Buenos Aires, Argentina

Living it up in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires is a beautiful city, and I started my stay in the best way possible, with no fixed agenda and just wandering and exploring in a new city.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

We were sort of heading to a cafe I’d read about in an airline magazine, called Cafe Tortoni.  To my surprise when we arrived we discovered a queue to get in. Founded in 1858 and frequented by many famous artists in its time, the Cafe Tortoni turns out to be a bit of a tourist attraction. We decided to join the queue since we’d walked all that way, and the queue actually moved very quickly so we were in pretty quickly. It was a gorgeous old cafe with walls of wood veneer, mirrors, stained glass, and with lots of paintings.  Definitely worth a visit.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

We then kept wandering down the street, coming to the Plaza de Mayo, which is also where the Casa Rosada is, the Presidential offices. A large dark pink coloured building, there are a couple of stories as to how it got to be that colour, one is that it was painted with bovine blood. Also on this plaza is the Catedral Metropolitana which we had a look through as well. It looked nothing like a cathedral from the outside but inside was quite spectacular.  It is also home to the remains of General Jose de San Martin, one of Argentina’s revered heroes…..until his exile. From there we walked to the port area, called Puerto Madero.  It’s been completely dollied up, now there’s fine dining restaurants, upmarket shopping, and of course lots of tourists.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

One of the reasons for the Buenos Aires trip was to celebrate my birthday.  I had booked a dinner at a very swanky restaurant called Casa Cruz.  Wow, it didn’t disappoint, it was amazing. The restaurant itself was beautiful, opulent and rich decor, and the food was incredible. At the end of dinner we asked the waiter for a good bar suggestion, and he recommended the bar next door. In a continuation of the faultless service he actually escorted us next door to Isabel, a brand new and very swanky bar, with a marble courtyard, mirrored bathrooms and luxurious u-shaped velvet booths. At Isabel, you exchange your money for Casino chips, which are then used to order cocktails – an easy way to lose track of exactly how much money you are actually spending!  It was a great night, we had a fantastic time, with lots of laughter.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires is filled with gorgeous restaurants and has a reputation for great steak.  La Cabrera , a BA institution which claims to be the best parilla (bbq / meat house) in all of the city, so obviously we had to try it out. Wow, you don’t leave hungry from a parilla – plates of meat, vegetable side dishes, sauces….it was certainly delicious.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

After a few days of shopping and hanging out in fashionable Palermo Soho, it was back to some culture. We went to the MALBA , a museum of contemporary Latin American art. I absolutely loved it, and the brief time we could devote to it was certainly not enough. Then we headed to Recoleta, which is where the very famous cemetery is located. A cemetery doesn’t sound like much of a tourist magnet, but when you get there it all becomes clear.  It is huge, and a really fascinating insight into the city’s history.  We continued on our walking tour around Recoleta, taking in more statues, monuments and art installations, until finally we were ready for another delicious dinner at another local parilla, this time the delicious Lo de Jesus.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Near the end of our stay one day gave us quite a different experience.  We set off by taxi to La Boca, a very famous but working class suburb in BA. It is best known for the brightly coloured houses and tango dancing on the streets, which I am sure you will have seen in the tourist brochures. About three blocks are very touristy, but outside of these main areas it’s politely described as “gritty”.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

After a couple of hours in La Boca doing the usual things, we were headed for lunch at a very famous restaurant near the port in La Boca called El Obrero. Apparently it’s one of the best known in the city and everyone from Spanish royalty to Bono has eaten there. It is recommended by one guidebook as unmissable, and our landlady, Lilian, insisted that we go there. However all recommendations also include a warning that you absolutely must not walk in the area and that you should arrive there by taxi only. So that’s exactly what we tried to do.

 

Buenos Aires, Argentina

However on the way as we were driving a young guy just a few metres away, suddenly, just like in the movies, pulled up a t-shirt and pulled out a gun from his pants and came running towards us. He pointed the gun at us and put it at the taxi driver’s head, then was quickly joined by a number of others who surrounded the car, opened the doors and lunged at our bags. The first and almost the only thing that I could see was the gun, and so throughout the whole thing I was strangely calm, handing over my handbag without a struggle.

 

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Then while we were all still in the cab, they quickly searched us for money belts, and demanded more money from our pockets. Of course everything was in the handbags so of course there was nothing else to give them. It all happened extremely quickly and was pretty scary.  The taxi driver, who was also robbed, stayed with us all afternoon and took us to the embassy.  The embassy took us to the police station and translated for us, as while I am learning Spanish, my language skills certainly wouldn’t have been good enough to handle this situation.  What an experience!

The people we have met have all been so proud of their city and so eager that we enjoy ourselves and see the best of their beautiful city. And with the exception of the robbery, we really have had a fantastic time. I still recommend Buenos Aires as a place to visit though….just watch yourself in La Boca!

Buenos Aires, Argentina

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