The longer we’ve travelled the easier it has become to predict what our reactions to new places will be. We’ve come to realise that whenever we arrive in an entirely new culture it can take a little while to find our feet and become accustomed to a different way of life. With this in mind (and because we were knackered after our busy week at home) we decided to rent an apartment in Buenos Aires for a full week and take it easy while adjusting to the continent we would spend the next 3 months exploring.
Buenos Aires is a truly massive city, there are dozens of neighbourhoods and a vast number of things to see and do. We decided to rent a place in the leafy area of Palermo which is home to great restaurants, lovely markets and acres upon acres of huge parks to meander through. We scored a great one bedroom place with a little kitchen for the same price as a private room in one of the city’s hostels. A week in the city would allow us to lazily explore, catch up on sleep, adapt to speaking a new language and try to get back into our travel routine. It was exactly what we needed and we had a great time exploring this most European of South American cities.
A few of our favourite things in Buenos Aires
We were fortunate enough to have our home for a week in the beautiful neighbourhood of Palermo. I picked it purely because of its location and reputation as a safe area but it ended up being perfect for many other reasons. If you look at a map of Buenos Aires the vast amount of green spaces stands out. The whole city has an open feel to it with the avenues and boulevards measuring twice the size of most cities we’re familiar with. The parks are full of dog walkers and people exercising and we were lucky enough to stumble across both farmers markets and handicraft fairs.
If there is one must do activity in Buenos Aires it’s visiting the gorgeous neighbourhood of San Telmo on a Sunday for its huge antiques fair. Now I’m not an antiques person at all but we went for the atmosphere and meandering and we weren’t disappointed. It’s packed full of locals and tourists, there are street musicians and tango dancers and the delicious smells of street food. We stopped at a tiny hole-in-the-wall type parilla for steak and it was one of the best we had in Argentina.
We have both fallen in love with the most popular of all South America street food offerings, the wonderful choripan. Take a crusty white bread roll, fill it with salad and fried onions and the most succulent and tasty chorizo sausage. Top it off with some spicy chillis and you have a choripan. I’ve lost count of how many of these we’ve eaten.
Free walking tours
Paul and I hardly ever take tours of any description. I’ve mentioned before that we’re fairly antisocial when it comes to sightseeing and we like to wander around on our own discovering new places. When we realised how huge Buenos Aires was we thought it might be a good idea to take one of the free tours offered in the city. There are a number of companies that offer free tours in the city and the idea is that you tip the guide based on how much you enjoyed the tour.
We did a tour with BA Free Tours in the city centre which was 2.5 hours long and gave us some great information about the history of the city as well as allowing us to find our way around with someone who knows where they are going. BA Free Tours also offer a tour around the posh neighbourhood of Recoleta but we decided to tackle that one on our own.
Recoleta is where the Buenos Aires elite made their home and the area is full of grand houses and lovely parks. It’s also where the extremely famous Recoleta Cemetery is. You might think it’s a bit morbid to visit a cemetery as a tourist attraction but it really is like nothing we’ve seen before. The rich and famous of Buenos Aires built their tombs in Recoleta and it’s almost like a miniature city. It sounds creepy but there is something really peaceful about it and the statues and tombs have a real beauty to them.
It’s a cliché but tango was invented in the Boca area of Buenos Aires and I felt like I couldn’t visit Argentina without seeing some tango in action. We signed up for a class followed by dinner and a show and had such a fun evening. Paul and I can now dance a whole 10 steps of basic tango but the real highlight of the evening was watching the professionals do their thing. The Argentine tango is all quick steps and interlocking legs and it is incredible to watch the dancers move at such a speed. It’s a very intense dance to watch and you find your eyes glued to their every move. What a great night!
One thing to mention if you’re planning on visiting Buenos Aires in the near future, the economy is in a fair old state and inflation is at 30-35%. We based our budget on what other travel bloggers had spent just a few months ago and it was completely redundant by the time we arrived. Buenos Aires is not a cheap place to visit, we would suggest a budget more suited to a European city for you to have an enjoyable experience.
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