Buenos Aires has been at the top of our ‘must visit’ list for some time and we decided that we should spend a month there to really make the most of it.
We stayed in an apartment in Palermo Vieja – with Beccy as well for the first week and then just the two of us until the end of the month. Buenos Aires was quite a surprise and a contrast to Santiago in Chile. Whereas Santiago felt very south american, Buenos Aires felt like a larger than life version of a European city – elements of Paris, Marid and Milan… in fact Ryan made some Argentinian friends watching a band who described themselves as basically Italians who speak Spanish!
We took out time visiting and re-visiting lots of parts of the city and here were some of our highlights…
There is no getting away from it, there is steak, Parrilla and Asado at every turn. Meat in Argentina is fairly cheap and HUGE. It is quite hard resisting it, but after a month in the city you start to crave something a little different!
I nice plate of ceviche (raw fish ‘cooked’ in citrus) can make a welcome change.
It appears that, similarly to Chileans, Argentinians love their dogs. Almost all dogs are dressed for the weather (and smartly for an evening out!) Palermo – where we were staying – was particularly famous for its dog walkers…
On a very interesting free walking tour we were introduced to some of the ideas behind the architecture of the city. Apparently, after the country’s independence the Argentinians turned their back on the colonial architecture and moved towards a new vision for the city – one that was still European in design but bigger and better than any european city in existence (e.g. using French architectural styles they built tall 10+ story buildings which make the buildings in Paris look tiny by comparison as they have to adhere to the under 5 story limit) This makes Buenos Aires a very beautiful city but one that is larger in scale and taller than it’s european counterparts.
There is a real mix of architectural styles within this design as well and a juxtaposition of modern and traditional. Like the picture below on the right of a modern shopping mall which has been redesigned within an old art deco marketplace building.
Beccy and I did a tour up one of the tallest and most notable buildings in the city – Palacio Barolo. It was based around The Divine Comedy with separate sections for hell, purgatory and heaven, with a lighthouse at the top to represent god! Out tour took us right to the top for some amazing views over the city.
The city’s Parisian and Italian roots means that cafe culture is big here. Arguably the most famous cafe in the city is Cafe Tortoni, famous for it’s hot chocolate and churros.
However, there are cheap and delicious panadaria’s (bakeries) on almost every corner which makes for some lovely mid afternoon treats.
One of our favourite things to do in Buenos Aires (or any city for that matter) is visiting the markets. In Buenos Aires they range from the touristy (San Telmo) to the local (Mataderos).
Probably our favourite market was the Feria de Mataderos which celebrates everything gaucho and from the pampa. There is an abundance of asado , traditional folk music, dancing and even gaucho horse displays if you time it right!
Another quite local market is Recoleta craft fair, next to the famous cemetery in this neighbourhood.
Probably the most famous (and busy) market is the Feria San Telmo, which is characterised mainly for its focus on antiques and tango.
Exploring the neighbourhoods
Like any major city, central Buenos Aires is made up of several barrios with very different personalities. Other than Palermo where we were staying, here are some of the other key areas.
Centro and Monserrat – home of the central Plaza de Mayo where Evita famously made her speeches from Casa Rosada, the cathedral, congreso and the obelisk.
San Telmo – crumbling mansions and old colonial architecture
Puerto Madero – a wealthy waterfront barrio and centre of the business district.
La Boca – home of maybe the iconic buenos aires colourful buildings. The rest of the area can be quite dangerous and calle caminito itself is sadly very much a tourist trap.
Recoleta – upmarket and middle class residential area, close to the centre and home to the much visited Recoleta Cemetery where you can visit Evita’s grave.
Most of all we thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to see Buenos Aires over a period of time, a little each day an having the opportunity to revisit our favourite spots.
After a brief trip over the river to Uruguay for a few days we would return back to Argentina ready to head south through Patagonia and to the Fin Del Mundo (end of the world!)