(Pic is taken in the hostel kitchen as we forgot to take any last night – whoops!)
Prior to leaving for Argentina, we put a profile up on Couchsurfing (and even hosted a few people ourselves). You can add trips to say where you are going to be/when you are planning on being there, and request accommodation or even just to meet up with locals. We were lucky enough to meet Leila and her partner Matt who live here in Buenos Aires. Bonus point being that the speak fluent English!
We arranged to meet in Palermo, around half an hour from San Telmo where we are staying. Having never used Uber at home, we thought we’d give it a whirl here – not having to tell the taxi driver where we were going (as it’s requested through the app) we thought would avoid any confusion with directions. Apart from being a bit expensive (around 250 pesos or NZ$25) due to a “surge” it wasn’t a bad ride – though we do think that maybe we went along a bit of a scenic route.
Being Saturday night, there were plenty of people out and about. Waiting at the corner by the “TAZZ Bar” we were soon met by Leila and Matt, who led us away from the “bad beer” and through the streets to “Antares”, a craft beer bar/restaraunt (we’re off to a great start!). They ask the door-lady for a table, and while one wasn’t immediately available, we were able to sit at the bar for a drink to start. The names of the beers are in English (although don’t try order an “eye-pee-aye” or IPA – they call it “eeppa”). We’re told this is so they can charge more – seems about right as it was around NZ$9-$10 for una pinta.
We ordered tapas to share, and compared New Zealand to Argentina (as you do). Leila and Matt both work in tourism, and are studying towards a bachelor meaning they are super busy most days of the week – they were even going to get up at 6am on Sunday to study, as Matt also plays futbol (I forget for which team, but “Boca” are the enemy he tells us haha). We get some great tips for while we are here, mostly safety and cultural related. They we’re curious to know what we think about how they greet (a kiss on each cheek) and their general closeness/sharing culture (for example when drinking “mate” or the local tea, everyone shares the same cup & bombilla). They were also curious to know about life in New Zealand, as they think they’d like to live there one day – Argentina is a bit politically troubled and you have to be careful with your things, and it’s expensive to live.
A couple of drinks and a few tapas cost us 533 pesos (NZ$53) which is comparable to what we would have spent in New Zealand for similar food/drinks. After dinner we moved onto dessert at “Persicco” which is an icecream chain over here. A few tips with translations of the menu, Darryl gets a chance to use some Spanish and orders us two icecreams in a type of waffle cone-boat. Getting the toppings is a bit harder (we weren’t prepared with the words for walnut, almond or “mini white chocolate balls with a crunchy centre”) but pointing and assistance from our Argentine friends soon had us sorted.
We said goodbye to Leila and Matt – guys if you’re reading this, thank you for a great night and for all of your tips! When you come to New Zealand, make sure you get in touch 🙂 As we had no wifi, they hailed us a taxi and thats where the fun began. Apparently my Spanish is marginal enough to get us to the right place – “San Telmo, Peru mil cuarenta y tres”, and hold a small conversation about where we are from, and what kind of music we like/he likes. This taxi was a lot better than the Uber – we wen’t directly home along the main roads, and it only cost 175 pesos (NZ$17).
We’re going to attempt to get SIM cards from a “kiosco” today, and maybe brave a market. San Telmo doesn’t feel as safe as what Palermo did, even though it was dark and the middle of the night. We’ve got one more night at Hostel Soleil, then we’re moving to Recoleta which is close to the bus station. Next plan is to head to Rosario, around 4-5 hours by bus from Buenos Aires.