Definitely not the smartest travel decision I’ve ever made. But, I really wanted to experience this city.
When I say ‘experience’ a city, I mean I love to travel to cities that I think have a ‘feel’ to them. I love history, and picturing what could have happened in an exact spot hundreds of years before. I love places with a liveliness, somewhere that makes you feel a spark or you recognize that the people feel alive. & I love good food and local beer/wine, & totally indulging in a new cultures culinary take on each.
Ohhhhh Buenos Aires did not disappoint.
We started our ‘experiencing’ on a free tour of the city and heard a lot about the history and the past aristocratic families. Please note I said FREE. An amazing 3 hour walking tour, that was given just by tips and word of mouth advertising. The city is a total mod podge of palaces of aristocratic families (who literally brought their palace materials by boat from France) and new buildings. Side by side, all throughout the city… not just the Centro or city center. The entire area we toured, from San Martin Plaza to Recoleta and Palermo where we stayed, all had this lovely ambiance. There is a cemetery in Recoleta, an area of old money, that holds the caskets of the wealthy, famous, or aristocratic families of Buenos Aires. I cant even fathom the money spend on the final resting places of these people and entire families. Only a picture will explain how intricate and detailed this ‘mini city’ of graves/mausoleums is.
One of my favorite parts of the tour was of the statue of San Martin. This is the person who declared Argentinas independence in the early 1800s. He did this by crossing the Andes mountains, gathering troops in Chile, and eventually defeating the Spanish. We were informed that this crossing of the Andes mountain was done on a mule and with the help of the Chilean people because the Argentinians thought his idea was crazy. However, his statue is a portrayal of him on a majestic white horse. And he is beloved for declaring Argentinas independence. This is just an example of the dramatics of the people in this country.
I loved it. As I mentioned, I enjoy liveliness in a vacation destination. There is no shortage in buenos aires. The dramatic pick up attempts of the men stands out in particular.
Ladies, hear me now! If you ever need a confidence boost, GO TO ARGENTINA!
I just need to list a few examples to make you understand. Twice men reached down and brushed the ground off as my girlfriend and I were about to walk past. The line, ‘I am going to directly kiss you, in front of everyone, and then I will live happily’ was used. In pitiful English a young boy says, ‘hi! I love you, I love you soo!’. Actually we were told multiple times that men were in love with us, in passing of course. One poor man would ‘die if he could not live as my ‘Ken”. It was absolutely histerical. Not to mention our server, a very sweet and funny guy offered us free neck massages with our lunch.
I can’t talk about the liveliness of Buenos Aires without mentioning the nightlife. I understand it’s like this in other parts of the world as well, but it was my first experience napping until 10pm and then getting ready to go to *dinner*. We also watched the sun come up after going out to a club. Not so crazy you may say…. except I feel like we were the first people to leave the club! At sunrise! Dinner restaurants didn’t open til 8-9 pm and most didn’t close til 1-2 or 4am. This city came to life at 11pm, it was awesome to experience! For a short time. It also reminded me that I don’t go clubbing til sunrise for a reason. Sidenote: somehow we got scooted straight to the VIP area without speaking a lick of spanish… and after surveying the area of bottle service, yatzhee! A table of tall very pretty Argentinian men… and what do ya know, they were on the Argentinian basketball team! Language barrier be dang…hips don’t need to speak Spanish, and I learned a few new moves from a 6’5 dark haired Argentinian basketball player. This was PG, sorry women. Well, maybe PG13. Tango, salsa, meringue, I don’t have a dang clue… but it was a blast!
Now we get to the culture. Everyone (for the most part) was smiling and pleasant, willing to help, and seemed to be in no real hurry. It’s always refreshing to get out of the United States and witness firsthand that money and ‘the grind’ doesn’t necessarily make you happy. Time well spent does. I loved that there were cafes on every corner. And ya know what?! At every one of them there were people enjoying a friends company, reading a paper, or a book. NOT glued to their cell phones. It was refreshing enough to not have service and be glued to my own.
The culinary scene.. 1. Ahhhh the steak!!!! I dont eat a lot of meat in my daily diet. I love a good steak on occasion, but that’s usually it. If I lived in Argentina, I would eat steak for 3 meals everyday. We went to a steakhouse La Cabrera, that served our massive meal with like 10 mini side dishes/sauces for the steak.
Amazing. Seriously, I’m kinda mad I didn’t go back a 2nd time. Don’t get me wrong, I had steak for almost every dinner, but that one meal…. I’ll never forget it. (Told you I like food). The wine. Here’s a spoiler, we reallllly didn’t like it. Shenna and I are both red wine fans. A smooth pinot noir would be my favorite, but I definitely have appreciated Malbecs before. I don’t know what was up, we sent back our first bottle (first time either of us have everrrrr done that) bc it tasted almost carbonated. We thought it must have just been that bottle, so we purchased a couple more (recommended at a wine store ),middle class expensive… and no. Didn’t like it, same issue. Maybe we’ve never had ‘real’ Malbec before then. They had a great Stout Patagonia & local beers though. The rest of the food was great as well… cafe and pastries for breakfast, ham and cheese sandwich of some form for lunches (or empanadas if we found them) & great dinners (at midnight)…
San Telmo, Caminito St, and El Boca… these are the areas you’re supposed to go to get a feel for the real Argentina. I felt it… tango dancers on corners in El boca, bright multi-colored unique houses, & local crafts. We saw all of this and thought it was cool. Then we went to the Sunday market in San Telmo… 10 blocks of craft tables lining the streets, traffic is shut down, and people are drinking 40s for their Sunday funday. People playing drums on street corners, & dancing where ever the music is. Then we came upon our first tango experience. It appeared as though a couple of people brought their computer, a microphone, and speaker and decided to turn the park into a tango show. Really really good dancers started it off, but by the time we came back it was nearly a block wide. People of all tango talents out having a blast as the sun went down. That’s when we knew we had to have more tango. I wish I could say we took classes and learned how, but that would take this white girl a whole month. We booked a dinner and tango show at the oldest tango house in the city for the next day. Which was awesome!
I have to say usually when I travel, with the exception of being roofied and getting a bruising a rib in the Dominican a couple of months ago, I am very lucky. Things just come together perfectly and magical events fall out of the sky & into our lap. This trip marks the first where this didn’t happen. Quite the opposite. We booked our first hotel at the airport in houston when we found out we were making our flight. We arrived, and found out that its a hostel (not a problem), except it’s freakin gross and the workers, who didn’t speak english, tried to put us in the bunk bed room. We put our stuff in our dungeon with a full bed, and got the heck out. Everyone told us we could change money a lot of places on the blue market for a much better exchange rate. Well, we couldn’t find one place to exchange our money, we hadn’t slept yet (came in on a redeye and couldn’t sleep), & girl wanted coffee. We finally talked a manager into exchanging it.
Day 2 we left our dungeon and moved to a studio we booked on airbnb. It was nice! Rooftop view of the city, and a nice little patio. With the apartments there you have a fob card to enter the gate, then a key to open the lobby door, and a key to your apartment. Well day 2 we were walking home after strolling for miles around the city, we follow someone into the main gate, he opens the lobby door, then we get off on our 3rd floor and realize we are in the wrong apartment. The outside and lobby looked almost identical. Problem here is that with all of the security precautions to get in, it’s the same to get out. We literally got locked into the wrong apartment lobby for 45 min until someone came home and opened the gates. 2 blonde Americans literally just standing behind bars getting stared at by the pedestrian traffic. Day 3. We spend an exhausting yet very interesting day at the Lujan Zoo. This zoo allows people to go into the cages of lions, tigers, lion cubs, elephants, camels, pretty much everything but the bear and monkeys cage.
All of the animals were very ‘sleepy’. It was pretty sad all in all. So, we get home from the zoo, nap, & get ready for our first weekend dinner. We leave the house at *midnight* to go *eat* because that’s what the locals do, when I realize I forgot my phone and turn around to unlock the door. The key literally got stuck in the lock. Wouldn’t budge. So, we found the buildings maintenance man who had to go through the neighbors place, to hop balconies to open to door. He had to unscrew the entire handle and put it back on. We lock up and head on our merry way again and realize that he put the handle on upside down. yup, had to scale our neighbors balcony all over again.
The last major incident caused us to cut the trip a day short… the flights were oversold with multiple people on standby ahead of us… for a week solid. Which is our own fault for picking a city with only one flight a day on one airline. But, i really wanted to ‘experience’ Buenos Aires. Honestly, the entire trip was challenging. We put it together as we went without speaking the language. Thank goodness Shenna can speak muy poquito.
So, as I write this I am about 30 min from touchdown in Houston via Frankfurt, Germany. Yes, we had to fly 13 hours on a redeye to Frankfurt. Then we rushed to catch an 11 hr flight to Houston. Now I am hoping to run through customs to narrowly make a flight to Dallas and sleep in my own bed. I have slept mayyyyybe 1.5 hrs in the last 30 hrs of flying, and I’m still in the same clothes. But, somewhere in there I’m really thankful for this experience, I always appreciate an adventure :).