Buenos Aires in a nutshell
Tango. But of course!
Good news, lovers of all things Latino, Buenos Aires is at the end of a direct flight from Auckland. Twelve hours, done. It’s that easy.
Buenos Aires offers history and culture, time-worn colonial architecture and steak served with sauces as tasty as their tango dancers. There’s the coloured buildings of La Boca, the elaborate crypts of La Recolete Cemetary and more Sunday markets than you can wave your wads of Pesos at. And then there’s the food. From steaming empanadas to Alfajores (Argentinian Dulce de Leche sandwich biscuits) you’re in gourmet heaven. And if you don’t know what Dulce de Leche is, oh man, just you wait.
Beautiful La Boca
As one of the most vivacious cities in South America, nothing quite reflects the colours of Buenos Aires like La Boca. An old shanty-town on the outskirts of BA’s more upmarket and self-assured neighbourhoods, La Boca is – and has always been – a poor man’s district. Still, what it lacks in wealth it more than makes up for in vibrancy. Instantly recognisable due to its mix-matched jumble of primary-coloured buildings, La Boca’s jauntily stacked houses of brick and corrugated iron are painted in bright blues, yellows, pinks and red; from a time when poor migrant workers jollied up their dwellings with leftover paint taken (stolen, begged or borrowed) from the ships in which they fled.
These days the uneven streets are lined with cafes, restaurants and a garish display of Argentinian figurines, including Evita, Maradona and the odd accordion player, faded and jaded from years of sitting in the harsh Argentinian sunshine. Even the trees are dressed in rainbow-coloured shawls; webs of colour clinging to their thick-set trunks - and still they’re over-shadowed by La Boca’s enormous blue street lamps.
Black angus steak at Cabaña Las Lilas
People make outrageous claims about this place. Like, that the steak is the best steak they have ever eaten. But then, when you consider every cut comes from the restaurant's award-winning ranch, perhaps it’s not so outrageous after all. Located down by the river in Buenos Aires’ prestigious Puerto Madero district, this one’s so upmarket you’ll want to get out your fancy attire. It’s a considerable tourist hub, and the prices might make you silently squeal under your breath, but the high heat charcoal grill delivers some of the tastiest slabs of steak you’ll ever get your hands on. Ojo de bife and bife de lomo (rib eye and sirloin respectively) are to die for; your cutlery will slice through the meat like a hot knife massacres butter.
Buenos Aires on foot
Book a guided walking tour and discover all of Buenos Aire's most handsome attributes on foot. All the hot spots from Recoleta to Plaza de Mayo, the startling Pink House, park monuments, war memorials and more. Boasting the highest concentration of theatres in the world, you’ll pass the most splendid-looking architecture in South America, complete with balconies, balustrades and grand facades. A city replete with culture, you’ll touch on historically turbulent subjects such as the Falklands War as well as the Porteños’ bemusing love affair with their dogs. There are dogs, dog walkers and dog parks everywhere in this fine green city, so much so, canines have become somewhat a status symbol.
Tours usually conclude with a visit to La Recoleta Cemetery and the final resting place of Eva Peron. Ask about her whereabouts since her death in 1952 – if you dare! The stories will make your eyes water.
Sunday morning markets
It’s Sunday morning in Buenos Aires, which means the majority of Porteños are just making it home. Thank the Latin gods for strong South American coffee because the San Telmo Sunday Fair starts at 10!
You’d be wrong to think there won’t be a turn-out. Hazy-headed or not, this is the very definition of chaotic.
Spread across one of the oldest neighbourhoods and most handsome streets in Buenos Aires, with cobbled lanes and a ram shackled border of European exteriors (look up and admire the cast iron balconies), the Feria de San Telmo flits in and around the Plaza Dorrego, heaving with artisans and hundreds of market-goers all clambering for bargains and baskets of beef empanadas. From prints to plaques, antiques, pots, potions and a man serving Dolce de Leche from a giant metal vat (he’ll be dishing out samples so swing by a few times) it heaves with people and bellows with chatter.
About that tango. The good news is, you certainly won’t leave without seeing some. Unexpectedly spilling into the street, the crowds will part like the Red Sea for an impromptu sampling of the dance. Late in the day, when the hoards depart and a subdued fatigue encompasses the dismantling market stalls – stick around – this is the time tango lessons will erupt, completely unannounced and out of nowhere, much to the delight and surprise of tourists.
What about a lesson you ask. Well, you will come across Tango everywhere you go while wandering Buenos Aires and most of Argentina, so why not learn the alluring dance yourself? Your new found talent is sure to impress friends and family back home. Classes ares readily available across the city, so shake your hips (or someone else's) and get to grips with the twist.
Buenos Aires is just the beginning
Buenos Aires alone will enrapture you for days, but beyond the city there lies the rest of Argentina.
Iguazu Falls is a must-see. Huge, thunderous and unforgettable, there are 275 waterfalls along 2.7km of the Iguazu River. The Devil’s Throat is the greatest spectacle of them all. Boasting 14 falls, it’s a U-shaped formation flanking both the Argentinian and Brazilian borders; 82m high, 150m wide and 700m long.
Then there's Mendoza – Sitting in the foothills of the Andes, one of the main reasons people visit Mendoza is for the wine, with plenty of vineyards scattered around the countryside. It is a great place for activities such as hiking, horse riding, rafting and skiing in the winter months. Mendoza is also a regular stopover for mountain climbers on their way to Aconcagua.
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