I’ve never visited South America and for no real reason, it had never been on my list of places to visit. I guess the list for Europe and Asia is still so long that I didn’t date look further afield. After-all, annual leave and money are both limited. However, I was lucky and fortunate to be invited to my friends wedding in Brazil which meant it gave me a good excuse to have a holiday!
I know of a few people who have been to Buenos Aires and financially it was significantly cheaper to fly into Argentina than Brazil. I fairly standard and average direct BA flight, nothing to write home about but fortunate that the Heathrow and pilot strikes were relatively low key. Research suggested staying in the Palermo Soho district in Buenos Aires and we booked the lovely looking Mine Boutique Hotel. An easy airport transfer with a prebook taxi from Ezeiza taxis, yes it was more expensive than an uber but it was ready waiting for us after a 14hour flight. It was about a 45mins transfer, but there was barely any traffic at 9am on the Saturday morning. The hotel was incredible and breakfast was welcome when we arrived, although we couldn’t check in which is understandable.
We love a free walking tour so doing one was 100% on our list to do! I found Free Walks Buenos Aires which had a free city centre tour leaving from the National Congress at 3pm everyday. We spent the morning enjoying the Botanical Gardens, which are free and thoroughly worth a visit before walking along Avenue Santa Fe. On the whole we felt safe, but there were some areas where I was suddenly aware that I was a Western tourist such as around the bus station.
I would really recommend the tour, it made me realise how little I knew about South American history and politics! The tour took you to all the main sights and was incredibly informative – visiting National Congress, Evita’s Mural, Plaza de Mayo, Pink House and the Cathedral. Even though we knew it was Winter, we hadn’t factored how cold and windy it would get so by the end we had had enough! Buenos Aires an is an architectural marvel, with Parisian style streets with English postboxes and political and relevant street art.
On our final morning we completed the tour of La Boca. Very much still seen as a local neighbourhood, La Boca is the bohemian district of Buenos Aires. Full of street art, tango dancers and street vendors, it does feel that La Boca has lost some of its charm to tourism. The tour guide was clear that we should stick to the ‘centre’ as some streets ‘off the beaten track’ were not tourist friendly. But we never felt unsafe and it was wonderful to walk round and absorb the vibrant atmosphere and have a couple of beers! The tour end at Boca Juniors Stadium, known as a pretty scary experience to watch a match as a spectator with near vertical stands and a shaking floor.
Eating and Drinking
Our time in Buenos Aires was mainly spent pottering about and enjoying the relaxing vibe. Palermo Soho was beautiful and a very safe area. Lots of wonderful cafes, bars and restaurants. Our favourites were afternoon beers at La Chopperia, a pre-dinner cocktail at Ray de Copas and wine bar La Malbequeria.
We only had 2 evenings in Buenos Aires which meant limited steak! I’d seen good reviews for La Carniceria, but also mentions of it being expensive which did put me off. However, I then panicked that I’d regret not booking (which is a must as it’s so small!) so I did and it was 100% worth it! £91 for 3 people to share a wonderful beef ceviche starter (which was presented in a very elaborate way!), the biggest steaks I’ve ever seen, sides and a wonderful bottle of Malbec. The service was exceptional and I think the meal was excellent value for money. Dinner on the second night was our ‘local’ at Lo de Jesus with the fabulous La Malbequeria nextdoor. £75 for a main each (steak, lamb stew and schnitzel) plus 2 glasses of wine each. Again, another amazing meal!
As always, these are just my opinions!