Our next stop after visiting Iguazu Falls was the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires. We were really looking forward to this as so many people had told us we would love it and how amazing it is! I’m going to be controversial here and probably shock a few people, but I didn’t love BA. I don’t know what it was, I just didn’t get the attraction. Maybe its because it was so European, or maybe its because we live in London and are used to the big city, or maybe it was because we had so recently been in Rio with all its beauty, but I honestly just found it a bit grey (but to be fair the weather was miserable and that never helps!) But I’m not saying I hated it, and we still enjoyed ourselves of course, so here is what we got up to in the tango capital of the world (the dance, not the fizzy drink!)
Its around 18 hours on the bus from Puerto Iguazu to Buenos Aires which probably to most people sounds like hell! But we came to realize the buses in Argentina are more luxurious than most hostels we had stayed in! Huge leather seats which reclined back to 180°, cosy blankets and pillows and hot food, snacks and wine provided throughout the journey. Now thats my kind of bus! So we arrived nice and refreshed, checked in to our hostel and planned what to do for that day. We hadn’t done much research for the part of our trip after Brazil so we looked up the best things to do and see in BA. Number 1; a cemetery. Bit weird but OK, we will check it out we thought. We walked to Recoleta, the suburb where the cemetery was, along the widest avenue in the world! It spans 10 lanes and its crazy – it takes about 10 minutes to get across it. The cemetery was definitely worth a visit, each grave is more like crypt or tomb, some so elaborate that they look like the entrance to designer stores with all their glass, marble, iron and gold! This is definitely where the rich and famous of Argentina were buried, including the national treasure Eva Peron (Evita).
Some of it’s a bit eerie and Scott and I mostly entertained ourselves by daring each other to walk down an empty, creepy tomb lined alleyway on our own and then jumping out on each other. We are so grown up!
Afterwards we had some delicious Argentinan Malbec in a cool micro brewery called Buller where we sat watched the people of the affluent Recoleta go about their business.
That night we got a little bit drunk! We hadn’t partied much at all since arriving in South America and fancied a bit of a blow out so we booked to stay in Milhouse which is the main party hostel in BA. It was really good fun, but the extremely strong 2-4-1 cocktails ended up in Scott attempting to carry me up 2 flights of stairs to bed and me throwing up down the bad of my bunk bed. Pretty embarrassing as there were other people in the room and completely unpleasant to clean up the next day with a hangover! It also ended up with us spending the whole next day in bed watching Netflix and eating pizza – a firm reminder of why we aren’t going out partying on this trip!
The following day we wanted to explore the city some more so we headed up to La Boca, which is the more working class area of the city situated by the docks. Its a bit rougher and a lot less affluent than the rest of BA and I absolutely loved it here. It was the vibrancy, colour and soul we had expected from BA (even on a very dull, grey and wet day!) Let me paint the picture for you – the main street, Caminito, is where all of the houses are made of old ship materials such as sheet metal and corrugated iron and painted all different bright colours. All of the shop and restaurant signs around La Boca are also painted in bright colours and resemble a circus or fairground. Every little restaurant has a tango show going on inside (even if there was only 2 or 3 customers inside). There is music coming from everywhere. If this is La Boca on a wet winters day I can’t imagine how inspiring it is on a warm summers day!
The other highlight of La Boca is the famous Boca Jnrs football stadium, La Bombonera. Yes it may look ugly and rather delapidated and kind of resemble a prison from the outside, but as you get closer, even on a non game day you can feel the energy pulsing through the streets around. I’m not a football fan but I’m gutted we didnt get to go see a game there as its reported to be one of the best atmospheres in the world!
Next we headed to San Telmo which is the oldest neighborhood in the city. The main attraction is that on a Sunday it is home to a huge market selling everything from second hand jewellery to tourist souvenirs. Unfortunately we spent all of Sunday in bed, so the market was a lot quieter when we visited but there were still a few people selling there bits. We had lunch at a little place inside the market where there were only 4 items on the menu and 4 tables in the restaurant, but it was really tasty.
That evening we decided to check out Palermo, the largest neighborhood in BA and home to loads of nice restaurants and cool bars and nightclubs. We wanted to try some good Argentinan meat so we found a parilla (Argentinian BBQ) restaurant where we had 6 different types of meat all cooked on an open grill with a delicious side of chimichurri (although slightly less spicy than we had hoped!) Once again our eyes were bigger than our bellies and we had to take some away with us for steak sandwiches the next day!
Although I said we weren’t mad about BA, we certainly didnt hate it. Maybe if you are more of a romantic than me you will appreciate the Parisian style buildings more than I did, or if you want to party all night you will appreciate the all night clubs more than I did, and if you live here you have more time to discover the real spirit of the city. I guess it just didn’t blow me away the way other places we have visited did. That said I would definitely be keen to go back in summer and hopefully see a different side to the place.
What were your thoughts on Buenos Aires?