Monday, January 26, 2009

beach weekend: villa gesell

friday morning i left my apartment at 6:20am. i walked over to my friends apartment to catch a colectivo to the main bus station in B.A.. once we arrived we had to walk past the train station to get to the bus terminal. it felt like a long walk with our bags, it's also not a nice area so i felt like i was on guard; my eyes were darting around.

the bus terminal in B.A. was huge, very long. we walked all the way to the end and then up to the second floor to find our bus company (Plaza). when we bought our tickets online, we didn't have the option to print them out, but we did have a confirmation and our IDs. for some reason the ticket lady would not print out our tickets but rather wrote our seat numbers on a piece of 'Plaza' stationary. The bus driver did not appreciate this, he gave us a hard time getting on the bus.
(photo below: Retiro bus station at 7:30am)
(photo below: our bus, headed for Villa Gesell)
once we got on the bus, we climbed the stairs to the second story. our assigned seats were in the second row. it was a luxury bus with a foot rest and the seat reclined almost all the way. there was a plasma tv where they showed one movie on the 5 hour trip. they also handed out a packet with a sandwich and two cookies (my taste-buds weren't impressed). there was also a small water cooler and coffee dispenser with tiny cups (help yourself) but i think they mistakenly put motor oil in where the coffee should have gone?

it was my first time leaving the city since arriving exactly two months ago. when the bus started to move, we passed a villa (or shanty town) right behind the bus station. the villa (vee-sha) was a depressing site to see. i stared thinking of so many questions; is it public housing, did they build the houses themselves, who built the houses, is the area patrolled, are there any services provided to the people who live here?
(photo below: a 'shanty town' called 'Villa 31' located behind the bus station)
once we left the city i was excited to see the landscape. what would it look like? well.... once you're out of the city, you're out of the city. there is no, or hardly any suburban sprawl. the landscape is very flat, without many or hardly any trees, but it didn't appear to be farm land either. there were many cattle, sheep and horse farms along the way.
(photo below: the province of Buenos Aires landscape)
(photo below: another double-decker luxury bus that looks like the one I was on)
5 hours later and we were in Villa Gesell. we collected our bags and headed out the bus terminal. we saw on our hotel's website that the hotel wasn't a far walk. but after a couple blocks we realized that we were far far away from the hotel, 30 blocks away, so we headed back to the terminal to catch one of the few taxis the town has.

taxi from the bus terminal to our hotel was 15 pesos. since we didn't get a confirmation number or email from the hotel, we walked in waiting for back news. but to our joy we had a reservation and the room was ready for us. our hotel was on the beach, the hotel / rooms were out of style but they were well kept, clean, smelled good and the staff was so kind. during the stay we spoke with the people at the front desk and they were so good to us; they went out of their way to help with anything we needed. 2 nights at a beach front hotel cost 600 pesos ($174 or $87 each for both nights).
(photo below: our hotel, the Merimar)
(photo below: our room. simple but clean.)
(photo below: a small boardwalk along the beach, but there was no railings to keep you from falling off of it)
(photo below: small tents that you can rent for the day to stay out of the sun.)

We didn't do anything but relax, eat and drink wine. one night we went into town; it was just a short 2 block walk.
(photo below: house number in villa gesell)
(photo below: street signs in villa gesell)
(photo below: gnome!)
(photo below: some lunch at 'floop'. (thought it was a funny name))
(photo below: our hotel building number. Paseo 107 is the name of the street)
(photo below: on the front porch of our hotel)
(photo below: argentin gossip magazine. i don't know who this lady is, but i always see her in magazines. if i had to guess, i would guess that she broke the guiness book world record for plastic surgery. i bet that is why she's so popular. something like a posterchild for plastic surgery in argentina.)
(photo below: the ocean. before coming the the beach argentines said the ocean water is cold. i didn't believe them since they think hot sauce is hot and i don't think their hot sauce is hot at all...well, they were right on this one. it was cold. dirty looking too. now i feel bad for making fun of jersey all these years. sorry jersey)
my friend and i always seem to attract weirdos, so a trip together, without a weirdo, would just not be the same. on sunday morning we laid out our blanket on the beach. not too many people were out. two 20 something guys spotted us and made their way over. they were still drinking from the night before. i'm able to understand most spanish, but 'javier' was slurring too much to be understood. my friend just spoke with him and i stayed quiet, not wanting to encourage his strange behavior such as putting his cigarette out on his tongue. luckily he got bored of us and continued to walk on. his non-drunk friend apologized for his friends behavior.

i think just about every day at the beach we ate helado (ice cream). does this surprise anyone??

sunday at 4:30pm we called a cab to take us back to the bus station and at 5:30 we departed after some more conflict with the bus company, Plaza. this time the man working behind the counter wanted 4 pesos to print out the tickets.

on the bus ride home we sat on top again, but in the first row. cool, but very scary. i think there was an accident on the major highway going back to B.A. so our driver took back roads....back roads that just had two lanes and several pot holes. If there was a slow moving car in front of us, the double-decker bus i was on just sped up and passed in the left lane. at one point a car coming towards us had to pull off the road because the bus was bigger, hence having the right of way? watching this was not comforting....but the view of the landscape was nice to see.
(photo below: headed home.)
we arrived back in B.A around 11:30pm. once we were back in the city i started to get nervous. i don't like the evenings here, i don't like when i have big bags to carry (because i can't easily run), i don't like knowing that i'm not in a good neighborhood, i don't like knowing that i 'look' like i have money and i don't like that there aren't many people around.

we collected our bags from the bus and headed through the bus station then back outside to get a taxi. it wasn't so bad, but it still made me nervous to be there. i also get nervous being alone in a taxi (once we dropped of my friend). there are some bad stories i've heard of solo girls taking taxis. a taxi back to our apartments was 19 pesos and everything was fine.

our beach weekend was very good; we had a great time and it was relaxing and fun!

(photo below: the cat i'm watching was happy to have me home.)


Nancy said...

Looks like a fun trip! I can't believe how many of Mitch's relatives you've seen there! See, you were meant to be there! Welcome to the freak magnet club! That's what Renee and I call it. However, I was kicked out of the club after I got married. The ring is a great freak deterrant.

yillabean said...

ahhh, the freak magnet club! i love it. my friend and i are co-presidents!