Stan came to stay with us the night before we left, Amanda and I had a frantic day to get all done before our departure on the evening of the 5th. Eventually we had done all we could and left our two cats and the house to the tender care of our house-sitters, Heidi, Rex, Sheila and the children Cora and Lucy from Portland Oregon.
Amanda, Stan and I arrived on Wednesday 6th in Buenos Aires, to be met by Phyllis and Mac. It was lovely to be met by old friends and we delighted at seeing them in good spirits after several year of very mixed fortunes.
We drove into BA and soon found our apartment in San Telmo, where we were welcomed by Maria who looks after the block of apartments. Arrangements had been made for us to get some local currency and soon we were set for an exploratory walk-about in our new surroundings.
The local street ‘Chile’ is lined with pavement cafes, tables and chairs under umbrellas gave us shade from the midday sun as we enjoyed pancakes and fresh orange juice. Warm sunshine and the vibrant atmosphere in BA overcame our lack of sleep and we began to wind down after the months of planning and preparation.
On the following day we had arranged to meet Ian Thurn, who very quickly put our minds at rest about the process of retreiving the cars from the docks. We are shipping into Zarate and Ian later introduced us to a Horatio Borda, who will arrange customs clearance at the docks.
The process seems this time to be very simple and was explained to us in a few minutes. Horatio took copies of our passports, V5’s and contents of vehicle lists, gave us a timetable from the arrival of the ship and re-assured us that it takes about 3 hours from the ships manifest being deposited to clearing the cars, provided of course that the paperwork is in good order. We are paying close attention to that aspect and on our return were arranging with Diana for her to bring copies of her passport. We are still awaiting the road insurance documents, but we hope that quality copies of these will suffice at customs to allow clearance.
With most of the business dealt with until the ship arrives, we now have time to explore and sight-see around the city. Despite Stan having been here in 2009, due to the protracted shipping process he was unable to spend much time in the city, for Amanda it is her first visit.
The local streets in San Telmo are very colourful, with many interesting shops, bars, restaurants and antique shops. The architecture, in this almost the oldest part of the city, is mixed and varied, from very small houses to newer apartments and shops. Businesses, rub shoulders with living space and through it all rumbles the daily traffic of deliveries, buses and private cars, over the cobbled street surfaces. There are 54 historic bars and restaurants, some of which we have already visited and opportunity for diversion at every turn.
On our first free day we set out on what became a fairly epic walk, from San Telmo to the docks of Puerto Madero,
on past the “English Clock Tower” to the main station which was opened on 1 August 1915. The steel structure for the building was made in Liverpool, England, and re-assembled in Argentina. For many years it was considered to be the most important example of structural engineering in South America and architecturally one of the finest buildings in the world. In 1997 it was declared a National Monument.
Here we looked in wonder at the Minton Tile interior and train shed, before retiring to the original station buffet where the sumptuous interior survives and we were entertained by a white jacketed pianist while we sipped our cool draft Quilmes beer.
We walked back through the rush hour (actually almost continuous day-long) passing the Goya hotel where we stayed last time in BA and taking in the Old Post Office, Casa Rosada Presidential Palace and the Cathedral, until wearily we trudged the final blocks along Defensa to our apartment, arriving after 8.00pm. Too tired to eat we made do with a couple of G&T’s before bed.
The following day we were better organised and after breakfast set out to embark on the city bus tour. We spent time in Boca District, walking around the Italian Quarter before re-embarking for the long ride around the northern districts.
We stopped to explore the Recoleta Cemetery and treated ourselves to an excellent gelato. We booked at the Petanque Brasserie and enjoyed a very good supper and bottle of Malbec before retiring again exhausted to our beds.
Buenos Aires has again delighted and intrigued, the climate, the people, the laid back style are so pleasant and invite exploration. Tonight Diana will arrive from North Carolina, tomorrow we shall enjoy the street festival that is San Telmo on a Sunday. Amanda and I are beginning to feel the benefit of a break, when we have little to do except be tourists and enjoy the peace for a while.