One giant leap for Dekan part 7

Tickets please, tickets please

Time to book my ticket for Mendoza – I told you I’m travelling right! Lol

After sitting in a cafe using their wifi all morning trying to figure out whether it’s cheaper to fly or get a bus and where to stay I decide that I’ll go to Mendoza on Friday and take the much talked about bus!

I pack my bag and now head to Retiro station!

Retiro is a bit of a strange place, filled with stall after stall of merchants attempting to sell you any little bit of tat you want. Interjected between these stalls are a number of food sellers, some cooking on the street, others who’ve prepared their sandwiches for sale. I pass one stall where they’re selling fresh chorizo grilled sandwiches – it spells and looks delicious. Just the place your mates tell you about when they bombard you with their holiday stories! Lol. But focus! Bus ticket first!

The area of Retiro where the station is, is not the most pleasant of places… It’s a bit grotty and come night time I’m not sure I’d like to be walking around alone. (Something to remember when I’m booking my ticket’s departure time)

Walking into he station doesn’t I still me with much confidence- it’s dated and could do with some real attention. This is an international bus station, but it feels more like a small local station. Having brushed up on my vocabulary for tickets I spot the sign and the bus company I’m going to book with (recommended on trip advisor) and try to play it cool as I approach the kiosk! (The del-boy falling through the bar scene quickly flashes through my head) I reach the front of the line, and ask for my ticket- as I expected the attendant doesn’t speak English and is struggling to understand my pronunciations, apart from the word ‘Mendoza’. But this is where my back up plane kicks in – I’ve written it all down – Last Boy Scout or what?!? Lol!

She understands!! Pen and paper are truly man’s greatest inventions! Paying proves slightly more difficult as my card takes an eternity to go through… But eventually it does and I’ve now got myself a one way ticket to Mendoza on a 15 hour bus ride! Yes 15 hours! Where is that far by bus? And shouldn’t it be illegal to be on a bus that long? Lol. Luckily I decided to book the ‘cama’ or bed seats for this trip. They were advised to me by friends. Slightly more expensive than normal tickets, they apparently offer a bit more comfort and a kind of in-flight service. I just wish they’d actually fly! Another few days and I’d find out!

Walking back towards town I see the chorizo guy.. Should I, shouldn’t I? I way the odds. If I eat one and it makes me feel sick, I’m still in a good place to chill at home and get better.. Go on Dek they look and spell so good! 30 seconds later and I’m biting into a soft baguette filled with juicy, full-of-flavour. With each bite I’m praying that I won’t get sick.

Within minutes I’ve polished off my scrummy snack and now it’s time to walk back.

I’m tempted to go back, but I’ve got dinner plans tonight. I’m being taken to a local ‘Portana’ restaurant in Palermo!

Stomach or bowel

I’m not talking about the chorizo sandwich, I’m talking about the menu at Enfunda la Mendolina.

It’s a quirky place with load of trinkets on the walls, retro toys dotted all over the place and reclaimed wall tiles as plates.. Nice touch!

My host, Ale encourages me to be adventurous so I sit back and let her order some Molleja. She tells me what it is, and I take a breathe remembering that my friends back home had god me that in Argentina no part of the animal is wasted! I’m promised that it will be the best thing I’ve tasted so far, and when it arrives I must say that it looks pretty scrumptious! (Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture as I was too busy preparing to eat it)

The molleja is covered in a light breadcrumb batter and served on a bed of sweet sautรฉed onions and crisp lettuce.

When I finally did pluck up the courage to eat it I was genuinely surprised by how good it tasted – allowing my mind not to focus on what it actually was – and simply just going by taste and smell, I have to say it was very good! Honest! ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s on to my main meal now and something a little more normal – chicken! Again I have to say that it’s great- Enfunda del Mandolina do a great job of preparing local food in a stylish way and I recommend you drop by if you’re ever in the area!

After dinner – we take a trip to a doorway. This isn’t just any doorway; it’s home to 878 bar – a trendy night spot for true Portenas. The bar is brimming with alcohol from all over the world – the cocktails in here are supposed to be amazing. So for the taste test, I order an amaretto sour – my drink if choice at the moment! ๐Ÿ™‚

After initially being told they don’t make them (I’m shocked) I convince the waitress to get the bartenders to live a little experiment a little – they’ve got all the ingredients.

When it comes it’s good, and I sip away enjoying more great company…but tonight can’t be a late one – tomorrow I’ve organised a trip to Tigre…20130124-122334.jpg


One giant leap for Dekan part 6

Hola!!! Don’t get too excited I haven’t learnt to say much more than this, but I am starting to understand the language a lot better! That’s mainly thanks to the new friends I’m making!

So it’s been a couple of days since my last instalment – hope you haven’t missed me too much? Just thought I’d give you a break and also do a few more things.

Where did i leave you…. oh that’s right I left you after my evening of dancing and steak…

Waking up on Tuesday (Martes) morning again by the building work, but it’s cool – I’m in a big bustling city and there’s noise – so I’m over it! ๐Ÿ™‚

What to do today?

I woke up, stretched and started my routine – carefully remove my toothbrush from my wash- bag. Right now dropping my toothbrush on the floor is a concern, a big concern. You may laugh, or be thinking WTH?!? But really I don’t care… My toothbrush is mine.. Dropping it on the floor anywhere would be a small trauma! Lol. I’m not saying the place where I’m staying is dirty, but it’s not my place… It’s someone else’s… And that odd route hair you might see on a bathroom floor occasionally (and don’t pretend you’ve never seen one), well I know that it’s got nothing to do with me…

So after I’ve brushed my teeth, carefully replaced my toothbrush and had a shower – love that it’s powerful and hot – it’s back to my room to decide what clothes I want to wear, or what clothes do I want to sweat in today. I grab some shorts, and a t-shirt, pack my little rucksack with my essentials – map, water, guide book, pen, notebook, wet wipes, hand sanitizer and a packet of tissues I’m good to go.

(I’m not OCD, but according to a lot of the guide books, finding a loo and then a loo with toilet paper is difficult – and I’d never like to get caught out… But so far everything has been fine – no nasty experiences to report)

So I step out in the blistering heat and it is blistering. After two blocks I’m starting to feel my body heat up like its on fire.. Sweat beads drip from my brow like I’ve just been doing another series of ‘Dekan Does’ lmao!

But at least I’ve got my tissues and wet-wipes!! ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s lunchtime and I’d arranged to meet another new CS friend for something to eat. Arriving at the restaurant – I’m very happy – it’s full of locals…and more importantly it’s busy, very busy. It’s time for my first Argentinian Empanadas. My lunch mate isn’t that hungry, and to be honest neither am I (not after last night’s steak anyway). But I force myself (lol) to try a slice of pizza – thick with cheese, gooey mozerella and spinach and meat (carne) empanadas! I tear through the pizza with ease, it’s only a small slice (honest), but it’s tasty! Next the Empanadas. If you’ve never had one, it’s like a pasty. But this one wasn’t the type of thing you get at a London train station on a drunken night home, this was crispy and yet soft with really well favoured chicken and chunks of garlic – delicious!

After lunch I consider getting the subte but despite the heat walking around the city admiring the architecture, people watching, and eyeing up potential eating spots is much more appealing, so I continue. By the time I get to the Obelisco it’s time for me to take a seat and play a game I’ve made up – spot the tourist. So far I’m absolutely pants at this game and that’s mainly because Buenos Aires is so multicultural… You could stand 10 people in a line and I would not have a clue whether they were local or not!


I give up on my game and take my hot self (temperature not onwards to the heart of theatre land. For a moment I have to double take as it looks and feels as though I could be back in London or New York! Glowing neon lights, gigantic billboards… Loads of cabs.. Wow – not really what I expected at all, but it’s cool. The noise and hustle instantly reassures me – it must be because it reminds me so much of being home.

Street performers and people selling bits of tat litter the pavements – every so often I walk past a giant bin and I have to hold my breath! The smell is nauseous! But I pass and continue onwards to my unknown destination!

By the time I’m ready to check my phone and get some wifi so I can also double check my plans for tonight I look up and I don’t really have a clue where I am! (Don’t worry mum, I’m safe lol). I’ve just been so caught up in looking around at the buildings and trying to remember any phrases I’ve heard that will allow me to communicate better with everyone.

So out comes the now very worn map… It’s falling apart like you wouldn’t believe! Right here I am, no here I am….wait… No, yep… I’m here! WTH! I’m miles away! I better start making my way back to my homestay… I’ve only got an hour or so before I meet yet another CSer, Mariel, who’s taking me to a language exchange night that’s held in a local pub (don’t get any ideas I’m going to do this idea when I get back!) It’s a great way to meet more locals, exchange language skills and have a cold beer! And this pub couldn’t be better for that! I’m no beer drinker, but they looked like they pretty much had everything that would make a beer drinkers wet dream! (No pun intended- seriously).

On the way to Temple bar – where this weekly language exchange takes place Mariel takes me on a bit of a tour walking past this place – London city cafe. Really in Buenos Aires? C’mon portenas it don’t even serve English breakfast tea… And I didn’t travel all this way to go to a cafe trying to link itself back to London. I must say though that the scaffolding was a good London building site touch! Lol!

We arrive at Temple bar and its a throw back to my university days. Dark, with loads of corners and a bar stacked with bottles! I get talking to an Argentinian guy who speaks English, Russian and Portuguese. And another Argentinian guy that has the strangest Australian/cockney accent I’ve ever heard! But they’re great – as I’m new they mainly talk in English – apparently I’m now helping them learn, but very welcoming cool guys! The night’s going great, so when my hosts tell me they’re off I stay to continue talking – after all having walked around most of the city today I know I won’t be getting lost! After a few more conversations, I decide to leave and head to another CS meeting. It’s still early (12am) for Argentinians even if it is a Tuesday! I catch up with the CSers and am immediately spotted and welcomed by some CSers I’d met on the Friday – it’s like meeting long lost friends! We chat and joke and just as I’m now expecting we head to Palermo Soho for a pizza and to chat some more. The place is buzzing as usual and we eat and chat well into the morning!


One giant leap for Dekan part 5

Monday was another day dominated by sight-seeing. After a lay-in I awoke to some drilling and banging – it seems the apartment block I’m staying in is currently undergoing some refurbishment, which is great for the residents, not so great for someone that got in after 2am!

My evening at Siga la Vaca – a traditional all you can eat buffet Barbecue – had been lovely, meeting more locals through CS and enjoying a bottle of red wine (to myself) all for the price of 139 Pesos (about ยฃ17) For the quality of the meat and wine this was a BARGIN!

As the night drew in – my fellow diners, from Venezuela, Columbia and Argentina took leave, as they’d been out to Tigre..(When I go, I’ll let you know)

So an early-ish night beckoned.

Horsing around

Next day and I’d arranged to meet (you’ve guessed it) another CS. Like me she was new and because she was free in the day time had offered along with her friend to take me and a couple other CSers around town. So we met in Macdonalds (I can’t believe how many there are in Buenos Aires city) and took the train to Plaza de italia in Palermo. Although I’d stayed briefly in Palermo I hadn’t realised the full size of the area and many things it offered the wandering traveller away from it’s ares rank if drinking establishments!

I was taken to the beautiful parks and Palermo lake which in 30+ heat was only just tolerable. The views were nice, the parks full of families on day outs and women wearing tiny shorts and roller blading their way to toned thighs. A quick detour to the observatory and then a slow walk (did I mention how hot it was) back towards the station.

But what is this I spy…. A race track! And not that but an open race track with a race about to start. This was all as much of a surprise to me as it was to my guides- they’d never been to a horse race and hasn’t even realised that Palermo track was actually there! Another great thing about sharing a day with new friends – it always leads to new experiences for everyone.

With a race about to begin I convinced my guides that it was no point just watching, we should pick a horse and see if we get lucky… I’m not a gambler, but it did seem a shame not to put a little bet on. By little I mean ยฃ1.20 or 10Pesos ๐Ÿ™‚

We grabbed some seats in the share and waited for the race to begin… Finally the bell and the riders as horses were underway! As the horses nearer the line, the crowd began to become very animated – screaming and cheering away. Unfortunately we stopped cheering, as our horse not only didn’t win, but came last! Never mind. For those few moments we and the millionaires around us were all sharing in the same experience… Even if we’d only lost ยฃ1.20. ๐Ÿ™‚

After being safely escorted to the subway by my guides and positioned almost on the track so I’d know which train to get, I left to go home.. I’d planned to meet more friends and that evening at Bomba del Tiempo!

Can you feel the music

A shower, a change of clothes, a quick check on FB to make sure plans hadn’t changed and I was ready to dance the night (some of it) away with locals and tourists alike at one of the most popular joints in town! Bomba del Teimpo takes place in an old oil processing factory – hundreds of young things gather to listen to hip swinging beats produced by a energetic band of drummers.

When I arrived, I walked towards the entrance and noted that most of the people were drinking quite heavily outside the venue, before venturing inside. I assumed that it was just expensive inside, what I didn’t account for was the 45 minute queue to get to the bar! But alas I was stressed – I’d met some new friends, was slowly allowing my hips to become acquainted with the beats and feeling the cool no-trouble-vibe! After being given the largest beer I’d seen my friends, and my hips made their way through the crowds to find a spot to really let go… And let go the people around us did.. Sweat was a necessity. People moved as though they were possessed! Always smiling, always cheering, allowing themselves to be take I a wonderful musical journey!

By the time my sweat glands and hips had gotten into the swing if things the night was over – only two hours of dancing, but it felt like l’d done a 10km run, without any of the pain or breathlessness!

So where to next? As I’d already discovered buenos Aires is the town that doesn’t sleep, so we made our way to one of the best steak restaurants around, [la Cabrera] (Where else was I going to go? Lol)

At midnight, the steak, service and atmosphere was as exceptional as if we’d been the very first customers… I’m sitting there eating thinking this is the life!

So after more conversation, jokes, laughter and country comparisons I’m off back to my apartment courtesy of a lift home from my new friends… Great day, great night!









One giant leap for Dekan (bridge 3-4)

Hello. So for those that have started to read and follow my blog thank you! It’s greatly appreciated.

Thanks also for the feedback – it’s nice to know you care enough to send me your thoughts. With that in mind I’ve decided to write a little more detail. I’m using my phone to blog and it’s sometimes difficult to judge just how much I’ve written – after all I don’t want you to get bored! ๐Ÿ™‚

So lets go back a couple of days to Saturday night and Sunday…

After my first steak at Miranda I decided to wander around the local area of Palermo and take in some of its wonderful nightlife. It was nearly 12am on Sunday when I left the restaurant and began my walk along Fitz Roy. Instantly I was transported to Ocean Drive in Miami… Bars littered every corner and crowds were starting to gather at their favourite drinking holes to begin their evenings.

But it wasn’t just the bars that were buzzing, the restaurants were very much open too! None of this – the only thing you can eat after 1am is a ‘dirty kebab’ or greasy chicken business – these were proper restaurants, with proper kitchens and chefs!!! No spotty teenagers serving cheap hamburgers here!

I was surprised, friends had told me that Buenos Aires is a city that never sleeps, but I really didn’t imagine it would be this awake!

So now squeezing my way through the crowds I came across a bar (the name escapes me right now). It was just off Fitz Roy and looked pretty cool. I was greeted at the door by a friendly guy, and after a few moments of ‘habla ingles’ he somehow managed to explain to me that there was a one drink minimum and that they had a number of special deals on – 3 Moijitos for 100 pesos being the one that instantly caught my eye! THREE Moijitos for ยฃ12!!!!!!! Thanks very much, where can I sit!?!? ๐Ÿ™‚

So I pull up a table in the bar and look around at the clientele… They’re all Argentinians, or at least all Spanish speaking. It’s the first time I’ve been to a bar/club alone, but it’s cool – the waitress brings me my cocktail and we have a chat in broken English, the bouncer comes over to say hello… And then the promoter sits down next to me. We talk for a moment, about England and what’s good for me to go and see in Buenos Aires, and then he asks the question… You for karaoke? Haha I as in the local karaoke club! This would be fun!

Unfortunately for them and for me (more them) they didn’t have many English songs on their books, so I respectfully declined, despite his very eager efforts I get me on stage!

While I wait for the fun to begin a group of 10 more people enter the bar and make their way to the back – obviously tempted by the drinks offer. Immediately the host and waitress come over to my table and tell me that they’re English and ask whether they’d like me to introduce them to me. Very sweet, but I didn’t really want to meet other Brits, especially ones that look so typical of holiday makers.. ( I’m sure they’re nice people). I declined and sat back in my chair.

And so began numerous passionate and slightly out of tune renditions of some Spanish classics – all of which involved mass audience participation! When the hen-party arrived I knew it was time for me to depart ๐Ÿ™‚

Next day, (Sunday) and it’s time for me to move out of my hotel and in with my homestay family. Leaving the hotel bed behind was like that scene in Ghost where Whoopi Goldberg has to hand over the cheque for four million dollars to some nuns and she doesn’t want to let go…lol

But I made my way, via the subte (subway), and back-pack in tow to my new accommodation in the area of Recoleta. Recolecta is one of the nicer parts of Buenos Aires- it’s apparently where the rich and influential people reside, so I’d blend right in then….NOT! ๐Ÿ™‚

I was met at the door to the apartment block by my host Liliana, who despite writing perfect English in our email correspondences doesn’t really speak any English at all. This would be fun! I got settled and by that I mean I got the Internet password from her, and began sending confirmation emails of my safe arrival to family and friends.

But I already had plans! I’d arranged to meet a local nearby who had kindly offers to show me the sights of Recoleta. (Again all sorted through Couch-surfer website – I can’t praise this website enough right now)

So a few miles later, we’d walked around most of the area, taking in parks, markets; the famous Recoleta cemetery – resting place for Evita – wandered around the art museum and downed a few cups of freshly squeezed orange juice!

I parted ways with my guide, Mariel, and made my way back to my apartment..after all it was only 7pm and I had plans that evening!





One giant leap for Dekan part 3

Wow! Finally steak!!!!! It’s what I predominately travelled all this way for, but wait, is that it?

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have a bad steak – it was delicious, but, and this is a mediocre size ‘but’ but I expected sooooooo much more! Let me explain…

I love steak, my friends and I in London have made it our mission over the last few years to try as many steak restaurants in the city as we can, either individually or as a group of three – call us the three steak-a-teers if you will! ๐Ÿ™‚

So far the best steak we’ve eaten (taste/value/the whole deal) has been at Hawksmoor. It has to be one of the consistently best steak restaurants in London! If you know better please share! ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, so I know a little bit about steak, so coming to Argentina should be a match made in heaven!! Despite my OK meal on Friday, I decided to venture to a well recommended steak joint on Saturday alone. (Only adding this so you know I was focused on my meat experience)

Miranda’s in Palermo was packed – I waited 40 mins for a table, and finally once I sat down there was only one thing calling me on the menu – Ribeye steak! The waiter came and effortlessly I ordered and then began my wait… The place was packed with diners so I was very hopeful. 20mins later it arrived.

From the picture it wasn’t the prettiest looking plate of food, but the steak looked good… I took a breath, placed my napkin on my lap, grabbed my knife and fork and began to slice. As I did so I could instantly feel the corners of my mouth start to curl as a smile came over my face! I was like a kid getting his favourite toy!

Another breath and I brought the fork with a decent size piece of steak on it to my mouth and opened wide!

Like my feeling when I watched Batman, the dark knight rises and Skyfall, my excited anticipation turned to ‘is that it?’ reality.

It wasn’t bad, it was cooked perfectly. The chimchurri sauce on the side was good too, but it just didn’t take me to the steak utopia I hoped it would have. And I’m not saying Miranda’s is not worth going to – please don’t take that away from my experience- I think that I’d just hyped it up so much that when it came to it, my imagination had run wild on me! ๐Ÿ™‚

But alas there are plenty of steak restaurants in Argentina and my experiences are getting better. Yesterday (Sunday) I went to a barbeque place – Siga La Vaca– and it restored my faith somewhat!

I wanted to write more about my day, including the karaoke experience, hen party, my tour of Recoleta with another couchsurfer, but I think I’ve made myself hungry again… ๐Ÿ™‚






Almost forgot!!! Homestay! I’ve now loved out of my plush hotel room and am embracing the traveller spirit (one step at a time) I’m now staying with a family in the heart of Recoleta! The website is a great way to embrace a city, sticking you with a family who will share some of its secrets with you.

It’s not free like Couch Surfing, but it’s cheaper than a hotel and often a hostel too! Depending on who you stay with you get your own room, and sometimes even a private shower..Woo!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

The family I’m with seem cool, it’s a mum and her son. Unfortunately the don’t speak much if any English, so my Spanish is getting lots of practise! (Just don’t test me- I’m not a Porteno yet!) lol


One giant leap for Dekan part 2

So couch surfing… For those that don’t know – you better get to know! As I once said in my youth. It’s the future (I know it’s been around for ages – check this out link), but I never really understood or appreciated its benefits. It’s the ability to go away and have a ready made friend/acquaintance structure in place. Set up to help travellers not feel so lonely and provide a comfortable couch with ready made local guides – couch surfing should only be celebrated. Politicians and governments take note! Your people enjoy the company of other cultures and want to know more about the places in the world- quit being so short-sighted and couch surf!

Enough ranting…

So couch surfing. Before I left I signed up to the website and sent a few requests out – not asking for a couch, but more to meet local people and others that had trodden the path I was about to… Searching on the website I was immediately presented with numerous options about where to go… Where to meet etc.. I decided on a couch surfing meeting that was scheduled for the day I arrived… No need to waste time!

So after lunch, a nap, a shower and one last look at my huge bed (see pic) I ventured from the perceived safety of my hotel (don’t worry I do embrace the travelling way later on) to a bar I’d never heard of, in a city I’d never been to, to meet people that didn’t know me from Adam!

After the obligatory getting lost phase of my journey I arrived at the plush Milion bar ( check it out). I was greeted by some stares, some smiles, and then a voice that welcomed me into the fold! At least seventy CS members had turned up, either alone, or with friends they’d made on the way. I talked and talked, exchanged stories, laughed, gasped, and in the end decided that I’d had one of the best 4/5 hour experiences in my life… Profound but true!

I met travellers, architects, language students (loads of these), graphic designers, you name it they were there. All gathered with no animosity, no chips on shoulders, just people coming together to share cultures and experiences! I absolutely loved it!

Unfortunately home beckoned after it reached 3am, but not to fear I’d organised a tour of Buenos Aires with a fellow surfer… Can’t wait!




One giant leap for Dekan….

So a quick indulgence… I’ve chosen to write a few short blogs about my travels to South America. Hope you enjoy the read…. If you manage to pick up any tips then that’s a bonus!

Firstly the reason why I’m here – well that’s simple why not?!?!

First day in Buenos Aires was filled with anxious curiosity, after all it’s the first time I’ve traveled alone and even at the age of 34 it’s still a pretty mean feet! I take my hat off to all those who went traveling while I was at university and working. There I was thinking they were just off on a jolly, and although they probably were, traveling abroad is a massive learning curve and takes a great deal of bravery!

Anyway back to my trip: I landed yesterday after what was a very long and pain-staking experience – mainly because I was sat next to the biggest bloke on the plane! Honestly, he was a cross between Steve Austin (WWE) and the Incredible Hulk! How he slept for the whole 12hour flight I don’t know. All I know is that I didn’t! So after a butt-numbing flight and a two hour queue to get through customs I stepped out into the baking heat of Buenos Aires!

A taxi, a seamless check-in at my hotel (my one and hopefully only luxury stop) I collapsed on the super queen size bed… But could I sleep? NO!!! I desperately tried, but my brain was switched on and all it was thinking was steak, wine and sun!

This lead me to my first Argentinian eatery Parrilla Pastas. At 4pm I had the choice of any seat in this beautiful restaurant, with open grill and an underling French bistro feel. But the food… Well the chips were good… Not worth talking about the rest… Apparently the pasta is good, and no offence but, I didn’t travel to Argentina to eat pasta..

So, alone in Bs As I decided to do what every other modern traveler does and log onto a computer and check out my social media. ๐Ÿ™‚ after sending a few choice updates, it was time for me to head out into the city. After all I had a couchsurfer meeting to get to! That’ll be the next instalment..

(Hope you enjoyed the read – leave a comment and let me know)

Adiรณs ๐Ÿ˜€


Christmas Christmas Christmas

Merry Christmas one and all! On a day that should be spent with family and friends why do you choose to rush around endlessly all day and in the lead up to the day, searching for gifts, food and brandy cream?

Surely ‘simple is best’ this time of year… And the ideal present unless you’re under 10 yearrs old should be time.. Time to spend with those people you hardly see all year…time to laugh and play, time to enjoy the company of those you care about most… ?