Driving into Buenos Aires from the airport, I remember feeling a little tingle. I love big cities and Buenos Aires is no exception. The huge billboards and sparkling “Tango” signs create a New York feel with Spanish flare. It’s an old, run-down city, bustling with people and energy. I was addicted from the moment I arrived.
We did so many things over the week, I can hardly remember it all, but I will try and give highlights. Especially food related .
Monday: I may or may not have got a small case of food poisoning Sunday night which was awful, so I was very grateful when I felt better after a little nap post flight. Amanda and I ventured out for food around 3pm. Our first question, “Hay un restaurant Italiana cerca?” We had our priorities straight. It was gonna be pizza, pasta, meat and gelato until we burst.
Post pasta fest, we did quite a bit of walking around centro Buenos Aires.
That night we caught a free tango show in Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo which was lovely
Tuesday: Time for a city bus tour! Normally, I don’t like this kind of thing, but it was recommended, and for good reason. The tour was not that great, but the fact is, Buenos Aires is so big that this was a great way to see the city without taking cabs everywhere (the metro is only sort of helpful with lines running to certain areas of the city only).
One of our favorite parts of the tour was a stop in Caminito, the tango district in La Boca. This was like a wild clash between New Orleans and Spanish gaudy flare. It was two small streets decorated in old-fashioned tango era signs and bright colors, lined with restaurants and tango dancers strutting their stuff.
The other highlight was a stop in Recoleta to see the cemetary. This place is amazing. It’s like a small village of above ground graves, each with their own house and monuments. At 6 o clock, when we arrived, the light was streaming through the graves making for some stunning photos. It was one of the more unusual, yet beautiful things I’ve ever seen.
For dinner that night we went to a recommended restaurant called Juana M. This place ruled. It was a chic, white interior with modernist paintings. But the decor was irrelevant because all the focus was on the food. If you ordered a meat dish above 40 pesos (10 dollars) you got to indulge in the awesome buffet style salad bar.
I ordered a half portion steak which was one of the best steaks I’d ever had, at a whopping total of 12 dollars. The salad bar was excellent and I was a big fan of the caramelized onions.
Wednesday: We devoted Wednesday to a day trip to El Tigre, a town about an hour outside Buenos Aires right on the Delta.
We took the train from Retiro Station and when we got there, went to the waterfront to check out tour options. We finally picked a two-hour boat ride, which was lazy and slow, but also relaxing. The houses lining the delta were very interesting and it was fun to be outdoors.
Also worth mentioning was the Mate Museum. That’s right, a museum devoted entirely to mate! For those of you who don’t know, mate is a plant grown in South America. They process the leaves into a ground tea mixture, and brew it in mate cups to be drunk with special metal straws. The mate is supposed to have rejuvenating effects and is part of the shared communal ritual of passing the mate from person to person.
It was a very fun adventure and we ended the day with a night out in Palermo in Plaza Serrano. Palermo is a cool, hip, funky part of town with a great night life.
Thursday: All shopping, all day. We went to La Florida and got a bit carried away because the prices are so much lower than Santiago and the clothes is much more stylish. We shopped until we dropped, then came back to the hostel to get ready for dinner and a Tango Show!
For dinner, we went to a Spanish restaurant called Plaza Mayor near our hostel which was really fun for me because it was so kitschy and Spanish! I ordered the tapas platter, which was a little adventurous, even for me. It came out with quail egg, sardines, and pate, none of which I’d ever eaten at a tapas bar in Spain, but which were excellent nonetheless.
The tango show was a lot of fun. There is a part of town which has all the tango theatres close together. We saw a nice, personal show with a combination of dancing and singing. The old timey accordion player was probably my favorite part.
Friday: First on the list was a trip to the Malba (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires) followed by more shopping. Claro.
For our last night in town we went to the Theatre district to get some dinner and see a play that a fellow Mac grad recommended. We had a dinner at a place called Cumaná, an awesome Argentinean restaurant serving delicious parrilla (grilled meat), empanadas, sides, and pastas. I ordered a baked potato with cheese, swiss chard, and pumpkin and a spicy tenderloin empanada and Amanda got a baguette with eggplant, tomato, and basil. It was a warm muggy night and warm food, but we were in heaven.
The play afterwards was excellent and my first Spanish play! I was excited to find I understood at least 80 percent of it.
Now I’m back in Santiago, happy to be home but sad to leave such a stunning city. It was a great trip, never a dull moment. Can’t wait to travel more!