Pride in Buenos Aires

According to Google, Buenos Aires is the gay mecca in Latin America. The main Pride Parade is held in the streets of downtown Buenos Aires usually on the first Saturday of November, to celebrate the formation of the first-ever gay group in Buenos Aires in 1969. The Buenos Aires LGBT Pride starts at 3pm with the “Pride Fair”, and at 6pm the pride is ready to go to the Congress Palace of Argentina. Its all about 3 hours walking and dancing. After that, the main stage is in Plaza Congreso, where music bands and artists starts their shows. Also the LGBT Pride of Buenos Aires has important political speeches, you can hear them at the begging and the end of the Pride.

I went with a few friends and had quite a fun time. It doesn’t matter where you are, Pride is always great!

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A brief history of Argentina through graffiti

I went on a graffiti tour of Buenos Aires not really knowing what to expect. I loved it so much I ended up going on another one through a different part of the city just to learn more. Graffiti or street art or tagging or whatever you want to call it is absolutely illegal in Argentina. However, it is 100% tolerated and even used by political parties to send messages. Many artists love signing their names and even their tumblr information so you can find out more about them. This is very different from the United States!

Random art

Random art

Ransom graffiti

Random graffiti

The great thing about graffiti in Buenos Aires is that while learning about the art you also learn about the history of Argentina in a visual and interesting way. In 1983 democracy was restored in Argentina and the peso was valued at 1:1 to the US dollar. Prior to this, they were under a military regime that closed off most access to influences from the outside world. Now that it was cheap to travel, Argentines left the country to places like New York, Berlin, Paris, Munich and various other places. This also meant that for the first time kids saw graffiti and street art which was totally new to them. Thus begins graffiti in Argentina.

December 21, 2001 the economy of Argentina epically failed. The peso was instantly devalued and people’s life savings were depleted in days. It was so bad that the country went through 7 presidents in a week. People who were doctors and lawyers were now cab drivers and bus drivers and well below the poverty line. Anyone with any sort of artistic background took to the streets to state their outrage! To this day, walking around Buenos Aires and exploring the streets, you can see what people went through and what people felt during these times and what they feel about the economy and political situation today.

Blu likes to paint sending a message that is open to interpretation

Blu likes to paint sending a message that is open to interpretation

Blu

Blu

Blu likes to paint things with commentary about the economic situation of Argentina.

Jaz shows the soccer hooligans with prison tats fighting

Jaz shows the soccer hooligans with prison tats fighting

Jaz

Jaz

Jaz

Jaz

Jaz has evolved in his style from hip hop style graffiti to amazing murals. He likes to mix his paints with gasoline and tar to create a different texture in his images to help portray his message.

New York style inspired graffiti

New York style inspired graffiti

Nero and Seth collaborate

Nero and Seth collaborate

The giraffes are a stencil put over the original piece. Once a piece is finished, it belongs to the streets and is open to additions.

The giraffes are a stencil put over the original piece. Once a piece is finished, it belongs to the streets and is open to additions.

Pumpum likes to use acrylic paints and anime inspired pictures

Pumpum likes to use acrylic paints and anime inspired pictures

You are always carrying the weight of everything you own on your back

You are always carrying the weight of everything you own on your back

Cabaio uses multiple layers of stencils to create his art

Cabaio uses multiple layers of stencils to create his art

The ghost like images represent the moms and grandmothers who lost their children

The ghost like images represent the moms and grandmothers who lost their children

Free hand mural with just a spray can

Free hand mural with just a spray can

Drunk garffiti artists decided to paint their house and started a movement of happy and bright graffiti around Buenos Aires.

Drunk graffiti artists decided to paint their house and started a movement of happy and bright graffiti around Buenos Aires.

Don’t cry for me Argentina

Most people have seen the movie Evita or at least heard of Eva Peron, but not many realize that this woman that accomplished so much was only 33 when she died. La Recoleta Cemetery is considered one of the world’s best cemeteries and is the final resting place to many notable people including Eva Peron. The entry is free and of course most people head straight for the main attraction, but I took the time to just walk around and appreciated the vast mausoleums created in everyone’s honor and the beauty that can be found in a somewhat creepy place.

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As I continued walking the city, the huge trees that would just be feet away from a cute little corner absolutely amazed me. Buenos Aires is a city full of life and energy and is considered the Paris of South America!

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Buenos Aires takes me on an adventure

It was finally time for me to leave Europe and drop below the equator to the countries in South America. This was the original phase 2 of my trip which has had about a million changes along the way! I used my Chase Sapphire points to book my ticket from London to Buenos Aires. If you are a person that can handle having a credit card, this is one of the best ones for traveling internationally and really racking up the points fast!

Anytime I book with points or with a website that I have never used, I am always a little afraid the ticket is not valid. Alas, I have not had any issues. My flight was London-Madrid-Buenos Aires. Just 24 hours and I was going to be in South America! However, I forgot about a little thing called reciprocity that is required before you get on the plane to Argentina as a US citizen. Basically, we charge them to get in our country so they charge us. After a very frantic $160 internet transaction, I was on the plane and on my way.

Once I was in Buenos Aires I took a shuttle to my hostel in San Telmo. Great area to visit and not the best area to stay. I moved to Palermo pretty soon thereafter.

However, San Telmo is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires and has a lot of charm and interesting things to offer. I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art after walking around the Sunday market and loved a ton of the pieces!!!

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Free hanging art

Free hanging art

Piano art

Piano art

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No artist listed

No artist listed

Adriana Minoliti

Adriana Minoliti

Fernanda Laguna

Fernanda Laguna

Fernanda Laguna

Fernanda Laguna

Silvia Gurfein

Silvia Gurfein

Magdalena Jitrik

Magdalena Jitrik

The economy in Argentina is very unstable and the government is not accepting the fact that inflation is a real thing here. Banks give you a conversion of 1:8.5 where as you can head to Florida Street and receive 1:13 or so depending on the day. You walk down the street and there are people saying, “Cambio. Cambio.” as you walk by. You ask the rate and decide if you are willing to take it or not. You are taken into a room of some sort and you exchange your USD right there. This is a common practice that even the locals partake in.

England in a day

It seems that I just couldn’t stay away from England during these 7 months of backpacking. I went for a third trip to meet up with a girl I met in Rome that lives in Dallas and was in London for her birthday. One of the best things about traveling is seeing some of the people you have met along the way in a different city.

My friend was smart of enough to check out Groupon and find a deal for a tour called England in a Day. The tour took us to Stonehenge, Bath and Stratford which is a lot of driving but a nice way to see England in a day.

Stonehenge was never really on my list of things to see and I was told to not go out of my way to visit. But it was included on the tour and I am thrilled I got to stop off and play at this awesome pile of rocks. The history and folklore behind everything makes the site a fun little stop.

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Next up was a quick stop in Bath for lunch. Bath is a quaint town with not much to do unless you take a day and book some spa treatments. We walked around for a bit and found a pub for some lunch and delicious cider.

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We had a little issue with our bus and it broke down on the side of the road. He hit a tree which cracked the side mirror and it is the law that you cannot drive with a cracked mirror. We had to wait for a bit and missed the opportunity for our Shakespeare play in Stratford. However, we were able to take a picture at his birthplace and walk around the area. If we had more time, I think Stratford would have been a great place to be in for a while.

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I have not done a ton of set tours on this trip, but have found the ones that I have done are very useful for assisting with complicated transportation and the ease of not thinking about time tables and just how to get to where you are going. They also help break up the days of planning that cut into travel time!

10 days in Ireland

My trip to Ireland was basically three different trips in one. I started the trip with my mom and then moved to a castle for a wedding with friends and then went back into Dublin for a weekend with my friends.  Yes I said castle. You did not read that wrong.

To start, my mom and I checked into The Morrison Hotel which made us feel like we were in a doll house because we had purple mood lighting and accent pillows in the room. However, if you want a hotel with a great location to Temple Bar without being in Temple Bar, this is the place to stay.

Guninness. Enough said.

Guninness. Enough said.

Temple Bar

Temple Bar

Shopping street

Shopping street

River Liffey

River Liffey

Neither of us really enjoys drinking whiskey, but when in Dublin you have to go to the Jameson Distillery and see what it is all about. The process of making whiskey is pretty much the same as making beer until the distilling starts. This is where beer starts to transform into whiskey. Jameson is triple distilled in order to make it a smoother drink. Apparently the main difference between whiskey and scotch is that scotch tends to have a much smokier flavor because of the way the barley is dried. I honestly could not tell you if I were to taste it. We received a free drink at the end and I drank about half of it and still decided that whiskey is just not for me.

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We ventured over to the oldest pub in Dublin for lunch for some traditional Irish food and more Guinness.

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Once mom left and my friends arrived, it was time to move into the castle for a few nights of fun and wedding activities. We rode bikes, went to the Guinness Factory, played capture the flag, watched the World Series and had an overall AMAZING time!

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After the wedding we went back to Dublin and did a day trip to Northern Ireland to see the rope bridge, Giant’s Causeway and Belfast.

Oreo cow

Oreo cow

Giant's Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

Giant's Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

Rope Bridge

Rope Bridge

Rope bridge view

Rope bridge view

Belfast

Belfast

I went from staying in hostels to hotels to a castle and back to a hotel and now I am back to my hostels. Every bit of this trip was quite an adventure!

A wee Scottish adventure

Scotland was never on my list of places to visit when I started out on this adventure. However, when my mom said she was coming to visit and wanted to meet me in London and travel from there, only a few places were along the way to Dublin. We decided to check out Edinburgh and Glasgow and see what Scotland was all about.

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and maintains a very old feel to it. There are no modern buildings in the area which gives you a feel of how things would have been back in the day. It was cold and windy but a visit to the Edinburgh Castle was in order to see the crown jewels and relive some ancient history.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

We spent a few days exploring and stumbled upon some art by Nicolai Wallner. I have no idea what any of it means but I like the pieces.

Woodcuts by Nicolai Wallner

Woodcuts by Nicolai Wallner

Woodcuts by Nicolai Wallner

Woodcuts by Nicolai Wallner

We also took a day to explore the zoo. The pandas are on loan from China for 10 years and the female had a failed pregnancy this year. They said they would try again next year. The penguins go out on a daily walk on a strictly voluntary basis (fish and treats are not used to encourage them to exit the enclosure). It was the closest I have ever been to a penguin without any glass between us!

PANDA!!!

PANDA!!!

Penguin walk fun

Penguin walk fun

Glasgow in contrast to Edinburgh has plenty of modern buildings all around it and is actually the largest city in Scotland. We were really only there to catch a flight and decided to see Gone Girl after a quick stop at a museum. I found these pieces to be interesting and disturbing all at the same time. The paintings by Monya Flannigan focus on the archetypal image of Eve and give us a different interpretation on the original story.

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Art by Monya Flannigan. The paintings focus on the archetypal image of Eve

Art by Monya Flannigan. The paintings focus on the archetypal image of Eve

Art by Monya Flannigan. The paintings focus on the archetypal image of Eve

One of the main things I noticed about Scotland was how nice the people were. Everyone just wanted to chat and sometimes I would just nod and pretend I understood what they were saying. If I had to go back, I would absolutely go to Edinburgh again and skip Glasgow.

Cambridge for the day

After a few days in London it was time for a little day trip to Cambridge. We jumped on the train for about an hour ride and were transported to some very old and interesting places. Cambridge is the alma mater to some very smart people including James Watson and and Francis Crick. These are the lovely gentleman that discovered DNA in 1953. They went to celebrate and announce their discovery at a pub called The Eagle which has been open since 1667. Obviously my mom and I had to eat there in order to be surrounded by such knowledge while I drank a lovely beer called DNA.

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It was a beautiful day to walk around and get lost in Cambridge. We stopped for a coffee and tea to watch people punting on the River Cam where I was secretly hoping someone would fall in!

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It was a great little day trip and a very easy ride. I can see how people would choose to commute into London and live in this area. Everywhere you turn is history and giant churches.