Do You Tango? - Buenos Aires, Argentina December, 2018


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December 17th 2018
Published: December 16th 2018
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Do You Tango? Buenos Aires, December 2018



It’s been a few years since I last walked this exotic city – how I have missed it. I’ve given myself a few days to become reacquainted with a locale that once embedded in your heart, never leaves. Arriving in this South American port city by cruise ship, I’m on my way to the hotel within a few hours of the ship docking. I used a local shuttle service for the transfer – Airporttransfersbuenosaires.com – and for the total price of $54.00 for 4 people, it was a great deal, with swift and efficient transport. This latest adventure has me checking out a new brand edition to the Hilton portfolio, the Curio Collection. This one boasts an ideal location which fronts onto the famous Plaza Dorrego, a colorful, dynamic square in the epicenter of the historical neighborhood of San Telmo, and just steps away from cafés, bars, shops and antique stores. Featuring an elegant exterior that reflects the area’s traditional architecture and blends beautifully with San Telmo’s attractive cobblestoned streets, the open and modern interior provides a wonderful visual contrast. The elegant, modern décor meets homelike comfort in my comfortable guest room on the first floor, featuring warm wood flooring, beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows and a striking lamp – each one unique to every room, and a piece of art in itself. And if the lobby area is anything to go by, Anselmo Curio by Hilton will be a stunning place to stay for the next 10 days.



A little bit of history:



The city of Buenos Aires was first established in 1536 under the expedition of Pedro de Mendoza, but it couldn't sustain due to attacks from the indigenous people. It was finally established as a permanent port in 1580 under Juan de Garay and was named Puerto de Santa Maria de Los Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires grew as a trading town but was rife with overpriced taxes due to rampant piracy onboard ships. The growing resentment amongst the residents paved the way for independence from Spain that was achieved in 1816, following various usurpations. Unlike the rest of the country, the political atmosphere in Buenos Aires was more liberal and progressive. The city thrived in the 19th century with the expansion of railroads. It witnessed an influx of migrants from Italy and Spain and started becoming a culturally diverse city. In the first half of the 20th century, the city grew under two construction booms that helped shape its current infrastructure. The second half of the century saw many violent clashes between the state and the people as economic disparity bred discontentment. These included infamous coups followed by a dictatorship – who hasn’t heard of Juan and Eva Peron? Finally, in 1994 Buenos Aires was granted autonomy, which meant the city's residents could elect their mayor, instead of the President. The city has flourished under its own rule ever since.



Some call it the “Paris of South America” due to its urban eclectic profile, which mixes the French Bourbon style with the Spanish Colonial, the Art Deco, the Art Nouveau, the Neo-Gothic and the Italianate. This is all a direct result of European immigration promoted by the Argentine state, during the 19th century. Buenos Aires is very simply a sensual satisfaction experience. This city combines faded European grandeur with Latin passion; sexy and alive, this beautiful city gets under your skin in no time at all. The food scene is increasingly dynamic, but for many travelers it's the city's carnivorous pleasures that shine. Satisfying a craving for juicy steaks isn't hard to do in the land that has perfected grilling wonderfully-flavorful sides of beef down to an art, washed down with a generous glass of delicious Argentinian wine. Steakhouses sit on practically every corner and will offer up myriad cuts, from sirloin to flank steak to rib eye, but be sure to leave room for ice cream, if you can – licking a late-night cone of heavenly caramel can't be topped.



Look closely, this city is beautiful. Sure, it might look like a concrete jungle from certain angles, but stroll through the streets, paying attention to the magnificent architecture around you, and you'll soon be won over. Grand French and Italian-style palaces grab the limelight, but you'll see interesting architectural details in the buildings of even low-key, local barrios. These days the beauty of these traditional neighborhoods is further enhanced by colorful murals painted by artists involved in the city's vibrant street-art scene. For these talented individuals, the city is their canvas. And if you’re up to a riot of color, check out La Boca – this eclectic neighborhood screams vivid hues! Hunt for trinkets and treasures at the hugely popular San Telmo Fair, which runs every Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Immerse yourself in the city’s flourishing art scene with a Juanele San Telmo Art Walk, where you can take in vibrant street art and graffiti, and several galleries and museums, exploring everything from fashion and modern art to puppetry and the penitentiary. Explore the ancient tunnels and mysterious passageways of El Zanjon de Granados. Take a break from exploring San Telmo’s cobbled streets and enjoy a cup of coffee in one of the traditional cafés surrounding Plaza Dorrego, home to myriad street performers, artisans, vendors and tango dancers. When the sun goes down, experience world-famous nightlife in San Telmo’s bustling bars, nightclubs and live music venues.



Take an afternoon nap, then down some coffee and be prepared to stay up all night – this city simply never sleeps. Restaurants get going around 9pm, bars at midnight, clubs at 2am at the earliest, and serious clubbers don't show up until 4am. And it's not just millennials who head out on the town here - BA's diverse range of bars, clubs and live-music venues offers something for every age - just remember you'll be doing it all very late. BA's famous dance is possibly the city's greatest contribution to the outside world, a steamy strut that's been described as “making love in the vertical position”. Folklore says it began in the bordellos of long-ago Buenos Aires, when men waiting for their “evening partners” passed the time by dancing among themselves. Today, glamorized tango shows are entertaining with their grand feats of athleticism. You'll also find endless venues for perfecting your moves, from dance salons to dance schools. Be aware: some people become addicted – and spend a lifetime perfecting this sensual dance. Give it a try, what do you have to lose (maybe your two left feet)? Did I happen to mention there’s a boatload of things to do in this city?



Once settled into this boutique hotel and being close to lunchtime, it was an excellent opportunity for us to stroll around the crowded Dorrego Square (the famous San Telmo Flea Market was in full swing, being Sunday) to get the “lay of the land”. After Plaza de Mayo, Plaza Dorrego is the city’s oldest plaza, dating back to the 18th century, and was originally a pit stop for caravans bringing supplies into BA from the Pampas. At the turn of the 19th century, San Telmo was the main residential neighborhood, and Plaza Dorrego was its focal point. It became a public square surrounded by colonial buildings that survive to this day. It’s a very historic site for the city, as it was here in 1816 that independence from Spain was first announced. There’s still a wonderful old-time atmosphere here as well as cafe-restaurants that will definitely take you back in time. The square’s name has been changed at least 3 times but finally in 1905, the name morphed into its current form. There are also several antique stores, along with musicians and dancers performing tango exhibitions on a regular basis. Created in 1970 by architect José María Peña, the flea market consists of 270 stands and is visited by 20,000 locals and tourists weekly.



Not to be confused with the outdoor flea market, the San Telmo Market or Mercado located at Defensa and Carlos Calvo Streets, is an indoor fair. With a typical Italian façade and half-point arches, its beginnings date back to 1897. Its purpose was to supply food to the new waves of immigrants arriving from Europe. Now you can buy fish, beef, pork, chicken, fruits, vegetables and also objects not available anywhere else in the city. Antiques, old toys, books, ceramics, ornaments and housewares and even coffee from exotic countries. They even have phonographs, musical boxes, old banknotes and ancient coins. Open Tuesdays thru Fridays, 10:30am to 7:30pm; Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays, 9am to 8pm. My recommendation would be to visit early Saturday morning to avoid the tourist crowds. Some excellent restaurants and cafes are to be found here at very reasonable prices, one of which is Coffee Town at 976 Bolivar Street. Sip exclusive coffees very different from the ones you taste on the commercial circuit. They have taken coffee roasting to a new high with 27 single origins to choose from, and baristas from Coffee School prepare and serve these magical elixirs. An extensive food menu offering fresh pastries, omelets, juices, croissants and even a full English breakfast is available. It’s a little pricey compared to other nearby cafes but worth every peso. Open 8am to 9pm, 7 days a week, with Sunday being the most crowded.



Just a couple of blocks away from the square, we found a restaurant by the name of Don Ernesto’s, a place with a rich history. On the walls, the story of Argentina is told through old black-and-white photos which date back to Buenos Aires’ first armory. This family-style cantina serves large portions at very reasonable prices. Personalities who have passed through this house, have also left their mark with graffiti, pictures and even cartoons. These cartoons which are considered declarations of love and friendship, have taken up so much wall space there is no longer any more availability for scribbling. An old wooden staircase, with more ambiance than any steps should ever have, leads to a mezzanine. Don Ernesto’s, Carlos Calvo 375, 011 4307-6927. I gorged myself on their roasted eggplant entrée and a cheese/ham empanada, washed down with sparkling water. Fresh bread rolls and dipping sauces graced the table – thank god for the green onion cream dip, that was my only salvation from the burning 5-alarm chili dip!



A 4-hour tour of the city was next on the agenda. I had previously arranged this thru Viator at a nominal cost of $15.59 per person – another steal of a deal for BA sightseeing. First the guide met us at the hotel and we boarded the shuttle bus. After picking up more passengers at another hotel, we began a discovery ride that hit all the city highlights, like the famous Teatro Colón, the Plaza de Mayo, the rosy-hued Casa Rosada and the Plaza de la República. This informative city tour drives through colorful La Boca, historic San Telmo, tony Recoleta and verdant Palermo Woods – the most prominent city neighborhoods. The bus makes two stops, giving passengers an opportunity to visit Plaza Mayo with the Pink Palace, site of Eva Peron’s famous impassioned speech from its balcony, and wander down Caminito in La Boca.



As one of the city’s 48 barrios, La Boca is located near its old port and south of San Telmo; of all the areas in BA, it is probably my most favorite. In 1882 after a lengthy general strike, La Boca seceded from Argentina and the rebels raised the Genoese flag, which was immediately torn down personally by then President Julio Argentino Roca. Among sports fans, La Boca is best known for being the home of world-renowned football club, Boca Juniors. The club plays their home matches in La Bombonera (Spanish for "the bonbon box"). With its colorful houses and pedestrian street, its where tango artists perform, and tango-related memorabilia is sold. Other attractions include the La Ribera theatre, many tango clubs and Italian taverns. The actual area visited by tourists is only a few blocks long and has been built up for tourism very actively over the last few years. Outside this tourist area, it is a fairly poor neighborhood that has had many regular occurrences of petty crimes reported. It has also been a center for radical politics, having elected the first socialist member of the Argentine Congress (Alfredo Palacios in 1935) and was home to many demonstrations during the 2001 crisis. The health of over 1,000 barrio citizens is currently threatened by the pollution of the Matanza-Riachuelo River (which contains high levels of arsenic and lead due to centuries of unstopped pollution). Caminito Street is the main artery of this waterfront neighborhood, and is a jumble of old buildings, brightly painted facades, and street-side market stalls, with hawkers, buskers, and tango dancers adding to the atmosphere. Look out for statues of Argentine political figures like Eva Perón and Che Guevara, and soccer hero Diego Maradona peeking out from doorways and balconies. Visitors can browse the street market, where stalls sell souvenirs and handicrafts - drink a yerba mate (tea) at one of the terrace cafés or watch the street tango dancers. La Boca is known as one of Buenos Aires’ more unsavory neighborhoods, making it advisable to stick to the main tourist areas and take a taxi if you’re traveling around here at night. Caminito Street is wheelchair accessible, though it is mostly cobblestoned and uneven in places.



Dinner was yet another culinary “find” in the San Telmo area – Café San Juan la Cantina, a cool, brightly lit, little place just off Defensa, at 474 Calle Chile, +54 11 4300-9344, just a 5-minute stroll from the hotel. Sitting at a table for two next to the front windows, I had one of the best meals ever: eggplant bruschetta for a starter and vegetable lasagna as my entrée. The portion was massive, easily enough for two adults, and every mouthful simply melted in my mouth. In my humble opinion, it is one of the best restaurants in the entire city. Christopher Leandro is the chef of his family’s restaurant and had become famous after a reality series appeared on Fox Mundo about its opening. It’s an interesting story, as Leandro is a pro skateboarder and was living abroad for a while, before returning home to open this amazing restaurant. By the time my entrée arrived, the place was packed to the rafters, with people standing outside waiting for a table. I managed to eat maybe half of the vegetable lasagna before pushing my plate away and accepting I couldn’t finish this incredible dish. The café is so popular, reservations are necessary for dining after 9pm any evening of the week.. I intend to make a couple more myself before departing Buenos Aires.



The next morning dawned bright and sunny, a perfect sightseeing day. A stop at the local currency exchange resulted in AR$1,700 (Argentine Pesos) for $50 and then an Uber ride out to Recoleta Cemetery, located in the heart of La Recoleta barrio. Here more than 6,400 statues, sarcophagi, coffins, crypts and gravesites commemorate some of Argentina’s most celebrated sons and daughters, not least of all is Eva Peron, in this labyrinthine city of the dead. Once the orchard of the adjoining Basílica Nuestra Señora del Pilar - the glistening white church that overlooks the Plaza Francia - the land became the city’s first public cemetery in 1822. Its layout was designed by French engineer Próspero Catelin, who also designed the city’s Metropolitan Cathedral in the Plaza de Mayo.



It is an eerily beautiful and tranquil place, with shadowed walkways and towering marble mausoleums rich in art deco, art nouveau, baroque and neo-gothic architectural styles, Masonic symbols and powerful religious iconography. Over 90 of its tombs are listed as national historical monuments. The tomb of Eva Duarte Peron, aka Evita, lies in a heavily fortified crypt some 18’ underground, to protect her remains. Compared to others here, her gravesite is plain with virtually no decoration. If you didn’t know she was buried here, you would easily walk right passed it. Although she died in 1952, her body wasn’t interred in the Duarte family mausoleum for 20 years. Every cemetery worth its salt and reputation has a ghost story – Recoleta is no exception. David Alleno worked for 30 years as a cemetery grave-digger, carefully saving his money for his own plot and a statue of himself. It is said that as soon as the architect he had commissioned for the statue had finished the work, Alleno went home and killed himself. Apparently you can still hear his keys jangling as his ghost walks the cemetery’s narrow pathways at dawn. I don’t wake up that early ever, so can’t confirm the story! And of course there is a horror story to enthrall tourists of all ages: the beautiful art nouveau tomb of Rufina Cambaceres is an iconic crypt from the early 1900s. Built in Carrera marble by Rufina’s mother after it was discovered that Rufina had mistakenly been buried alive, the tomb's design bears all the hallmarks of her family’s terrible grief. Local workers had heard screams a few days after her burial, and when her coffin was disinterred, scratch marks were discovered on her face and on the insides of the coffin. It was later thought that she had been in a coma. Surely her ghost haunts Recoleta as well? Open daily from 8am to 6pm, they offer free tours in English which take place at 11am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Don’t forget to pick up a map at the entrance.



On the recommendation of Yasmin, Curio’s front desk receptionist, dinner was at another fabulous local restaurant – El Desnivel, Defensa 855, San Telmo, mobile 011 4300 9081 – open noon-1am Tuesday thru Sunday, 7pm-1am Mondays, and entrée prices range from ARS $200 to $430. This long-running, low-key parrillajoint packs in both locals and tourists, serving them treats such as chorizo(sausage) sandwiches and bife de lomo (tenderloin steak). The delicious smells from the sizzling grill out front are torturous as you wait for a table – get here early, especially on weekends and before 9pm weeknights. Amidst the overflowing crowd, our waiter whisked through the tables in the dining room bringing plate after plate of fries, grilled cheese, salad, steaks, wines, beers, breads, and multiple selections from the grill to the starving hordes. I selected rump roast with mustard and potatoes…. again massive portions, enough for 3 people I swear. This little restaurant is tucked away with almost no sign outside to speak of. It feels like an old school inn, a slightly raucous boarding house dining hall, it’s well-lit and adorned with pictures of supposedly well-known Argentines, although I certainly wouldn’t recognize any of them. I felt I could have thrown my baguettes across the room, had I been so inclined, and there would have been no repercussion except the threat of a return volley.For delicious parilla, excellent and authentic atmosphere, and service with character that leaves you and your wallet fat, give El Desnivel a try. Reservations are taken sometimes, and it will probably be busy, but turnover seems to be quick. Our somewhat pushy waiter really tried to make our dinner selections himself (he didn’t succeed, needless to say) and with the place filling up fast, did attempt to hurry us up to finish and clear the table (again, he wasn’t successful). However, with this being the only negative, I still recommend it and plan to eat here again this week.



Can’t spend any time in Buenos Aires and not attend a tango show – why else would you visit here if not for that? Certainly tango is danced spontaneously throughout the streets and squares of this exotic city, but almost always by amateurs and/or locals and tourists. To see it performed in authentic costumes, accompanied by striking tango music and by professionally-trained dancers, well that’s something else entirely different. Again on the advice of Yasmin, we booked the 10:15 evening show at El Querandi, located in the San Telmo area at 302 Peru, Monserrat. Red wine and red-hot tango are two of Argentina’s top exports and few places do both as well as El Querandi, one of the most famous tango venues in Buenos Aires. The atmospheric restaurant and wine bar are as popular with locals, who fill up on lunchtime steaks, as it is with tourists, who frequent the legendary dinner tango shows, and serves up an acclaimed menu of Argentine cuisine and local wines. The historic venue has been making its mark in the tango world since it first opened its doors in 1920 and while the nightly dinner shows are now mostly for the benefit of tourists, the passion and artistry of the tango is still very much alive. Tracing the history of the sultry tango from the late 19th century bordellos, through its many generational interpretations and including plenty of gasp-inducing modern twists, this show is a stylish introduction to the iconic dance. Entering the dimly lit venue is like stepping back in time, with tuxedoed waiters and glittering chandeliers bringing a touch of old-world glamor, film reels showcasing clips of the tango greats and dazzling costumes and performances by some of the city’s most talented dancers. This intimate performance brings the singers, musicians, and dancers up close with the audience for a personal feel throughout the show. In this setting reminiscent of the first bars of the early 20th century, a quartet of musicians play classic tango pieces while 4 pairs of dancers captivate the audience with their precision and sensuality and a pair of singers make the air resonate with their voices. Throughout the show, you learn about the history of tango and of Buenos Aires itself, its characters and circumstances from 1860 to the present day. Prices vary depending on what you want for the evening. We opted for just the show at $35 per person, which included roundtrip transportation from the hotel. Should you opt to dine here as well, you can select an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert item out of more than 20 Argentine and international dishes for an exquisite 3-course dinner. This is priced at $90 per person including unlimited alcohol, or if just dessert and one drink is more your style, that’s $55 per person – all price levels include roundtrip hotel/venue transportation. The show lasts approximately one hour, ending just before midnight, and is simply amazing. Our table was right by the front door at the back of the room – bad table you say? No, not really – the costumed dancers passed right by us between sets and we had a clear view of the upraised stage where the orchestra sat. The floor stage area view was partially blocked by other guests, but each dancing set was performed on the floor stage, the upraised stage and sometimes even on the bar top, so we didn’t feel as though we missed any part of this marvelous performance. Every table was filled, the venue was packed – reservations are a must here and can be booked online or thru your hotel concierge. There are multiple tango venues throughout the city with varying prices and days of operation, but I usually go with recommendations from hotel staff who are familiar with each and know which are worth the money and which aren’t – El Querandi is certainly on the “worth it” list for sure!







Next morning I awoke to dark skies, booming thunder, lightning flashes and torrential rain….one weather extreme to the other in this town. Temperature had dropped at least 15 degrees – a perfect day to relax around the hotel and write. As much as I adore Hilton hotels and its many brands, I accept the fact not everything will be fabulous every time, and so it is with the Anselmo Curio with regards to its breakfast. Served buffet-style every morning from 7 to 10:30am downstairs with both inside and open-air seating areas, the selection items available are pretty standard, nothing special. However on my first morning, I didn’t go down to eat until around 9:30am and I found to my dismay, the three hot dishes (sautéed vegetables, scrambled eggs and bacon strips) were just empty containers; the cold cuts and sliced cheeses had been on the buffet bar top so long, they were drying out and basically inedible; and to really seal the deal, the orange juice dispenser didn’t work – the spigot was blocked by pulp! Empty plates where morning pastries should reside, and the coffee pot was also empty…. does everyone see a pattern here? This is definitely NOT Hilton style at all and does not bode well for my extended stay. There were other guests dining at the same time – guess they cleaned out everything before I arrived. I did complain to the restaurant staff and all of the above was rectified ASAP – but, I’m reserving judgment for the coming days. On the plus side, the front desk reception staff (Juan and Yasmin) are pure gems and really understand and demonstrate superb customer service. They have both gone out of their way to provide information, suggestions, reservations, and anything else I needed with such pleasant attitudes and a willingness to help.







Buenos Aires can boast of having one of the top five lyric theaters in the world, the Colon Theater located at 628 Cerrito Street. Here you can appreciate its artistic and acoustic values by attending the many ballets, concerts and the opera year-round. In addition, the theater is home to the Superior Institute of Arts where some of the greatest artists such as Julio Bocca, have graduated. Guided tours are held Mondays thru Fridays from 9am to 5pm and the tickets are very reasonable. For more information: visitasguiadas@teatrocolon.org.ar



Arguably, the most iconic building in Buenos Aires is Government House, aka Casa Rosada or the Pink Palace located in Plaza Mayo in the heart of the city. With its pink facade and palace-like design, it has served as the backdrop to countless numbers of protests, famous speeches and significant moments in Argentina’s history. Guarded by police and tall gates often flanked with protest signs, the Pink House appears to be an impenetrable castle. But every weekend and holidays, the mysterious palace doors open to the public for free hour-long tours. These are available in Spanish, English and Portuguese, and are conducted at 12:30pm and 2:30pm. They begin every 10 to 15 minutes and must be booked online via: visitas.casarosada.gob.ar, if requesting a tour in a language other than Spanish, otherwise reservations are not necessary. Cameras are permitted during the tour, but no flash is allowed inside. President Juan Perón and his wife Maria Eva Duarte, affectionately known as Evita, famously delivered their speeches from the balcony of the Casa Rosada, to the thousands of supporters, known as descamisados (shirtless ones), gathered below. This same balcony is where Madonna sang “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” while filming the movie “Evita” with Antonio Banderas.



Tips for Tourists in BA:



1. When asking for directions, be aware that “just a block away” can mean anything from 3 to 6 streets away. Always confirm how many streets are involved between origination and destination, or you could be hiking for the long haul!



2. 5 minutes can actually mean 30 minutes in Argentine time – get used to it, that’s life here.



3. Planning on purchasing a SIM card while in Argentina? Get it when you land at the airport and not in the city, saving yourself more headaches, frustration and simply being pissed off in spades, than you can imagine. For whatever reason, obtaining a SIM card in town requires a 3- or 4-step process, all conducted in separate locations which are not necessarily geographically close. A friend spent at least 4 hours one morning being sent from “pillar to post”, first to buy the card, then get it registered (passport and paperwork involved here), and then yet another place to buy the minutes for calls and data! Apparently all these steps can only be completed in one seamless process at the international airport – take heed, you’ve been warned. The entire city process is not for the faint of heart, especially if you don’t speak Spanish. It is not tourist-friendly.



4. Uber here is fast, efficient and very cheap – use it instead of the radio taxis.



I really can’t figure out the climate here. For the past 5 days in BA, the weather had alternated every day from sunny and warm without a cloud in the sky, to thunderstorms, rain and lightning…. you can almost set your watch by looking out the window – its so weird. Even the forecast for the coming 4 days seems to support this. One good thing about it, you know when to schedule outdoor activities and when not to.



After all the quirky and charming neighborhoods I’ve strolled around so far, there is one still to discover – Puerto Madero – another barrio which is certainly unique and definitely underrated. Located adjacent to San Telmo, here you experience a mix of history, cosmopolitan culture, and nature in the “newest” and most expensive area of the city. It occupies a significant portion of the Río de la Plata riverbank and represents the latest architectural trends. I have stayed at the Hilton Hotel here on previous occasions, and still enjoy walking along the waterfront, and walking across the Puente de la Mujer (Bridge of the Woman), a stunning feat of engineering as well as a work of art. As you view it from afar, you may think the bridge’s design resembles a hook or a tooth of some sort but actually, the architect Santiago Calatrava designed the bridge to look like a couple dancing the tango. The bridge is pedestrian only and rotates a full 90 degrees to allow ships to pass by. Puerto Madero is home to two nautical museums, and the first is the Sarmiento. The Sarmiento was built in the 1890s as a training vessel for the Argentine Navy and has circumnavigated the globe six times. Today, visitors can explore the ship and see its armaments and its living quarters. The deck of the ship is a great place to take some photos of the Buenos Aires skyline. Not too far from the Sarmiento is the smaller but equally impressive ship, the Uruguay. While the Sarmiento was used for training, the corvette Uruguay was used in actual naval battles, covert missions, and even a rescue trip to Antarctica. The ship’s colorful past is on display via exhibitions and artifacts inside. Another great thing to do here is to visit the 864-acre ecological reserve that sits between the high rises in Puerto Madero and the Rio de la Plata. It’s a very popular weekend spot for birdwatchers, walkers and cyclists. Very well-maintained trails wend their way through the reserve and lead eventually to the waterfront.



In the 1990s, local and foreign investment led to a massive regeneration effort of Puerto Madero, recycling and refurbishing the west side warehouses into elegant houses, offices, lofts, private universities, luxurious hotels and restaurants that conform to a gallery of options for this new district in a city that grew up turning its back to the river. Led by the 1999 opening of the Hilton Buenos Aires, luxurious hotels, state-of-the-art multiplex cinemas, theatres, cultural centers, and office and corporate buildings are located mostly on the east side. Today it has become the preferred address for growing numbers of young professionals and retirees, alike. And the best part of this barrio is? Every street in Puerto Madero is named after women.



For my last full day in BA, I first spent an hour wandering around the stalls of the flea market directly in front of the hotel (it’s Sunday, duh) – it’s such an iconic event every week and it needs more than a few minutes to browse. Then I had enough time to explore the Comic Strip Walk. This walkway pays homage to Argentina’s most famous cartoonists and comics artists – it can be visited any day of the week for free. Starting at Defensa and Chile Streets, just two blocks from the square, is where you’ll find life-size sculptures of Mafalda, Susanita and Manolito, the famous characters created by Quino. Continue along Balcarce Street, and you find other characters at various intersections along this Walk – there are about 12 of them overall. The route ends at the Humor Museum in de los Italianos Avenue, in Puerto Madero. Any or all of these cartoon sculptures make for great photo ops.



Buenos Aires has been a real treat. I’ve overindulged in delicious beef dishes, explored a world-famous city in all its glory and generally had one hell of a good time, but all good things do come to an end. And so it is with this latest sojourn. Time to climb aboard that Delta jet and return to the winterlike northern hemisphere and the bright lights of Las Vegas. Southeast Asia is next on the horizon – stay tuned. Cheers…..


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