I take my hat off to the photographer at the apartment rentals agency. From the “loft style” description and the craftily composed pictures of exposed brick, sweeping glass rimmed terrace and open plan elegance, I was expecting minimalist Docklands style. Instead, it seems I´ve rented a weary concrete box, with cheap, unstable furniture and threadbare, floral bed linen that harks back to the ´70s. No Philippe Starck inspired design here. With a different landlord it could have been chic and cool. But no. It smells overpoweringly of cigarette smoke and has a stained carpet and a lumpy, grubby bed cover. When I haul the grimy blinds up and down I feel my lungs groaning with the passive smoke that oozes from them.
For reasons unbeknown even to myself, I chose to rent – nay, insisted on renting – an apartment in San Telmo, one of the oldest parts of the city. It has character, it´s central, I can walk to Spanish school. My guidebook decribes it as full of decaying grandeur, arty and bohemian. In a good mood, it´s urban, gritty, authentic. In a bad mood, it´s dirty, scruffy and downright dodgy. A bit like Walthamstow in fact.
For the same rent, I could have had an apartment in one of the well-heeled, clean (well, relatively) barrios like Recoleta, where immaculately dressed ladies with nicely manicured nails sip coffee in pristine cafes. Or in one of the hipper parts of Palermo, where the young, rich and trendy like to party. But that would´ve been just too easy, wouldn´t it??