Argentinian Adventure

“One day your life will flash before your eyes.  Make sure it’s worth watching.”

So my original travel plans got derailed a bit.  I really wanted to go to Brazil, but I found out that you need a visa to enter the country, which requires your actual passport, not a copy.  This is one of the only times that neglecting travel planning turned out poorly, but it wasn’t the end of the world.  There are still plenty of awesome places to visit in South America, so I took off to Argentina.

My first stop was Buenos Aires, the country’s largest city, which also happens to be the capital.  Of all the places I have visited in South America, Buenos Aires ended up being my favorite.  The town felt almost European with its small shops, bustling streets, fashionable people, and simple but efficient metro system.  It isn’t spotless, but it’s pretty clean for a large city.  As you can see below, some of the streets can get insanely crowded, even outside of the typical commute times.

The street in the picture directly above was at one time the widest street in the world at around 200 meters, or about two football fields.  It supposedly takes 3:00 to cross it on foot.  One day I decided to do a Tabata interval workout in the median, and I got just a couple of stares.  Whatever, at least I can say that I got in a workout on one of the widest streets in the world.

I was hostel jumping the first few days because I couldn’t find a good one that was social, which was frustrating.  On my third one I ran into a girl from Europe, and we decided to explore the city for a few hours.  She suggested that we go to a famous cemetery.  Is that really going to be that fun?  I was actually really impressed with it, and it was worth visiting.  The monument was free to enter, and it was a lot bigger than you would think.  Inside, families had erected what looked like shrines for their deceased family members, and some of them were several centuries old.

God, is that you?

I met an Argentinian girl in Colombia named Stephanie, and she ended up meeting me in Buenos Aires to show me the city since she lived there for about a year.  Thank you for everything Stephanie, I appreciate it!

We took a couple of days to walk around Buenos Aires and see the sights.  One thing that blew my mind is that a lot of people commute from the surrounding provinces in small buses, and the average trip one way is about two hours.  Hope your iPad is charged for that trek.  Here is a picture of people waiting in line to board the buses.  Sometimes these lines snaked more than a city block.

Stephanie showed me an area of the city that made you feel as though you were in a much smaller town, which was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires.  Some parts of the city are beautifully landscaped with flowering trees and lush grass.  The Japanese garden in the second picture was also a sight to see.

Throughout this part of the city, there was a ton of stuff going on.  People whizzed by on rollerblades, sweat dropped off the brow of runners, troops of dancers practiced for an upcoming carnival, and there was even a trio that had these mechanical legs that looked like pogo sticks that they used to bounce to the drum beat from the bands.  This was no doubt the coolest scene in Buenos Aires, and I’m sure I’d frequent it if I was a native.

After seeing Argentina’s busy capital, I decided to slow things down a bit and head to Mar Del Plata (translated as Silver Sea), the city where Stephanie is from.  I was teasing Stephanie the entire time we were in Buenos Aires because she was always comparing her home town to the capital, and now I can see why.  Mar Del Plata is about the size of Milwaukee with its 600,000 inhabitants, and it’s an absolutely gorgeous beach city.  The pace of life here is a lot slower than in Buenos Aires, and of course, everything is cheaper too.

The coast in Mar Del Plata is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.  It’s absolutely spotless, and it has the perfect mix of sand, greenery, and concrete for sports and walking.  I can understand why Stephanie always goes rollerblading along the numerous paths, and you could see various natives doing the same at any time during the day or night.

To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the food in Argentina.  For some reason, it made my stomach feel like crap, and that usually doesn’t happen to me.  I did end up trying mate, a type of strong tea that is served in a small wooden cup with a stainless steel straw.  What you do is heat up water as if you were making tea, and then you put the mate spices in the wooden cup.  Then you pour a small amount of water into the cup, and then drink it through the straw.  Repeat a bunch of times until you’re out of hot water.  I honestly wasn’t a big fan of the taste because it was so strong, and a guy I was talking to said it took him seven years to actually like drinking mate.  Props to him for sticking with that so long.  Natives even drink this stuff outside in the middle of summer, but I just can’t see getting used to it.

One of Argentina’s redeeming foods was empanadas.  I hate to make the comparison, but they are similar to a pizza bites, though they are filled with fresh meat, cheese, and spices.  I tried about half a dozen different kinds, including short-cut beef, chicken, tuna, ham and cheese, and spinach.  You can get them either fried or baked, and of course, the fried ones taste better.  Don’t worry, I only ate one fried one to try it, the rest were baked.

As travel plans tend to do, my plans for the entire trip have also changed.  I was going to stay in South America until late December, but I’m coming back to the States to take a look at a couple of Anytime Fitness clubs for sale.  I’ll write at least one more post after I get back with a few more thoughts from the trip, including what I think is the most interesting stat from all of the trips I’ve taken this year.

I’m looking forward to being back in the States again and seeing you guys!

“The secret to success regardless of your passion is no secret.  Just work hard and add real value to people’s lives.”

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