Buenos Aires, a city so cool, even a cheesy Tango show can’t ruin it.

19 March, 2008

Sorry for the delay in posting, we have our first visitors in town, Craig and Janine have come over for Easter from London, so entertaining my real friends has to take priority over my virtual friends!

So on Wednesday last week, we flew from Santiago to Buenos Aires, only 2 and half hours (yay) and we arrived in BA, Argentina. Now everyone who has been to Latin America raves about BA, so I of course went in with low expectations preparing myself for something of a let down, and initially I was lucky I did, our hotel was crap, a very inauspicious start to our time in Argentina. But on the Thursday morning I walked Cath to work, and my impression started to change, the centre of the city is nice, sure its a bit grungy, but on a LA scale, its pretty nice, wide pedestrian streets, beautiful architecture, and lots of cool shops.

Our first meal was greatly anticipated, we were finally going to get to eat the famous Argentine steak in Argentina! So I course opted for the lamb, having growing up in New Zealand I am still of the firm belief that the king of meats is definitely lamb, good lamb being way better than good steak anyday. And I wasn’t disappointed, the lamb racks (yep they like big serves over here) were awesome, massively awesome and tastefully awesome too.

So Cath went off and did some work and I sat in the hotel trying to get on top of my book – without much success. Cath had a meat-fest work dinner that night with some work mates, and I had room service (more super sized serves of meat of course), now an interesting claim to fame for Argentineans is that they eat their evening meal the latest of any culture in the world, even a business dinner is usually scheduled for 10:30 or later, and in the weekends the restaurants don’t even open till 10:00pm.

Friday after work we checked out of our crap hotel into a really nice hotel, and got ready to go watch Tango!!!!!

Now every country has something that’s its world famous for outside the country, but that maybe not so famous in the country for locals, in New Zealand it’s going to watch a sheep shearing show (wow wee how exciting is that), in Australia it’s going to Australia Zoo to feed a kangaroo (never mind the kangaroos are so overfed they struggle to stand up) in England it’s going to Madam Tussauds world of wax (where American tourists go to have their photos taken beside wax figurines of famous Americans – how English is that)?

So in Argentina the thing that every tourist has to do is go and watch a Tango show!!!!! Cath asked her workmates for some local info, not a single one of the people in her office had ever been to a Tango show, but they tried to help out anyway, booking us into a dinner and show evening at Senor Tango – “the biggest and most famous Tango show in the world” their words not mine.

We got picked up in a shuttle bus and shuttled our way across town to the superdome of tango tackiness. We were quickly seated (with a nice couple from Italy and another from Puerto Rico) and the waiter straight away took great pains to explain that we could pay by visa, mastercard, or usd – straight away we got the panic urge, you know you are in for trouble if the first thing they tell you is how to settle the bill – before you even know what it is your getting.

But being brave and adventurous souls we fought the urge to run and settled our nerves with a bottle or three of cheap wine. The show started off well with a couple of horses (that didn’t even try and tango) and what appeared to be a brief interpretive dance version of the history of Argentina, I am amazed that so many of the first settlers and indigenous tribes women had such massive fake breasts, but that’s a whole ‘nother story!!! Then we got some shorts bursts of very good tango dancing interspersed with a flying plastercast of an accordion player, a 20 minute long accordion solo, some of those annoying blokes with pan pipes playing some of Kenny G’s worst hits, some really badly cooked Argentinean steaks, 2 more minutes of tango dancing, identical twins with large noses belting out some classic Argentinean love songs, a 10 minute piece of soft porn which involved a whole lot of g-string clad dancers writhing all over each other, a 20 minute piano solo, another 2 minutes of tango dancing, then to “finish” the evening off the whole troupe got together on stage and murdered “don’t cry for me Argentina” (now there’s not many times in my life that I wished I was at a Madonna concert, but this was one of them). Then finally it was all over, we jumped in another shuttle bus and headed back to our hotel room for a stiff drink or five. Now I have heard that there are some really good Tango shows in BA, and I really don’t doubt it, we saw loads to beautiful tango dancing in the market on Sunday morning, and friends have been to some nice authentic shows, I think we just ended up in the worst of the lot. Lesson learned…

But apart from that experience our weekend in BA was great, we walked around the old town, ate some giant steaks, spent an afternoon shopping (it’s really really cheap and stylish), visited some old buildings, ate some more steak and spent a morning wandering around an antiques market and watching the world go by.

So our summary of BA was that it’s a great city, what Santiago had in nice, orderly and clean, BA had in funky, dynamic and exciting.

So we are back in Sao Paulo now till Friday when we fly to Campo Grande for four nights in the Pantanal, a massive wetland (195,000 square kilometres (75,000 sq mi), thats about the size of England, Scotland and Wales combined where we are going to do some piranha fishing, try and catch the worlds largest guinea pig the Capybara and try and spot a jaguar.

So till after then, see ya’ll later and hope ya’ll have a cracking good Easter wherever in the world you are!!!!