Thoughts On Buenos Aires

Our family spent the past week in Buenos Aires. I didn't do much in the way of travel blogging this trip but the Gotham Gal did. If you are planning to visit Buenos Aires anytime soon, you should click on that link and read her posts.

This is our second visit to Buenos Aires and we got to explore the city a lot more this time. It's a very big city and there is a lot of ground to cover. It's fun to walk around the various neighborhoods, but getting between them requires transportation. Fortunately Buenos Aires has a very good taxi cab system. We never had an issue getting a cab, be it early in the morning, mid day, or past midnight. We did stick to the "tourist neighborhoods" of La Boca, San Telmo, Puerto Madero, Recoleta, Retiro, Palermo, and downtown. I suspect getting cabs outside of these areas might be more problematic.

Buenos Aires feels like europe in many ways. The architecture and city planning reminds me of Paris, Madrid, and a few other european cities. However, it is a lot less expensive that europe these days. The US dollar gets you almost 4 pesos. Many things like dinner and taxi cabs can cost you the same amount of pesos that it would cost you in dollars in New York City.

We did not travel outside of the city during our visit but most people do. Common day trips include a boat to Uruguay and a visit to the northern suburbs. From what I've heard, both are worthwhile excursions.

We spent our days sightseeing, shopping, eating, drinking, working on our spanish, and soaking up the culture. Here are my top ten highlights of our visit:

1) San Telmo market on sunday. I wrote an entire post on this yesterday. The neighborhood fills up with people selling their wares and tourists and locals buying them. There's also singing, dancing, eating and drinking going on. It's a lot of fun.

2) Empanadas. We ate a lot of them. The best ones we had were at at La Cupertina in Palermo and El Sanjuanino in Recoleta.

3) Malbec. The red wine of choice in Argentina is Malbec and we drank a fair bit of it. We tried a number of different producers and enjoyed all of them.

4) Restaurants. We had some good dinners and some not so great ones. The Gotham Gal's blog has all the details. I loved the fish at Ovieda and the steak at La Cabrera. But the two hour wait at La Cabrera kind of ruined that dinner for us. We heard there are other steak places in Buenos Aires where the beef is just as good and the lines aren't an issue.

5) Ice cream. We hit up Freddo and Volta and slightly preferred Freddo. But both are great. We all found the Dulce De Leche a bit sweet and rich for our taste but you have to try it when you are here.

6) MALBA. This is the modern art museum of Buenos Aires. Kind of like the MOMA in NYC. It's great. I was not familiar with many of the artists in their permanent collection and enjoyed seeing their work. And the Warhol exhibit they have on right now is excellent.

7) Art shopping. There are galleries all over Buenos Aires. We visited galleries in Palermo, Retiro, and Recoleta. We've heard that the San Telmo and La Boca galleries are a bit more cutting edge but we didn't get there this trip. The art in Buenos Aires is excellent and very affordable. The galleries do a good job of curating, filtering, and representing their artists. If you like to collect art, you should visit Buenos Aires. I posted a few images I saw in galleries to my tumblog yesterday.

8) El Ateneo. This is an old theater converted into a bookstore. You can eat in the cafe which is where the stage used to be. It is beautiful and worth a visit.

9) Palermo. This is the northernmost neighborhood that tourists frequent. It's like Williamsburg in NYC or Marais in Paris in that it's been rediscovered in recent years and is full of fun and edgy stuff to do. We ate there most of the time and did most of our shopping and strolling there too. If our hotel was there (it was not), we might not have left.

10) The Park Hyatt. This is where we stayed. We had some issues with our room which put a somewhat negative taste in my mouth. But the hotel is spectacular, particularly the backyard between the old building (the former palace) and the new building. I would often spend my mornings sitting in the backyard reading while everyone else slept. The service is excellent and I would recommend it (just not our specific room).

11) I forgot about one highlight so I'm adding it after posting (and going over my allotted ten highlights). The cemetery in Recoleta is a must see. It like a tightly stitched together city full of above ground tombs. The Gotham Gal told me at one time the plots in this cemetery were the most expensive land in the world. It's hard to describe and pictures don't really do it justice. Go see it if you come to Buenos Aires.

If you've never been to Buenos Aires, I highly recommend it. It's big, bustling, full of culture and energy, and its very affordable as foreign travel goes for americans these days. And you get to work on your spanish which is always fun. My kids really impressed me with theirs. Mine, on the other hand, is awful.