With four months under our belts in Paraguay, feeling slightly more confident about getting around, and an impending four-day Thanksgiving weekend, we decided to trek to nearby Buenos Aires. As noted, it is, in fact, nearby. It’s cheap (thanks to falling peso/economy), and all reports indicated it was a really cool place to go. (Spoiler: It is.)
At Oh-Dark:30, bags packed, we hiked a mile or so ‘round to the taxi station at the front of the nearby shopping mall (we are more confident, to be sure, but not confident enough to call a cab at 2am) and headed off to the airport. There we ran into a few more of Katie’s bleary-eyed co-workers who also had 4am flights out of Asuncion to Rio or Santiago, Chile, respectively. We mumbled a few well wishes to one another before boarding.
Rather than a hotel, we booked a studio apartment in the Palermo Soho neighborhood. Not only is this a cheaper option than staying in a hotel, it provides an experience that is more authentic. Living la vida local or something. Our host, Juan, was great. Met us as we arrived, showed the place (living here would have been cramped quarters, but perfect for a vacation stay) – had a small kitchen, great bathroom, tv, 5th floor balcony with a table for two overlooking the avenue… He also provided us with several suggestions for nearby places to eat, drink, buy wine and check out. He’s a great guy and the place was fantastic.
After freshening up, still feeling mentally exhausted, we tromped off in search of food and, more importantly, coffee.
Palermo Soho was a really cool place. Think of the cool little area in your neck of the woods – i.e. 4th Ave in Tucson, or whatever. Palermo was basically a couple massive city blocks of that, with each street (most named after other countries… amusingly our nearest cross-street was Paraguay), lined with cool book stores, restaurants, clubs, boutiques.
From there we hiked a couple miles over to Recoleta cemetery, one of the most famous in the world.
We also learned the hazards of walking the streets of Buenos Aires. Even when glancing at shop window displays, the fruit and produce of local bodegas, the building themselves, one must always keep an eye looking downward. The sidewalks of BA are marginally better than Asuncion (that’s not saying much), only littered with canine land-mines.
Recoleta Cemetary is absurd. A staggeringly beautiful place, a mini-necropolis, only heavily doused in tragedy as, well, there are something like 4,800 tombs here. (And thus, given multiple camera angles, potentially more than 10,000 shots that could be used as album art for doom metal records.) Just gonna trail off the words at this point and let the photos speak. But yes, spoiler, we did find the tomb of the Duarte family, which included Eva Peron. A taste of pics below, you can find a full gallery here.
After taking in the beautiful dead, we thought we’d go somewhere almost as beautiful, almost as picturesque, and not nearly as steeped in tragedy and death. Ateneo book store, which is a perennial entry in those “Top Ten Coolest Bookstores” that circulate teh interw3bs. It’s a converted olde tyme theater. Enjoyed a couple empanadas and a cerveza at the café located on the former stage. Was a tad weird, truthfully.
After a much-needed power nap, we made our way to Antares, a local craft brewery that was recommended to us and only a 5 minute walk. Holy schnikes! Their IPA was hoppy. I thoroughly enjoyed several pints while we met and talked with four 19-20yo future dentists. Amusing conversation.
Day two we (h)opted to do a Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tour. Bought a 48 hour pass so would cover Friday through Sunday am, affording us a couple days. Toured the Japanese Garden, saw a bunch of the city. Amusingly, while on the roof of a bus touring a city of 13,000,000+ people, plus tourists, we ran into (not literally, fortunately) Katie’s principal at a red light. We each spotted the other, waved, and took pics.
It was “Black Friday” so while she took a nap, I scored a bottle of Malbec. Hooray. No need to rain blows any anyone’s head for a deal or anything. We went out for dinner at a cool pizza joint, Siamo nel Forno, that actually used sauce. No kidding. Sauce. (Like Arnie as The Terminator, we’d be back … on sequel trips.)
We followed that by going to 878, a bar with no real sign, just the address on the door. Cool chic cocktail place that has shown up on a couple Top 100 Bars in the World lists. Mojito for her, Caol Ila 18 for me. Was a cool, though dark bar in a (more than) slightly dodgy neighborhood.
Saturday morning we boarded our bus and took a trip to the colorful La Boca district. Enjoyed the dancers, the art, the artisans, La Bombonera – the stadium where the famous Boca Juniors play. Also got mighty lucky. Took a wrong turn and wandered maybe 2km away from the touristy area into “the bad part.” Have subsequently read Trip Advisor accounts of people being mugged (one poor hombre twice!). If you visit – watch where you’re going and don’t press your luck. Just because we got “No Whammies” doesn’t mean you’ll be as lucky. Less words, more pics here.
We topped the day off with a visit to Don Julios, a well-regarded steakhouse. Dumbass Craig didn’t make reservations, and it rained, so we spent 70 minutes or so outside the place waiting for a table. They made the wait easier serving glasses of champagne every 20 minutes or so. We had a great mushroom salad (first non-canned mushrooms we’d had in months), I demolished an utterly fantastic T-Bone, Katie enjoyed a great tenderloin, and we shared a bottle of Malbec for what amounted to like $70 US. Sizable tip included.
Our flight out on Sunday wasn’t until late in the afternoon so we had time enough to take the metro downtown and check out the restored, olde tyme stations. Sadly while they redid the stations, the did retire the olde tyme subway cars. Boo.
All in all we definitely had a wonderful time in Buenos Aires and look forward to returning while we are still residing in South America. (More spoilers edited in four years later… we would be back. Over and again.)