Argentina at Last

My first two day in Buenos Aires have been such a whirlwind so let me start from the beginning...

On Saturday I woke up at at around 5:00 am (painful) in Boston to catch my 9:05 am flight from Logan Airport to my first stop, Dallas, TX. After about an hour of being embarrassingly lost in the airport (I just couldn't find my terminal for some reason!) in the snow, I finally made it onto my first flight. I arrived in Dallas for my SIX hour layover which actually wasn't too bad once I got a bloody mary, a mushroom pizza, and read "Hunger Games" front to back. From Dallas, I boarded my second plane to Buenos Aires. Of course, there was a problem with the mechanics of the plane and we ended up spending two hours at the gate, waiting for a crew to fix thew problem. It was eerily similar to an episode of 30 Rock, minus the passenger mutiny against the pilot and eating trash to survive. But one more hour on that plane and who knows what would have happened. Anyway, I finally made it to Buenos Aires after what seemed like the world's longest flight, and emerged from customs to Nicole's smiling face. Seeing her made the fifteen hour flight worth it.

Nicole is currently studying Spanish in Buenos Aires through UC Berkeley's study abroad program, so I saw this as my prime opportunity to see a new country, and visit my best friend for a sure-to-be-amazing spring break. Wasting no time, Nicole rushed me to her host mom's apartment in Recoleta to drop off my stuff then hopped on the subway to see the San Telmo market, which is only open on Sundays. For blocks and blocks the streets were lined with vendors selling everything from souvenirs galore to antiques to fresh squeezed orange juice to empanadas; you name it, they sold it. We stopped for lunch at Nicole's favorite Sunday spot, appropriately named "El Rey del Chori", where we bought choripan sandwiches. I really can't emphasize enough how delicious these sandwiches were. The chorizo-esque sausages are grilled right in front of you, placed in a crunchy baguette, and then you have the option of adding an array of spicy sauces, chimichurri, or onions. I could have eaten three of these, easily.

We spent the rest of the day exploring different parts of Buenos Aires, walking until our feet were about to fall off. It was great just taking in the sights, people watching, and catching up with Nicole who I haven't seen since Christmas. After walking all day, we were both exhausted, so I took a quick nap and then Nicole planned a late dinner for us at a nearby restaurant, La Cholita. Not only does this restaurant have crayons on every table, but the atmosphere is fun and the food is to die for. We split a mouth-watering meal of steak, french fries with a fried egg, fried cheese, mashed squash, rice, and roasted vegetables, which came served on a giant slab of wood. To top it off, we ordered a pingüino, also known as my new favorite thing. A pingüino is actually just a porcelain pitcher, in the shape of a penguin, but somehow wine just tastes better in a pingüino.

My second day in Buenos Aires can be summed up like this: thunder storms, empanadas, dancing my butt off, empanadas, and the Argentine tango.

Nicole and I started the day by checking into our hostel for the night (Nicole was getting tired of being big spoon in her itty bitty twin size bed). Our hostel, Tango Backpackers, is actually pretty nice, inexpensive, and conveniently located in Palermo, a great area in Buenos Aires known for it's nightlife. Of course, anywhere even slightly better than my Paris hostel experience is an improvement. So after inspecting our co-ed dorm, and meeting our international roommates, we explored the area, and had to duck into a small pasteleria called BellAria for some chicken, ham and cheese, and veggie empanadas to avoid the pouring rain.

Nighttime is when things got interesting. After getting reading, we stumbled upon a boutique-y little restaurant and decided to start the night with some happy hour drinks and some cheesy french fries. Next, Nicole and I hopped in a cab and went to La Bomba de Tiempo at Konex. Now let me explain. La Bomba is an insane percussion performance at Ciudad Cultural Konex in Buenos Aires. It is only on Monday nights and it is definitely the popular place to be. La Bomba features a group of seventeen musicians all playing different instruments like the drums, trumpet, and maracas, and is mainly based on improvisation.Usually, there's even a guest DJ or rapper performing with the percussion as well. The show starts at around 8:00 pm and finishes around 10:00 pm and is definitely a must-do if you're like us and want a night of crazy, sweaty, ear-shattering, ridiculously fun dancing.

To balance out our wild rave-like experience at La Bomba, Nicole and I braved the rain and went down the street to La Catedral in Almagro. This milonga is basically a huge cathedral-like warehouse where anyone can go and take tango lessons or just grab a bite to eat. The interior looks like it is straight out of the movie Moulin Rouge, with dramatic lighting, mismatched artwork covering the walls, and a distinct bohemian atmosphere. Apparently on Fridays, trapeze artists swing through the air at La Catedral, but because we were there on a Monday, we just ordered some empanadas (this is quickly becoming a staple in my diet) and a bottle of wine, and watched couples learn to tango. Outside, thunder and lightening were booming, so we were thankful for our cozy tango retreat. Some late night dulce de leche at the hostel later, and Nicole and I passed out for the night. All in all, it was a pretty great Monday.

I don't really know what I was expecting before coming to South America for the first time, but somehow Buenos Aires is exactly what I would have imagined it to be. It's a mix of old and new, modern and traditional, exciting and intimidating all at the same time. So far, I love the language, the food, the dancing, the people, and I can't wait to see what Nicole has planned for me the rest of the week. Stay tuned!