GUEST ARTICLE: I wouldn’t call Buenos Aires one of the most beautiful cities we’ve ever been to, but it was definitely one of the most interesting.
We were there for 5 days and barely touched it. What we did see was pretty impressive and the local food is delicious and certainly worth trying. The roughly 13 million people (minus us tourists) that live in the greater metropolitan area area of Buenos Aires was unbelievable – we’ve never seen so many people.
What a city, it’s massive! We arrived at around 7pm on a Friday night and had the chance to experience the rush hour traffic, something I would highly recommend you avoid.
Fortunately our taxi driver thought he was Mario Andretti and quickly weaved his way through a maze of streets until about an hour and a half later we finally arrived at our hotel in the district of Palermo.
You know it’s funny how drastic the change in scenery was, first we were driving through the most decrepit shanty town district that was crowded with derelict buildings and bars on every window. Then a few blocks over there were lines of beautiful condos and lush parks with sprawling green grass areas with flowerbeds all around.
We later discovered this juxtaposition was quite commonplace throughout Buenos Aires and most poor countries we have visited.
The Argentineans are a very proud people especially when it comes to their steaks. Which by the way I have to say are pretty close to the best that we’ve ever had.
If you’re looking for a great steak at a good price check out their local “Parrilla’s.” It’s a local eatery and from the outside looks very deceiving to what it actually has to offer – delicious. We had two fillet mignons, chorizo sausage, mash and wine for about $25AUD, you can’t argue with that.
The subway system is pretty old but it does the trick and it is super cheap, about 40cents per ride but it too is something to avoid during rush hour unless you feel like being a steaming sardine, yes it’s that packed and there’s no air conditioning.
I can’t even imagine what it’s like in the summer, yikes! Thankfully the cabs are also super cheap and can be found pretty much on every corner.
Our first sightseeing destination was the famous La Recoleta Cemetery where Eva Peron is buried (‘Don’t cry for me Argentina’ for those of you who don’t know who she is).
Before we entered the cemetery I noticed quite a few raggedy cats hanging about and once we made it inside we noticed heaps more. We saw about a dozen mangy looking street cats that have made the cemetery their home within the multitudes of the most beautiful sculptures and vaults we’ve ever seen.
We found out that within each of the massive family vaults there is usually an altar or dedication of some sort to the deceased and then stairs that lead to an underground area that can hold up to 40 family members – wow.
Another really cool district we went to is called San Telmo, the most ancient neighbourhood in the city. There is a massive pedestrian only street strictly dedicated to some pretty unique buskers, tango musicians and tonnes of shops and markets.
If you’re into antiques this is your place, I’ve never seen so many of those shops in one area. Unfortunately we never saw anything that took our fancy except this really cool mug made out of a cow’s hoof, now who wouldn’t want one of those. Merry Christmas Mom! Haha!
Also a great place to find empanadas the size of your head and yes steak, steak and more steak! This massive cobblestone street goes on for kilometres and eventually leads you to the downtown district.
The two pedestrian only streets were so packed that if you lost your place in what I call the cow cue, you had to step off to the side to time yourself back in. I don’t know how long these streets went on for but they had to have been at least a few kilometres each, yes girls – shopping, shopping and more shopping.
Next stop … Lima, Peru.
Hasta luego amigos!
This travel diary has been written by Rob Gower, a friend who enjoys taking the road less traveled!