When you have a ton of weekend plans and the weather calls for rain, you have two choices; you can stay in bed and watch it from the window or you can go out and dance in it... this is the story of a great weekend in the pouring rain:
Friday morning I woke up super early unintentionally. It was one of those situations where I was trying to sleep in and ended up waking up at 7am instead. All of this would be irrelevant except that I discovered two really important things when I woke up early. The first: mornings are underrated here. Everyone sleeps in from a late night out, so you have the city to yourself and endless possibilities. If you have crazy friends that also wake up early, you can drag them to do the activities you want to do too! Which leads me to the second important thing: best crepes ever.
Three of us met for a date at La Galette in Retiro and it was heaven. I was terrified when the man placed this crepe in front of me because the egg looks raw but I've been to France and eaten crepes and this crepe was better!
Our next step was to head off to Tigre. Getting to Tigre from Retiro Station is cheaper than taking the bus from one stop to the next in the city. A ton of people recommended Tigre as a nice day trip and the 7 of us were all feeling a small vacation from the city. Before I go on much further, I think it should be known that the recommendations for Tigre were made under the assumption that we would go when the weather was nice, but we decided the rain wasn't going to stop us.
Welcome to Tigre!
The train ride was only an hour and if you stand by the doors aggressively like we did, you can snag a seat. The second we hopped off the train in our newfound paradise, the boys bought some sausage from a street vendor in the terminal, because when you're in Tigre you feel a new sense of freedom.
It was a Friday afternoon at this point, which in Tigre apparently means no one is around. The streets were empty, even more tranquil than Mendoza, and we could meander without the fear of big city crime.
Just us, some palm trees, and some fast moving cars
We were heading towards our hostel at 'glacial speed' when we came across the set of a movie! At first we thought it was a police raid, until everyone just stood really still for a super long time and we caught on to what was actually happening. At this point it was still just damp and dark, but all the green in Tigre looked super fresh in the pre-rain atmosphere.
Upalala Hostel was only a short, slow walk away (probably like 30 minutes) and was a pleasant surprise. As long as you are okay chatting with the concierge and sharing a room with 8 people, the hostel was as nice as any other. There was a rooftop terrace with an asado, a 9-bed dormitory that made you feel like you were back at summer camp, and a balcony to look out onto the water because the hostel was right on the river! The concierge was super excited to practice her English so we got to know her pretty well before running off.
The view from our balcony at Upalala
Tigre is bordered by a river on one side and one way to get around the suburb is to take a boat! My host parents recommended the 'lancha-colectivo,' a hop-on-hop-off boat tour of the city that takes you through all the canals. Often times as Americans we get conned into doing unexpected things and paying more than expected, ie. we did not actually end up on the lancha-colectivo but this boat ride was still some of the most fun I've had. The company we chose didn't provide any guidance and definitely turned around early, but we sat by and enjoyed the green grass and brown river that Tigre had to offer.
Just some happy kids on a boat
Saturday was a slightly different story. First of all I woke up like this...
My experiences with hostels thus far in Argentina have been more than positive. You can make friends with the other random people there, there is often times free food involved, and it is almost always dirt cheap. I recommend making your bed before 2am when you are too tired to put more effort in, because otherwise you will wake up on a bare mattress...
Like most Saturday mornings in Argentina, Tigre was dead (even more so than the day before). We had the river all to ourselves and went out with rain gear in hand for some activities.
You might be wondering what Tigre has to offer as far as activities...
- MAT - Museo de Arte Tigre - the museum was closed ~classic~ but according to 90% of the reviews on Trip Advisor, the building is as much a piece of art as the exhibits so if you don't want to pay this is a great building to stare at.
MAT in all its glory
- El museo de mate - also was closed when we walked by but I'm still intrigued by what is inside.
- House of cultures - this hidden gem was bumping old music as we strolled by. The rain had started to steadily drip so we detoured inside on our way to Puerto de Frutos. The house was beautiful and housed a photography and painting exhibit.
- Puerto de frutos - I was told this 'puerto' was a covered market which was perfect for us as the rain started to fall heavier. By the time we got to Puerto de frutos though the streets were flooded with massive puddles. The market was enormous, tons of vendors everywhere selling anything you could possibly imagine: clothes, home art, cuero (leather in Spanish), waffles, lanterns, literally everything! While the vendors were covered, the pathways between shelter were not, so we started to accumulate water in all our crevices.
- Chinatown - super close to House of Cultures and Puerto de frutos, Chinatown looked huge and was so close! After getting drenched on our way out of Puerto de frutos, everyone was ready to head back so we didn't get to Chinatown or the rollercoasters but they definitely looked worth the visit!
- Amusement park - Ryan was super excited to ride the rollercoaster in Tigre but apparently lightning and rollercoasters are not the best match so by late afternoon we were all drenched and got on the train back.
By Sunday morning we should have had enough. We barely slept in the hostel and the rain was drawing us back to bed... but the boys had signed up for Buenos Aires Half Marathon, and what kind of friends would we be if we didn't wake up at 7am to go cheer them on. Caela and I woke up, grabbed some medialunas, and stood on Libertador like proud moms waiting for the boys to run by. The rain held off for the whole race until we got to the finish line and the downpour ensued. By the end of the race we were all freezing, hungry (from all the cheering), and so wet so we warmed our hearts and stomachs with brunch.
Boys' first half marathon, photo creds to the queen: Caela Camazine
Nothing like sitting inside eating onion rings while watching people get drenched outside
Sunday night I slept like a rock. It had been a weekend full of rain and adventures and the feeling of laying down on my bed was the most satisfying thing. After this weekend I learned a couple important things about Buenos Aires, studying abroad, and the weather.
- There are awesome crepes in Buenos Aires.
- Mornings are incredible - everyone always sleeps in because they are out so late or on vacation or whatever but there is something to be said for the solitude of the morning. The whole city becomes yours.
- Tigre is well worth a trip - for about $20 USD and the price of food you can get to and from Tigre and spend the night. The town was such a nice vacation from the city, even in the downpours.
- Hostels, hostels, hostels - free friends, free bread, and free stickers. What more could you ask for?
- Don't let the rain stop you - we are all inclined to sit in bed and watch the rain from the window, but every day this weekend I came home drenched (my clothes had to hang in the bathroom for two days to dry) and couldn't have been happier. Once you hit a certain level of wet you are not getting any wetter so stand in the rain, sin-umbrella, and enjoy the drops :)