Argentina: the Final Destination

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We made our way through the mountains of Chile into Argentina, the last country on our list. Luckily I had switched to my French passport to avoid the visa fee for Americans ($250 but valid for 10 years).

We reached Mendoza at night, ready to try that Argentinian steak everyone had been raving about. Few places were open but we found a cozy restaurant to eat our steak with chimichurri and a few beers. The next day we walked the streets of Mendoza. It’s a small town and we had arrived on a Sunday and Father’s day so almost everything was closed. We spent a few hours trying to finagle our way into the blue market to exchange money, no one seemed to give us a clear answer as to where we should go. But this allowed us to walk the quiet streets and the town reminded me of a small town in France, totally different from all the towns we had seen in Central and South America so far. You can see the European influence everywhere.

Luckily the Trapiche vineyard was open, and though it was too cold for the vines to be producing any grapes, we spent a delightful afternoon touring the facility and doing some wine tasting. We bought about 12 bottles and were given a bottle of the house wine as a Happy Father’s Day gift to Ean’s dad. We spent the night in our Airbnb loft, drinking wine and telling Ean’s dad stories from our trip.

The drive from Mendoza to Buenos Aires felt a little long, as there wasn’t much to look at, so we were very excited to arrive into the city. We had booked a beautiful luxury apartment in Palermo which reminded me a lot of the West Village in New York, with tree-lined streets and cute little cafes at every corner. We had brunch at Restaurant Ouioui and dropped off the car for a quick refurbishing before heading to one of the walking tours of the city.

The plan was to leave the car in an RV lot designated for overlanders like us trying to sell the car. We headed to the center to grab a quick lunch before the walking tour but we ran into a small problem. The café we had just eaten at didn’t accept credit cards and we didn’t have any Argentinian $ left. One of us ran to the bank but the debit cards were not going through. So while Ean’s dad was running from bank to bank, Ean stayed at the café and I left to meet up with the walking tour group, keeping both Ean and his dad updated on my position so they could join me. We walked through the park adorned with beautiful statues as well as about 100 pigeons that would very suddenly fly away, circle around and fly back towards us as if they were attacking us. I paid close attention to the architecture of the buildings around me. Buenos Aires’ architecture is known for its eclectic style. One building may look very European, complete with gold trims, while its neighbor stands tall in black onyx. Like in Paris, buildings cannot be taller than a few floors.

When I realized Ean and his dad wouldn’t be joining anytime soon, I left the group and tried my luck at the banks. I finally found a small one that accepted my debit card and I reunited with Ean and his dad at the café. Luckily, I had the walking tour map, so we did our own version, stopping by to admire little shops at our leisure along the way. We stopped by a shop selling very intricate knives and matte. I fell in love with a wooden matte cup adorned with a precious pink stone. The shop owner explained that the stone is symbolic of Argentina, as it can only be found in the near region.

We continued our walking tour to the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, the church where Pope Francis was Archbishop before becoming Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, walking by the building where a huge black and white portrait of Evita is painted.
It was starting to get dark, so we made our way back towards the car, listening to Madonna’s new album in the taxi. We then headed to a tango show at Señor Tango. It was located in a part of town that is considered a little less safe and I could see why as we drove through the dark alleys, but this was supposed to be the best Tango show in town and it did not disappoint.

The next day we went to the mall as I wanted to buy shoes similar to Toms (they are actually made in Argentina) but I wanted to support the local brand: Paez. They were as stylish and comfortable as Toms but 1/3rd of the price. On our way back we stopped by the neighborhood butcher and bought huge pieces of steak to barbecue and also local pastries from the corner bakery.
The next day we took our final picture with the car before I headed to the airport to join my family in France.

This was it, we had done it. 15,000 miles in 4 months with La Bête. They thought we couldn’t do it. We weren’t even sure we would. The beauty of the trip was that everything was up in the air. If we loved one place we would stay, and if we heard about a cool waterfall or beach at the last minute, we would make it part of our itinerary. So we didn’t know if we would make it to Buenos Aires, but we did. And although I wouldn’t have minded a few more rest days here and there, I can say that Ean and I took full advantage of everything each place had to offer and we have no regrets.

Part of me was excited to go back and see family and sleep in the same bed for more than a few days but the other part of me was sad that our journey was coming to an end. I was just in awe of everything we had done and seen, of the people we had met and how much stronger the bond between Ean and I had grown. We hadn’t come even close to killing each other and had only had maybe two tiffs throughout the trip. I was also extremely thankful of the support we got from everyone. When we posted that last picture of us with the car we received so much love from friends, family and people we hadn’t seen in years. This journey might have come to an end, but we were about to start a new one, this time in Los Angeles.

la-bete

Recommendations:

Tango show: Señor Tango, Buenos Aires
Restaurant: Restaurant Ouioui, Buenos Aires
Vineyard: Trapiche Vineyards, Mendoza

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