Buenos Aires! There’s so much to see and experience in Argentina’s capital city. Even though Jeff and I were only there for a week, we packed in a LOT of activity. I hardly know where to start, which is probably why even the prospect of writing this post was overwhelming and has taken me much longer than usual. My sincerest apologies to our six loyal readers.
Jeff studied abroad in BA for six months, so he is very familiar with the city and therefore made an excellent tour guide. Per Jeff’s request, we stayed in the Palermo neighborhood for the first half of our visit, and the Recoleta neighborhood for the other half. For those familiar with New York City, I would compare Palermo to NYC’s West Village (neighborhood-y feel with tree-lined streets, lower buildings, trendy restaurants) and Recoleta to NYC’s Soho (more upscale/commercial, with ample shopping and fancier dining). We rented apartments via airbnb in each place, and I’m glad we got to experience living in both neighborhoods.
One of my favorite things about Buenos Aires is the abundance of green space. We loved jogging through and exploring Bosques de Palermo and Parque Las Heras in particular.
Locals and tourists take advantage of the parks in equal measure; Argentinians are easy to differentiate from foreigners because virtually all locals will be sipping an herbal tea called yerba mate from a special gourd. It’s hard to explain; I encourage you to Google it if you’re curious.
You can’t go to Buenos Aires without visiting the Recoleta Cemetery, and as someone who LOVES cemeteries, Recoleta did not disappoint! The cemetery serves as a final resting place for some of Argentina’s most lauded politicians, military figures, artists and philanthropists, along with hundreds (maybe thousands?) of others who were wealthy and/or important enough to be interred there. Some of the mausoleums are bona fide monuments of marble and glass; other plots are much more modest, consisting of a metal door and few embellishments. I was surprised to see that many of the caskets are clearly visible from the door of the mausoleum. There were several family mausoleums that went underground, with caskets stacked 4 or 5 deep.
One afternoon, we indulged our inner child (childs? children?) and checked out the Buenos Aires Zoo, which is located in the Palermo district. Given that our visit was mid-week during the mid-afternoon, we practically had the place to ourselves. Jeff ran around like a kid in Candy Land, admiring the elephants, rhinos and hippos in particular. We both loved the large — and apparently free-roaming — population of Patagonian Maras, which are kind of like a cross between a deer and a rabbit (pictured below).
The same evening, we rendezvoused with Jeff’s childhood friend, Alex, at a parrilla in the Palermo Soho neighborhood called Carniceria. Parrilla translates to ‘grill’ in english, and parrilla restaurants are HUGE in Argentina. If you’re a red meat lover, you’ll feel right at home in Argentina — parrillas traditionally offer steak, bread, wine, and little else. (I may have abstained from the steak, but I made up for it in red wine consumption.) Anyway, we had a great time catching up with Alex, who has been living in Buenos Aires for more than two years. Alex also showed us some cool spots, including Carniceria — which was awesome — and On Tap, a bar that specializes in craft beer and seems to draw lots of American expats.
Tango dancing is big in Buenos Aires, so it didn’t feel right to visit without catching a show. Alex recommended the dinner/tango show experience at Café de los Angelitos, and Jeff kindly purchased our tickets for a little “date night” (sidebar: when you’re spending 24/7 with your significant other, it’s kind of weird to go on official dates, but very necessary to, you know, keep the spark alive!). When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to be seated right below the stage, so we were front and center for the show.
I had never been to a Tango show, and I absolutely loved it! There was a little singing and a lot of very impressive dancing over the course of the 90ish minute performance. Our fixed menu dinner was excellent — we both ate way too much — and the unlimited wine was most welcome! (Are you sensing a trend re: wine?) We agreed it was an entertaining and very memorable experience overall.
Another day, we hopped the 152 bus to La Boca, a neighborhood famous for its colorful buildings and tango clubs. La Boca is also home to La Bombanera Stadium, where the Boca Juniors (CABJ) soccer team plays. We had hoped to catch a soccer match while we were in Buenos Aires, but unfortunately the schedule didn’t work in our favor. So we settled for a little daytime exploration of the neighborhood, which included strolling down “el Caminito” and shopping for cheesy souvenirs. We even found a license plate keychain with my nickname, NORMA (!).
One of the highlights of our visit was reconnecting with our new friends, Nicolas and Alejo, both of whom are from Buenos Aires. We originally met them, along with their friend Guadeloupe, on a snorkeling adventure in Placencia, Belize. It was so much fun to hang out with them in their hometown, and catch up on the last couple of months. Both Nicolas and Alejo are avid travelers, so we hope our paths cross again soon (maybe Ohio next, right guys??)
On our final day in Buenos Aires, my stepdad Clint arrived from Oregon. (Special props to Clint for being the first of our family/friends to join us from the States!). It was a rainy day in BA, so we didn’t do much aggressive tourist-y stuff, but we did make sure to take him to an authentic parrilla for a hearty Argentinian meal of — you guessed it — steak, bread and wine. Early the next morning, the three of us headed to the airport to begin the next chapter of our journey: Patagonia!