The Trip That Didn’t Go As Planned

Destination: Buenos Aires.

The plan: stay in the city. That’s it. One goal. One plan. One place. 

An excited, yet half asleep girl is strolling through the hallway in the airport while in the background there is a subtle smell of coffee and the metal spoons clinking against the coffee mugs of other awaiting passengers slowly waking up. Gate A30 is calm and quite so early in the morning. She holds her freshly printed out boarding pass strongly in her sweaty palms. With all her strength, courage and braveness she could gather, this 19- year old girl is on her way to her first solo trip, holding on tight to her over packed backpack and overweight suitcase. Her backpack is stuffed full of notes, preparations, tickets, plans, and itinerary’s. Also awaiting her: a trip that didn’t went a single second as it was planned.

Do you remember your first ever solo trip? Do you remember that feeling of being lost and being found at the same time? Of being in control of your life, but at the same time having no idea what you’re doing? That feeling like all the control you have in your life is slipping right out of your hands?

It all started mid-flight. Since I worked as a flight attendant when I was a student, I always make some small talk with the flight attendants. I told them about my plans, where I was staying – I booked 4 (!) accommodations – and basically everything about my trip.

When I got out of the plane, I cancelled all four accommodations and booked a centrally located hostel in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Needless to say that my inner planning freak was on the loose. I didn’t plan this.

I arrived in the hostel and started to pack out. I passed my first night quite panicked and stressed after I found out that it was impossible to open my suitcase with my code. My inner planning freak? At this point, she’s in a corner, crying.

Day 2 of my city trip to Buenos Aires. I booked two tours that will keep me occupied the entire day. Full of excitement and positivism, I am waiting at the meeting point. As groups of families and old couple are gathering and some people are approaching me asking me if I am the tour guide, I start to realize that maybe this wasn’t the best idea.

I think it was the moment when the group in front of me departed – I saw the tour guide guiding everybody holding a stick with a flag – and everybody with their headset on following the guide like a horde of sheep, that I realized that I wasn’t supposed to be there. I am like a bird, you cannot keep me in my cage. I have to be free in this world to fly wherever I want to. So I went to the leader of the group, told her I was sick – while everybody could follow our not-awkward conversation because her mic was still on – gave her back the headset, and just ran off. Literally.

We’re Thursday, day 4 of my first solo trip to Argentina, Buenos Aires. The plan? Staying in the city. The reality? I am currently in Uruguay, walking around in an unknown city, without any WiFi or internet or a map, with a friend I made one day ago. My inner planning freak? She’s already had a couple of breakdowns, I’m sure she could handle this one as well.

Saturday, day 6 of this unforgettable adventure at the other end of our dear world. Location: a gas station near the local airport of Buenos Aires. Time: 4 A.M. After an attempt of getting cash at three different ATM’s in sleepy Buenos Aires, I succeeded to get Argentinian pesos for my trip to the airport. Note to self: always get enough cash.

Day 7. I am currently attempting to survive a 6- hour hike at the waterfalls of Iguazu in Northern Argentina. As you see, my plan of staying in the capital has failed uttermost and I almost crossed the border to Brasil, which would be the third South-American country I would visit during this “city”trip. Note to self: know what you want. How’s my inner planning freak, you might wonder? She’s become an old lady, consumed by all the stress, quietly sitting in a corner in my head, drinking whisky and smoking cigarettes in her sofa, totally defeated and given up on her job.

Day 8. I am sitting in the courtyard of my hostel in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I have never felt so grateful and strong. Grateful for this life and these adventures, strong because I did it. I did it. I finally understood that it is not about the plan, or the schedule, but about the journey. About what is happening in this very moment. Life is not about what is going to happen, but what is happening around you, here and now.

Destination: wherever life takes me to.

The plan: to enjoy the ride.

Bailanda en Buenos Aires 

Buenos Aires. It would be an understatement to say that you surprised me. You know that feeling when you have a certain image in your head, and it turns out to be even better than that? Yeah. That happened.

Astonishing artsy alleys 

I started off my first day in Palermo Soho. In contrary to Palermo Hollywood, this sparkly and colorful barrio is full of hip, cool and modern restaurants, bars, clubs and stores- it most certainly deserves it’s second name, Soho. Strolling around in these graffiti-filled streets keeps you fascinated, since your attention keeps going from one cute store to another astonishing artsy alley. 

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Fill your boca with La Boca’s empanadas

You can’t have been to Buenos Aires without visiting La Boca. One of Argentina’s most popular football clubs is based in the capital and runs through the veins of los porteños (the locals of Buenos Aires). 

Nonetheless, if you are not really into football, you can skip visiting the stadium and continue your voyage to the most fun street in BA: el Caminito! When walking through this street and admiring the tango dancers, vivid architecture and positive vibes you can just feel the passion of this South-American metropolitan. 

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There’s two sides to every cup

While on one side you have the authentic and warm Argentinian barrios, on the other side you have a more modern and fancy neighbourhood (a.k.a. my future home), ladies and gentlemen I present to you: Puerto Madero! 

One moment you are walking through skycrapers and business offices, and before you know it you find yourself standing in front of a lagoon, surrounded by food markets and vendors on the street. 

All these barrios have one thing in common: parks. So many gorgeous, spaceous, blossoming parks. Speaking about blossoming: be sure to make a drop by Floreria Atlantico. This flowershop may look ordinary at first, but hidden you will find one of world’s best 50 bars. 

No costa nada!

Have I mentioned that a lot of things are free in Buenos Aires? To be correct, you will find almost every activity or event to be free of any charge. 

My best experiences with cosas gratis were: 

  • Centro Cultural Recoleta 

This cultural center offers not only art exhibitions, you can also hang out on maybe the most gorgeous terrace of BA. Later on, grabe a drink or a bite at the romantic and cozy fair just at the exit of the cultural center. 

  • Cemetario Recoleta 

Even though it may not sound so appealing, you should visit this cemetary during your trip. It has gravestones higher than your goals. It has temples, little roundabouts, and a housecat wandering around. It has remembrances of all kind of important figures of the Argentinian history, and thus of all kinds of different cultures and backgrounds. 

  • Yoga in the park 

If you want some balancing of your mind, body and spirit after dancing all that reggaeton and drinking all those cerveza’s, you might want to check out your nearest park – there’s a great chance you can drop in to a free yoga class there. 

  • Reservado la Costañera

Remember the lagoon I mentioned in the barrio Puerto Madero? Exactly, you will find it in La Costañera. Put on your running shoes and get ready to breathe in some fresh air and take in some beautiful nature portraits. 

  • El Rio de la Plata 

Unfortunately, Buenos Aires does not have a beach. Wait. Don’t pull back from your idea of this trip. I know it is a big step to take (going to a destination without a beach), but you can do it. I believe in you, okay? 

Besides, you can always cool off at the river side. Stay around until the evening and catch one of the free festivals. Get ready to party all night long at the rio!

Long story short: Buenos Aires’ diversity and passion surprised me in a good way. This may sound cliché, but this vivid city really has a lot to offer. Hasta la próxima, Buenos Aires!

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