We had spent almost a month in South America by then. When we landed in Sao Paulo, winter was still just setting in. Rio de Janeiro, though rainy, fell in the tropical realm of things. Ilha Grande and the Iguazu waterfalls were also mainly tropical forests.
A warm welcome in Buenos Aires
Thankfully, we had the warmth of friendship and a real home to counteract this winter. Before we left India, Buenos Aires was the only city in South America where we had friends. In fact, our relationship with South America had started with Laura and Nico’s Couchsurfing request a couple of years back. Back when the plan to travel longterm was just a dream. They had stayed with us in our home in Mumbai. Then we had welcomed them as strangers. This time, we were meeting them as friends.
Buenos Aires, breakfasts and bakeries
We decided to explore Buenos Aires as locals, as much as we could. The first step – get to know the local bakery. Almost every block here had its own bakery. Laura and Nico introduced us to the one in their neighbourhood. They also introduced us to facturas – different shaped breads stuffed with a variety of goodies. Walk into the bakery, select your facturas (four for each one was a good number, at least one had to be with dulce de leche!), pay the baker. Then drown yourself in the sweetness of each factura.
Free Walking Tour in Buenos Aires
Italian fascination in Buenos Aires
We also came to know of the Argentinian fascination with Italy. One particular building we saw, Palacio Barolo, had everything Italian in it. It was built by an Italian architect. Its design inspired by Divine Comedy, the most famous work of the Italian poet Dante. People spoke Spanish with an Italian accent. Several times, their body language remind us of The Godfather. A lot of people we met in Buenos Aires and later in the south of Argentina also had an Italian passport. And everyone we met told us we had to try the drink, Fernet with Coke, a typical Italian drink, liked only in Argentina!
Cafe culture in Buenos Aires
The cafe culture was omnipresent in Buenos Aires. People didn’t meet at the cafes to eat. They ate at the cafes to meet. You could have one cup of coffee, spend a couple of hours in the company of friends all along with free wifi.
Fashion and style in Buenos Aires
Walking through the lanes of Buenos Aires, the city as a fashion capital of South America began to unravel itself. We often heard references to “Paris of the South”. Grand old colonial buildings (many of which were actually built in Europe, and only assembled here in Buenos Aires), stood next to sprawling malls and modern condominiums.
Buenos is a massive city. A quick tour is not how we wanted to get to know it. We decided to get to know the city by the neighbourhood. Everyday, we would pick a neighbourhood and sit with the map. Nico would then tell us the best way, metro stations or the bus numbers to get there. Armed with these pointers, dressed in several layers of warm wear, we were all set to delve deeper into Buenos Aires, the city we were falling in love with.
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Other stories from our travels in South America:
Rio de Janeiro, the city of the sun and the sand welcomed us with heavy rains! But there is so much this city has to offer, that rains weren’t a dampener at all. This is a quick snapshot of what we did in the rainy yet marvellous Rio de Janeiro.
“Which way to the airport express?” Blank stares, shrugs and then the response ” Aah, Inglés!” Lots of sign language, pointing directions, followed by a thumbs up, a smile and us replying ” Obrigada!” Invariably, there is a dismissive wave of the hand saying, ” Na Da!” Thus began our trip to Brazil.
How do you combine blue, green and white and make the most beautiful thing ever? Of course, by making the island of Ilha Grande! We decided to head to Ilha Grande for our next stop. In the state of Rio de Janeiro, it is part of the area called “Costa Verde” meaning the “Green coast”.
“Don’t say it like it’s a bad thing” a co-traveler consoled us when we told him it was time for us to exit Brazil. Our visa for Argentina was running out and it was time for us to start putting it to use.