Buenos Aires. Unassuming, and oh so Delicious.
Full disclosure: I actually struggled with this post. We didn’t do as much as we normally would; it was a relaxing week. But full of spending time with new friends, and while traveling, friends are everything.
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We flew from Foz do Iguazu to Buenos Aires, stayed at another great Airbnb in Palermo Hollywood for a week, then Palermo Soho for another three days. Since we didn’t really know what to expect in BA, we were ready to eat good food and drink good wine, which is exactly what we did. Mission Accomplished.
Keeping the same schedule of one adventure day and one relaxing day, Buenos Aires was a delicious treat to satiate any appetite. Especially meat lovers 🙂 They’re not lying when they say Argentina has the best steaks in the world – Our first dinner, Michael and I shared a ribeye and it was literally melt in your mouth deliciousness. (Read more about this under our “Food” section). Trip: Gringo in Buenos Aires is a great website – one which we used often for tips on what to do and where to go for some local flair.
I wish I had a pedometer. The city is large, but we seemed to walk everywhere anyways. Figuring out the subte (subway), was slightly more difficult than it probably should have been. Therefore, cabs and feet were our main mode of transportation. From adorable craft fairs in Plaza Serrano to street cafes and the Parque Chacabuco, which I really wanted to have a picnic at, we roamed the city and found some amazing cultural landmarks and historical sites.
Sunday Flee Market in San Telmo
La Recoleta Cemetery.
One of the main attractions was the La Recoleta Cemetery. It contains the graves of notable people, including Eva Perón, presidents of Argentina, Nobel Prize winners, the founder of the Argentine Navy and a granddaughter of Napoleon. In 2011, the BBC hailed it as one of the world’s best cemeteries, and in 2013, CNN listed it among the 10 most beautiful cemeteries in the world. I don’t think anyone would disagree. Truly remarkable. It was literally a city of tombs with streets and signs; each one unique and extravagant. The oldest date we saw was 1775 and there are still prominent people being buried there today. Seeing the caskets of entire families from centuries ago and how their ancestors still pay tribute to them was a beautifully spiritual sight (if only slightly morbid).
Birthday’s in BA.
We had the pleasure of celebrating our new friend, Danny’s, 25th birthday in Buenos Aires (yes, we’re hanging with the kids – helps keep us young!). We explored more of the city and did a little bar hopping. From Puerto Madero to San Telmo and back to Palermo Soho then home. It was quite the day of food, drinks, and bar game competitions.
Growing up a dancer, I’m enchanted by all types of dance and truly appreciate each cultures’ traditional technique. Naturally, I was determined to take a Tango class. I let Michael off the hook on this one and allowed him to play photographer instead, but I had an absolute blast! The lesson was through Tango Piola, where Cristian works out of his home studio. He was an incredible teacher and taught me more in an hour than I ever expected. I’d even love to continue the technique back in the states. Such a beautiful, romantic art.
A one-hour ferry ride from Buenos Aires can get you to Uruguay?? Yes please! Read more about that in the Colonia post.
Restaurants & Nightlife.
878 Thames and Frank’s Bar each came highly recommended. Unfortunately, Frank’s Bar was closed when we attempted to go, but if you’re ever in BA and want to experience a local “secret” hot spot, be sure to check it out. However, you have to get the password off their Facebook page before you go, otherwise you’ll be left on the street. 878 Thames is a great craft cocktail lounge that actually made us feel like we were back in Southern California, sipping on some awesome pre-dinner drinks with friends — Nice to experience that every once in a while.
This was a real treat! Technically illegal and not monitored by the government, closed-door restaurants are a mix between your typical dinning experience and a dinner amongst friends. They require you to book in advanced in order to get the address and entrance information. Trientasillas is only open on the weekends and serves 30 people a night (hence the name “Trienta Sillas”, or “Thirty Chairs”). It was a prix-fix four course meal and honestly, every dish was exceptional. Quite possibly the best meal I’ve ever had, and worth every peso. The restaurant is the chef’s home and was such a unique Argentinian experience to see him cook and serve from his own kitchen. For $50USD per person, that included 4 courses and a bottle of wine (or two). Done and done.
Another top 5 closed-door restaurant is Casa Felix (some even rank it at #1). Similar to Trientasillas, reservations are required. This location felt more relaxed and casual than Trientasillas, allowing us to walk in and out of the kitchen and mingle with other guests, exchanging travel stories, etc. However, we were sadly disappointed with the food. An eight-course prix-fixed menu, complete with wine pairing, and unfortunately none of them even came close to comparing to Trientasillas’ quality. But to each their own! However, if you have to pick one, in my opinion, go with Trientasillas. More restaurant feel, but the food is worth it.
We’re still trying to adjust to the South American eating habits though. People don’t typically eat dinner until 10/11pm. Even at 9pm, we were still the only people in the restaurant (at home, if it’s past 8pm, I won’t bother with dinner. Way too late to eat!). On the cab ride home, we passed Plaza Serrano, which is THE place to be in Palermo Soho, complete with amazing restaurants on every corner, and at 1:30am every place was packed with people still eating dinner. CRAZY! Bars close at 4am; 1:30am is the latest we’ve been up and I felt pretty exhausted, and old. Don’t know if I’ll ever get used to staying up that late.
Difference between BRZ and ARG.
Now that we’ve experienced both Brazil and Argentina, I’ve found that Buenos Aires is nicer than Rio and Sau Paulo, but I actually enjoyed the culture more in Brazil. However, Brazil definitely has the feeling of a third world country as soon as you arrive, and Argentina immediately feels nicer, and more like home. A number of times, we actually felt like we were back in LA.
I was a little wary about Argentina at first because of all the crime we were warned about, but once again, just like in Brazil, I never felt unsafe. We’re also very smart travelers, constantly aware of our surroundings, and stick to the tourist areas. Luckily, we never had any issues.
We didn’t know when to walk and when to not. Majority of intersections are yields and sometimes pedestrians have the right of way, but sometimes they don’t. Confusing to say the least.
Subte (aka Subway) – Good luck finding one! When you do, it’s fine and faster than a cab in rush hour, but if it takes too long, and when all else fails, grab a cab that says “LITRE”. Just be careful of getting scammed. I was warned by a friend who’s from Argentina and she said if a cab driver comes back and says you gave them a fake bill, don’t believe them and don’t give them any money. They likely took your real bill, and are just showing you a fake one to get you to pay them again.
Where to Stay.
I suggest getting an Airbnb for 3-4 days and then decide where you actually want to be. We heard Palermo is the spot, but there is Palermo Soho, Palermo Hollywood, etc. Even if someone gives you tips, they may be looking for something else. And typically it’s not what you want. Or maybe you’ll get lucky! In my opinion, Soho is the place to be! Cool, young vibe with lots of restaurants and shops; you can walk everywhere. We were in Hollywood for the first week and it was fine, quiet, more local, but far from the good restaurants.
Overall, there were so many amazing things to do in Buenos Aires, but I felt like 10 days was a good amount of time to fit it all in. However, because I really didn’t know what to expect in BA, we didn’t do all the things I would have liked, but now I can add to my bucket list for next time.
Buenos Aires, you got away from me this time, you unsuspecting city. But don’t worry, I’ll be coming back prepared!
– Boca Juniors Soccer game at the La Bombonero Stadium
– Argentina cooking class – Learn how to make traditional empanadas
– Picnic in the Palermo Park
Buenos Aires 2015 Bucket List Complete:
– Tango Lesson
– Closed-door dinners at Trientasillas and Club Felix
– Enjoyed Argentinian steak and wine!
– Day trip to Uruguay
– Amazing food and delicious wine!
– Everything is reasonably priced and the US Dollar goes a long way – Tip: Bring new crisp $100 bills and exchange them with locals or at restaurants. They’ll give you a better rate than at a Currency Exchange. (i.e. Official rate = 8.5 pesos/1 dollar; Informal = 12.8/1 dollar)
– Dog-friendly city – Adorable dogs everywhere! (Which sadly is also a con. See below).
– More English than Brazil – But at least we can understand more with the Spanish than Portugese!
– Great experiences on both LAN and Aerolineas Argentino
– Have to tip 10% here – Liked Brazil better because no tips = easier to calculate and save money!
– Service charge for silverware and bread – WTF?
– Currency is annoying – We literally had to go to the ATM every day because the maximum you could withdraw was basically $50USD and would only get you dinner.
– Big city – Not much more to do than eat and drink.
– No alcohol in public – Unlike Brazil. Boo.
– Dog-friendly city – Poop everywhere!
– Argentinians are impatient! – Whether it’s a queue (aka line), a plane, or anything else, Argentinos want to be in front. In America, when the plane lands and the seat belt sign is still on, we all wait patiently until instructed to stand and retrieve our carry-on luggage. However, in Argentina, as soon as the plane lands, 1). Everyone claps. Weird, I know; 2). The people in the back of the plane, try to rush forward and ask other passengers to move. Michael and I found this both bizarre, annoying, and quite rude. We all need to get off the plane, so unless you’re trying to catch a connecting flight, CALM DOWN!
Dog walkers in Buenos Aires don’t mess around.
Keys in Argentina look fake to us, but the locals think our keys from home look weird.
Adios Buenos Aires — Thank you for the delicious food, amazing wine, and beautiful city sunsets.
Packing up our winter clothes and ready for the colder weather in Patagonia! The Mountains are calling…