February 14th, a red letter day, not because it is Valentine’s day but because at 1630 hrs on the 14th February 2005 Christine and I met; yes, here we are 9 years later and still enjoying our lives together, wow, who would have thought it! Anyway back to business.
After an excellent night’s sleep we awoke refreshed after our 26 hour ordeal yesterday, though I am sure it will have been worth it! We naturally exchanged cards and once that “mush” was out of the way, showered and down for breakfast, which by the way was excellent, then to investigate with reception what we could/should do in the limited time we had available.
We decided a city tour would be a good starter and booked the 1445 hrs trip but had to be in reception by 1415 hrs, that gave us about 3 hrs to kill so we had a nice wander around the area of the hotel, sat in the sunshine and enjoyed a coffee, managed a very brief lunch then back to the hotel where our driver was waiting for us. This bus visited a number of hotels, picking up people then we boarded our coach for the actual tour which was due to last 3 hours, though as the traffic was so bad and apparently there were a number of demonstrations happening today, including one about the Falklands war!!! It actually took a little over 4 hours, fortunately our coach was extremely comfortable, much better than the seats on our plane.
Our guide was amazing, he commentated in Spanish and English, but he didn’t go on about any subject in one language for long spells then repeat everything in the second language, no he sort of ran through each topic in both languages without even having to stop and think; very clever and of course you were listening all the time, no time to switch off.
He gave us a good understanding about the history if this area of South America and naturally Buenos Aires in particular, very interesting. He showed us numerous monuments to historical figures involved in the creation of this city and country. We drove past numerous famous buildings (as one does!) including the area where the richest people lived towards the end of the 19th century. These houses were all designed to European architecture but now they are all foreign embassies. Driving through this area suggested we were in a suburb of Paris or Rome.
There is one Boulevard called 9th July, apparently the widest in the world, built to commemorate the countries independence from Spain in 1816 and as big and wide as it is, it still carries too much traffic.
Our coach fought its way around the city and we eventually entered an area called “Bocca”, this was down by the old docks and it was the area where all the Italian immigrants lived and we had a wander about this bustling area but was very surprised that it all closed down at 1800 hrs. We asked our guide why, and he replied that it was not safe around here at night but wouldn’t enlarge on that!!!!!
Back in the coach to the next stop, independence square where we walked around though here there was a Falklands War Rally going on so we kept our traps shut!!!!! Back on the coach then dropped off at our hotel just after1900hrs. We were getting a little concerned as we had booked a table at one of the best restaurants in town on the dock’s waterfront for 2000hrs and we were running late.
A quick shower with a very nice glass of Malbec (bought earlier) whilst we got dressed: down to reception by 1945hrs and ordered a taxi from reception who then said that though we had booked a table, being Valentines night and Friday, we may still have to wait!!!!!
Arrived at the restaurant by by around 2020hrs booked in but as suggested, had to wait until they “readied” a table. We sat in the bar area when they then delivered to our table some empanadas, and we hadn’t even ordered a drink, but they were very nice and we knew then we were in an expensive restaurant. Drinks eventually ordered but as they arrived we were whisked to our table, the drinks followed immediately. Sitting down we were “gob smacked” as there were numerous empty tables though within 15 minutes the place was heaving. Again before we had even opened the menu a plate of Hors D’oeuvres arrived with numerous appetisers including Smoked Salmon and probably one of the finest blue cheeses I have ever tasted. Right, thats the starters out of the window! Being in Argentina it had to be steaks and that’s what we ordered and thoroughly enjoyed. We shared a desert and eventually left, waddling up the road searching for a taxi. Fortunately the Argentine Peso is very weak against the Euro so the bill was sort of acceptable!!!!
Arrived safely back to the hotel and to bed, after all it was 2330hrs, about 0430 back on the UK!!! Tomorrow is another day.