Buenos Aires: A touch of NY, Chicago, Barcelona and Madrid

by Brian Carroll on November 4, 2012

Post image for Buenos Aires: A touch of NY, Chicago, Barcelona and Madrid Well, that's how I'm going to describe it (using only the context of cities I've personally visited). Buenos Aires was a city that I was very much looking forward to visiting since I started planning this trip. Known for it's great architecture (called the Paris of South America), beautiful people and excellent parillas (think steak and a bottle of local wine), I'd heard from numerous people that if there was one city they'd like to live in South America, Buenos Aires more than any other topped their list. In all, James and I would spend a week wandering the city, touring the outskirts, eating some excellent meals and even catching a local soccer game. Highlights below: San Telmo and Palermo:

Touring La Boca

For our first 4 days in BA, James and I stayed in the neighborhood of San Telmo. A grittier part of the city, we used it as a homebase to explore surrounding neighborhoods including La Boca, downtown and local plazas where we were able to catch live tango performances over dinner. The tango itself is a pretty great dance which definitely takes a lot of cohesiveness among partners, as legs go kicking and footwork is precise – it was pretty cool to watch. During these first few days, a friend of James' who lives in the area (Veronika) was also able to show us around a bit. It was great to have a local tour guide for to give us an inside look of the city. We spent the second half of our time in Palermo which was more upscale and had a very nice atmosphere with blocks of unique restaurants and stores. We had a couple great dinners in this area and I know that if I make it back to Buenos Aires again, this is an area I'd like to explore in more depth. The Food:) I don't consider myself a foodie, but man, after my time here, I might rethink that. The restaurants here were great and both James and I made it a point to eat out a lot and try highly rated restaurants in the area. In fact, in the first 3 weeks of my travels, I've yet to cook – it just hasn't made sense as you can find good meals for reasonable price. We had great steaks, good wines and maybe my favorite dish during our stay, surprising myself, was rabbit. I'd like to think that one thing I've gotten out of my time in BA is an increased interest in trying new food and restaurants when I'm back in Southern CA. A Little Futbol:

Boca Vs Edudiantes...0-0 tie

It so happened that the week we were in town, the most popular team in Argentina, the Boca Jrs had a home game (randomly, when I lived in Barcelona back in '03, I happened to see FC Barcelona play Boca Jrs). Having heard that they are some of the most entertaining games in the world to go to and the stadium is pretty famous, James and I knew it was a no brainer. In order to get tickets, you actually have to be a member of the "Boca Association" and show your member ID card when entering the stadium. This was a little unique, so to get around the situation, we basically had to go with a tour (which cost an "arm and a leg" but did include pizza and unlimited beer beforehand, which helps). By the time we got to the stadium, there was a consistent downpour of rain – thankfully our seats were under the roof. Throughout the game, the entire crowd was signing and dancing, it was pretty cool and having sat next to an English couple, they mentioned they'd never seen anything like it even when compared with their Premier league games. Overall it was a great time, though it did end in a 0-0 tie (they played a team called the "Estudiantes" – seriously, who names their team "the students?? That is not intimidating).  During the game, all James and I wanted to see is how crazy the crowd would get if a goal was scored – but to our dismay we were out of luck in this sense. Tourist Sites:

City-like cemetery

In Buenos Aires, there is a very famous cemetery unlike most you have seen. Basically, instead of your traditional graves, the wealthy and well-to-do in the area built mausoleums (like a monument) where they and their family (and future family all get buried). Walking around here, it's as if each person wanted to try to outdo the monument next to them, which creates an over-the-top atmosphere. In all, the cemetery houses 4691 mausoleums, including those of the most famous Argentinians such as Eva Peron. Some other tourist sites we came across were the Casa Rosada (Red House), where the President of Argentina lives and a big obelisk monument on their main road – both had a feeling of Washington DC, but on a smaller, less immaculate scale – we were both a bit surprised with the graffiti and lack of upkeep of some of the more significant monuments. One pretty cool piece of architecture though was this giant metal flower (I remember seeing a really cool pic of it on Flickr and had no idea what it was). The area where this flower was reminded me a bit of millennium park in Chicago. Another day, we took a bus outside of the city to a touristy town called Le Tigre. Just 45 minutes outside of BA, this town transports you to another world filled with swamp lands, it's as if you were in the bayou in Louisiana (minus the crocs). Overall, James and I both enjoyed our stay in Barcelona and while we had hoped to squeeze a trip to Patagonia or Mendoza in as well, once we got to Buenos Aires, it was clear that to do the city right, it'd take at least 7 days. Onward to Uruguay!

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