My big ride - A Kiwified Dutchman heading South from LA

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Normlas, Sep 9, 2017.

  1. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    I wholeheartedly agree with you Sir, claro ! :beer

    Cheers Scotsfire, I appreciate the feedback and hope that you mean 'refreshing' in a good way :D
  2. HiJincs

    HiJincs Dreamer

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    Really enjoyed your thoughtful responses to Paul's questions. They add some depth to the RR that I'm enjoying. Safe travels. I can't wait to read what's next!
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  3. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a stranger rode into town...

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    Totally in a good way. Your scientific background and detailed information on your injuries put your trip into a clearer focus. For me it makes it that much richer, and give me an even greater appreciation for your travels.

    If I prove to have half as much determination in my trip, I'll be fully successful.
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  4. sizzlingbadger

    sizzlingbadger Been here awhile

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    Great interview, I have learnt a lot from following your trip on here, in some small way I am probably a better person for reading it so you should pat yourself on the back as your effort to maintain this RR is probably having a far wider effect that you may realise. I'm off a 4 day MC trip on the S Island later this month, nothing like as epic as your current travels but I will take on board all your advice and I'm sure it will be better for it.
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  5. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Thank you all for your kind comments - much appreciated !

    Where are you going Sizzlingbadger ? I've ridden the hell out of the South Island and can honestly say it's some of the best riding in the world! Once you've been around a couple of times you really don't have to bother with Patagonia - it's pretty much the same :)

    The book "The Motorcycle Atlas of NZ" is fantastic and I've ridden pretty much every road recommended in it and then some. If you get a chance, do the Nevis and stay in the old ski hut at the Kingston end - the long drop toilet will give you the best view you ever had whilst taking a dump :)

    In the mean time I'm afraid that I'm still in Resistencia, Northern Argentina, this was the forecast when I woke up;

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    And this was the view out the window;

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    Thankfully, I have a few spare days before I have to make tracks to BA so it was a pretty easy call to stay and chill for another day. And it was good call too as it rained heavily all morning and it's still raining now at 5:30pm.

    At least it's not so hot! And I've got a very nice and reasonably priced hotel room, the TV takes my USB stick and they have a hot and cold water drinking fountain which is a rarity (still no cats though).

    The weather is looking better for tomorrow and I hope to make tracks and end up in Reconquista, about 3hrs from here and roughly half way to Santa Fe.

    All is hot and humid but otherwise good in Northern Argentina.
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  6. sizzlingbadger

    sizzlingbadger Been here awhile

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    I'm taking part in the TT2000 so will be riding all over the place, 2000kms in 48hrs. I have ridden the S Island a few times but not the Nevis yet. I need to plan something off tarmac for my next trip down there.
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  7. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Wow, I just had a look at the website and the checkpoints for that rally and I take my hat off to you for having a crack at that, I've visited most of those checkpoints but it normally takes me 4-5 weeks, not 2 days!! Good luck and keep the rubber side down!
  8. Sassenach

    Sassenach n00b

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    Hey Arjan

    Really enjoying following along - I'm still here but lurking!

    Interested to see the Linotype in your post - my Dad was a Linotype mechanic, now there's a job that doesn't exist any more. We had two of these beasts in our garage and he used them to create type for printing. I was always endlessly fascinated to watch them and see all the letter moulds moving around and then ending up back in the 'magazine' on top. If you wanted to change typeface or size, you loaded a new magazine on top with the different moulds in it.

    Very cool piece of engineering but as you say can all be done on a phone now.

    Cheers

    Karl
  9. trevgale36

    trevgale36 n00b

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    Thanks for the reply. I was curious but wasn't sure you'd have the energy, travelling is exhausting right ?

    I have to say thanks for writiing the blog also, I've been away from phone service for a few days and to come back into range and see some more of your trip is fantastic !

    One more question, with your experience now, If I were to do a similar trip I'd like to have some Spanish language - ( I figure you just picked it up as you went along ? ) but where would be best place early on to stay a month and learn Spanish ? Maybe stay with a family and immerse myself or perhaps a proper school ? or just learn on the fly as I think you did ?

    Thanks again
    Trev.
  10. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Good to hear from you mate and glad to hear you're still on the ride with me.
    Best wishes,
    A

    Hiya Trev, yep - I just picked up my Spanish on the road but it's still pretty poor. I can get all te important stuff done no problem, hotels, gas, food, repairs etc, as long as it's within context there's no problem. Also most people tend to ask the same questions, so you get better at recognising and answering - where are you from? where are you going? how long have you been on the road? what size / brand / cost / top speed is your bike, do you like my country? etc etc.

    Like learning any language, I can understand a lot more than I can speak and it's also country dependent, I found that the Mexican Spanish is the easiest to understand and the Chilean version the most difficult.

    I am constantly asking people to speak more slowly, and some do, others just speak more loudly or more loudly and more quickly which I always find amusing, it's not that I can't hear them, I just don't know what they're saying :)

    I had planned to take some lessons in Baja Mexico and do a home-stay (there were some available in La Paz) but when I got there I was too busy partying and enjoying the travel and didn't want to stop, probably should have. Although now that I have a basic grasp I feel better placed to take lessons and they'd probably be more useful.
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  11. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Lots has happened in the last few days - let me back track to my rainy day in Resistencia......

    I wake up the next day to dark skies but the forecast is dry and I decide to head out, thankfully the temperature has dropped to a very pleasant 20 degrees and I aim my steed for the city of Reconquista, about 3 or 4 hrs down the road towards Buenos Aires.

    I usually try and have a break every hour or so and in Argentina there are loads of these shrines along the roadside with red flags, they're always under a big shady tree and some have seating. There are loads of them and I can easily pass 15 or 20 in a days' riding.

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    They make perfect rest and lunch stops.

    I've also found out what they are all about - Gaucho Gill! A former soldier, folk hero and Robin Hood type character from the late 1800's who died a martyr and was thought to have healing properties. He is revered by the locals within the catholic faith although not officially recognised by the church as a saint. He apparently used to pray to the "saint of death" hence all the red and black flags.

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    The full story is here linky

    I pull into Reconquista in the early afternoon and play an annoyingly difficult hotel game, there are no hotels on Ioverlander and I must have gone to 6 or 7 different places from google maps and local advice, some didn't exist and most were crazy expensive, like more than double what I had paid in Resistancia for much worse hotels, just 300kms down the road.....??

    I finally find a very old and run down Hospedaje in the centre but the room and parking are OK, the price is 525 pesos and the people running it are very friendly and helpful (I have now added this one to Ioverlander). Then I do the usual town exploration, it's another Sunday and most places are shut but the nearby Plaza de Armas is full of people enjoying a nice family picnic in the park.

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    So Peru had a shop called Auckland and now I find this shop in Reconquista - what the hell people??

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    I get the basics done - recharge the phone, find bread, salami and cheese for tomorrow and find some dinner before returning to the hotel and watching a movie (the new one about Van Gogh's life, was very good).

    Breakfast is included in my very old and run down hotel and is surprisingly good after which I head off South with a full stomach aiming to get to a pre-arranged Motoposada with a guy off the Whats-app group called Elvio who lives in Esperanza, near Santa Fe and about a 4 hour ride.

    The nationally run YPF petrol stations here have surprisingly good coffee and are everywhere.

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    And here is another typical lunch on the road at a municipal park in some random little town, a simple life and an awesome one!

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    So you never really know what you're going to get when you arrange one of these Motoposadas and when I get there I get a bit of a fright. It's rather run down and dirty, it's FULL of people and kids and bikes and it's basic to say the least...... It's not the kind of thing you can walk away from so I settle in and meet the folks - who turn out to be absolutely awesome and I am once again adopted into an extended family of bikers and lovely, kind people.

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    Meet Elvio

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    I decided that with Lisa coming it was finally time to become legal in Argentina and ask advice about getting some motorbike insurance which is legally required here - although it is not demanded or sold at the borders..... Elvio has a mate that sells it and helps me out to get it sorted and we also tour the town.

    Esperanza is a nice historic little town.

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    But no dead generals on horses to be seen in the plaza - WTF??

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    Elvio is on an old '93 transalp in very clean condition and he's very proud of his beastie.

    The insurance gets sorted and costs just $12 USD for three months and covers me throughout South America !! woop woop!

    We return to Elvio's place and there's a small shop next door selling cheap wine so I decide on the sensible option, to get drunk enough so I don't really care where I'm sleeping.... :)

    He was going to put me in his caravan where a Colombian couple of bikers are also staying but quickly sees that I'm not going to fit into the tiny bed and his son then immediately offers me his double bed and he sleeps on the floor! That's the kind of awesomeness that I love about these Motoposadas. However there is no running water in the house and just one outside tap....makes for a tricky toilet and no shower :(

    This is the Colombian couple that are selling stuff along their ride to pay for their travel - they both fit onto a 150 cc motito including their entire shop and a dog!!

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    And here's the crew that made we super welcome

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    And of course, with an ADV salute !

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    We end up having a fun evening, talking and drinking late into the night.

    Cat tax - black cat at night whilst wearing a black top !

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    They are super keen for me to stay for a couple of days and offer to take me fishing the next but I decide to head off. After a surprisingly good sleep (thank you to the two 30 pesos cartons of white wine) I pack up and hit the road at about 9am. I have arranged another Motoposada in the outskirts of Buenos Aires with the administrator of the MAI Argentina WhatsApp group - Ana.

    It's a huge days riding for me at over 500kms and about 7 hours in the saddle, I think about splitting the ride up into two days but once I get going I'm keen to "knock the bastard off". The riding is pretty uneventful, mostly flat agricultural land and double lane highways. There are a few Peaje or toll roads and about half let bikes through for free whilst the others charge a bike the same as a car??

    I arrive at Ana's place pretty broken and am once again received like a long lost brother with a cup of Yerbe Mate and some dulces.

    Meet Ana;

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    Yerbe mate, a type of green tea, is super popular here and about half the people you see every day are carrying one of these little cups with a metal straw and a thermos of hot water, they fill the cup with green tea and just replenish the water all day, sipping as they walk. So you see lots of containers and baggies of finely ground green leafy material and it's not what is appears to be - it's tea!!

    Ana's place is lovely and clean and I settle in for a fun evening chatting away and she makes us an awesome pizza for dinner.

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    Her place is called "Moto descanso RASTA" and hosts bikers from all over the world.

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    And I add my mark to the board of moto fame.

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    She is very active on lots of biker WhatsApp groups and as she announces my arrival loads of people that I stayed with all around the Americas chime in to say hello and congrats - including people I stayed with in Mexico and Bogota (Gracias Malo Y Ferdinand) over 8 months ago. Warm and fuzzies all around :)

    I get a great and much needed nights sleep and today is chores day - catch up on the blog, clean and organise the bike and get ready for Lisa's arrival in a couple of days.

    I just found out that Ana has also arranged a TV and radio interview for me today so that should be interesting, I just hoping they speak some English!

    Tomorrow I have arranged to meet up with Mhammed and stay with him for a night in the city centre before Lisa arrives the day after.

    All is good in the big city, ciao amigos!!
  12. dano619

    dano619 Been here awhile

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    Great update!! I think as the saying goes......."You have never met a stranger!!"
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  13. Bovino

    Bovino Been here awhile

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    Get some Tererê in! It was my savior during this year’s heatwave. You get hooked real fast though :-)
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  14. trevgale36

    trevgale36 n00b

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    Thanks a lot. Maybe I should plan for some time in Baja then or if I learned Spanish in Chile perhaps it would make the language everywhere else I go more easy to understand.

    I really want to be able to communicate and its interesting to know that in various countries I may have differing levels of difficulty with understanding their spanish dialects

    I appreciate you taking the time to reply. I can't imagine how you are ever going to slip back into a "normal" life after living this adventure for so long...

    Thanks for the advice mate.
    Trev
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  15. oldbeer

    oldbeer Grandadventurer

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    Not to hijack your wonderful thread Normlas, I do agree that with a bit of effort you should be able to pick up what you need as you go, necessity being the mother of (in this case) learning the lingo.

    Jumping in the deep end like that worked for me when I was younger but these days while I can learn the stuff OK, remembering it when I need it is problematic!! So it stands to reason if you wanted to maximise riding time over there, you might want to consider embedding at least some basic Spanish grammar and structure before you go. Basically anything you know beforehand will only enhance the learning when you get there. If you are keen to communicate that might be a fun part of your build up for the trip. There are also some good small format Spanish grammar books published by Collins (I think) which would fit easily in your tank bag.

    Normlas, enjoyed reading your interview with @rtwpaul. Great to see someone living their dreams and hope the rest of the trip goes well for you and hope you enjoy Buenos Aires. At nearly 3 million people in the urban area its going to be a bit of a difference from the desert. Your photos go from strength to strength, don't know if you are making more effort these days or its all coming naturally like the Spanish but they are really great. You (and Walter Colebatch) are saving me a fortune, as I don't need to ride around the place I can just look at your pictures. Good luck for the rest of the trip.
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  16. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Hey Arjan, I see in the News alot of flooding in the North. You never had Problems or is that not where you are at?

    Cheers Thomas

    PS we are in Buenos Aires for a month starting today. When are you coming? Meet for a Beer (I know you are not into that too much) or a coffee?
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  17. fasttortoise

    fasttortoise Smartest Idiot Here

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    Probably pm worthy but just in case any other readers don’t know... download Duolingo. Free, fun, and effective app to learn languages.

    https://www.duolingo.com/
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  18. Robthekiwi

    Robthekiwi Adventurer

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    Ed would be proud of you mate!
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  19. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Hi guys, thanks for all the comments, and yes - if you have the time, money and patience it would be a good idea to get some Spanish before you go or early in the trip. I tried a few different apps but none really grabbed me and so I'd probably recommend a home-stay type place. Like I mentioned, I didn't really have the patience and was not willing to make the time for it early on and just picked it up as I went along. Google translate is also fantastic, especially the fact that you or the Spanish speaker can talk to it and it translates audibly when you have data - which is most of the time, is a godsend. It can also translate text of anything you take a photo of or translate typed text without data once you download the language packs you need.

    BTW - I tried the Tererê and it's good! (kinda like an ice tea).

    I finally have a bit of time for an update - coming very soon!
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  20. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

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    Backtracking to Ana's RASTA motoposada, and it was time to give the old girl a good wash. Ana had a friend up the road who had a power washer so we went there for a cuppa mate and some dulces and he let me wash my bike.

    Here are the before and after pics - I probably left it waaaay to long.

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    Giving the bike a good clean is always a good time to just check her over thoroughly, look for loose or missing bolts and parts and just make sure everything is OK, and I'm happy to report that everything was OK. I'd lost a fairing bolt a few days back but managed to get that replaced the same day I noticed it missing. I also cleaned and lubed the chain and any other moving bits that needed a bit of CRC - like all the locks, pedals and cables etc.

    Ana has a pole outside with all the countries of where she's hosted people from and so she got to work adding the best little country in the world;

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    We have a nice relaxed afternoon, including a siesta and I get some shopping done before another couple of bikers turn up on a brand spanking new Super Tenere - meet Laura and Pedro from Chile as they add my sticker to their bike.

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    And we all say a big ADV hello to all youz fellas!

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    Ana prepares another lovely dinner for us and and we spend the night eating, drinking and sharing stories - lovely people once again (it's getting boring I know, nothing but nice people).

    The next day it's time for me to get to the centre of the big city and meet up with my ol' riding buddy Mhamed who has decided that he likes BA so much that he's organised a months long rental and is staying put to both enjoy the city and wait for the European weather to improve.

    I say some sad farewells to my new friends and am on the road by 10AM.

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    It's a crazy hot day and there's an accident on the freeway so the ride into town is a bit tortuous, I have a gopro video of it but it's just lots of sirens, beeping, traffic and me complaining about the sirens, beeping, traffic and heat - not too exciting. I make it to his place in the centre and it's great to see my friend again. We have a chilled out afternoon, he cooks us up a great lunch whilst I help him get all his garmin maps sorted and loaded for the next part of his adventure. Then we enjoy a swim in the pool at his complex before getting ready to have a quick look around his part of the city.

    We start off with good Havana coffee in an old part of the city at Plaza Dorrego and catch a few Tango dancers in the act. The place has a great European feel to it and I know Lisa will love it here when she arrives tomorrow.

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    The we grab a few empenedas and drinks and slowly walk back towards his place via the docklands and I get a few nice pics - the light is just beautiful.

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    And more tango along the waterfront....

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    I probably got a little carried away with the photos but the light was just awesome, that part of the city has a very international feel to it and is bustling with people enjoying the promenade.

    We have a nice relaxed dinner and evening, catch a movie and have a good catch up. The next morning I ask to check into my AirBnB early and that is all good so I head off towards Palermo where we'll be staying. Here's a view of some window cleaner across the road from Mhamed's place who are clearly Ok with heights.

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    I get to the place without incident and all seems good, it's a nice little apartment right in the old city with great parking and everything we need for about $30USD a night.

    I take all the panniers off the bike and she looks very naked and small, then get moved in, do some shopping and it's time to head to the airport to go and pick Lisa up. The public transport system to the airport is terrible so I decide to download the Argentinian Uber App and use that. But it turns out that when I am ready to go at about 3pm the taxi I flag down in the street is cheaper and so I take that for the 45 minuter drive.

    Lisa gets there without problems and it's awesome to see her again - feels a little strange after so long but we soon get into our swing. We travel back into the city with the Uber app and it works kind-off OK, although the first driver bailed on us and I was still charged for it! So a couple of shitty email were required, sent and refund received :)

    We have a quiet evening with dinner in our apartment and Lisa gets an early night as she's exhausted having come off a 13hr flight after a long days work.

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    The next day and we head toward the centre of Palermo, hit a street market and then visit the Museum of Fine Arts which was fantastic - the best fine art museum I have seen in the Americas.

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    They had all the great masters including ;

    Van Gogh and Rembrant

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    As well as the biggest Rodin sculpture exhibit in the Americas and a very large Turner exhibition.

    Not to mention a few Picasso's;

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    And even some modern art - just huge and of the highest quality and only a $3 entry ticket!

    After a wee siesta back at the apartment to get through the heat of the day - and it is very hot at around 32 Celsius ! we head out towards Mhamed's place for dinner and we meet at the same Plaza Dorrego for drinks, then take a stroll back down to the docklands for some dinner and have a lovely evening.

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    Lisa and I then get an Uber back home and the App works much better this time. I also got a message from Thomas and Sandra who are in town and we arrange to meet up later on (tonight) with Mhamed as well who is keen to pick their brains over his upcoming Europe trip.

    The next day and we start with a cafe breakfast before checking out the very famous Recoleta Cemetery - where amongst many famous people, Eva Peron from Evita fame is buried.

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    It's a beautiful old cemetery with huge shrines and vaults from the rich, famous and well known people of the recent Buenos Aires past.

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    Surprisingly, there's also a few rather bedraggled vaults with broken doors and caskets clearly out in the open.

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    Including a couple of juicy ones....... hmmmmm

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    And a very old and skinny but super friendly graveyard cat, bummer I don't have anything to give him other than a little love.

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    They have an App which I downloaded to give a bit of history and direction and with its help we find the grave of Eva Peron and get in line to take the photo.

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    This would be a great place for an episode of the walking dead!

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    Through the cracked lid on this coffin I could actually see the hairy skull inside !!

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    Right next to the Cemetery is the Recoleta Cultural centre which has some great modern art exhibitions and it thankfully air-conditioned. A very cool place to visit and free!

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    There were quite a few political works around the terrible local economy and the deflating Argentinian Peso, including this one of a pile of shredded money having fallen from a platform.

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    They had some great spaces to explore including this fully tagged city tram.

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    We spend a great few hours there before heading back for a siesta and now we are just getting ready to head out and get together with Thomas, Sandra and Mhamed - should be a fun night!

    All is well in the big city!