Some might think that spending a whole month in just one city is kindda crazy. But, besides the fact that I am kindda crazy, I am also totally in love with Buenos Aires and I can’t ever get enough of this magnificent and exciting city. Call it slow travel or whatever you like, but I think that spending lots of time in one place you love is way better than trying to see everything in one country/region in the same amount of time. I’m not so much into flash weekend trips unless it’s Europe – where the tourism infrastructure allows you to really and fully profit from 48 hours in any city.
Back to Buenos Aires. So what all did I do in one month? Thinking about it, not much. I just lived in the city for one month, which I really started feeling after the owner of the café downstairs (Café Agata, on Belgrano and Bolívar, in the San Telmo neighborhood) began to greet me by my name every morning, and knew my usual order by heart. (Do go say “Hi!” for me to Marcelo, or to Lorena, the lovely waitress, if you’re ever around the area! And yes, they have free wifi, don’t fear).
These are the highlights of the one month I spent in the magical city of Buenos Aires:
- Spending Time With Friends:
I might be Texan, but I spent 11 years of my life in Argentina. So every time I go back to Buenos Aires, I have a lot of catching up to do. Time flies, but also, often it feels as if time stood still. See that picture? We’ve known each other since we were 10 years old. That’s almost 18 years of friendship right there. And 13 years of alcohol consumption.
One of the best parts of any trip is usually the food. And that was no exception in Buenos Aires. Although I have no pictures of all the meat I actually ate while there, I hope this picture of me eating nachos (accompanied by local beer, of course) will suffice to give you an idea. My diet was a consistent mix of pizza, bondiola at 6 am on the costanera (boardwalk) after a long night of partying, meat and veggie empanadas (you know, like steak and salad but in empanada form) for a balanced diet, pastries from the bakery down the street and in moments of desperation, Chinese food from the Chinese shop AND buffet across the street from my apartment.
Maybe I should rephrase that. I should say that I attempted to shop in Buenos Aires. See, prices are crazy down there, mostly thank to tourists who are willing to pay US and European prices for things that locals used to pay much less for – because it’s not the case anymore, since now everybody gets equally ripped off. At the San Telmo market, where this picture was taken, the thrift shops are pretty neat, but the prices are more in line with new merchandise in Europe rather than second hand stuff from Argentina. A pity, because the selection is amazing. Just not worth it, unless you find the X of your dreams.
No trip is ever complete without at least one learning experience. And while in Buenos Aires, I got to learn about the country’s history, which is a bit of my own history. After all, I would have never been born if my father would have not decided to flee the oppression of the dictatorship in the late 70s, heading to the US, where he met my mother, which resulted in my existence. If you’re curious about what else I learned, feel free to check out my post on the ex-ESMA complex, which housed a clandestine torture and extermination center out of which thousands of people never made it out alive.
Yes, I am quite aware that the best Carnival in the world is probably held in Brazil, but the Buenos Aires Carnival was good enough for me. I got a taste of the colorful costumes and party vibe, accompanied by the rhythms of the comparsas. And I just had to walk all of one block from my apartment as soon as I heard the beat of the drums which signaled the beginning of the festivities. Plus Starbucks was open, so I could get a Dulce de Leche Frapuccino while I stood idly on the street corner taking pictures. What else could’ve I asked for? OK, maybe to join in on the festivities… Next time perhaps?
One of the best things of staying in the San Telmo neighborhood, is the abundance of late-night tango clubs every night of the week. It’s 4 am and you can’t sleep from the summer heat? No problem, head on down the street and walk into whichever underground tango club you hear music at. This one was on Av. Independencia, and the picture doesn’t do it justice: the ambiance was dark and smoky, barely lit by the red lights, the summer heat causing a light trickle of sweat running down the dancers’ bodies, while the couples dancing represented a mix of beginners and advanced tango lovers gathered there under their passion for the world’s sexiest dance, and… the beer was cold! But I hadn’t had enough beer to gain the courage I needed to practice the few basic tango steps I know at the point this picture was taken, so you’ll have to wait for my next trip to BA for that!
- Playing Tourist:
It’s so much fun to play tourist in your own city, or at least in one you think you know so well. Can you believe that I lived 3 blocks away from the Casa Rosada during 11 years of my life, and I had not once gone in to visit it? So I couldn’t miss my chance this time around, and I took a picture to prove it: I can be a tourist too, sometimes. A pretty good one, don’t you think?
Have you ever been to Buenos Aires? What did you do while there? If you haven’t yet, what would be on your must-do/see list if you ever visited this wonderful city?