Our second 20 plus hour bus ride of the trip took us out of Patagonia for good and back into big city life. We were definitely excited to spend some time in Buenos Aires, so much so that we stayed for a week. We rented a modern and comfortable studio apartment in the picturesque, colonial neighborhood of Recoleta. It was wonderful to have a place to ourselves. Our street was packed with shopping, shopping, and more shopping and the perfect handful of fruit and veggie stands. We spent our days wandering the town on foot, checking out the sites and observing the pace of life in this vibrant South American city.
When I look back at the time we spent in Buenos Aires, I realize we were at a point in our traveling when NOT being a tourist, especially not a backpacker, was what we craved. We wanted to feel like we had our city lives back, just like at home. We made sure to see the basic sites, but we didn’t over do it with long days of tours and site seeing. Instead, we took advantage of our apartment location and walked to the local plazas for cafe meals, went out to see live music, and even late night cocktails one night. Danny got a haircut, to complement his hipster city mustache, meanwhile I shopped store to store in our neighborhood to check out the popular fashions, and even allowed myself to purchase a new skirt to squeeze into my backpack. I got to know our local fruit and veggie stand guy, and went there almost every day for fresh ingredients for a few healthy meals at home. We made sure to get out and take advantage of the perfect, sunny weather, but we also spent some good time at the apartment using the fast Internet and catching up on our blog and communications with friends back home. And like true Americans, we found a sports bar in town to watch some (American) football playoffs, including that unbelievable Packers v. Seahawks playoffs game, and eat Buffalo wings and nachos.
Highlights… (We had a LOT of them in BA)
- Thank you to Sue and Jim, Danny’s parents, for the Hannukah gift treat of a fancy Argentine steakhouse dinner. We donned the nicest clothing we could find in our backpacks and enjoyed 2 bottles of vino and a huge, gourmet dinner which gave Danny the meat sweats he craved.
- We took the free city walking tour and learned about the colonial buildings and government center area. We also got a good lesson on Evita Duarte Peron, who is ever present throughout the city’s monuments and art.
- We did a really fun city bike tour to learn about the city parks and plazas. Even visited the city library, which is an example of the “Brutalist” school of architecture, something we had never heard of. Also visited the famous city cemetery that’s like a mini city of who’s who of the Buenos Aires elite, including Evita.
- The only other people on our bike tour were 3 Americans from NYC who were in town to perform as a jazz trio. They invited us to come see their show the following night and we were thrilled to have live music plans. Their show at Boris Club was great!
- Lounged at our rooftop pool during a sunny afternoon.
- Visited a local used book store to find books to bring to the beach in Uruguay (so we wouldn’t have to bring our e-reader devices). Of the thousands of books they had stacked floor to 15 foot ceiling, they had 1 small section of English books, but we were able to dig up a few great old novels to squeeze into our packs.
- Found a restaurant named Sarkis! No Bacon Lorettas like at home, but surprisingly solid Mediterranean food.
- We indulged in the local delicacy of Dulce de Leche ice cream. Wow, que rico!
- We were wandering around one afternoon, hungry and looking for somewhere to eat lunch. Sure enough we turned a corner and right in front of us appeared a totally gluten free bakery and restaurant. They specialized in gluten free empanadas and I specialized in stuffing myself silly.
- During our bike tour we got a full on Yerba Mate lesson. It was nice to finally be let in on that South America tradition. For those who are wondering what the heck Yerba Mate is, it is a tea like beverage that is brewed and drank from a gourd, through a special straw. There is a very particular etiquette regarding how to brew, drink and pass it to friends. Argentineans and Uruguayans are seemingly obsessed with their Mate. It is very common to see them toting around the necessary supplies, including a big thermos of hot water and the gourd cup while just walking around town, waiting for a bus, sitting in a park, etc.
- We found a “closed door dinner” restaurant through a rec from a friend we met in El Bolsón. Closed door restaurants are run by chefs who don’t have the proper permits to run a real restaurant so they have reservation only, pop-up store like locations. We found a vegetarian one, which was perfect for me. The theme the night we went was Ethiopian food and it was super yummy. Afterwards we headed out to a tango club in an old cathedral to observe young tango-ers showing off their fancy moves.
To view all of our images from Buenos Aires click here.