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April 01, 2005

Buenos Aires: day 1

Buenos Aires is located not far from Montevideo, just up and on the other side of a huge inlet/river (not sure). I took a Buquebus hydrofoil ferry and the trip was about 3 hours from dock to dock if I recall correctly. Hydrofoils are those boats with underwater wings which lift the entire body of the boat above the surface once they get going. They really feel more like flying than sailing, I like them a lot. I haven't rode in one since Mie and I visited Nii Jima in Japan. The trip itself is fairly boring though; you're inside, you can barely see land from the windows and there isn't really anything to do. The ferry ride across the Straights of Gilbraltar is certainly more fun.

Micro$oft, Buenos Aires Sun Microsystems, Buenos Aires

Upon arrival I was greeted by some very modern looking glass and steel buildings including twin sky scrapers facing each other labeled Microsoft and Sun. Passing between them I felt like an Argonaut passing between Scylla and Charybdis. I wandered around for a bit trying to get my bearings and possibly find my hostel before giving up and jumping in a taxi. I had reserved a room at the Sandanzas hostel in the San Telmo part of town, which turned out to be very far from the ferry dock by foot!

San Martin Park, Buenos Aires San Martin Park, Buenos Aires

The hostel was nice. It is run by some friendly hippie types. I think they intend it to be more of a community of guests than just a hostel, but I don't like spending a lot of time in hostels so they probably found me a little rude. It's a nice place though. Art on the walls, music, free Internet and nightly grill outs (or so I was told, I never showed up for one).

I dropped off my bags and headed back out, doing my usual shtick of wandering about aimlessly and taking photos of street art. It was mostly stencils, but they were everywhere. I stopped by an Internet cafe and fired off an email to Res One whose work I had found in Montevideo in hopes he could guide me to some real wall art.

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After sunset I headed back downtown. I was in the mood for some live music. Anything, jazz, tango, rock, hip-hop. Something. But I wasn't finding much and finally I got in a cab and tried to explain in a mixture of bad Portuguese and English that I wanted to listen to some live music and could he take me somewhere. He said a lot of stuff in Spanish that I didn't understand and shoved a flyer in my hand for a club called Solid Gold with a photo of a busty naked blond on it. I said "no, no, no. Eo nao caro este, eu caro musica." He started driving a few neighborhoods away to what I hoped was a part of town with nightclubs, but instead he pulled up in front of Solid Gold.

The cab driver called over the doorman, who turned out to speak perfect American English. I told him what I wanted, he told me Solid Gold had music. "What is it, a strip club?" I asked. I like strip clubs actually and was thinking maybe an hour here first wouldn't hurt. But he said "well, no it's more like a whorehouse." I told him I wasn't interested, did he know anyplace playing live music? The best he could come up with was a bar named Kill Kenny that had a DJ. Feeling defeated, I said OK that'll do.  And besides a bar named after a South Park gag can't be all that bad right? The driver dropped me off in front of Kilkenny's Irish Bar which I realized was about one block from where I had originally got into the cab (you bastard!).

The bar turned out to be full of suds-soaked Argentinian and ex-pat yuppies squeezing against each other as they made circuits through the crowd. The music was typical top 40 classic US crap. I finished my two drink minimum and split. There were a few more bars in the area, mostly playing the same type of music, but I kept walking by one doorway with some nice ambient stuff coming from it. Since the doorway just had a menu next to it and led upstairs I figured it was a restaurant, but after exhausting all other possibilities in the neighborhood I went upstairs to check it out.

It turned out to be a restaurant/bar so I planted myself in a bar stool near the DJ. The music was really very good. I struck up a conversation with the bartender who spoke fairly good English.  Since I was really enjoying the DJ, I asked her where some good dance clubs were. She told me that most of the clubs in the city had been closed down since the fire in December that killed 169 people. I had been told by some other travelers who had been to B.A. in January that the clubs had been closed then, but I really didn't expect them to still be in March. She told me that children as young as 10 were in the club and killed as well, and that exit doors were locked. It was a big disaster.

Still, it was incredibly strange for such a metropolitan national capitol to have no large dance clubs for so long. What did people do? I was sure that there must be an underground scene raging now, but she said there wasn't. Usually bartenders know these things, but she had no idea so maybe people just didn't dance any more. I felt like Kevin Bacon in Footloose.

At one point, Paula told me that she hoped to quit bar-tending and try to make money giving personalized tours to tourists. I told her that was a great idea and volunteered to be her first customer, so we made plans to get in touch the next day so she could show me parts of Buenos Aires that are off the beaten track!

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Not sure that this is true:), but thanks for a post.

Posted by: Tania | Jul 9, 2009 7:32:08 AM

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