Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Don't cry for me Argentina, i'll do it myself boohoo!

So as i told you in my last update i decided to go on a little vacation, didn't want to go to far so i chose Argentina. Well, after all its only 23 hours of traveling away. To get from my house to the hotel it was almost like the film "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" as it took every form of motorized transport to get there but i didn't have a travel buddy with me. Shame, John Candy would have kept me sane haha.

So i left Swansea at midday on Wednesday caught a taxi to the station where i boarded my train to London Paddington. The train journey passed without incident apart from my baggage falling on my head from the rack above as i don't like to leave it near the doors in the suitcase rack. Good job my brain had left the skull years ago so my bag had a soft landing. From there it was the Express shuttle to Heathrow. OOOOooooohhhh! Aren't they posh, TV and WiFi. The Welsh version of that shuttle is to the Valleys and all you get on there are used snot rags and empty Special Brew cans. At Heathrow it was time to board a flight to Madrid for my connecting flight to Argentina. Flights were booked with Iberia and i have to say they are much better than any other airline I've used so far. Couldn't sleep on that flight so decided to play the "Spot the happy trolley dolly" game. This is where you look at all the flight attendants, spot which ones are actually smiling then decide if they are really happy or just a fake cheesy beaming grin. My decision on the first flight was 1 was naturally happy, 1 was a cheesy fake and the other 2 just couldn't be arsed to smile as they would have broken their make up.

2 hour wait at Madrid and being as it was getting late all the shops and bars were closing so i quickly bought myself a bottle of Rose wine and Parma Ham Ciabatta. Haven't the Spanish ever heard of butter? There wasn't even mayonnaise put on the bread, it was like eating dry wall with leather in the middle. Time to board the flight to Madrid as i walked on to the plane i was met with lovely reclining seats with a personal reading light and TV with remote. Now this is the life i thought. You have to remember i haven't done a long haul before so then my joy quickly turned to dread as i was lead towards a curtain. Then i realised that those seats weren't for me. I stepped through the curtain and was met with rows of 8 seats (2x4x2) as far as the eye could see with with lots of heads moving about trying to get comfortable for the ordeal of a 13 hour flight ahead of them. Now you know in "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" they stepped from reality in to a wonderous fantasy land, this was the opposite of that. They lead you past wonderful luxury seats to your chair of torture. Its almost like they're trying to say "Here you go sir this is what you could have been sitting in if you weren't such a tight ass" LOL.
The films on the flight were "Rise of the Planet of the Apes", "Super 8" and "Cinderella: Story of a Song". Seen the first movie, wanted to see the second movie and pass on the third movie. First came the food mmmmm lovely pesto and broccoli gnocchi (pasta) with coleslaw and a lemon cheesecake, of course this had to have a bottle of wine to wash it down and all free, now that made it taste even better. Time to settle down for the films and before i had even seen the opening titles of the first film i was asleep. A few hours later i woke and had slept through the first two films and woke up just at the beginning of the third. OH MY GOD! not only was the seat torturing my body i now had my eyes and ears being bombarded with American teenage cheese. If there had been a hijacker on that flight at that moment i would have told them to shoot me now and don't use me as a hostage just to put me out of the pain from watching such an awful film.
13 hours later i was touching down, Thank God!

Off i go to line up for my papers to be checked with immigration officers and someone caught my eye. First i saw a guy with a Paul Weller modfather haircut, it was a guitarist who used to be in Oasis (the band not the clothes shop) then i saw another guy with a modfather haircut, then another, then a few well built guys and then from behind them stepped none other than Liam Gallagher. See even world famous rock stars have to line up for immigration. he ended up the other side of the waiting rope from me. I didn't want to bother him for a picture with me as I'd just been on a similar flight to him and he must get so fed up with people asking for pics so i took a sly one so i didn't get smacked in the gob LOL. As me and Liam lined up we had a little conversation about what i was doing out there and what he was doing out there and he said he was a big fan of mine and read this blog religiously, he asked for my autograph but no pens available. I bet his kids won't believe him that he met me haha.

Liam asking a fan to get him some "Cigarettes & Alcohol" from duty free.
Outside was my transfer mini bus waiting for me to whisk me off to my hotel. I was booked in to Monserrat Apart Hotel in the heart of Buenos Aires.


It was a lovely place with everything you'd need for a relaxing holiday you can see the pictures for yourself on the website but they don't show the roof terrace so here's one i took earlier.

The roof terrace where i spent the odd hour singing "chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey, chim chim cheroo" with a crap cockney accent.

So down with bags, in to the shower and off out to explore, not without getting dressed first of course.

I really couldn't believe how close the hotel was from the centre of Buenos Aires, 10 minutes walk at the most and when i hit the centre i was blown away. Forget London, Forget Paris, Forget Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (yes its that place in Wales not just me having a fit on the keyboard). This place was amazing. The main centre has, wait for it, 10 lanes of traffic each way going through it. It was that dangerous to cross the road it had a countdown on the little green man (which over there was white) for when it was going to turn red.

I took a walk across town first to find the building where Eva Peron addressed the public and gave her speech in protest at the arrest of Juan Peron her husband. The building is called Casa Rosada or The Pink Building, i wonder why?

About an hour away from the centre by car is a great shopping centre but its all stalls of arts & crafts which is called Puerto De Frutos which is set up along a riverbank. You could have furnished a whole living room from this centre with everything from sofas, to artwork, to ornaments and wouldn't have cost you more than £300. I couldn't believe how cheap it all was and none of it was "tat" like you find at UK arts & crafts stalls.

A few pics from Puerto De Frutos

Back to the centre of Buenos Aires and went for a longer walk to see what i could find. On one building either side of it were huge pictures of Eva Peron. She is adored by almost everyone in Buenos Aires and it shows through out the whole of the city but most of all on this building.Near this building is a statue of Don Quixote who is a fictional character but the novels that were written about him are classed as major works in Spanish literature and it is said that he traveled around Argentina on one of his many travels.

But for every upside to a city there is a down side and this was the amount of homeless sleeping on the grass banks at the sides of the main road through the centre of the city. Such a sad sight to see but again the UK has just the same homeless problem as here.Football out here is everywhere, from football parks up to the huge professional stadiums. As i drove past self built slums they even had an area set aside made as a football pitch in the middle of the slum. Its a religion, its in their blood from when they're born. I saw a football being kicked on almost every corner by kids from the age of 2 up to the odd pensioner joining in, it really is one thing that unites Argentina and judging by the huge billboards above the high buildings rugby is catching up to it but it will never be as big as "the beautiful game".

The stadium of the Argentinian football team Club Atletico River Plate as i passed it on my travels.On to my favourite pastime, Food & Drink, not so good on it when its included in a quiz game.

I had read up on what Argentina is famous for. Steak i already knew about but i had never had Empanadas and if Greggs did Empanadas i would be one fat bloater. They are very similar to pasties but with a light thin short crust pastry which are cooked in advance, then when you order them they are slide in to a clay oven to be heated up and boy are they good. I had a chicken stuffed one and a parma ham and mozzarella one, never tasted a pastry like it ever. every bite had so much flavour with herbs and spices and you can taste exactly what it is in the filling as its all freshly made and put together that morning, in fact i want one now, time to book a flight back i think.

My little Empanadas, awww don't they look cute.On to one of the bars i decided to visit to partake in the sipping of a light beverage. Alhombra as you can see from the pictures stood out like a beacon amongst all the other buildings. This was my type of bar and that was before i even stepped inside. Outside was weird and wacky inside was classy. So i took my seat at the bar and ordered a Havana Club Rum with Sprite. This was service of the highest standard. First i was given a empty glass with a bottle of Sprite on the bar, then the barman poured in the rum, shortly after followed a plate with lemon slices and behind that came a miniature ice bucket with tongs and a long spoon to stir my drink once I'd finished adding all that i wanted to add. Now that's class. Wonder if i could do that with cocktails in my bar, just leave all the ingredients on the table and say "get on with it" LOL.

Alhombra, the pictures speak for themselves.Me with the barman Jesus, he had class.While at Puerto De Frutos i sampled some more rum, just for business reasons of course and came across a bar called Epoca De Quosos that had seating made from old boats and the boats actual seats were left in to be used as side tables. Hmmm. mental note:- nick some boats for bar.Time to try some of that famous Argentinian Steak so i went to a restaurant called "Pamplomas". In there i met up with few other brits who were also on their travels John, Steve, Nikki, Tristan, Emily, Ambar, Kerry, Robert, Patrick, Owen, Karen, Sam, Judy, Katy, Sarah, Chanis, Abi, Tom and John. As you can see I'm crap remembering names LOL. what an amazing group of people, great company, friendly as you like and a bloody good laugh, i enjoyed every minute of their company. So i sat down with them for a steak. Now if there's one thing wrong with Buenos Aires its that hardly any of the workers in the public tourist sector speak English. You can imagine what it was like for 20 of us trying to order our food and asking for how we want our steak cooked. Everyones came back wrong, i asked for Med/Rare but it came back Medium but never the less it was a great piece of steak so it didn't matter one bit the way it was cooked. I was looking forward to having Chimichurri relish with it but none came. Then as i was about to finish my last mouthful out came the Chimichurri, DOH! That stuff is so good. Over there when you order steak thats exactly what you get, just steak. No salad, No rice, No fries just a plate of meat, just how i like it.

The Pamplomas restaurant where the brits took over and lost, damn that waiter & chef! LOLI met up with guys quite a few times to be honest and every day we did meet was a pleasure, i even met them at the airport going home, who would have thought that.

And on that day when it was time to go home a hero was born.

And he would be called "Owen". I love an underdog and I've never met anyone who had forgotten their passport but on that glorious day Owen made my dream come true as he had forgotten his passport. I now know what a passport forgetter looks like and its pale and shaking or was that the booze from the night before? never the less i salute you sir.

Another 13 hour flight home and this time i watched every film as i couldn't sleep. "Captain America", "Harry Potter Deathly Hallows part 2" and "The Smurfs"(pile of Kack) and to get my own back on Iberia for the small seat on such a long flight i stole the inflight blanket, hahahaha, in your face Iberia Airlines.

Another 2 hour wait at Madrid but this time the terminal i was in was alot bigger and cause it was 6am everything was just opening even a bar called "Ars" i was told the beer tastes like pooh in there, BOOM BOOM! Do you get it? Ars, Pooh, oh please yourselves

The bar "Ars" where the beer and wine flows like diahorrea LOL.I gave that a miss and found another bar to have my breakfast as it was 7am, so i thought i would go Continental/British and ordered a plate of Olives (Continental) and a half of San Miguel (Brit abroad breakfast).

Another flight on to Heathrow and a mad rush after collecting bags to get to the Express to Paddington to catch my connection to Swansea which i just made with 2 minutes to spare. After so many cramped seats i decided enough was enough and upgraded to first class to take me home. That was the best £60 ever spent, big wide seat, free tea and snacks, free newspaper and all table service just a shame i fell asleep through most of it after i had downed a pint of bitter. Oh how i had missed you my smooth chilled beer. Over there its all lager, lager, lager, lager, Shouting...Lager, lager, lager, Shouting, Mega mega white thing, Mega mega white thing, Mega mega white thing........... sorry got carried away there thinking back to my DJing days haha.

So thats about all i got to say on that.........for now!

I only scratched the surface of Buenos Aires and so wanted to see much more but with a very short time limit i was restricted. In saying that i've decided to go back with Helen in March for 2 weeks so we can explore alot more of what is a great city.

Ok my 2 typing fingers are knackered now so have to quit this keyboard so until my next update in 2 weeks time i'll say "Adios".

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