When my best friend Kimberly told me she was taking a one-year position in Buenos Aires, I immediately thought “When can I visit?” I started planning my trip as soon as she moved in September. The months counting down to March 30 were almost unbearable but the payoff was an amazing week of unforgettable experiences.
Fair warning: my trip was full of awesomeness so this post is long. There’s even a part two coming about a second city I visited in Argentina. So get comfy and read on to find out what Buenos Aires is all about!
Note: click the button in the bottom right corner of each slideshow to make them larger.
Feria de San Telmo
Every Sunday vendors line the street for what seems like an infinite number of blocks at the San Telmo street fair. You can find almost anything here. My favorite part, not surprisingly, was the art. I’m a self-professed art addict and it took all the willpower I had not to go on an art-buying binge. The piece I ended up getting is a tango-themed water color by Federico Arcangeli, which you can see in the slideshow.
Cementerio de la Recoleta
The Recoleta Cemetery is one of the most unique things I have ever seen. It’s the final resting place for the rich and famous, including Eva Peron. There are hundreds of mausoleums, each with a completely different look. They are adorned with cherubs, angels, busts of the people whose remains they contain and other incredible designs. Truly a sight to see.
El Caminito en La Boca
It seems like every destination has an area that’s a total tourist trap but something you have to check off your list. In Buenos Aires, it’s El Caminito. This area barely covers one street block but contains brightly colored houses, restaurants with tango performances and vendors selling souvenirs. La Boca, the surrounding neighborhood, is pretty sketch. So much so that I didn’t even feel comfortable walking the few blocks it would have taken to reach the Boca Juniors futbol stadium. It’s definitely something to see if you visit but be prepared for the strange difference between El Caminito and the actual neighborhood.
Argentina loves a good monument. Seriously, they are everywhere. The city is filled with plazas, each containing beautiful, unique monuments. Walking around downtown, I was struck by the contrast of the city. Look up and you see striking architecture, unusual buildings and monuments, of course. Look down, however, and you’ll find a layer of trash and grime. There are 13 million people in the city so this isn’t shocking but it does provide a sense of juxtaposed beauty.
When you walk into the Japanese Gardens, you leave the hustle and bustle of the city and enter an oasis of calm and serenity. I could write a long description of how relaxed and at peace I felt there but the pictures tell the story better.
A city of nomads
Since Kim has lived in Buenos Aires for several months, I had a very different experience than the average tourist. We went to a birthday party with all locals, which put my Spanish to the test. We salsa danced at a street party with people Kim met through the expat community. They came from New England, Chicago and Australia. I also had dinner with her friends from New York and Columbia. My trip was that much more memorable having gotten a feel for the real Buenos Aires, not just the tourist hot spots.
If you read this far, you rock! But there’s more to come. As much fun as Buenos Aires was, I completely fell in love with Mendoza, our destination for the second half of my trip. Read all about our adventures in Argentina’s wine country!