Martensville Messenger June 16, 2016 - Page 10

Page 10 - june 16, 2016 - martensville messenger Where in the World? The Beating Heart of South America Submitted by Dean Johnston A lot of people absolutely love big cities. The bigger the better. Hectic, exciting, dynamic, intoxicating. Of course, a lot of people also love small dogs that bark a lot, so popularity itself only means so much. Me, I tend to prefer scenery, hiking and lakes where we can swim and irritably complain about the water temperature. As a result, we normally try to stick to smaller centres, the kind of cities, towns and villages that can be managed on foot and are more likely to be found on a list of underrated gems than a list of best places to spend 48 hours eating sushi while on ecstasy. Not that that doesn’t sound like a top notch weekend as well. But some cities are just so iconic and exude such an alluring energy that even a “quaint traditional village” devotee can’t help but fall under their spell. And Buenos Aires is surely one of those cities. As one of the major hubs of the continent, almost every trip to Argentina will eventually involve a stop or two in Buenos Aires. Justifiably one of the most famous cities in the world, a thorough list of the attractions and activities on offer in the tango and futbol capital of the world would take far more space than we have here, but suffice to say that one word nobody ever uses to describe this wonderfully exotic and thoroughly cosmopolitan city is “dull”. Or “vegetarian”. Our personal highlights included an apartment rental in the shabby fading grandeur of San Telmo, the strange mix of new gastropubs and nature trails of Puerto Madero, the colourful houses and dishevelled streets of La Boca and, of course, late night “parrilla” meat overdoses. Also, I would highly recommend taking in a soccer game, the Argentine equivalent to a Catholic attending Mass at the Vatican or a dairy farmer renting a barn loft in Wisconsin. The Boca Juniors are one of the most famous teams in the world, and everyone should try to see one of their home games at La Bombonera, with its anciently steep bleachers and incessantly jumping fans. The name translates to “The Chocolate Box”, either because of its general colour and shape, or possibly due to a very shaky understanding of basic architectural practices. While two or three days is sufficient for many cities, I would suggest at least a week for “BA”, as local “porteños” and pressedfor-time backpackers like to call it. We stayed two weeks and managed to tour most of the city’s highlights including the impressive Recoleta Cemetery (like a mini-city for rich dead people) and the Obelisk, a stunning monument surrounded by “the widest street in the world”, rampant capitalism and several McDonald’s. And just to make sure we had all our bases covered we also signed up for 48 hours of unlimited hop-on / hopoff excitement on the Buenos Aires Tourist Bus. Although the brochure didn’t mention it, I think it is safe to say that if you want to truly feel like a clueless tourist in an unfamiliar city there is no better way than sitting up top in a bright yellow open-roofed bus wearing huge headphones like you are auditioning for the part of crass tourist #5 in the next Ashton Kutcher romantic comedy. But, my, the photo ops. Undoubtedly the most international city in South America, with a vibrant mix of European ABOVE: La Bombonera influences, plenty of beautiful architecture, natural greenery and affordable empanadas, Buenos Aires deserves to be on any shortlist of the world’s must-see cities. Five Things 1. In Buenos Aires they call dog feces “dulce de leche” (due to its unpleasant resemblance to a popular candy), and there is so much lying around that you shouldn’t need to bring any of your own from home. 2. The La Boca neighbourhood is famous for its art scene, picturesque multicoloured houses and creeps in berets who seem to think you should pay them to draw weird pictures of you. 3. Palermo is a gorgeous neighbourhood full of trees, boulevards and cafés yet, as far as I could tell, just the one Sicilian man. 4. Glass halfempty: they say nearly 50% of the people passing through the Buenos Aires bus station have something stolen. Glass half-full: at least some of those th ings are probably selfie sticks. 5. Puerto Madero is a rejuvenated up-andcoming neighbourhood with trendy shops, nice parks, good walking paths and is, according to the local tourist brochure, “an excellent meeting point for gays”. Dean Johnston is the author of Random Acts of Travel: Featuring Trepidation, Hammocks and Spitting and Behind the Albergue Door: Inspiration Agony Adventure on the Camino de Santiago. He is currently finding he enjoys ketchup less than he used to and doesn’t really know why. Http://routinelynomadic. com. ABOVE: La Boca Weekly Golf Specials: 421 Centennial Drive North in Ma Mondays- $50 inc. 18 holes & cart Tuesdays- $30 green fees Thursdays- 1/2 price green fees Fridays- TGIF Twilight Rates start at 1:00pm Smokies!!! • M Regular • Ja • Cajun ch • Cheddar Made fresh in the store. Rea • Saturday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Tuesday - Friday 9:00 am - 6:30 pm (306