“I know that, like every woman of the people,
I have more strength than I appear to have.” – Evita Peron
This South America + Antarctica trip was something I was planning and saving up for 2 years already (or more!). The unstable economy made my job not so easy to plan a huge trip like this and most specially it’s because I am already a married woman, it wasn’t as easy when you were single and deciding things on your own. It’s not that I need to ask for my husband’s permission but when you’re married you MUST share your plans and decide on things together with your husband, even if it’s a solo trip.
My husband has been supportive on my passion on travelling since the beginning and as “some” people around us doesn’t seem to understand, he allows me to travel alone. That’s how we met in the first place, I was travelling solo when I met him (on the plane, lol!). But even if he is supportive I still need to consider what he is very particular of before I can go – my savings and my safety.
It was my first time visiting South America, I don’t have any friends there and I don’t speak the language. It’s the same doubts and worries I had before I went to my first Europe trip in 2010. But then if I wait for friends to come with me on this trip (I’ve invited lots btw!) it may never happen anymore. I know my husband will not join me for the whole trip as he is not so keen in travelling in a strenuous schedule going from one country to another. I knew he will just join me in one or two places in one or two weeks, that’s it. So I knew from the start that I will be travelling alone in most part of this trip.
(My husband decided to just join me in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, see our trip HERE)
As soon as I landed in Buenos Aires after a 19-hour long flight (my longest so far), I knew that I will finally experience a possible jetlag, because I have never experienced being jetlaged yet, just tired from the trip that’s it. So I immediately went to shower and snoozed. And guess what? I woke up at my normal waking time in Dubai (but 7am in Argentina) and not feeling tired at all, lol!
I stayed at Circus Hostel and Hotel in San Telmo area. I chose this because most of the Travbuddies I will be travelling with going to Antarctica are also staying here. It’s one of the top-rated hostel in Buenos Aires and it lived up to my expectations as well. The staff were very helpful, informative, and speaks English, yay! The room has decent size and not too cramped and with a huge window that you can just open if you don’t like ACs too much like me. There is a common plunging pool which is good after a long walking tours in a very warm weather. Breakfast is very basic but you’ll get freshly baked breads and dulce de leche! You can order eggs and bacon for additional cost if you want.
I love San Telmo area because of the narrow cobblestoned alleys lined with old colonial-style houses full of graffitis! There are a lot of good authentic restaurants and bar that in my one week stay there I didn’t really need to go somewhere else just to eat (unless I got hungry somewhere else!). It’s very lively at night and I was fortunate to be there on a Sunday where they usually have the street fair or flea market selling mostly antiques and local arts & crafts.
It is known too for underground Tango club, and our hostel is advising on its notice board as to when and where it is happening, because this “dancing club” does not really advertise at all. We have tried to find one but we just got lost as nobody really knows where exactly it is, this is already having someone with you who can speak Spanish, and yet we still failed. However, if you also miss this out, you can just go to Plaza Dorrego, where professional Tango dancers dance whilst you drink or dine at the square. They start in the afternoon during weekends, but they are just there almost every night.
And since I didn’t get jetlagged, I was up early and ready to see the city. The first place I want to see by just looking at the pictures from my researches is La Boca. Our hostel has a FREE walking tour for this on that same day so I was fortunate to join. This tour is usually NOT free, so in return I just gave our hostel guide, Fransisco, a little tip. Btw, even if they do not give a proper tour with proper history telling, the fact that they guide you to walk towards there from the hostel is good enough, so have the decency to at least give a small tip. I was just surprised that some people don’t give tips just because it is said to be free, tsk!
Anyway, La Boca is my favorite part of Buenos Aires, in fact I visited it twice! I just love how colourful this place is! The man behind making this place colourful is through Argentina’s famous artist Quinquela Martin, who is from La Boca. This place also is the birthplace of Tango from the early immigrants from Italy. This is why you will see a lot of restaurants here that has Tango dancers to entertain you any time of the day.
Apart from tango, this is also the home of one of Argentina’s popular football league, the Boca Juniors. I planned to watch a football match but it is not possible anymore to buy tickets for non-club members, besides they said it is not so safe to watch it as there will be hooligans if you do not know where to sit. It was advised to watch it with a group tour.
The next area I visited with some of the girls I met in La Boca tour is Palermo because these girls said we can find good restaurants here to have our lunch as it is known as a hip neighbourhood. Perhaps it was not a good time to go when we went there because most of the restaurants are closed, it was national holiday at that time. We just had a quick lunch on one of the eopen restaurant and walk around Palermo’s parks and lakes.
The next day, I did some Free Walking Tours at Recoleta because it was advertised that I would be able to see Bueno’s Aires’ architecture. It was a good walk and history telling, however if I’m going to summarize the tour, most of the architecture houses and buildings in Buenos Aires were just “copies” of what is trendy in Europe during the old times, mostly French architecture.
This Recoleta walking tour ends at the Recoleta Cemetery. However it won’t walk you around as this is another PAID walking tour. But our guide was kind enough to tell us on how we get to the mausoleum of Evita Peron, it’s quite difficult to find if it’s not with the people going there too, just follow them. I memorize how to get there that I even told a friend on how he can find it, but now I totally forgot how already haha! :P
It was very tiring walking almost the whole day so I just finished my day walking around San Telmo’s Sunday Street Fair or Flea Market, which is just around where our hostel is. I had some yummy helado (ice cream) and pizza, as you can notice Argentina is greatly influenced by the Italians, it is obvious also on how they talk, it is Spanish but it sound like in Italian accent with of course a lot of hand gestures too. It is because Italians were the early immigrants of this city.
Maybe you’ll find this a bit silly, but when I was still in the Philippines we have a popular corned beef brand, Argentina, and I told myself that when I go to Argentina I should try their carne norte, lol! Well, I didn’t find one but of course I always have steak most of my dinners there until I get over saturated then I go for green salads sometimes. I love my steaks to be medium-rare because I don’t like hard steaks, but in Argentina their medium-rare is almost like medium-well, so apart from their HUGE portions, I always don’t finish my steaks even if it’s so good and tender!
Argentina is also known for wines, I don’t like red wines (I drink rosés only, and sometimes white if there’s no rosé) but here in Argentina, drinking Malbec wine helps me get through with big portion steaks, just perfect combination. (Oh just a note, green salads in Argentina is not the best, they only have 3-4 type of veggies in it and the dressing is always too bland)
When I got back from Iguazu Falls (I was away for 2 days) I was with my fellow Travbuddies already. We did the Free Walking Tour at City Centre. This is by far a lot better than the Recoleta Walking Tour, I love the history telling the most especially about the Perons, as I am a huge fan of the movie / musical, Evita.
(Check my separate entry for Iguazu Falls, HERE.)
Walking alone the first time around Buenos Aires was a bit nerve-wracking for me but after spending a week in Buenos Aires, my new-found friends said that I act almost like one of the Porteños (locals from Buenos Aires) already. Not only that I pay attention already of dog poos I might stepped on at streets and not only I stop at pedestrian lanes even if it tells me to go as some cars just wouldn’t stop for you, but I also began walking comfortably even in crowded places and not worrying about getting harmed in any form (of course I still maintain being vigilant at all times!).
As a solo female traveller I felt very safe.
I received a lot of messages from friends admiring me for going on this trip alone and most specially why my husband even allowed me. I don’t understand why people still ask these questions when you just try to Google their questions, there will come up a lot of blogs of married people travelling without their spouses! Guys, it’s pretty normal, trust me. If you don’t trust your spouse, then that will not feel not normal I guess. Guess what? We don’t even call or chat everyday, we worry more of the roaming charges haha! I only chat with him when I find good wifi or free time (the latter is more of the reason!) and I only call him during emergencies (usually bank issues banning my transactions). He travels a lot mostly for work, and he does the same way too so please don’t judge me! :P
I can’t blame these people to think this way because I also met one married guy in our hostel and I was happy to know that his wife allowed him to travel alone too, but when I was leaving for the airport at 3am, I saw him going back to our hostel pissed and with a young girl in his arms, that made me sad and disappointed that some would do this just to get laid. Perhaps I am just blessed to have a supportive husband who allows me to do things that makes me happy and trustworthy at the same time.
Well, this is not the first time that I travelled solo and also not my first time to travel without my husband with me, so despite my worries just before I went to this trip, as what always happens to me, those worries disappears quickly in just few hours after landing. I just need to secure my husband that I have enough money to go for this trip and I still have enough left on my savings. Most of all, I need to give him a list of my whereabouts, this is not to stalk me but to know where to find me in case I die along the way, lol!
So you see, travelling solo even if you’re already married really works! But that doesn’t mean that you need to leave out your spouse from your planning, even if he allows you but you feel guilty, then resolve it first or just don’t do it. You need to be on the same page, you need to make him feel secured that you have more strength that what you appear to have and that you need to be sensitive also about your finances (even if you have separate monies). And if you are on the other end that it’s your spouse who wants to go on a trip alone, you should not deprive him/her also of the world and what makes him/her happy doing alone or with his/her friends. It can work if you will both make it work together, besides it takes two to Tango isn’t? ^.^