After months of saving hard, making preparations, counting down and getting excited, we finally set off on our ‘South American Adventure’ on Tuesday 5th November 2013. Our first stop – Argentina – the second largest nation in South America and the eighth biggest country on the planet! What better way to start the trip of a life-time than to begin in Argentina’s capital city, Buenos Aires. We had 3 days/ 4 nights to explore what is a sprawling metropolis and home to a whopping third of Argentina’s 40 million inhabitants.
We were imagining Buenos Aires to be a very cosmopolitan city mixed with classical architecture and remnants from colonial times. We didn’t expect it to be covered from head to toe in graffiti! It definitely is a hotch potch of buildings, many showing signs of a faded elegance, telling the story of Argentina’s troubled past and uncertain future. We found gritty working class neighbourhoods intermingled with more prosperous suburbs showcasing chic restaurants and expensive boutiques. But despite these economic differences, we discovered 3 things that unites all Argentines – their passion for football, their appetite for ‘Parilla’ and their love of tango!
With this in mind, a list of what we wanted to do and see quickly began to take shape. Sampling a ‘Parilla’ feast was top of the list, and after being unsuccessful at talking Wayne into having a tango lesson, going to watch a tango show instead was a good compromise.
Buenos Aires itself is relatively easy to get around. People are friendly and many Argentines can speak a little English (perfect as our Spanish is very limited!) Despite the numerous public buses, taxis and a metro system, we decided to visit the popular attractions on foot. As long as you’ve got a good pair of walking shoes (that have been adequately worn in), we think walking is the best way to interact with locals, get a real feel for the neighbourhoods and appreciate the sights, sounds, smells, and customs of the area. And in Buenos Aires it is true to say that each of the city’s barrios really has a distinct flavour.
From our improvised walking tours around the city, these are TrekSnappy’s Top Ten picks of what to experience on your first trip to Buenos Aires. So in no particular order…
1. See the Argentinian flag fly above the Government House & do a spot of people watching at Plaza De Mayo.
2. Grab a local snack on the go – Eat an ‘Empanada’ or two.
3. Visit the resting place of Eva Peron at La Recoleta Cemetery.
4. Soak up some Buenos Aires café culture – Relax with a coffee & medialuna (croissant).
5. Tap into your cultural side – Muse over paintings & sculptures for free at the National Museum of Fine Arts.
6. Feast on a traditional Argentinian beef ‘Parilla’ (A giant mixed meat grill not for the fainthearted with black pudding, ribs, chitterlings & sweetbreads).
7. Visit the football stadium & soak up the scene in the colourful La Boca District.
8. Enjoy a ‘Tango’ lesson or watch a ‘Tango’ show in the historic San Telmo Quarter.
9. Take a stroll along Puerto Madero & see the Presidente Sarmiento Frigate.
10. Wait until sunset. Then from Plaza Mayo walk to ‘9 de Julio’, the widest avenue in the world, & snap some night time shots amidst the bright lights and hustle and bustle.
Buenos Aires has lots to offer for a weekend get-a-way or mini-break. We definitely crammed in as much as we could during our short stay in the city!
Have you done something similar or can you recommend something amazing that we missed? We are heading back to Buenos Aires in May 2014 where our 27 week overland tour of South America will come to an end. We would love to hear from you and try any of your recommendations next time round…