It’s taken me a long time to get this blog done, so I apologize for the delay. Buenos Aires was my favorite stop on our South American adventure and is a city that I’m going to need more time to explore one day. Justin and I agreed that we could spend several weeks here (anyone want to home exchange with us?!) because we felt comfortable in this Spanish-speaking urban environment.
From the beautiful street art and architecture, to the delicious food (mmm empanadas!), affordable wine, and kid-friendly environments, we really enjoyed ourselves. And there was so much we *didnt* get to experience such as the thriving cocktail scene, the numerous museums, tango, the (free!) botanical gardens and zoo, and La Boca neighborhood.
What we *did* see and taste, we loved (though we enjoyed the city a lot more than my parents, which I think was largely due to the heat and language barrier). At moments, I felt like I was walking in Paris or down a street in Barcelona. Other times, I was reminded of experiences we had in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Buenos Aires is an easy grid city to navigate, and if you speak Spanish it’s probably even easier. We do not, and therefore relied on Google Translate, and lots of patient Argentinians who spoke more English than we did Spanish.
We rented a top floor apartment in Palermo, with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms that was *really* nice and it was hella cheap ($120/night!); we all had plenty of space, and there was a huge balcony patio plus a rooftop pool. The service was fantastic, and I would highly recommend renting from the Palermo Soho Group (aka RentinBA) in the future!
The neighborhood of Palermo was wonderful; quiet, easy to navigate, full of every convenience you could need, easy to get to nearby Palermo Hollywood and Recoleta. We would definitely stay in this part of town again.
Below are the highlights from our too-brief time in Buenos Aires. (Click on any photo to enlarge.)
Absolutely gorgeous, and maybe the nicest old cemetery I’ve ever seen. Recoleta is an affluent residential neighborhood, with some beautiful streets for strolling. The cemetery is world famous for its beauty, its trees, and some of its residents, including Eva Peron (which we totally forgot about so we don’t have a photo of her grave).
Food and Beverage
We ate very well while in Buenos Aires, from the ubiquitous (and my new favorite) empanada and local wine to elevated Asian fusion at one of the best and trendiest restaurants in the country. El Nino Gordo was definitely a unique dining experience and the most expensive meal of our journey (but when compared to American dining prices, still not that crazy expensive). The food was incredible, the drinks were creative and tasty, and the service was top notch. The ambience was really cool too but they sat our party — with two 60-somethings and a baby! — at a low-to-the-ground table in these weird hammock chairs in a room with no AC and had no high chair option. It was super uncomfortable, but the uniqueness of the situation and quality of the food encouraged us all to deal with the sweat running down our faces and the discomfort. The Mooch self-entertained for most of the meal under the table at our feet, pulling things out of his bag and playing with a Yoshi toy they lent us. This is a popular spot and we would highly recommend it, especially if you can sit in the main dining room at one of the regular tables, because the food and flavors were so amazing.
For the most part, eats were cheap, but the timing of when we could eat was unusual (for us); with a baby, we tend to eat early bird dinners at home because the Mooch goes down by 9 every night, it’s easier to beat the dinner crowd, and you can often snag happy hour specials. But no one in Argentina eats at 5 or 6 pm. In fact, many restaurants didn’t even open until 8 pm! And many places that were open for lunch were closed during the mid to late afternoon, so it could be challenging to find food when we wanted it. We adjusted to the late dinner by being the first people in the door at restaurants and leaving before the 10 pm dinner rush.
Art and Architecture
The architecture of Buenos Aires ranged from neoclassical to art deco to brutalist. There was something interesting to see on every corner of every neighborhood.
We aren’t art museum people but we did make it two in Buenos Aires since they were free and air conditioned. The first was MALBA, the Museum of Latin American Art, which contained mostly 20th century art by Latin Americans. The second was less of an art museum and more of a community center; the Recoleta Cultural Center, right next to the cemetery, is a refuge for locals to gather, hang out, rest, make and look at art, attend classes (such as the hip hop dance classes we witnessed), play games, or take a nap.
The Streets and Street Art
Easy to navigate, ample walking space on the sidewalks, and the most shade of any city I’ve ever visited, the streets of Buenos Aires are welcoming and interesting.
Parks are scattered throughout the city, offering a respite from the heat, a place for people to gather, enjoy lunch, or take an evening stroll.
We saw so much beautiful street art during our trip that I’m going to do a separate post showcasing it all, but here are a few from the neighborhood we stayed in, Palermo. I particularly love how the elementary school decorated what would otherwise be an ugly building surrounded in chainlink.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookstore
I’ve discovered what my heaven will look like: an old theatre housing a bookstore and cafe, serving snacks, coffee and alcohol. The theatre was built in 1919, and converted into a bookstore at the turn of the 21st century. It was truly the most magnificent bookstore I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit. With four floors of books to peruse, I could’ve spent hours in here but had to limit myself because my husband and father weren’t nearly as enamored as I was. They hung out at the cafe on the stage having a drink while I spent too much money on children’s books. If I lived in Buenos Aires, I could see myself spending a lot of time here, curling up in one of the reading chairs in what used to be the box seats off the side of the stage, and enjoying some coffee and empanadas at the cafe.
Saying Adios to Buenos Aires
With only 4 days to explore the city, at the end of a fun but tiring 3-week trip with a 10 month old and my parents, we didn’t do a whole lot; certainly not as much as Justin and I would have on our own. It was very hot, to the point that we didn’t to be out and about in the mid to late afternoon (maybe that’s why all of the restaurants were closed, ha), so we lazed around the apartment enjoying the pool or the AC, resting. But Justin and I definitely want to go back one day, and experience more of what this beautiful city has to offer.
I leave you with some shots from the suburbs as we headed out of town to the airport.
Below is a link to the Google Map that we created before and during our visit to Buenos Aires, with many of the sites mentioned above and others that we didn’t get a chance to check out. If you’ve been to Buenos Aires, what was your favorite attraction, site, restaurant, or activity? What unique experiences did you have? Would you go back?