We spent 12 days in Buenos Aires in one apartment. Let’s put those 12 days in perspective, we haven’t been in one place for 12 days since our house was packed up in California (the last week of June). So we moved in! Twelve days is also a long time to give a day-by-day accounting of our explorations; so I will discuss the highlights. A huge bonus to Buenos Aires? Stephen’s parents joined us! E & S adore their grandparents and were completely surprised to see them (somehow we managed to keep that secret). Stephen’s parents brought us a few items we needed and took back some items. The temperatures are gradually rising as we have worked our way through South America. We have sent back coats, sweatshirts, long sleeves, and an other few items.
Once again, we had a great apartment (thank you Becky for finding it) and a great location. We stayed in the Recoleta neighborhood which was a safe area and full of shops, restaurants, cafes, and embassies! The French and Romanian embassies were right next door. Everytime you turn a corner, you find another coffee shop or a wine shop. This town is definitely my kind of town! Our apartment was in a building dating to early 1900’s but had been recently renovated. The kitchen was the largest and best supplied we have had so far. It was so easy to make breakfast and dinner for the six of us. We had enough bedrooms and bathrooms for everyone (and lots of hot water and bath towels). The dining room and family room (complete with TV) were well sized for our group. The best? E & S had a loft bedroom/bathroom above the kitchen with a plexiglass peek-through. They loved the privacy and S loved playing on the plexiglass.
BA has a very cosmopolitan feel. Many times, it felt like we were walking down a street in New York, Chicago, or Santiago! We were able to walk around most of the town for our explorations. The mix of old European styled buildings and new modern buildings was present throughout the city.
It didn’t take us long to notice the dog walkers! Not a day went by without seeing at least one! These dog walkers have skill; they successfully managed to control 6-10 dogs for their walks to the nearby parks. The Amazing Race had dog walking as a task several years ago and its easy to see how this task could be challenging.
And the parks! We have seen amazing parks in Peru, Chile, and now Argentina! I am gong to miss the South American greenspace! Some of the best in town (that we saw) were Ecological Reserve, Bosques de Palmero (we saw a small portion), and Japanese Garden. We walked by so many, that it was hard to keep track of which ones. Nearly all the parks have multiple play structures and exercise equipment. And there were always people enjoying the greenspace- napping, canoodling, sipping Yerba tea, having lunch, exercising, or reading.
One of our first stops was Recoleta Cemetery which was a short walk for us. Guidebooks state that one can get lost for hours amongst the labyrinth of mausoleums (supposedly over 6,000)- luckily we had a map. The mausoleums range from small Gothic chapels to Greek temples to huge marble structures. Some mausoleums are well-kept with fresh flowers awhile others have fallen into a forgotten time. Many times you could see coffins or urns on display behind the doors. In the cemetery, you can visit tombs of Eva Peron, former presidents, former military leaders, and other civic leaders. That particular morning was overcast and windy, the rest of our days spent exploring were with wonderful blue skies.
Hidden between skyscrapers is this peaceful garden. Even though there is a busy street immediately outside the grounds, the street traffic was dramatically reduced in the garden. It was a beautiful day when we visited. The lawns are nicely manicured with groomed trees. Not all the bushes were flowering, but the azaleas were full of color. The pond was full of koi that could be fed. There were various fountains scattered around the walk paths. Although slightly cheesy; there are Japanese tea rooms and restaurants also. The gardens are tucked away in a larger park, Bosque, in the Palmero neighborhood.
We had an absolutely gorgeous day as we explored this area of town. Have you noticed a theme…..everyday was simply( gorgeous except our first Sunday (it rained the entire day). Puerta Madero is the newest district and the fastest growing in town. We were able to walk along the river with the new city (skyscrapers) on one side and the older city on the other. Many of the skyscrapers are new, but the dock buildings date to early 1900’s.The older buildings have been converted into cafes, lofts, and businesses. One of the landmarks of this area is the new pedestrian bridge, Puente de la Mujer (Women’s Bridge), built-in 1991. Also in this area is the ecological reserve where Stephen and Jeni had an awesome run (a future post!). We didn’t stop at the tourist spots of Starbucks, TGIF, or McDonald’s. But we did stop to visit the Frigate Sarmiento along the way.
It is a restored naval training ship used by the Argentinian Navy dating from the 1880’s. The vessel circumvented the globe six times during her days. After the navy vessel, we walked to San Telmo for a quick lunch and then back towards Plaza de Mayo. San Telmo is the oldest district of BA. Many of the buildings still had colonial influence especially the cobblestoned streets. We wandered through the San Telmo market which was relatively quiet on a Thursday mid-day and found a hidden gem for lunch (more below). Plazo de Mayo is one of the most important political landmarks (if not the most) of modern Argentina. The plaza is known for its demonstrations. Plaza de Mayo is also home to important local and national government houses such as the Casa Rosada (Presidential House), the Cabildo (which was the Government House during the colonial period) and the Metropolitan Cathedral.
Museums- Our kids have a low tolerance for museums, so we try to pick carefully. We toured two while in BA.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes is a fine arts museum. English tours are offered three times a week, except for the days we were in town. The museum is not as large as other fine art museums which made it easier for the kids. The entrance was free and was essentially a walk through art history. There were works from Picasso, Renoir, Monet, Degas, Rembrandt, Tintoretto, Modigliani and Rothko.
Our second choice was Museo Evita commemorating the life of Argentina’s iconic first lady. We had watched Evita a couple of nights prior to introduce our kids to Eva Peron. The museum did an excellent job of filling in the gaps and inaccuracies of the left movie. Most of the displays were in Spanish, but there were enough in English to learn quite a bit. My daughter and I especially liked the wardrobe pieces on display. The museum is housed in a building that was acquired by the Eva Peron Social Foundation.
For a typical steak dinner, we headed to La Cabrera in Palmero. Steaks ranged from 400 gm to 800 gm in size. Our party of six had a variety of steaks (wagyu beef, sirloin, rib eye)- all were delicious. Beef steaks are called partillas in Argentina the name just sounds delicious! We were used to US standards of rare, medium rare, medium, medium well. Now add-on “blue” (the meat kisses the pan)- which is on the rare side of rare. We had a grilled provolone as an appetizer (a popular dish in this region). An assortment of condiments were provided from salad, bread, squash, applesauce, sauces/spices for the steaks and mashed potato. The steaks were generous sized. The meat is simply cooked without extra sauces or spices added during the cooking process. All of the flavor is from the meat itself. Our family of 4 shared three steaks and we still have leftovers for another meal.
Typical Tourist Tour-
We attended a Tango show! We opted for a show rather than dinner/show combination at La Ventana Theatre in San Telmo. It was a small venue vs some of the larger theaters. There was live music (piano, 2 violins, 2 accordion) players and enough room on stage for 3 couples to dance. Some of the larger venues have more dancers and an orchestra. The show was more of an Argentinian variety show than just tango. We had several tango demonstrations, singing, gaucho demonstration (guitar, drums, bolo). The dancing was simply amazing; I am still amazing at the leg kicks! The theatre was an old dinner club and had a great ambiance and I am glad we had a smaller venue. We did purchase the tacky photo that was staged when we entered.
We had a quick lunch at Pizzeria Guerrin for “the best pizza in town”. It was a counter order restaurant with the option to have a sit down meal. We joined the packed crowd along with locals. You were able to order muzzeralla (pizza) by the slice.
Parrilla de Freddy
It barely meets the definition of a restaurant since many food trucks are larger than this corner place tucked just outside the San Telmo market. What a find! We had some meat sweats after this lunch. Everyone went back for seconds or thirds! It’s a meat stand that wouldn’t hold up to the US inspection rules…..but the sausage is amazing. The grill is on full display and highlights chorizo sausage. The menu is written on a chalkboard that changes as meats are cooked and consumed. The favorite street meat , the choripán, a handmade chorizo sausage, butterflied, crispy (with black covering) on the outside and bursting with meat juices on the inside, was nestled between crusty bread and topped with your choice of sauce. There were two different sauces on the “tables”- a chimichurri sauce and a spicy pepper sauces. And yes, Freddy was there (laughing at us gringo’s going crazy over his sausage)! We did try the steak neopolitina (think meat pizza) but preferred our sausage sandwiches.
It felt luxurious to have 12 days in one location. We actually felt like we “knew” the neighborhood. We didn’t feel rushed and had a slower pace. We were able to spend time with Jerry and Becky and enjoy their company. And we had plenty of time to celebrate E’s birthday! Of course, we hit an escape room (victory) and enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Elena in the Four Seasons. Euraka was our second international escape room; we have 100% success rate internationally!
Unexpected finds in BA…..along the way: a protest in Plaza de Mayo, tango dancers along the docks in Peutre Madre, a French festival across the street from our apartment with dozens of food vendors, and wonderful Helado!
We wandered so much through BA- we walked across huge busy streets, quiet side streets, and numerous plazas. We walked through old Tango theaters next to Broadway show theaters. We walked through on new streets and cobblestoned streets. We walked through ritzy shopping centers with 4 star luxury hotels and local shopping areas. We saw several different neighborhoods- but didn’t hit them all. We didn’t see a football match, but otherwise….we had a good sense of this town. And we found another city that will need be revisited.
Off to Sao Paulo!