Hello there! First things first: we left Buenos Aires and are slowly making our way west, in time to catch a plane our to Santiago, Chile in another week or so.
We had a fantastic week in Buenos Aires, despite it being their first push of summer and thus progressively hotter and stickier each day. We got our first tan (sunburn) lines and our first experience washing clothes in the sink at night, things we’re sure we’ll become more acquainted with over the next four months.
Buenos Aires is truly a blending of many cultures, a huge bustling place marrying the many ups and downs of Europe and Latin America. e spent most of our time walking back and forth across town, logging upwards of 12 km/day (by our estimates) and determining our best walking shoes from our limited selections. Our budget being what it is we couldn’t partake in everything quite as much as we would have if we were just on vacation, but we still experienced a good mix of things and saw a lot just by walking (which is free!).
The first thing we noted on arriving was how different the Argentinian schedule is – we’re still not really sure how the mornings are supposed to work, but lunch appears to happen around 2-3, a lengthy happy hour/tea time from 5-10, and then dinner and going out after that. When we went out to dinner, restaurants seemed to really get going around 11 or so, after a first push around 8:30-9 that seemed to consist mainly of tourists. Not wanting to sleep soon after eating, we usually made it to bed between 1-2, waking up around 10 or 11. All of this meant we didn’t really have to deal with jet lag or the 6-hour time change, which was great. We also ate at home in our apartment a decent amount, a few dinners and almost every breakfast. (For more about the food, see my post here.)
In terms of our wandering, we spent a lot of time walking around Palermo, the city’s largest and hippest neighborhood and where we were staying. Lots of cafes, bars, fancy boutiques, and hipsters (a trend that unfortunately transcends international boundaries). We also walked through the gritty center of the city and the ritzy Recoleta neighborhoods quite a bit, spent an afternoon in San Telmo, and walked through Belgrano and Puerto Madero. The Soho side of Palermo was definitely the most active and interesting, but we each independently knew within a few minutes of entering the Hollywood side of Palermo that that’s where we’d want to live if we were there.
In terms of the “official sights” we saw: the famous Retiro Cemetery (Evita’s there, among other notables), the museum of fine arts, the museum of decorative arts, the San Telmo weekly craft fair, the botanic garden, Plaza de Mayo and the president’s palace, and Puerto Madero and its famous bridge. We also managed a few visits to parillas (steak houses) and a few tastes of dulce de leche, both of which should certainly be included on a Buenos Aires list. We didn’t experience tango as much as we might like to have, but it was a little more expensive and difficult to do than we had hoped.
Which brings us to the next important topic – budget. Oh dear. In which our trusty Lonely Planet South America on a Shoestring Guide turns out to be not so trusty, afterall. We’re fairly sure the book was accurate when it was printed a few years ago, but after a bit of inflation and probably some other economic forces at work, prices of everything in Argentina (in and outside of Buenos Aires) are at least two to three times (yes, two to three times) the prices listed in the book. Our daily budget goals were shot immediately, even as we tried to scrimp as much as possible – eating the cheapest food, cooking in our apartment, and spending money on pretty much nothing else. As we started making reservations for the rest of our time in Argentina we realized our budget would be completely shot no matter what – even the cheapest hostels were turning out to be 90% of each day’s budget, with not nearly enough left to eat. So that’s been a stressful thing to deal with, but we’re figuring it out bit by bit (and eating a lot, a lot of bread).
Since Buenos Aires we’ve spent a few days in Rosario and Córdoba, two fairly large cities you’ve probably never heard of (or at least we hadn’t, before we started planning this part of the trip). It’s amazing to experience how many people live in huge urban areas that we never hear of in the United States. Tomorrow we’re off to Mendoza, smack in the middle of Argentina’s famous wine district (bye bye, budget), then to Chile for 4-5 days before we fly up to Peru to visit ruins and hopefully experience a much more powerful dollar.
Also, our packing has been serving us well! One of my t-shirts was stained and got a hole in it before we even left the US, and our hiking shoes are taking up more space in our bags than we would have liked, but otherwise so far so good!
Buenos Aires quick list:
Where we stayed, highly recommended! Carlos was a great host.
Club Eros, our favorite funky little neighborhood parilla
Café Hippopótomo, a classic cafe/bar in San Telmo
Donna Blanca, ice cream in San Telmo – get the whiskey with candied kumquats!
Las Cabreras, amazing parilla in Palermo (this was our splurge night, a gift from family)
El Pingüino de Palermo, an Italian restaurant near our apartment – along with a bread basket before your meal, they bring you a meatball with tomato sauce. A MEATBALL. HOW CAN ANYONE ELSE COMPETE WITH THAT.
Croque Madame Café, we visited the location next to the decorative arts museum, on recommendation from an aunt and uncle who had been there recently. Beautiful setting and excellent food! Get the arugula (rucola) pizza, and giggle when they bring you your beer in an ice bucket, as if you were a fancy person.