Buenos Aires cont. & Mendoza (Argentina)

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We’re wasting no time and diving right back into our Buenos Aires tales.

For this next place, I’ve got the love bug so bad, I’m still purring its name. Puurrlermo.

Palermo Soho : The Bae of B.A.

Working abroad was something we’d never contemplated – until we spent a week in Palermo Soho. All three of us became absolutely besotted with this place.

Palermo is Buenos Aires‘ biggest neighbourhood. Within it, you can find the small diamond encrusted gem which is, Palermo Soho. Home to the young, trendy, gorgeous, bohemian and generally any person or place you pass by, which will make you amorously sigh.

Palermo oozes a sophisticated and serene charm. Independent restaurants, drool-worthy delis and kooky cafes populate the very European looking streets. There’s a significant bar scene and a handful of clubs, all of which fit in with the area’s stylish aura. (Fellas, don’t rock up to any clubs in shorts and, lord forbid, sandals. You can bet your 50 cent you won’t even get in da club).

If you’re going to do Palermo Soho, do it in true style with an Air B’n’B. As it’s further out of central B.A. you can get some great deals. We were barely paying £10 a night each for our gorgeous apartment with a large terrace and pool area upstairs. After the wild week we’d spent in Milhouse, the peaceful and tranquil days spent in Palermo Soho were a welcome change.

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Not too shabby for some broke a$$ bitchez 😉 

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Food, Glorious, Food

If you’re a foodie, Palermo Soho is the place for you. Probably why us fat asses loved it so much.

Why haven’t you heard sugarplum? The elasticated waistline is so in. So in it stretches o  u   t.

La Cabrera is the restaurant famed for serving up one of Argentina’s very best steaks (so always book in advance). I wanted everything on the menu so naturally ordered… everything.

My taste buds were swimming in ecstasy. I was becoming unbelievably full but this ambrosia was too divine to stop eating. Several breaks later, we polished off our mains…and dessert.

Sadly this wasn’t planned all too well. At this point Emma and I realised we needed to get cash out to pay and the next working ATM was quite some walk away.

As we got up to walk off a few crumbs of our dessert, the chronic stomach pains and severe acid reflux kicked in.

I was rapidly sinking lower and lower towards the floor. A second later Emma turned her head and saw to her astonishment she was being accompanied by a Neanderthal.

All words defeated me. All I knew were gruff gargles and groans.

There were some absolute weirdos lingering around town at this hour but the sight of me writhing about and foaming at the mouth was enough to make them run to the hills shrieking five Hail Mary’s.

After this horrific episode and slithering back to the restaurant with all the airs and graces of a heffalump, I had to ask the girls if we could kindly get a cab…down the road to our apartment. I was in so much agony I couldn’t move.

Looking back, would I do it all again?…

UMMM…100%

I’d pre-book the cab and everything.

Back to food (always). We had an excellent meal at La Hormiga, this restaurant specialises in Italian dishes but also serves up delicious steak. There’s usually lengthy queues for this place but it’s definitely worth the wait. Another heads up, none of the waiters spoke English, so we struggled to understand their elaborate menu. If we took out my phrase book as many times as we did to squash mozzies with it, we’d totally be fluent. Despite ordering like 3 semi-blind mice, the dishes we picked were delectable surprises.

We came across Helena cafe as it was just along the road from our Air B’n’B. By this point we were seriously missing our beloved brunches from back home but Helena sorted us right out! There’s so much tasty stuff on the menu it can easily warrant several trips.

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Sometimes though…no matter how many dreamy eateries you’re surrounded by…you just want Smileys.

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Here’s us bringing our touch of class to Palermo with the piece de resistance of British cuisine- The Smiley. We were so caught up on the smileys we burnt our nuggets…to the colour of our souls.

Sadface.

Mondays are Fundays

Mondays are notoriously know as the worst day of the week – and lord do we know why.

Fun? Laughter? Joy..?

Pah! Even entertaining such thoughts would be straight up sacrilege.

Luckily, just because Buenos Aires happens to be the best place on the planet, not only is Monday their funnest night of the week but on one of them I had the funnest night of my life.

If you’re in Buenos Aires on Monday, you HAVE to go to their weekly drumming show at Club Konex, La Bomba Tiempo.

Before you dismiss this as sounding average, I can’t stress enough, this is not your average drumming show. You’ll probably never go to another one like it. These guys are world-class superstars. They’re UNREAL and the atmosphere is electrifying. The 17 band group is all the more impressive given the fact its pure improv. Still don’t believe me? 

Be a stubborn Simon and eat your words.

(Now I’m a smug Siobhan)

Club Konex is a cool, large outside venue. It gets packed out but who can blame the crowds. When I say people dance here, it’s a full blown tribal display. Hannah and I got so swept up into the rhythmic drumming ecstasy, we were rolling our eyes and flipping our hair. Our enthusiasm clearly didn’t go unnoticed.

One continent and an admirable five countries later, a guy sheepishly comes up to us in Bocas del Toro and says he recognises us from somewhere. Naturally we ask him where. He said he thinks (with total certainty) ‘maybe right at the front left of La Bomba Tiempo?’

Nuff said.

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When the concert wrapped up the night was still young and our limbs weren’t ready to pack it in yet.

After grabbing some more drinks we headed on to Club Severino. As far as old school hip hop nights go, this was one in a mili. The music was so on point, if we could go religiously every Monday, we’d take our vows in a heartbeat.

Emma who’d been the slowest warming up to the night rapidly overtook Hannah and I. In a display of brute strength, Emma proceeded to pick up little Hannah, flinging her upside-down and over her back. Much to the alarm of every single person in the club (most notably, Hannah). Emma seemed to forget she had a fully conscious human being draped over her back and broke into a funky two-step on the D floor, as if she was merely sporting a feather boa.

At this point fellow clubbers dived in to save a dazed Hannah from the deranged two-stepper. No murder on the dancefloor tonight.

A man was clearly impressed by this Hulkish act and offered us champagne. To which we replied ‘obvs’. He then proceeded to procure a plastic champagne flute out of thin air. Mr Flute sidled up to the DJ, tapped the empty flute regally three times and the DJ obediently topped it up and bowed (at this point we’re as confused by his job description as you).

Still, champagne on the tap – say whaaaaat. We felt like dancing royalty.

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Sadly we got a rude reminder that we were anything but.

When the best night of our lives emotionally came to a close, we got a cab back to our Palmero apartment. Emma was craving her token, post-night out packet of crisps. All the ration packs at our cribs had been demolished and we had run out of cash.

What’s the Queen of Papas to do in this conundrum?

Obviously waltz up to a darkened newsagent, stick your hands through its metal grating, cupping them like Oliver Twist and shout out like a child dying from famine ‘PLEASEEEEEE! CRISPSSSSSSSSSS!’

The owner was so taken aback, he actually emerged from shadows, to reiterate, in case our eyes could not see, the shop was closed.

The Queen of Papas wasn’t having any of it. Hannah and me found the whole situation pretty amusing, then Emma turned on us…for accepting her share of the cab. We had to double check if Emma was saying she would rather we endured a 30 minute walk home, just so she could get crisps.

Without drawing breath she replied ‘Yes’. Then added, as if it were an act of utter betrayal, ‘how could you two be so selfish…you know I love crisps’.

Emma refused to speak to us traitors for the rest of the night, unless of course it was to berate us of this (in which case, she actually never stopped talking to us).

In the morning a bag of Margaritas was purchased for our jilted lover and all was forgiven with the loving crunch of a crinkle-cut.

Lessons learnt? Margaritas over senoritas, any day of the week.

Mendoza, Mendoza – For whom the bell tolls

As one wise deadbeat once said, all good things have to come to an end. After a killer two weeks in B.A. this was the fate which awaited us.

Two days into our stay in Mendoza, Hannah’s wisdom teeth had started coming through so savagely she could only speak in gargles and out of a narrow chink in her mouth (during this period we did not make friends).

Emma narrowly dodged salmonella, after a chef served her up totally raw meat (Gordon Ramsey Chicken Nightmares – hello). Thankfully she Usain Bolted it to the toilets, just in the nick of time.

As for me, the air con in Milhouse had made me so ill I became more nasal than Ed Miliband (life really doesn’t get much worse).

Through pain, sickness and poisoning our health was ailing.

We’ll all remember Mendoza as the time when we became senile. Damn all those bright, young, gap year things….

Wine and whining

Mendoza is in the Argentinian countryside and famed for its vineyards and wine. We’d heard doing a vineyard tour on a bicycle was a must (all hostels should offer these). None of us had been to a wine tasting before and we definitely intended on swallowing.

There was also something all the more convenient about our trip to Mendoza. We were going on the weekend of their Annual Grape Harvest festival and boy were we ready to have a grape party.

On the Saturday morning the Carrusel de Vendimia day parade passed right outside our hostel, Mendoza Inn (bed bugs – avoid!)

Dense crowds gathered around the endless number of floats and chariots. The parade featured beauty queens from each region flashing their pearly whites and dishing out grapes to the doting crowd. The locals sported traditional dress, while others came dressed as cowboys and cowgirls, highlighting the region’s progression from past to present.

The parade was really quaint and everyone was beaming away. It felt very special attending an event which held such great significance to the locals.

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Sadly, things went downhill from there.

Somehow we ended up going to one of South America’s most famed wine provinces and didn’t manage to go to a single tasting session. This was made all the more ludicrous by the fact it was during their Annual Grape Festival when the plump things were abundant.

How the hell did this occur?

Well, I suppose rookie error number one was thinking we were capable of organising our own cheaper, DIY vineyard tour (or any tour for that matter…)

Then, what it ultimately boiled down to was…

We couldn’t find the bus stop.

Don’t ask. None of the locals could find stop ’13’ either…

In fact, for all of you that did manage to find the unicorn number ’13’ which ferries you to the enchanting kingdom of vineyards, please send me an email (it might also make me weep).

Ironically we were pressed for time and had to get back to the hostel sharpish as we had tickets to the Annual Grape Harvest Show. In this night-time show, held at the the Frank Romero Day Greek Theatre, the annual beauty queen is crowned to an audience of circa 20,000 attendees. Prior to this there is about an hour of the hosts conversing, before the light and dance performances begin.

As much as I love and deeply respect how close the locals hold the festival to their hearts, as for the actual show itself, it went a little over our heads…

There was a lot of this….

And this…..

And this….

For 4 hours straight….

Nice fireworks at the end though…

All the same, if you’re in Mendoza during this time there’s a real festive buzz about, so it’s still a grape time to go (sorry…last time, I promise…)

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Time to teetotal it

Mendoza really revolves around the vineyard culture but if you do fancy going on a pleasant day trip somewhere here’s an idea.

Cacheuta Hot Springs or Aguas Calientes is a vast collection of indoor and outdoor hot spring pools nestled into the Andes mountains. It’s pretty much a big water park with a rustic feel. There’s a large green picnic area to laze around by and a restaurant just opposite the entrance which does great tapas plates. For the swankier types you can spend the day relaxing and getting pampered at the TermaSpa Hotel (a backpacker can only dream).

Initially I was livid about embarking on our day trip here. I was ill and less than enthused about spending the time or money on a £35 1.5hr return trip. Nevertheless, when we got there I would lying if I said we didn’t have lots of fun around the hot springs and all the not so hot pot-bellied men.

 

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Mr photobombs on the right hand side – I see you

That’s it for Argentina but stay tuned, in the next post we’ll be whittling another country off our list, as things get tangier than a spice rack when we hit up Chile!

Love the Llamas X

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