Digesting Buenos Aires requires a certain amount of effort. Firstly, the city is enormous - 13 million residents in the greater metropolitan area, nearly a third of Argentina's 40 Million inhabitants. Thankfully most of the areas a foreign visitor is likely to visit are situated in an area near the coastline (or river mouth, more accurately), close enough together to be almost walkable - and easily navigated with metro, cheap taxis or busses.
But the digesting that gave me most trouble came in the form of Bife de Lomo, massive slabs of tender steak that Argentina and particulary Buenos Aires and the surrounding Pampa are justly famous for. Possibly unwisely, I made my first assault on one of these only a few hours after stepping off my 16 hour plane trip from Sydney via Buenos Aires. Airport, transport and hostal check-in simply were navigated without any fuss, so I made arrangements to meet up with Chris and Kath - travelling incognito as Paco and Conchita on their way home to Sydney from New York via too many exciting places to mention here.
Christmas dinner at El Territorio in San Telmo
After a few hours at a local bar sampling the local brew - Quilmes - and wine (various Malbec labels) and a nice Spanish strength gin tonic, we decided that we´d hit the restaurant previously planned for Christmas lunch at once (Conchita isn´t big on waiting once a good idea enters her head).
The place recommended (La Cabrera) is very popular with the locals so we supped on a glass of bubbly waiting for our table to come free - which it did sometime after 11pm. The waiter raised his eyebrow when we ordered two full and one half steaks -which should have sent off a few warning bells, but it wasn´t until two giant metal trays (tastefully cow-shaped) arrived, each with a one kilogram, inch thick slab of meet on them. The half kilo steak looked modest in comparison. Out of pride we polished off most of it, leaving the salad and fries untouched. I don´t think my jet-lagged body will forgive me in a hurry for that !
In general Buenos Aires is a place for strolling around, enjoying the cafes and sites. There are plenty of musuems and galleries, but none come particularly recommended. Instead on Christmas Eve I met up with with Pablo from Madrid (but originally BA) for a much more modest lunch and catch up and walked about 4 hours around the up-market districts of Palermo and Recoleta, visiting the cemetery where Evita (and hundreds of other famous Argentinians I really hadn´t heard of) are buried, before passing back to the hostel via Puerto Madero, the recently revitalised Buenos Aires port area.
Casa Rosada and the famous Evita balcony
Argentinians celebrate Christmas Eve rather than the 25th, so the Hostal put on a roof top BBQ grill and party for guests, staff and other random strays in the area. That finished at 6am (further impressing my jet-lagged and steak digesting body) so Christmas Day really started with a Christmas lunch of a steak sandwich with chips at Chris and Kath's hotel, before starting an afternoon's bar and tapas hop.
Boxing Day was in La Boca, which I'll save until I can get my photo uploading process going more efficiently than it is now ! Back into civilisation today so contact may well become more frequent.