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Published: February 5th 2016
Buenos Aires is often compared to Paris, and it’s easy to see why… you can barely walk 100m without pointing at a beautiful European style building with lovely balconies or stopping in a cute little square. At the same time, it still feels a bit manic and South American, a little rough around the edges, which makes it original. It's also far and away the best place we found in South America for GF food which was a welcome change! We liked it a lot.
We had three full days in Buenos Aires, which was long enough to see all the key sights, but not really long enough to leave any time for relaxation. We lucked out with our AirBnB studio and were greeted by Ernesto and Silvia when we arrived, possibly the two loveliest, most welcoming people in Argentina. That evening, we headed straight out to see the Congress Building, supposedly modelled on the Capitol Building in Washington DC, and sat in the park avoiding the pigeons to admire it. I got up to take a photo and realised a window cleaner was posing in front of me, demanding that I take a “portrait of Buenos Aires”! He wouldn’t
leave until we agreed with him that we were indeed from the Czech Republic. Very weird.
The following morning we headed down Avenida de Mayo, past lots of lovely, elegant buildings – and a few hideously ugly ones – to the Plaza de Mayo. This is home of the Casa Rosada (Pink House) - the president’s offices and also Evita’s famous balcony, as well as a cathedral, the old town hall and lots of other impressive buildings. There was a protest going on in the square, and there was barely a patch of fence without an enormous banner slung over it. We wandered off to Manzana de las Luces, the oldest section of the city, with a courtyard surrounded by arches where lots of locals were sitting with their lunch, and had a look around the antiques market inside. Next stop was Puerto Madero for lunch, the dockland area of the city which has been recently developed and filled with restaurants and cafés. However, due to lack of choice (we kind of felt like we missed the place that the guide book told us about!) and budget, we ended up getting takeaway from ‘Wok Express’ and eating it in
the park. Buenos Aires (and Argentina in general in fact) is not cheap! It was a long old walk back to our place and we made a McFlurry stop halfway. I know, I should be ashamed… but I’m not. They had the best McFlurry I have ever had! It had crumbled up Dulce de Leche fudge in it. SO GOOD.
The next day we explored the Recoleta area. Recoleta is famous for its cemetery, and we were not prepared for how crazy a place this is! Rather than gravestones, the coffins are presented in their own mausoleums, often with the rest of their family. This means that the tombs range from the size of a small shed to that of a small house! Some have stained glass windows, statues and other elaborate decorations. Tom got really freaked out! I was kind of fascinated by the place. We continued to Floralis Generica, the 20m x 32m stainless steel flower, which we quite liked, and spent ages watching groups of dog walkers in the parks. There was one guy walking 15 dogs! This is also a very fashionable, wealthy area of the city and after seeing the many squares and statues
(nearly always of a man on a horse), we headed down Avenida Alvear to marvel at the posh shops. After lunch was Teatro Colón, where we sat on the grass in front of the theatre and read a book, whilst enjoying another McFlurry! The theatre is a beautiful building (apparently it was the largest in the Southern Hemisphere until Sydney built theirs in 1976) and the Court House opposite isn’t bad either. I also managed to get a look at the Ateneo, an old theatre turned bookshop. The stage, boxes and balconies are all still intact, just with books everywhere!
Day 3 saw us getting on the SUBTE (underground) for the first time and heading to Palermo. First though, we had to have a gringo moment and check out the oldest café in Buenos Aires, Café Tortoni. It was, as you’d expect, full of Americans with guidebooks, but it was worth it for the stained glass windows in the high ceilings and grand chandeliers, and the coffee wasn’t even expensive. Awesome. We also had a look around San Telmo market, with its antiques stands and shops selling an incredibly random range of collectibles. Anyway, Palermo. After being stuck on
the underground for half an hour without moving, we emerged at Plaza de Italia and went in the first restaurant we saw for a much needed steak for lunch. Batteries recharged, we headed to Parque 3 de Febrero, which had a gorgeous rose garden between a couple of lakes. The colours of the flowers were lovely and the whole park was immaculate – there was a woman with a whistle getting angry with anyone who dared walk on the grass! We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Palermo Soho and Old Palermo, with their vintage style shops, cute cafés, pretty squares and delicious ice cream (not from McDonalds this time, I promise).
Whilst in Buenos Aires, we couldn’t miss the chance to see some tango, so that night we headed back to San Telmo. We had read about a little place where, rather than a show for tourists which cost thousands of Pesos, they have a Milonga = basically a free for all on the dancefloor, with a band playing. This evening massively exceeded our expectations as firstly, the majority of people were regulars and fantastic dancers which made for amazing people watching, and secondly the 9 piece
band and their singer were brilliant. We even spent about 20 seconds in the middle of the dancefloor (that’s where the beginners go) on our way out, before the shame got too much!
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