Buenos Aires in one week
Day 1: Saturday
We arrived after another night of pretty much no sleep via 3 flights (Medellin Bogota Lima BA) – (despite me taking 4 diazepam pills!) at 8am, got an UBER and met Jorge and Cynthia in the Airbnb apartment in which we are staying. Such a beautiful flat, on the 6th floor of a modern building, with very modern furniture, cable tv, a nice balcony and a great bed. As per our usual technique we went to the supermarket first, to settle in and then had a deserved nap from 11am to 1pm. I made a pasta for lunch and we spent the rest of the afternoon planning our stay in Buenos Aires, booking restaurants and watching Italy lose at the 9th penalty against Germany in the Euros which was incredibly painful. It rained all day non-stop which gave us a good excuse to recover from our long 3 planes journey to get here. For dinner we went to a local parilla and had our first Argentinian steak which didn’t live up to expectations at all. The place was well rated on trip advisor (Calden del Soho), with a good atmosphere and good wine, but we must have ordered a wrong cheap cut ’cause we wanted to share it, and were very disappointed. Dessert was great though, what they call Sospiro Porteño (whisper from a Porteño which means citizen of Buenos Aires, since it is a port, the people from here are called people from the port), it consists of a bowl with a chocolate brownie at the bottom, covered with merangue, ice cream, dulce de leche (caramel) and with cognac on top. A delight but not light.
Day 2: Sunday
In the morning we had a lie in, and recovered from the travel day/night finally. Had breakfast in our beautiful apartment and then got an Uber to San Telmo, since it’s Sunday and there is an antique market every Sunday which we heard lots about. We were initially planning to visit a couple of other areas, but ended up treating ourselves with a lazy – rainy Sunday, spending the day strolling around, getting lost in shops full of amazing objects from the past, and getting soaked in the decadent and romantic Buenos Aires atmosphere. We had a coffee on the main square at Cafe Dorrego, an absolute must, which has been there for 140 years. Great for people watching and good coffee. Don’t recommend the lemonade, Bruce tried only a little shot, and his face after the first sip was as wrinkled as 100 years old turtle! So bitter, like actual lemon juice alone.
We did some satisfying shopping, including two small, very old pencil drawings of London, and a wine bottle holder made of leather and cow skin, then got back in time for a shower and ready to experience what we heard is the best steak in town, only 3 blocks (everyone here uses blocks for directions) from us. Don Julio’s steak was amazing, we had one each to try two different cuts, a Ojo de bife de Chorizo which is a rib eye steak, and a Bife de Chorizo Ancho which is a thick sliced Sirloin apparently more difficult to find. We were expecting for the rib eye to be our favourite, but the Ancho which was recommended by the waiter was the best steak we’ve ever had. On the side we had pureed sweet potato which was the perfect combination with the steak. So delicious. All accompanied by a nice and cheap Malbec called Prodigo. Wow.Gracias don Julio!
Day 3: Monday
Of course you can’t survive a red meat feast like last night without consequences. I had some of the most crazy nightmares and woke up several times in the middle of the night, had to pay for all the red meat I ate, but it was worth every mouthful. Bruce got woken up because of the huge and noisy thunderstorm at 3am, and couldn’t fall asleep again for a few hours. We still have booked Don Julio again, for our last night in Buenos Aires on Thursday!
After breakfast we got an Uber and were almost late for our 11am tour of the majestic Teatro Colon. Another rainy day, but somehow the rain suits melancholic Buenos Aires. The teatro Colon was amazing, and the tour lasted one hour in which we learnt a lot about the theatre. It was made by mainly Italian architects and workers, with some influence from French architects too. The facts that I most liked are regarding the hidden rooms, that you would have never been able to see or know about if you only came for a performance, and that’s the reason why I truly recommend taking a tour of the theatre. The first rooms we were told about are the ones on the lower ground floor where widows were going in the two years of mourn that had to follow their husband’s death, you could see nothing from down there, but they could hear everything perfectly, and there were plenty of rumours saying that they would bring their lovers down there to enjoy some extra action with a nice live orchestra background. The second secret room is hidden at the very top of the theatre, 40 metres above the ground, and it’s a round room the size of the painting on the ceiling, which can host up to 30 people, it is used during opera shows as a choir of angels or God talking from above and it always surprises the audience.
Once we finished the Colon theatre visit we had a coffee, I tried a few leather jackets in Florida street but didn’t end up buying any as they are too expensive, and moved on to take a look at the Pacifico Galleries, a mall but with very beautiful design. We then had lunch at a well rated local parrilla called El Establo Parrilla where we had a huge meal, we always realise too late that the portions here are HUGE. After lunch we walked to visit the Cathedral of Santu Spiritu, which was nice but not quite Rome. We were then planning to go and visit the Memorial Park which is in the complete opposite side of the city, and were going to take the train there, but as we arrived in the Retiro station we got confused with trains, almost went in the wrong direction, then asked some locals and they told us that the stop for the Parque de la memoria is now closed, and the train isn’t safe, and at that point it started raining a lot so we sort of got the message from above that we were meant to go there. We opted for some contemporary art instead, and went to the MALBA museum, saw the permanent collection on the first floor and the Yoko Ono exhibition on the second floor which was interactive and fun.
After two nights of steaks we decided to take a break and stayed in, had a pasta, and watched a film on Netflix.
Day 4: Tuesday
We had no plans for the day and played it by ear, spent the day in our neighbourhood which is called Palermo. We started with a nice walk by the zoo, which is now closed to make it more eco-friendly but we still managed to see some animals from outside, including a zebra and plenty of flamingos! The first stop of the day was the museo evita, where we learnt a lot about the story of the historically most important woman of Argentina, Eva Duarte who became Eva Peron after she married the president of Argentina in 1945. The museum is very well made, in a beautiful building and with English translations in every room going through the short 7 years in which Evita was the first lady and the main advocate for the poor, and for women since it’s thank to her that the women of Argentina got the right to vote.
All this fascinating and inspirational history got us hungry, so we walked a bit more and then had lunch at the cafe next to the museo nacional de arte decorativo, called Croque Madame. We had a delicious croque with salmon and egg, and an even more delicious chicken with dates, saffron sauce and spinach. Timing worked out perfectly to take the guided tour of the museum at 2pm, we absolutely loved the house-museum which looks a lot like a smaller version of Versaille in some parts, every room on the ground floor has a different style, from the renaissance to baroque, and is curated in the minimal details. The family that owned it brought ALL the furniture here from Europe and it took them 10 years to find all the pieces. Pretty impressive, and a must do in Buenos Aires. In the lower ground floor there was an exhibition about Kabuki art similar to the one we visited in Tokyo with Kyoko, it really made us miss Japan.
After the tour we decided to get some fresh air and visited the Japanese gardens which made us miss Japan even more.
A hot shower to recover from all the walking, and we were off to dinner at TOMO I where we had a fantastic pork fillet with prunes and shared a dorade and a super delicious chocolate Marquise with melted white chocolate on top. After dinner we went to a Tango Show at the Tango Porteño theatre, very touristy but amazing dancing performance with a great live orchestra. We had far too much wine, and ended up getting home quite late and quite drunk, but fascinated with the tango and this fantastic city which we are falling in love with despite the rain!
Day 5: Wednesday
For the first time since we arrived we woke up with bright sunshine coming in from the window. An early start, woke up at 7 and left at 8 to beat the traffic and get to the start of our BA Bike tour at 9am. We were early so got a coffee while waiting for them to open the shop. The tour guide was a very nice guy called Gaston, with long hair and mustaches just like Dartagnan, one of those people that you wish was your friend since he immediately grabs your attention as soon as he starts speaking, with a cool name and a cool look. There was 8 of us in the group, four ozzy boys travelling together, a couple from US&New Zealand and a girl from somewhere else I can’t remember. It was a bit cold at the start and we were both happy we brought our gloves. The morning was quite long, from 9:15 to 2pm, and a lot of cycling. Such a great way to see a lot and learn a lot of the city in a short time. We did the north part, which covers the wealthiest areas of Buenos Aires and its most beautiful parks, including a very interesting walk inside the Recoleta’s Cementery where the body of Evita Peron is kept, after years of it being deported to the cemetery of Milan during the dictatorship of the right wing party that hated peronism with fervent rage. Amongst other stories we learnt the story of Gabriela, a young girl who was believed to be dead at the age of 15 and put in a coffin, but the following day they found that the coffin had moved and they found scratches from the inside, ever since they now put a bell inside the coffins in case this ever happens again the person can now ring the bell with their feet. We then saw bits of Downtown, Plaza San Martin with its charming french style buildings, the Floralis Genérica installation near the university, and Palermo chico where all the embassies are.
The tour finished at 2pm and we were SO hungry, also probably due to the wine hungover from last night. We ended up having the best ever empanadas, recommended by Gaston, in a place called El Mazacote near the bike shop. We were so hungry we over-ordered again and had a HUGE pizza which we could luckily take away with us.
The rest of the afternoon we spent at home, pretending to watch Portugal vs Wales, but both having a long nap instead of actually watching.
Before dinner I also went to visit a leather show room that I found on Time Out, and met the designer called George who showed me his amazing bags and I couldn’t resist I had to buy one. They are called BLIT and you can book an appointment to visit the showroom here.
I got back and we had the rest of the pizza for dinner, with more wine that our lovely hosts Cynthia and Jorge left us. The wine was intended to get ready for a challenging evening, a tango lesson! The tango lesson with Gerry and Lucia was beyond expectations fantastic, even Bruce who I had to force to come was really enjoying himself and was better than me at some of the moves! We met two nice sisters from Australia Nicole and Jess, and a lovely couple Emma from Ireland and Mike from Australia, who were also on their 6th month of travelling and we had so much in common it was almost freaky! After one and a half hour of tango lesson, in which we felt like we really learnt something while having lots of fun, we then went to a local Milonga (tango club) in which locals were showcasing their impressive dancing skills on the dance floor. Since it was the anniversary of the Milonga they did have two couples of professional dancers as well performing on stage, and we loved the passionate orchestra composed of 11 people. We had three bottles of champagne with Emma and Mike, and got home at 2:30am after an unforgettable night in the real Buenos Aires. So much fun.
Day 6: Thursday
After the tour we went back with Lisa for lunch to the same empanada place as yesterday, which was again so delicious.
After we got a cab back home to “watch” the football again, aka fall asleep for two hours.
Our last dinner in Buenos Aires had to be Don Julio again, where we had our favourite Ancho bife de Chorizo steak, our favourite sweet potato pure side, our favourite Prodigo wine and we also tried the Provoleta with eggplant which soon became our favourite too. As per the tradition we wrote on the wine bottle and left our mark before finishing. After dinner we met up with Emma and Mike who we met yesterday at the tango, and had a lovely night out in Serrano Square in Palermo Soho, where all the hipster nightlife is happening, the Shoreditch of BA. We had beer and then wine, and somehow we lasted again until 2:30am and had an amazing time! A perfect last night in this amazing city that is well up there as one of our favourites.
Day 7: Friday