We fell in love with Buenos Aires, but it wasn't love at first sight.
When we arrived in Bs As, as it's written locally, we got off to a rough start-rudeness at the baggage claim, crazy taxi driver who dropped us off a half-mile from our correct address and it was HOT.
But all of that turned out to be a fluke and the more we explored, the more we loved about this crazy, eclectic and fun city!
We blew quite of bit of our budget in Argentina, but we knew it was going to be expensive. Here are some of our highlights of the lovely Buenos Aires:
1. Argentine foods:
Empanadas-La Aguada. We found this place just a few blocks from our AirBnB and it had a blue cheese empanada that was fantastic.
Choripan-La Leyenda & Nuestra Parrilla. Choripan was a surprise lunch after enjoying the Sunday Antique Markets in San Telmo. We became obsessed with the sauce on this simple sandwich of sausage and bread. The sauce is a red chimichurri, some places call it provencal.
Medialunas-Lucio Pasta Y Pizza. Somewhere between a croissant and a crescent roll, is the prefection called a medialuna. We bought them by the dozen.
Steak-Don Julio. This popular steak restaurant lived up to the hype by serving up a perfectly cooked filet and sirloin. We also completed the tradition of signing our finished wine bottle for the collection adorning the walls.
Cocktails-Victoria Brown & Verne Club. Both places are in the Palermo neighborhoods and are exactly what a cocktail bar should be like. The cocktails are a bit on the funky side.
Ice cream-Volta. A local chain in the city, Volta is more like gelato and the location next to El Ateneo has a great "park" in the back.
2. Favorite Barrios
SOHO-restaurants, bars, shops, you name it, Palermo SOHO has it. We spent the majority of our time in this barrio.
Viejo-quieter but with great charm and great restaurants
Hollywood-trendy and more ritzy than the rest of Palermo
Note: We stayed in Palermo Alto, which is a residential midpoint for nearly everything in the city. It's quiet and you can easily access other barrios by foot or by subte (the metro.)
San Telmo-Gritty and up-and-coming, we were glad we didn't spend our nights here, but we spent many of our days. Quirky and interesting, it's easy to get lost discovering new shops and restaurants here, especially antiques.
Recoleta-Palermo borders Recoleta, but Recoleta could be lightyears away from any other neighborhood in Bs. As. It's fancy and rich and has the upscale shops to prove it.
Tango-with Lucia y Gerry. We signed up for the Wednesday night Tango Tour and it did not disappoint! We had an hour lesson and then Lucia and her husband, Gerry, took us out to their milonga-an argentine dance club. With a full orchestra and the locals showing their moves, it was an experience like nothing else.
Walking tour-Buenos Aires Traces. The Traces tour isn't well advertised, but it starts every day at Hostal America Sur and tackles a different barrio every day. We took the downtown tour and learned history of the Plaza de Mayo and the Madres de Mayo and got a private insight to the people's love for Eva Peron in her office.
Relax at El Ateneo. The old theater was converted into a bookstore and it does not disappoint. You could spend days there just enjoying a book or a coffee on the stage, taking in the ambience.
Recoleta Cemetery. This is a must of the Buenos Aires experience.
Some of our dislikes:
Walking: The people of Bs. As. walk with reckless abandon and do not care if you are there or not.
Service in every restaurant is painfully slow. Many times we wouldn't even order drinks for the first 25 minutes of sitting somewhere. And once someone finally shows up at your table, be ready to order everything you want.
You must pay cash nearly everywhere except a grocery store. We've been stuck many places where Brian had to run out to find an ATM, which brings us to another point: Argentina's highest bill is 100, everything is inflated and people hoard cash so if we found an ATM that actually had cash it was a win! You might have to try 3-4 ATMs to actually get cash.
Some miscellaneous information about Buenos Aires:
-The subte is the easiest and cheapest way to get around but expect to walk quite a ways still to get to places once you arrive at your destination. A ride is a flat 5 pesos no matter the distance. Be aware that some stations are entry specific, so know the direction you want to go before walking down the stairs. The subte is nearly always slammed packed so be prepared to push your way in.
-The buses only accept coins or the travel card. Change is nearly impossible to find in Bs.As. (with many things being rounded up or down to keep the numbers whole and prevent change from being needed) and the travel card is available at main terminals and sometimes convenience stores.
-Taxis are metered but ensure you have a rough idea of where you should be going. The cost out to the airport is about $40 when the conversion rate is close to 9:1.
-Siesta is a fairly real thing in Bs. As. While the city is still busy, a lot of shops do close between the 2-6 pm hours and sometimes until 8 pm. 9 pm to head out for dinner will allow you to arrive before the crowds without a reservation.
-The Sunday Market in San Telmo should not be missed. The Antiques Market is open every day, but the Sunday market spills into the streets.
-You can exchange dollars on the Blue Chip Market on Avenida de Florida in the Microcenter for upwards of 14:1. This is easily identified by the men yelling "cambio!" We never did this, it seems sketchy and they take you away from the street. Other travelers we met did it a lot and exchanged around $300 USD at a time. You would also need to bring a lot of USD to make this worth while for a long stay. Being in Argentina for 4 weeks just didn't make this underground process seem worthwhile. Also, it's technically illegal.
We loved Buenos Aires and even had a few "what if" conversations about living in the city. We already have agreed that when Brian's parents decide to go, we will happily sign on as their personal tour guides of this awesome city. Shoot, we'll tagalong with anyone who lets us on a trip to Argentina!