At first, I was a little scared of Buenos Aires. I mean it’s a city of 13 million people! I worried that we would get lost, that we would get mugged, that we would be overwhelmed. I needn’t have worried – we spent 10 days and could have stayed longer we loved it so much.
We started our stay with a couple of walking tours by BAFreeTour. The excellent, and funny Sol and Maca showed us the best of the city and gave out advice and recommendations easily. I highly recommend them – they helped us realize that the city doesn’t have to be overwhelming and can be conquered.
Our apartment was located in Palermo, a fabulous neighborhood filled with cafes, shops, restaurants and apartment blocks – a city of 13 million lives a stacked life! We loved it, wandering around for hours, finding something new every time we went out. We were able to walk everywhere we wanted to visit but, once we mastered the subway we took advantage of it also – piece of cake.
Coffee culture is huge in Buenos Aires, and I upped both my coffee intake and my ‘cred’ when I discovered the cortado – a mix of espresso and just a hint of milk, definitely stronger than any coffee I’d been able to consume at home (I’m a Starbucks latte kind of girl…no longer). Here, coffee is not consumed in take out cups while hurriedly running off to attend to something else. No, here one goes to a cafe and leisurely sips while chatting or just watching the world go by. Linger for a while…no-one minds. Fabulous!
My beef and wine intake also increased substantially. I think I’ve eaten more beef in Argentina than we normally eat in a whole year. Seriously!! And it is as good as advertised. Our big ‘steak dinner out’ was had at La Cabrera, a restaurant I had read was a touristy but worth it. It was totally worth it. I have never seen a steak so big, and accompanied by 13 small side dishes! We were absolutely stuffed…but happy. And wine…I think we’ve drank a bottle of wine every single day…it really is like water at this point!
We took in the city at our leisure, enjoying art galleries, regular neighborhoods, fancy neighborhoods, markets and, of course, the famous Recoleta cemetery. It really is stunning! The tombs were built to honor the people within them but also must have been built with a keep-up-with-the-Jones kind of mentality as every one is grander than the next. There are sculptures, and spires, and chapels, and monuments everywhere. Quite the sight to see.
Tango. How could one go to Buenos Aires, the birthplace of tango, and not see a tango show? It is possible to see tango in the streets, although the weather and time of year did not bode too well for us and we only saw one or two couples shilling it for tips. Tango shows can cost a fortune and we were not nearly ready to go to a milonga where one can dance tango…there are strict ‘rules’ around dancing and ad-libbing is not encouraged!
Fortunately I like cheese. You know, campy…put-on…over-the-top…Vegas-like. In fact, one of my favorite shows ever was the Follies Bergere show at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. Pure camp…feathered headdress, topless, mirrored ceiling kind of entertainment. But, back to the tango…we found that the cheapest show in town was at Cafe Tortoni, which also happens to be the oldest cafe in Buenos Aires. It was perfect. Live tango music by an aging band, a Sinatra-like singer, and a stunning couple dancing tango on the smallest, red velvet curtained stage around. I loved it!!
We left Buenos Aires wanting more…more time. This was a place we could settle into, enjoy, explore. Not scary at all.