Travel Dates 22nd-23rd March 2010.
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Well, here I am again, looking out the window at fluffy white clouds moving swiftly past - below me.
I left home on Sunday morning on Jetstar, using some of my Qantas frequent-flyer miles. I decided to have a lay-over day in Sydney coming and going, to reduce the stress of too many long flights in sequence.
So, after a short hop from Coolangatta I took the Airport train to the city and booked into the Travelodge on Wentworth and Goulburn after a bite to eat at the pub over the road. It was called "The Brewery" but I didn't notice their own brew on sale. Black Angus steak and salad for $10 sounded good but this was the chef's idea of “medium”. I'm glad I didn't order rare – I probably would have had to catch and skin it. I let the kitchen know but I was too hungry to send it back. I had plenty to eat by just slicing off the edges anyway.
I'm looking forward to Argentine beef and the legendary Asados.
I spent the afternoon mainly in Paddy's market, picking up some small necessities. This guy was playing what sounded like rock didjeridoo outside the doors. Pretty good too.
When you travel as an Aussie you quickly learn that Australia is a long way from everywhere and that patience in airports and aeroplanes is essential to sanity for frequent flyers like myself. As I sat reading my book in the gate lounge I noticed the queue start forming at the entry desk 45 minutes before the doors opened. I've never quite understood why people do that. What do they gain? Basically all it usually means is that they have to move when I finally turn up to claim my window seat.
We left Sydney half an hour late but the captain assured us that the flight to Buenos Aires would only be 11 ½ hours. Quite short really, considering that it is scheduled for 13 hours going this way and 14 ½ coming home. He was right and we arrived earlier than expected. I didn't get much sleep on the flight so I decided I needed to get straight to bed and arranged a car into town, getting a discount deal for the return trip at 5am next day.
As I am travelling alone this time I decided to experiment a little with accommodation. Florida Hostel Suites is my first Youth Hostel. It's a mixed bag. On the plus side, the bed was comfortable and the water was hot. On the negative side, I found they had unbreakable rules, No check-in until 2pm. I was ready to fall into the sack, because I had woken in Sydney 22 hours earlier and it might be noon in Buenos Aires but it was 2 am in my body. But no dice – those rules were unbreakable. So I stored my bags and went wandering around Florida street for a couple of hours. It is an interesting district but, as I discovered later, much more interesting in the evening.
I was finally allowed into my room and collapsed into bed. I had a reasonable sleep until about 7 then I went out to face the evening. The street is a wonderful pedestrian mall. All the shops are open until 8pm and the street market continues for a while after that. There were street performers at regular intervals – flautist, tango, singers - and a reasonable police presence to keep things under control. I was a bit more careful when I wandered away from the bright lights, but never felt at risk.
I ate at a Parrillo which looked wonderful. All you could eat for 25 pesos, about AU$7. It was a little dearer than some of the competitors but had a good choice of salads and other foods. But I went for the beef. And I was terribly disappointed. The three cuts I tried were all tough and overcooked. The saving grace was a nice chorizo sausage. Ah well, I'll be returning to Buenos Aires for a full week later in this trip and now I have a little better idea of what to look for - and what to avoid. At least they did supply a passable half-bottle of vino tinto for 15 pesos to wash the tough steak down. I realised that I was unlikely to get breakfast at 4:30 am at the hostel in the morning so I smuggled some nice frittata out in a serviette.
I had a pleasant conversation with a young New-Yorker when I was checking my emails using the hostel's free wi-fi. That was one of the reasons I decided to try hostels. However, one of the reasons not to became apparent when I was trying to grab some shut-eye between midnight and 4am. Noise. The lift had a door which opened outwards and slammed solidly shut whenever anyone arrived on my floor. Which seemed to be every 20 minutes until 3am...
So here I am over the Andes en-route to Lima, Peru, bleary-eyed but excited and looking forward to this next adventure. I am in another hostel in Lima for a couple of nights, then I will be taking the bus to Nasca to look at the lines, then bus again to Arequipa. I will have look at my options there, but my intention is to see Colca Canyon and then continue on to Puno on Lake Titicaca.
I won't be uploading this until the next time I find a wifi spot; see you then.