Note: I first flew into Buenos Aires from Peru and spent 2 nights there, then I toured all over Argentina (see other posts) and came back to Buenos Aires for 5 more days.
Day 1: Underage Drinking
I left beautiful Peru and flew into Buenos Aires in the afternoon. I was a bit overwhelmed at first because the airport was huge and BA in general is a huge big city. I’m so glad I hired a tour agency, Say Hueque to plan my adventure throughout Argentina. I was just so tired winging it in Asia and it was nice to have some structure for once! Ursula, from Say Hueque was there to pick me up and give me an introduction to Buenos Aires and helpful info for the rest of my traveling in Argentina. I found out I was staying in San Telmo instead of Palermo (which I originally wanted). Ursula assured me on my travels back I’ll stay in Palermo and that San Telmo has an old city charm. As we arrive, I noticed a lot of graffiti (not the creative kind) and thought “hmm wonder if I’m in the hood.”
My hotel, Patios de San Telmo Hotel was actually pretty charming. I was skeptic to go out and walk around, but the woman at the front desk assured me that I will be safe. After dropping off my bags at the room, I went to venture through San Telmo. I feel walking around in a new city is liberating and definitely breaks the ice for me. I actually stumbled into a really cool market with antiques and goods which reminded me a lot of Grand Central Market in LA (but less food and more antiques). I then walked down a couple blocks to more streets of antiques and vintage goods. I also met a guy at one of the stores that was practicing his English with me as he lived in Germany for a little bit. I was actually feeling good about Buenos Aires and grabbed a bite to eat as well (empanadas y cafe). The only thing I would criticize is the fact that the clothing was super expensive! Like cotton dresses made by independent designers cost at least $60. Um no I would never pay that much and could get something like that in LA for under $40.
I arrived back to my hotel to relax a bit then get ready for the Tango Show. I brought one dress and one pair of nice shows with me that I only wore twice on my trip (including this moment) haha The van came to pick me up around 8pm (they eat dinner and stay out late in South America) and most people in the group were couples and families. So we arrive at the Tango Show and since I’m solo, they stick me to the front attached to a longer table. I was happy about my view, but I think the family next to me were wondering why I was there! haha I swear, the grandma from the table kept starring at me like it was so odd and weird I was by myself. Um lady, this is the 21st Century and women are independent and own it. We all had an appetizer (salad), entree (steak), dessert and unlimited wine pouring. I then look over to that family and notice their underage daughter drinking the wine! I swear she was like 8 or 9 and she had 2 glasses.. more than I could handle! LOL If anyone should be giving weird stares, it should be me starring at her!
Ok so the show begins and they are basically different choreographed segments and random scenes that do not streamline together as an overall show. The dancing was great, but it didn’t feel like an authentic raw tango. I heard you have to randomly find that at clubs or restaurants since locals love dancing and are not performers. But there was a super cute Miles Teller look a like who I totally enjoyed watching! haha They also had random segments with singers who were great. I mean, this is a total tourist trap and I knew what I was getting into because I wanted a planned trip. Not going to complain because dinner was great and it was fun to watch the show (and the underage drinker!)
Day 2: Soul Sister
For today, I have a City Tour of Buenos Aires! The tour guide picked me up bright and early and thought I spoke Spanish because of my last name (but the tour was bilingual). Our group consisted of a mix of Spanish speakers and English speakers. We basically made stops through the different neighborhoods in Buenos Aires: Recoleta, Palermo, Downtown, La Boca, and San Telmo. We saw the Casa Rosada (the President’s office), Plaza De Mayo, Floralis Generica, The Soccer Stadium in La Boca, the colorful neighborhoods in La Boca, the different embassies, and my favorite of the day, the Metropolitan Cathedral. I also met 2 other fellow Californians on the tour who were really nice to chat with.
I was actually bummed when the tour ended in the afternoon and was dropped back off at the hotel. I took another walk through San Telmo and noticed an outdoor market and saw some great hand made goods and bought 2 bracelets made from carved wood. I also got to see a free tango show on the square which was nice on a sunny day. I was then getting hungry and stumbled into Gran Parrilla del Plata and had the top 3 best steaks I’ve had in my life! At first, they overcooked my ribeye but it was so damn good that it didn’t bother me. I told the waiter it was overcooked (but I was totally ok with it) and he insisted on taking the steak back and cooking it to medium rare! The steak came out and it went from good to perfect! Super juicy with a nice good sear and it had this kind of cherry red wine after taste. After that visit, I tried other steak houses in SA and none compare to this as it was the holy grail to me!
After my yummy steak, I was emailing back and forth with Ursula at Say Hueque to meet up for drinks! It was nice of her to make the time for me as I’m always open to meet new friends. She swung by my hotel and we went to grab some appetizers and red wine. I found out she’s just a year older than me, originally from Peru, moved to Toronto to learn English (she said I sounded Canadian) and now lives in Buenos Aires. She’s also a solo traveler and planning to traveling to Greece and Turkey in May on her own! We had such a great time chatting that I felt we were total soul sisters as we had so much in common and I can totally relate to her. During my trip throughout Argentina, she was so great and emailing me to check in. I promised her we would get together again when I come back to Buenos Aires and I was so happy to meet someone like her!
The next morning I was on my way to the airport touring Argentina! See the following posts:
Day 3: Back in Buenos Aires
I was dreading coming back to a big city (Buenos Aires) because I felt more in place with the smaller cities and villages in Argentina. I noticed the smaller cities and villages have much more friendlier and helpful people. They always wave at you and greet you (even with a kiss on the cheek!) I arrived at the Buenos Aires airport pretty late and my driver Miguel came in a bit late but it was because of the horrible Buenos Aires traffic. He was really helpful and told me of places to visit and where to eat (he also lived in Europe when he was younger). He also warned me of the shady taxi drivers and told me to have my hotel call in a cab because they are marked at that point. He also gave me his number if I had any questions and felt he was like a Dad to me over there making sure I was ok.
I crashed in for the night and ready to start my day back in the BA!
Day 4: The Central Park or South America
This time around, I stayed in Palermo Botanicos at Awwa Suites and Spa. My hotel looked much nicer in pics than it was in person, but the staff was AMAZING. I feel the staff and location are really the deal breakers for me regarding accommodations. The location was AMAZING as Palermo Botanicos was super safe, clean and reminded me a lot of the Central Park areas in New York City. San Telmo had character which I liked, but I didn’t feel safe walking around there at night. I totally felt safe walking around at night in Palermo Botanicos. The staff was so helpful and spoke perfect English. They would provide me a map and draw out the directions and answer any questions I had.
For today, I wanted to walk around to explore my neighborhood. Since I was back in Buenos Aires, I was dreaming of the amazing steak I had in San Telmo and wanted an encore out here. I looked up reviews around my area and lots of people were saying Don Julio was amazing so I wanted to head over there when they opened around noon. Before that, I walked around Palermo and saw another outdoor market to explore and stopped into some of the shops. Again, the prices for clothing was expensive and wasn’t worth buying when I can get something better and cheaper in the states.
Ok Don Julio’s was open and I was the first guest to arrive! I took a table by the window, ordered a ribeye and a glass of wine. The steak came out, but didn’t have a strong sear like the one I had at Gran Parrilla del Plata. It was still good, but my mind wasn’t blown away. The one glass of wine kinda got my tipsy, not going to lie! haha I tried to eat as much steak as I can, then gave up and opted for dessert. FLAN FLAN FLAN! I did notice the flan in Argentina isn’t as milky or thick as previous flans I’ve had before, but maybe thats a good thing for me since I’ve been eating my way through Argentina!
I ended up walking around more to sober up and check out the area. Palermo SoHo does remind me of the trendy parts of NYC with lots of cute restaurants and nice shopping. On my way back to the hotel, I stopped by the Eva Peron museum and learned much more about her early life, rise to fame and political career. I know she is loved and idolized by Argentinians and felt so sad that her life ended too early from Cancer. Her legacy forever lives on in Argentina and she opened the doors for the future female Presidents in the country. Overall, I really enjoyed the museum and Palermo in general. I feel I’m going to have a great next few days out here!
Day 5: Getting Robbed.. of my Heart!
I emailed Llewelyn and Carlitos who I met back in El Calafate to see if they wanted to meet up. Llewelyn responded and found out I was only staying a block away from where they live! I thought it was so funny because Palermo reminds me SO MUCH of NYC that I can imagine Llewelyn (a former New Yorker) just loving this area! I went to get breakfast in the morning then Llewelyn came by to pick me up. It was great to see a familiar face and we headed out to the parks in Palermo Botonicos. Llewelyn told me to grab some stale bread from the connecting restaurant to feed the White Geese over at the lakes.
Llewelyn has so much energy, she’s gotta be in her 70s and I felt she was in better shape than me! HHAHA She looks amazing and she can keep walking and walking without getting tired. The parks are SO BEAUTIFUL and I can imagine this is an amazing place to live as it will totally keep you active. Llewelyn says they have free yoga classes in the park, have a ton of trainers, and free medical checkups! I notice theres so many people walking, running, riding their bikes at the park. I felt I really fit in because I was dressed like everyone else (black workout leggings, nike shoes and a t-shirt). I really enjoyed the parks and was happy to meet up with Llewelyn again. Carlitos was unfortunately feeling under the weather so I couldn’t see him this time around.
After my adventure at the park, Llewelyn had to head back and I decided to walk down Av del Libertador to go to the Recoleta Cemetery. On the way over, I stumbled to another outdoor market with locals selling a lot of awesome goods. There was also a design center which was cool and reminded me a lot of the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles (but more modern and smaller). The Recoleta Cemetery was really cool to visit, you see these gorgeous European inspired mausoleums with a variety of architectural styles. I saw a lot of Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Baroque, and Neo-Gothic inspired pieces with elaborate Angels and Greek Gods touching the sky. Eva Peron’s grave was not as ornate or elaborate as the other mausoleums, it was a shiny black marble and rectangular shaped. It was very different than these high columns and over the top designs. It’s definitely a must in Buenos Aires.
After checking out the Cemetery, I walked over to the National Museum of Decorative Arts. This really wasn’t planned, the mansion just caught my eye and I had to walk over. Inside, the mansion was gorgeous with a ton of French Renaissance influence. The mansion was owned by a rich Argentine family in the early 1900’s and they commissioned French Architect Rene Sergent to design. All material was imported from Europe and this is just another piece that shows the strong European influence in Buenos Aires. I took a ton of pictures and all the rooms were so special and beautiful. I really enjoyed this gorgeous museum.
I was getting hungry (it was later in afternoon), so I decided to walk back to my hotel to find a good place to eat. As I was walking down Av del Libertador, this guy comes out of nowhere and gets all in my face speaking Spanish! I was FREAKED OUT because I thought I was going to get robbed and started walking faster and away from him. He then proceeded to chase me down again and asked me if I spoke English. He then tells me he thinks I am really pretty and we should go on a date. I was like WTF I thought I was going to get robbed! The only thing homeboy wanted to rob was my heart! His name was Pablo and he was nice and works at the library. I don’t know, I just kinda wasn’t in a mood to have “Irish Coffee” with a stranger since my schedule was so busy. If he was one of those hot soccer looking guys that I saw jogging at the park earlier, then the story would have been different! HAHAHA I did give Pablo my email address, but didn’t respond back.
Later that night, I went to grab some yummy (but expensive) Italian food that the hotel recommended. I had a baked gnocchi dish and this KILLER dessert! It was basically a nutella ice cream ball, covered in chocolate with a shot of espresso poured over it. It was the BEST dessert I had in my travels and it was worth taking the dairy hit! If you placed that dessert with the steak from Gran Parrilla del Plata together, you would have to drag me kicking and screaming out of Argentina bc I would never leave!
Day 6:Throwback to Europe
Today I wanted to go on a tour of Teatro Colon. I thought about walking over there, but the hotel said it would be too far and they would call a cab for me. As you’ve followed me this long in my journey, ya’ll know I don’t trust cab drivers! I was trying to only speak Spanish so it wasn’t totally obvious that I was a tourist, but this cab driver was actually really good. While we were stopped at a red light, there was a shady guy standing next to my door on a bike and the cab driver reached over and locked my door from the inside! I thought that was really nice of him and he didn’t up charge me when he dropped me off at the Opera House.
Ursula let me know that there’s an English speaking tour that starts at 10am so I was just in time for that. The guy at the ticketing booth asked if I was “Cheenah” LOL After getting my ticket, I was in line and ready to go. Our guide was a woman who spoke perfect English and was super nice. Upon entering Teatro Colon, I was blown away! GORGEOUS French Renaissance style and yet another piece of architecture that made me feel I was in Europe (Versailles to be exact). Each room was mind blowing and the moment you walk into the actual theater for seating, you have to pick your jaw off the ground. Mind blown– just so stunning, ornate and regal. One of the best architectural buildings I have ever seen.
After Teatro Colon, I had some time to burn before meeting up with Ursula for some coffee. My friend Emi (born in Buenos Aires, but lives in Los Angeles) recommended his favorite pizza place, Pizzeria Guerrin. I guess I have a habit of over ordering (assuming sizes are going to be small), but not in Argentina! I ended up ordering 2 slices and an empanada and once they came out, I started laughing! That was the biggest empanada I have ever seen and the pizza slices were huge as well! I forced myself to finish one slice of pizza and half an empanada. I wrapped the rest up and decided to take it back to eat later. I was like the only girl at the restaurant, but the employees were nice and helped me out with directions to meet up Ursula.
After my yummy lunch, I walked over to where Ursula said I would love, El Ateneo Grand Splendid. I walked in and thought, “Yup this girl knows me because I love book stores and my old architecture!” It was like a dream come true– rows and rows of books in a theater that was built in the early 1900’s. I guess after Teatro Colon, I couldn’t get enough of my European inspired architecture! The cafe was nestled in the back of the bookstore theater and there was Miss Ursula waiting for me! I swear this girl and I have a great connection and I hope we continue our friendship when I leave South America. We were talking about her trip and she was asking me what to do about her itinerary. After catching up on coffee and chatting, we then walked to a Buquebus office so she can help me book a day trip to Uruguay. While I booked my trip, she was able to book a ticket to Turkey and I was so happy for her! Ursula had so many errands to run that day since she barely gets any days off, but I was so happy to see her again!
I then walked back to my hotel and decided to visit a mall in Palermo to try to find my brother a Lionel Messi jersey and I found one from Adidas (who designed the Argentine team jersey for the World Cup). I also got my dad a nice jacket too. I was kinda bummed they didn’t have any sizes for women because I would have gotten a jersey for myself as well! Later that night, I safely walked back to my hotel to get ready for my day trip to Uruguay!
Day 7: Another Stamp on the Passport
For my last full day in Buenos Aires, I was deciding whether to visit the Tigre River or take a big boat across to Uruguay. I was pretty convinced to gain another stamp on my passport, so Uruguay it is! I was a bit nervous not taking a guided tour and going over to Uruguay on my own, but then again I was alone for the last 3 months with no real plans! I knew I could do it. In the morning, the hotel called a cab over to drop me off at the port and all was fine until we got there. The cab driver up charged me a bit because he was a genuine “Radio Taxi.” I couldn’t argue in Spanish and just gave him the amount with no tip included. He basically validated why I hate taking cabs in foreign countries!
Well anyway, the port where Buquebus is located was really nice and I felt very safe. People who spoke English and Spanish would ask me questions on where to get in line and what time the boat was leaving haha The boat was really nice like a cruise ship (they had a duty free) and not all dodgy like the ones I went on in Thailand. We arrived in Uruguay a little over an hour and the people at the port were really nice and spoke perfect English. I showed them my ticket and they told me that I get a city tour of Colonia as part of my package! So I waited for the bus and there were just a few other people there. I noticed these 2 pairs of older couples that were really annoying. They were complaining the whole time and asking a lot of nonsense questions. I overheard one of them talking about Southern California and I thought “Ah hell no, they are from California!” From that moment, I was going to claim my Canadian side so I won’t be associated with these uncultured Americans!
OK, I’ll admit it. Colonia, Uruguay was boring. I mean, it was very safe and nice, but boring. It does have a historic quarter known for its old cobblestone roads and Colonia is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay. I walked up to the top of the Lighthouse, saw the City Gate, ventured out to the ports and marinas. It was a nice, small, charming city but I was bored. After seeing glaciers and Patagonia, it was hard to impress me at this point. The security guy at the lighthouse did blow a kiss to me (is that common?), but that was the only eventful thing that happened in Colonia! I was anxious to get back on the boat and head back over to Buenos Aires.
After taking the big boat back in Buenos Aires and arriving at the port, I was trying to grab a cab but it was getting too difficult! Then some dude was trying to rip me off with a set price and I thought “Eff it, not going to ever let a cab driver rip me off ever again” so I decided to walk back! HAHAH It took over an hour to walk back but it was worth it! I didn’t have to deal with a shady cab driver and got some exercise in! I really wanted to try the restaurant next door to the hotel, Mishiguene because it always smelled amazing! I was bummed out I didn’t eat here more often because it was awesome! The waiter recommended this fancy spin to a breakfast dish. Basically a large piece of corned beef over a giant hash brown with a fried egg on top! There was also veggies too and this amazing caramelized sauce. It was really good, but I couldn’t finish it as usual! I also treated myself to a glass of wine (which will hit me later) and I can never say no to dessert. I had this meringue which was really yummy.
Raising my glass of wine to Buenos Aires, thanks for the memories!