After the trials on the ship and the letdowns in Brazil, we really needed a great city to pick up our battered and downtrodden spirits. We weren’t asking for much, just a clean, safe, enjoyable city. This town has not only met our expectations, but has also moved up the ranks to one of our favorite cities of the entire trip. Let me tell you what has made Buenos Aries so magical…..
First of all, our hotel was exactly as it was advertised. This alone was a victory. The website stated that the hotel was directly in front of the Recoleta Cemetery, one of the most relevant historical and artistic monuments in the country. When we checked into our room, we were treated to an amazing view of the entire cemetery and surrounding park from our top floor balcony. We ended up spending a lot of time on that balcony over the next days. We would pick out interesting gravestones from our perched view that we wanted to find when we explored the hallowed grounds. The cemetery was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The seemingly endless rows of individualized mausoleums were both exquisite and eerie at the same time. Some graves dated backed to the early 1800’s while others were only a decade old. We even found the resting place of the famous Evita. After viewing it from above and then exploring its grounds, I can see why this cemetery is one of the most noteworthy sights in all of Buenos Aries.
On our first full day here, it just so happens that in was a national holiday, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception. We strolled through the Palermo district and caught the beginning of a marathon in the Jorge Newberry Park. This was just one of many beautiful recreational areas in Palermo. After a quick jaunt through the Soho neighborhood, we headed back to our lodging and discovered that the park beside our hotel had been converted into a festival. We spent the next few hours exploring the local shops, watching tango dancers, listening to local musicians, and enjoying the numerous street performers (including a unique type of tightrope walking). We capped off the day by eating at a little restaurant close by called, “Clarks.” We decided to be brave and tried a blood sausage along with a few appetizers. This was exactly the type of day we needed to reenergize our mental state and lift our spirits.
On our second day, we decided to explore the downtown and port districts. We started out by heading toward Puerto Madero, the newest and most modern part of the city. Once we hit the water, we had to cross a bridge to get to the area. As we sauntered along the boardwalk, we realized that this was indeed more modern than any place we had seen in the last month. Our homesick hearts were warmed by the sight of a Starbucks and a convenience store that sold the cheap, sugary cappuccinos that we both love so much and had been craving. They weren’t quite as good as back in the States, but it was still a welcomed taste of home.
From the port, we crossed back through the San Telmo borough and the Plaza de Mayo on our way to the center of town. This part reminded us of a mini New York. Ancient churches were scattered among modern skyscrapers and endless shops. Historical monuments were blanketed with street vendors selling everything from silly puddy to street meat. It was an entertaining hike through this part of the city, and we were amazed at how different each district in Buenos Aries is from one another.
We wrapped up the day by trying some authentic Argentinean meat dishes. Aside from the entrails and a steak, I don’t know what all the meat we ate actually was, nor am I sure I want to know. We weren’t very impressed, but then again we aren’t big meat eaters, so maybe it’s just our inexperienced palates. That said, we both had a few GI issues that kept us in for the rest of the night.
Just when we thought that BA couldn’t get any better, the weekend arrived. There are so many markets and festivities that take place every weekend, that we won’t be able to explore them all. We went to the one in Palermo, in the Serrano Plaza on Saturday, and also hit the one in our neighborhood as well. We will try for San Telmo tomorrow. All the vendors have amazing prices for their authentic works. There’s jewelry, clothing, artwork, leather products, etc…..you name it and it’s probably available.
Tomorrow night, we are supposed to meet our friend Tam, from Las Vegas, for dinner. We can’t wait to see her and hear all about here adventures here, as she has been in Buenos Aries for weeks!
Unlike Brazil, we have felt completely safe and at ease. No one has tried to hustle us out of money, nobody we know has been mugged, and the tap water is drinkable. If expecting these basic modern conveniences and experiences while traveling make us the typical American snobs, then that’s a title I will proudly wear for the rest of my life. Buenos Aries, you have revived us……