Everyone in the states is enjoying their various spring breaks, so I decided to do the same while Maddy & Abi act as tour guides for their visitors this week – I hopped on a bus headed down the coast of Argentina to Mar del Plata! Lots of kids in our program have been planning a number of extravagant trips for this week we have off before the real semester starts, all of them tempting to join, but I felt that a traditional trip to the beach would best suit my need for some relaxation.
Seven of us from the house plus another girl living in a homestay headed out pretty early Sunday morning to the bus station in Retiro to sleep for another five hours while we were driven to the beachside city. Upon arrival, we realized it was pretty similar to BA, but obviously it had much closer contact to the Atlantic, which was enough of a change for us!
After buying a map at the Mar del Plata bus station, we went on a hunt for our hostel. It was more of a trek than expected, but we got to check out the town on our way, & we eventually found Hotel Peregrino (don’t be mistaken by the lack of an “s” in the title, it was definitely a hostel).
We dropped all of our things, fueled up at the nearest restaurant (surprisingly, food was cheaper than in BA!), then made our way to the beach. As we approached the sand, we could see that it was PACKED with umbrellas & towels. Everyone had Monday & Tuesday off, so apparently they were taking advantage of their free days to hang out at the beach, as well. Our group showed up a little late in the day, & the weather had taken a bit of a turn, so after being thoroughly exfoliated by all the sand that was getting blown around, we decided to head back to our room.
A good 3-hour nap & a satisfying dinner later, we were back at the hostel trying to make some evening plans. The younger guy at the desk said we could hang out in the dining room area off to the side of the lobby after he put all of the tables together to make one long dining table in the middle. It was a little excessive for the eight of us, but he assured us that more people would show after they woke up (keep in mind it was around midnight). Within an hour or so, the room was completely full of other kids from the U.S. and the hostel worker’s Argentine friends. We spent a good two hours playing games, speaking Spanish, & hearing about what Mar del Plata had to offer. I was pretty surprised with myself when I agreed to hop in a taxi to go out at 4am, but isn’t that the Argentine way?
Unfortunately, the next day brought dark clouds & rain, so we only got about a half hour of chilling at the beach. On the bright side, it gave us plenty of exploration time & some good pictures in between cloud busts!
The group had different ideas for dinner, so we split up. Melanie, Patrick, & I figured that we might as well take advantage of our proximity to the ocean to eat some fresh seafood, so we did the easiest thing & walked to the huge restaurant out on the end of one of the piers.
It was definitely not a mistake. The vermicelli & shellfish in a cream sauce along with my chocolate mousse cake hit the spot. That, & we were eating on top of the ocean, so it just couldn’t get any better.
Mother Nature was on our side for the last day; we woke up to the sun shining through our bedroom window! We made it downstairs just in time for free hostel breakfast (coffee & medialunas, of course) then threw on some sunscreen & our bathing suits & headed out.
Despite all of the vendors weaving through the mess of tanned Argentines laying on the sand, repeatedly yelling about how fresh their fruit salads were or how little their hot dogs cost, I went on a choripan search for lunch. It was pretty easy to find, & fully satisfying, though not as delicious as the ones I’ve had in Chile. The rest of the afternoon was filled with a combination of laying in the sun, reapplying sunscreen, reading, & jumping in the waves to cool off. For some reason, there was a free pool a few steps off the beach that we floated around in until it was time to catch our bus back. A pool by the beach – against the point? Maybe, but still totally worth it.
All in all, Mar del Plata lived up to its reputation. I have the (minor) sunburn to prove it.