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House of Travel
It’s late September and 26 house of travel experts are let loose in the urban metropolis of Buenos Aires. But in a city famed for its soccer, steak and seductive dancing, what left a lasting impression?
1. What were your first thoughts of Buenos Aires?
Tanya: We arrived on the same day that the national soccer team left for Japan and just about every local was out on the street cheering them on; sports fanaticism at its best. Colour, passion and excitement embraced the city.
Tony: What a massive city! It certainly has the European look and architecture.
Ken: Such energy. Buenos Aires is a city on the move and it feels very young.
2, What was the biggest culture shock?
Tanya: Unlike Europe, very few Argentines speak English. Hand signals were definitely necessary.
Tony: Probably the dress sense (or lack of!) but there are plenty of unique shopping hubs to be found here, as well as lots of markets.
Ken: The architecture is fascinating, and so different to New Zealand.
3. What inspired you the most about Buenos Aires?
Tanya: French influence is everywhere. With beautiful buildings, promenades and avenues, you could easily be in Paris.
Tony: The country has been through various financial and governmental changes, but the residents always speak with pride and patriotism.
Ken: The different international influences. Locals say that Porteños see themselves as Italian, speak Spanish, think they are French and would secretly like to be British.
4. What advice would you give a first-time visitor?
Tanya: Be prepared, make a plan of what you wish to see and do; engage in tours and off-the-beaten-track excursions. Most importantly, take US dollars, which are much better value than the local currency.
Tony: Learn a bit of Spanish!
Ken: Pre-book an airport transfer so that you aren’t stung with an overpriced taxi.
5. Iguazu Falls. Is it worth the trip?
Tanya: I have travelled the world and Iguazu Falls completely blew my mind; the grandeur, beauty, wilderness and wildlife. The helicopter ride above the falls was the highlight of our trip.
Tony: Most definitely, it’s truly a spectacular natural wonder of the world. Spend a couple of days wandering through the National Park and book a boat ride to the base of the falls.
Ken: Absolutely. Iguazu Falls is one of the most incredible places on earth and very different to other great waterfalls. Take a walk to the edge and peer over. Truly amazing!
6. Top ‘must-do’ you’d recommend for anyone visiting:
Tanya: Eva Perones burial site is an incredible experience and of course a tango show and a little leather shopping are both must-do’s. Visit La Boca stadium and you’ll get a true sense of what soccer really means in South America.
Tony: Take a day trip to Colonia – a quaint Portuguese city across the water in Uruguay. Cobblestone streets with great views out to the water, with plenty of local art and crafts.
Ken: Walk everywhere. Many of the best sights are within comfortable walking distance, and you’ll also come across highlights that aren’t in the guidebooks.
7. What was your favourite Buenos Aires neighbourhood and why?
Tanya: San Telmo. A very hip area for antiques and history and it’s also the home of tango. Hire a bike in the San Telmo area for only USD15 for three hours.
Tony: La Boca is the most colourful part of the city, with lots of arts, crafts, street stalls and restaurants. A visit to Boca Juniors Football Stadium is also worth a visit – the home of Maradona.
Ken: The suburb of Recoleta is home to Cementerio de La Recoleta. It’s filled with amazing mausoleums and is where many of Argentina’s most notable citizens are buried.
8. What is Buenos Aires’ best-kept dining secret?
Tanya: Japanese cuisine at Osaka. Although it’s not South American food, it’s one of the most incredible dining experiences, even for the most discerning foodie traveller.
Tony: Floreria Atlantica – a wonderful bar with access via a florist. You go through a large green freezer door and end up one floor underground. Cocktails are a work of art, with great culinary options too. Rated in the world’s top 50 bars.
Ken: Buenos Aires is known for its puertas cerradas, or closed door restaurants, where dinner is prepared in a chef’s private home. Do your research and ask around for recommendations.
9. What Argentinian souvenir(s) did you take home?
Tanya: A leather jacket or two!
Tony: A great bottle of Malbec.
Ken: A pair of Havaianas from the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls.
10. Describe Buenos Aires in one word:
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