Wednesday 26 April 2022
Arriving from Santiago late last night and checking into the Hilton, we were up early as Sylvia headed of to a day of meetings with the local Royal Canin team.
The Hilton is situated alongside the Rio Dique, which was once a port canal area where the old buildings alongside the water have been turned into restaurants, bars and office space. On the east (seaward side) a large number of high rise apartments have been built with new ones still going up. With inflation running well in the double digits in Argentina it is surprising to see how life just seems to go on as normal in this big city.
I was last here several years ago and am surprised to see the number of new tall buildings that have been added since then. It’s really great to see how they have kept the old cranes on display alongside the canal, standing like tall ornaments, painted in bright colours. The bridges still operate to swing aside to let, mainly pleasure, craft pass in and out of the area, each having a tidy and well kept control room. A tall ship is moored permanently on one side as a museum. There are 3 of these ships from the 1800’s, with one still operating as a training ship for the navy.
Thursday 27 April 2022
The day was spent catching up on a bit of work and a trip to the gym. In the evening I was picked up and driven to a restaurant to join the Royal Canin team for dinner at a very nice restaurant, a little way out from the city centre. Here we feasted on a variety of very tasty meats coming from every part of the cattle beast and finished off sharing an assortment of desserts and ice creams dished up on one large plate.
Friday 28 April 2022
I took a stroll to the main station next to the favélas I had accidentally visited the last time I was here. Boarding the number one train, I headed to the end of the line and a place called Tigre (which is what jaguars are called here). One of the people at the dinner last night had recommended this place. Dismounting the train at the end of the line, I headed out of the station to be confronted by a really pretty town with a river running through the middle of it. It’s a tourist spot with cruises running from here out into the marshlands, which is a huge area full of waterways that feed the River Plate, including the Uruguay River.
At a local booth with a bit of point and pay, I soon had a ticket to ride one of the many tourist boats that leave from there to explore the many waterways. It was a bit of a fluke really as I ended up on quite a big catamaran with a good view from the top deck. Soon we were heading down the Puerto Delta De Tigre (river) passing a large amusement park and lots of industrial buildings, before heading north up one of the many waterways. This place can only really be described by photographs.
Hidden in these waterways is a whole city; they have schools, play centres and other community assets. There is a medical boat complete with doctors, nurses and a dentist that does a continuous circuit of the area. There is even a floating supermarket that does the rounds. Every house seems to have its own jetty with a lift to keep the boat out of the water. Most houses are well above the water on high foundations; they must get some big floods through here from time to time. One area we went through seemed to be dedicated to water sports.
We headed north, east and then south meeting the main river and heading upstream to the start point. Along the banks of this part there were many abandoned old boats, some of them now serving as giant pots with large trees growing in them. There was a navy station with their boats patrolling the waterways like a police force. The area is part of the Parana Delta, which is is some 14,000 square kilometres in size. We passed many boats loaded right up to the gunnels, a saying I have often heard over the years but this is the first time I have witnessed it.
As I was crossing the bridge after the tour finished, the boat I had been on pulled out from the bank, did a 180 degree turn and headed back down the river.
In the evening I joined Sylvia and some of her colleagues at an Argentinian tango show. We had a great meal and enjoyed some very energetic and highly precise dancing that followed the development of the Argentinian tango through the years. This version of the tango includes a lot of foot kicking that must result in some very bruised legs (and potentially more sensitive parts of the body too) when one is learning.
Saturday 29 April 2022
Sylvia and I had ended up on different flights back to France after a bit of a cock up in the booking. We headed off to the airport mid-morning, the plan being for her to wait for me in Montpellier as my flight was going via Amsterdam, hers through Paris…
Sunday 30 April 2022
We touched down in Amsterdam to be told by the pilot that we would have to wait to head to the gate because of congestion in the airport. After 30 minutes or so we parked at the gate and were allowed off. Heading to the transfer area and back through security there were about 500 people waiting to go through the two security points open. Over two hours later, with immigration still to come my connecting flight had long since left.
After finally making it through immigration, I headed to the KLM lounge, where the service staff were very helpful. There was another flight to Montpellier via Paris later in the day landing at 10.30 at night. Sylvia had arrived in Montpellier early afternoon and had an early start the next day. The staff then suggested a flight to Marseille, arriving at 4.30pm, which I took. Sylvia made the 90 minute drive over to pick me up. Apparently the Dutch airport authority had not accounted for the school holidays and all the people wanting to travel again.
Back in France spring is prominent with everything looking alive; the grape vines green and wild poppies gracing many fields.