Steak in Buenos Aires and thoughts on hospitality

This is a tale of two cities. It begins in London, on the lift to the Picadilly Line in Covent Garden. There was I, be-hooded and backpacked, contemplating my solo trip to Argentina. On walked a well-spoken man in a suit who started by shouting “can you move down” (there was plenty of room) and then for good measure “and stop being such fucking tourists“. I noted with pleasure that the tourists at the front werent listening but I, looking like a fucking tourist myself, took the brunt of his anger as he squished me into the wall. What a terrible day he must have had to act like such a wanker, I thought, but what a miserable git – has he never been a tourist himself?

Soon after that I saw a young Chinese woman in the tube asking for “terminal four” repeatedly and being told by an eye-rolling woman (who got off at Knightsbridge) that she had no idea what she was saying. Everyone seemed to be looking at their feet but I managed to step in to help before the woman burst into tears – Ive been there before somewhere foreign on my own and lost and scared – and to give Londoners their due, others stepped in to help too. Which proved hard as her knowledge of English didnt really extend further than “terminal four” (which I have sympathy with – Im currently touring Argentina with only the words “una botella de vino tinto por favor” for company).

I didnt fret too much – as you know I believe in karma so I know that the universe will be depositing one of its short and curlies in besuited man and posh womans dinner any time soon. And karma shined its face on me too, as a payback for the lift-squashage. A woman in buddhist robes gave up her seat for me on the plane as my headset wasnt working, and will presumably achieve more favourable reincarnation as a result of missing out on Twilight Eclipse.

And the good karma continued for me – I was taken out in Buenos Aires by Yanina and Mathias with whom I share only a tenuous connection, being a friend of a friend of a friend. And yet they took me out on my first night in Buenos Aires to Palermos La Cabrera, one of BAs best steakhouses, for a night of delicious steak and wine courtesy of Altos Las Hormigas – the malbec made in the vineyard for whom my friend Aileen works, who I am visiting next week. Everything they say about Argentinian steak is true – it is perfectly cooked, tender and mouth-wateringly delicious. I will try to figure out why by my next post when I will have tried some Mendoza asados. The wine was also wonderful – deep and spicy as if made by red ants (and available in Londres at Waitrose and other posh wine places). It was our noche de las hormigas and I had a wonderful time. I was touched at the warmth and kindness shown to me by these almost-strangers especially in light of the tourist-bashing Id seen in London. The people of Argentina seem to share a warmth and kindness that makes travelling here fantastically easy and fun. Although they eat bloody late (dinner doesnt start until 10pm earliest and on my first jet-lagged night we didnt sit down at our table until midnight). UPDATE: I realise this paragraph doesnt make much sense unless I explain that Hormigas means ants in English. There are little ants on the wine bottle – cute.

I also managed to panic when ordering in La Boca and ordered the giant steak below. It was the bife de chorizo and really meant for 2 people (man next to me ordered 1/2) but I was too ashamed to show Id made a mistake so bravely ate 3/4 of it myself. And now want only pasta for the next couple of days. But it was lovely too.

Im now in Iguazu, in a hostel with a pool and swimming in the sun, but on the top bed of a crowded dorm bunk bed in a hostel with terrible music and a happy hour. So you cant have everything. I got here through the kindness of an old man who helped me – having the wrong ticket and there at the wrong time – to get the right bus. Remember its the Olympics in London soon so we will be flooded with touristas. So I make a pledge now to be nicer, to help people looking lost, and not to suddenly find my navel fascinating when someone asks for help.

Please note I have been unable to find the apostrophe on this Argentinian keyboard, I have not lost all ability to spell.

17 responses to “Steak in Buenos Aires and thoughts on hospitality

  1. Aww! So many memories – wonderful!

    Enjoy the meat! One more phrase for you (the only one Seth knew) “La comida esta deliciosa” (the food is delicious in ase you were wondering!)

    Keep the stories coming.
    Make sure you do both sides of Iguazu.

  2. Wow, you got into La Cabrera on your first night, every time I go by there is a long queue and I can’t be bothered to wait. In Iguazu try a bar/cafe on the same side as the bus station heading down the hill, it is red and has cool/funky decorations. The cocktails are good, I especially liked the caipirissima. A few doors down from there is a great shop with quality products made by local artisans. It’s called Timbo Iguazu.

    And I am just finishing a month here in Buenos Aires, so check out the blog if you like.

    Buena suerte con su viaje.

  3. Okay, I will get in the queue tomorrow, so I can taste the steak and ice cream.

    Unfortunately I won’t be here in 2 weeks, which is a shame because I would have liked to have had a drink with you. I’m a first time blogger I started blogging 4 weeks ago, and a friend from London sent me your blog to look at, so I started following you and a week later your blog entry is from Argentina. It’s a little weird, in a nice way.

    I look forward to reading more about your travels around the country.

  4. go Sasha!
    looks and sounds like you are having a fab time, enjoy your time away.
    and as for the rude, arrogant knobs you leave behind, they are very sad individuals who’ve no doubt had hard days in the office but there is no need for lack of manners and arrogance!
    Enjoy Ms Sasha! x

  5. Hi there,

    I came across your website some time back and have only just returned to it today, while I was reading about “Making Slough Happy.” Amazingly enough, I will be leaving for Argentina this Friday, and will also be heading to the Iguazu Falls, and I know loads of people probably make the same journey, but, in the words of 1,000 Awesome Things, awesome! I love coincidences. 🙂

    Anyway, hope you have a good trip! Love the blog! 🙂

    • Hey there and thanks for the comments, love it 🙂 And will take some time to read your blog soon. I went to Iguazu Falls today – and ironically got annoyed with all the crowds of tourists walking slowly in groups and taking a million photos… ha ha how ironic! Anyway Im going to post my tips about where to go, stay, what to do etc when I get back. you will love it!

      Hasta luego, Sasha xxx

  6. Wow – check out the size of that steak! Well done you for getting through most of it.
    Enjoy the adventure and I look forward to reading more soon.

  7. Just seen this – my wife and I are taking a cargo ship from London on the 14th – takes 30 days and we then arrive in BsAs!!! Can’t wait to get started and on our way. Great blog!

    • Crikey – er why a cargo ship?! Im almost back (long story, BA airport a nightmare) and will do a couple of posts on Argentina food and wine (AMAZING) and a wee 2 week guide so have a read then. Am stuck in the back and beyond trying to get to BA now so will take a long overdue at your blog now! x

  8. re the cargo ship – I’d read an article a couple of years back and thought it a great way to get some where, obviously time permitting! More and more I looked into it the more keen we became.

    I will def read through your blog for tips and suggestions!

    We leave on Monday – it’s been windy and very rainy over the last few days.

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