticed that most restaurants were all closed, even as it was close to 7pm. We asked our driver, and he just gently reminded us that “It is just too early.”…
One of the biggest reasons we looked forward to BA was the fact that this city has a rather large Chinese population, and with that comes… Chinese food! Not just any Chinese food, but HOT POT!!!! WAHHH! After taking the subway, walking 8 blocks to Chinatown, we had to take a taxi back to another part of town because the blog we read about BA hotpot gave us the wrong freakin’ address! Hotpot was awesomely good and Alan actually ate so much he felt ‘drunk’…. Impressive! Finishing dinner at 11ish, we finally understood the full extent of our driver’s comment on “It is just too early…” because while taking the bus back to the hostel, we saw lines of people queuing for every restaurant on the street, from coffee shops to pizzerias to McDonald’s, every place was packed! People were on the streets drinking, and the whole city had a very lively feel to it.
Too tired, we slept like pigs. Exploring BA will take some time, but we are starting to like this city already.