I loved Buenos Aires.
I knew I would, to be fair. Its so my kind of city. I’ve loved living in Santiago, but its a functional city, built to withstand earthquakes, and house lots of people, rather than a beautiful city. And I have loved visiting the crazy natural wonders that Chile has to offer, that are out-of-this-world beautiful, but I’m not so much a nature girl. I am through and through a city girl.
And Buenos Aires is a beautiful beautiful city. Its all big white European style buildings, with New York style streets, and blue skies, and purple trees, and Argentinian-Spanish buzzing all around. Its got history and pretty buildings and good food. Oh, the food. Argentinian steaks. Italian gelato.
(Buenos Aires has a huge Italian population, so it somehow becomes this South America/Italy mix and I love it.)
We arrived on Friday night, and decided to venture out for dinner to make the most of our limited time in the city. The hostel recommended a nearby restaurant, and I have no photos because its very atmospheric and dark, but oh my god the steak was amazing. Argentina knows steak.
On the way back to the hostel, we wandered around the streets to get a feel of the city. It was almost midnight and the city felt alive. People were sitting in cafes, hanging out, enjoying the beginning of the night. It was warm but not hot, just a perfect strolling around at midnight temperature.
And then, by accident, we stumbled upon El Ateneo Theatre. This was on my list of things to see in Buenos Aires, but I didn’t know where it was, and then we found it in the middle of the night, basically empty. El Ateneo is an old theatre, converted into a bookstore, and it is amazing. I love bookstores anyway, but this was something else. Each level of the theatre seating was full of shelves, and the stage converted into a coffee shop. Its peaceful and beautiful and I wanted to stay there and read forever.
The next day we went on a free walking tour of the centre of the city, in order to see all the main sites and get a little bit of historical context provided. We passed by Parliament, the supposedly widest avenue in the world (with sixteen lanes), la Casa Rosada (Presidential House), el Plaza de Mayo (the main square and home to near-constant protests, now and throughout history), and the Obelisk, amongst other things.
Next, we headed to Palermo, a trendy neighborhood known for its cafes, bars, and shopping. Buenos Aires is a huge city, but luckily has a good metro system that we used to get across. By the time we got to Palermo, I was dying for a coffee and nearly threw a tantrum as we kept walking through the streets in the crazy heat. Once we found coffee and water, I recovered and could appreciate the colourful streets, lined with boutiques and trees and people sitting outside cafes enjoying the sun.
Palermo is also renowned for its nightlife, so after a nap we returned for a night out. In true Latin American style, we had dinner at midnight, went looking for bars around 2, had energy drinks at 4 (this may have been a mistake), and left the club at 6. We caught a taxi home as the sun was rising and the weather was chilled and beautiful and I, clearly still buzzing from the energy drink, just wanted to stay out and find a park or the waterfront and chill out.
Instead, obviously, we went to sleep.
Somewhat luckily, it rained the next day, which was the perfect excuse to sleep in until we had enough sleep to function and the weather cleared up. We made our way to the San Telmo Market, which everyone had insisted we had to see. It was nice, as markets are, and we picked up a few souvenirs and saw some nice stuff. It wasn’t a life changing market. A bit overhyped, in my opinion.
Then we kept walking towards the waterfront and down to Puerto Madero, the newer docklands area of the city. We walked along the water as the sun set and the sky turned purple and we talked about how we were never going to leave.
The next morning we were up bright and early, and walked over to La Recoleta Cemetery. It seemed weird to visit a cemetery as a tourist destination, but every guide insisted on it. The graves are more like mausoleums or family tombs, belonging to wealthy Argentinian families. The star attraction of the cemetery however, is the tomb of Eva Duerte, or Evita, the actress and wife of the President Juan Domingo Perón. She was active in politics and beloved by the public for her charity work, but her body was exiled when Perón was overthrown. I’ve been studying 20th Century Latin American History this semester, so one of my favourite parts of travelling is getting to see all of the things and people I have learnt about.
As our last destination, we caught a taxi to the historic neighbourhood of La Boca. We had been warned repeatedly that this was a dangerous area, but the main few streets were perfectly safe and a must-see. We were assured that as long as we got taxis there and back, and stayed in the clearly main areas, we would be totally safe. And this was true, we were safe and the main area was totally clear. However, I’m not sure it was a must-see. It was super colourful and I’m sure would have been amazing previously, but it has become so touristy that it felt like a Disneyworld, a part of the park designed to replicate an “authentic Latina city”. Every shop was a souvenir shop, and even the restaurant we found off around a corner with a beautiful garden served less than incredible steak. I will say though, the cheese was incredible.
We only spent a weekend in Buenos Aires, and it was a bit of a rush, and we didn’t want to leave. (Actually, we almost didn’t, there was a moment where we thought we were going to miss our flight home). But it doesn’t matter, because I know I’ll be back. I can see myself living in Buenos Aires one day. That’s another city added to the list.
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