Welcome to Buenos Aires. Argentina's big, cosmopolitan capital city, also known as the Paris of Latin America, is home to 13 million. Buenos Aires (BA) is also the second-largest metropolitan area in South America.
Buenos Aires is often described as a Minestrone soup of culture; it's decorated history of immigrants and settlers from wide and far; you have the best of everything due to the worldly influences over the years; over 6 million Europeans moved to Buenos Aires.
Day 5 - Buenos Aires, Argentina
Upon arriving last night from El Calafate, Exploration Journeys organised for us to be picked up by our local guide and delivered to the Hilton, it was dark, so we only saw the city at night. Today was the first light for us, so we could open our blinds and see the city; we always love this part, unveiling a new view!
Our lovely guide Claudia was waiting for us bright and early to take us on a city tour. First up was a visit to the city square Plaza de Mayo, lined with stately 19th-century buildings, including the parliament. Claudia shared all the juicy details of the city's history, including some sad information too. They have been under six dictatorships, the last from 1976-1983.
After the city square, we visited the impressive cathedral. From the exterior, you would be none the wiser, but on entering, you are overwhelmed by the beautiful design and collection of sculptures honouring those of importance. It was also the last home for the pope, who is now, of course, at the Vatican.
The next stop was the neighbourhood La Boca, a working-class area with a cluster of attractions near the Riachuelo River. The main attraction is Caminito, a narrow alley flanked by brightly painted zinc shacks that evoke the district's early immigrant days; it is full of colour! Tango and football are up there with the president in this country.
La Boca is also painted blue and yellow, as this neighbourhood hosts the football arena for their leading team. We stopped in the most colourful, cobblestoned and bright streets to explore the original abodes of those who came to Argentina from Spain, where up to 20 families would share the common space (kitchen and bathroom) whilst all living in a small room; the introduction of yellow fever.
Following this, Claudia was very insightful; she was getting to know our style and took us for our morning coffee in San Telmo market; it was fascinating, a food market full of restaurants and fresh produce stalls; you could easily spend more time here, we were just before the lunch hour so fortunately, we skipped the craziness of the crowds.
Once our coffee fix was in play, we stopped by to visit another old home that was initially for the wealthy and their family, but as the people migrated from the south to the north of the city, the rich would rent the rooms, and it would then become a shared living space, and yellow fever continued to grow with even more families sharing.
Our final stop was to visit Eva, where she rests, quite the story about how she ended up there, will share on the weekly blog. We were a little apprehensive about visiting the cemetery, but this soon changed once we saw all the mausoleums where all the influential people of the city were laid to rest. The enormity of the expense and design was fascinating. Although we did start to get the chills shortly after, it was time to head home.
Can you believe it is only lunchtime!! We thanked Claudia for the morning, and it was time for Wayne and Sal to enjoy Friday afternoon, of course, with a slow lunch.
We found the perfect Italian restaurant Sorrento with a lovely view from the terrace, and settled for the afternoon. The food, wine and service were impeccable, and the friendly atmosphere was fun.
Following lunch, we popped into a floating bar, which was hosting a jet ski competition in the city's heart and pulled up a pew and cocktail to join in the fun.
A great first day in Buenos Aires! Tomorrow is a Tango show!
The travelling corpse - learn all about the bizarre events that unfolded after Eva Peron's death and why it took over 20 years for her body to rest.
Pesos exchange rate - Argentina is unique because they have two exchange rates, one is the official rate, so when using your credit card or ATM card, you are charged the bank rate, which is nearly half of the blue dollar rate (the informal rate), so cash is best at this stage as you get almost double for your dollar! For example $1USD = 163 pesos (official) or 280 pesos (blue). The government just announced that foreigners will receive the blue rate when using cards from last Friday to drive tourism, although it seems the world's banks haven't received the memo yet. (Update: Our Wise card now issues refunds a few days after as the initial charge is official, but you receive the blue rate a few days later)
Football team colours were chosen by the players who worked in the port years ago based on the flag of the next ship to arrive in port, Sweden!
Day 6 - Buenos Aires, Argentina
Today was Saturday, and we had the day to ourselves until the evening. After a much-needed sleep-in, we were up to explore the city. We decided our first stop would be to exchange some cash.
After we were cashed up, we headed to the fabulous San Telmo market for our morning coffee. Why try to find another when you have already seen the perfect coffee? We watched the city wake up; we were considering lunch there, but it was pretty warm as the weather was topping 30 degrees, so we jumped in an Uber and visited a restaurant we were impressed with in Recoleta the day prior.
The restaurant 'Fervor' was located in a leafy tree-lined street in the post area known for Paris-style townhouses, lavish former palaces and boutiques. It was also home to the Recoleta Cemetery we visited yesterday, where national icons rest in extravagant tombs. A beautiful terrace table had our name on it. We spent the afternoon enjoying more fabulous food and wine and the mouthwatering pasta from the Italian influence in Argentina.
This evening we were treated to a Tango show at 'Gala Tango', so on with our Saturday best, and we were ready to party!
By 8 pm, we were seated in a beautiful dining setting, treated to wines of our choice and a three-course meal. We enjoyed the company of our tables alongside us and swapped many travel stories.
The big event, the Tango show, kicked off at 10 pm, and for the next 90 minutes, we were all mesmerised by the talented musicians, singers and dancers.
It was quite the show and very impressive; you can see it for yourselves in the videos! The speed at which they could dance was mind-blowing!
Following an adventurous and fun few weeks exploring Argentina, indeed a country that has filled us with joy every step of the way, a special thank you to the most incredible travel agent, the excellent Fred Schejtman at Argentina Exploration Journeys.
In a nutshell, we started in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, post our North to South Pole journey, we then experienced the icy wonders of the world, the incredible Glaciers of Argentina, including ice-trekking inside and on top of glaciers in El Calafate.
Next up was Argentina’s Patagonian region called Bariloche; this picturesque gem borders Nahuel Huapi, a large glacial lake surrounded by the Andes Mountains.
After the perfect introduction to Argentina, we were back to explore more of this vibrant and colourful city and live as a local for a few days before embarking on our next adventure.
Day 24 - 30, Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
We had booked a perfect Airbnb in Buenos Aires, located in a beautiful green and leafy neighbourhood, Palermo. After our research, this was the ideal neighbourhood for foodies like ourselves, so we booked immediately. It did not disappoint.
Our Airbnb was located within a beautifully restored 1931 historic building Palacio Cabrera, and the apartment was immaculate. Our lovely host left no stone unturned in this prestige apartment and ensured your stay was as comfortable and effortless as needed.
You had everything you need and more should you wish to cook at home; you were also welcomed with some treats. The interior was faultless with stunning design furniture, balconies were spacious and great to watch the street life below you, and a pool and laundry were also on the complex. The building was very safe and secure, with 24-hour security, which was reassuring when leaving at 5.30 am on a Sunday morning.
The neighbourhood Palermo was exactly as researched; it was full of tree-lined streets, cafes & dining establishments, and all your essentials, we couldn't be happier with this stay and wished we had more time!
We spent the first few days with our heads down and caught up on our work and some home-cooked meals. Fortunately, within a five-minute walk, we had a wine shop on our doorstep with an excellent selection of local wines, a butcher to satisfy our meat cravings and a local produce store too. We also loved visiting the newly opened organic deli for treats La Juana Mercado and fast became local customers at the coffee shop around the corner, Elocuente café y libros. The coffee was incredible, and we loved living local life again for a few days. It was the perfect way to practice our Spanish, and we can now order coffee (it's a start)!!
When the weekend arrived, we were out exploring the tree-lined streets, loving all the local designer stores and getting lost amongst the cobblestoned streets and alleys, the neighbourhood has a wonderful energy, and you can easily find yourself in awe of the gorgeous stores. You won't be disappointed with the dining and bar scene too.
We stumbled on a perfect restaurant for our slow lazy lunch with the best team, best food, and best wine; it was a true find! Thank you to Lo de Jesus for having us and for welcoming us back as we returned over the subsequent few visits to Buenos Aires, you always made us feel at home, and we left with very satisfied bellies full of delicious Argentinean beef and wine!
We have both definitely left a little piece of us in Buenos Aires and Argentina with all the wonderful new friends we have made and experiences we will carry with us on all future travels; we can't wait to find our way back (which is soon on the cruise a few times)!