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We spent ten awesome days in Buenos Aires, drinking wine, eating delicious food and increasing our risk of gout. We also learned all the words to the soundtrack of Evita, the musical with Madonna, that Clair had on repeat for our entire trip. This city has been on Clair’s bucket list ever since her parents brought home the movie when she was younger.
Buenos Aires is a city of opposites: it’s beautiful and it’s ugly, it’s rich and poor, it’s happy and sad all rolled into one. Argentina’s history is colorful and their love and hate for their politicians is unique. They referred to Eva Peron as the spiritual leader of the nation and she remains a somewhat controversial heroine to the Argentinian people. Their history is cluttered with presidents, military coups, dictatorships and hyperinflation. In 2001, violent riots took place in the main square Plaza de Mayo and the president at the time had to leave the Casa Rosada by helicopter.
More recently, Argentina enjoys a relatively calm political climate. There are still daily protests in Plaza de Mayo and a ton of politically infused graffiti paint the streets that seems to point to a somewhat turbulent underbelly. However, during our time in Buenos Aires, we felt safe and comfortable. But remember, you’re not in Kansas anymore and you’re going to pay higher prices for these comforts. The only issue we had was with taking out money. Nowhere else, and I mean even on the small island of Ometepe in the middle of Nicaragua, did we have as many issues with withdrawing money:
- Problem 1: Some ATMs won’t accept foreign cards – if this happens to you, try to go to more touristy area;
- Problem 2: In Argentinian banks you can’t withdraw money from the teller, only ATMs. Which means the ATM fees and limits will affect how often and how much money you can take out. The limit is around $200;
- Problem 3: Grocery stores still punch in the credit card number, rather than swipe which only works 50% of the time. They also require ID with numbers only… which Canadians don’t have!
This can be quite frustrating but beside the cash issue this city has a lot to offer!
Day 1 – Shacking Up In Palermo And The Japanese Garden
There are two areas that most people stay in while in Buenos Aires; Palermo and Recoleta. We rented a condo through Air B&B for ten nights in Palermo. Hostels and hotels run for around the same price as an entire apartment so it was a no-brainer for us. We were really looking forward to settling down after being constantly on the move through Peru and Chile.
So what do you do on your first day in Buenos Aires? You visit a Japanese garden of course! Yeah, it seems weird to come all this way to do this, but you’ll quickly realize that Buenos Aires doesn’t have the regular tourist traps that other Central and South American countries have. You are going to spend your time hanging out in the many parks/plazas, drinking really great wine and eating at all the bakeries and sandwich shops (there are millions!!!) You’ll also spend your time dodging dog shit because IT IS EVERYWHERE on the sidewalks. There are also professional dog walkers everywhere. Which you’ll recognize because they have about 15 dogs on leashes.
Now where was I? Oh yeah, Japanese park. The gate entry was $6.00 CAD, and is definitely worth checking out on a nice afternoon. There are also YUGE (HAHAHA I can only say it like that now -Clair) coy fish which are disgusting but you can’t help but stare at them. Check this out and then go for some ice cream at a Heladeria!
Day 2 – Cross Un-Fit
People in Argentina are really fit. They are all going to the gym… or leaving the gym…so we went looking for a gym. We found a Cross Fit right around the corner from our place and bought 9 sessions each for a great price of $60.00 CAD/person. Kik was a little reluctant about fitting in, especially with the typical Cross Fit boys and girls club, let alone the language barrier. This turned out to be a fun commitment. We went everyday at 9:30 am, which was great for getting it done early and having the rest of the day to explore. Everyone was really nice to us. Talk about a rude awakening after the first few days, but by the last few we adjusted to being stiff and in pain. It felt awesome to lift heavy weights and not be slobs. Thanks Crossfit ADN for having us!
Day 3 – Plaza de Mayo
We made our way to the metro station which was a little farther from our home than we liked. We feel like we’ve ridden enough metros so we can start judging them. We would give Buenos Aires a 6.5/10. Mostly because it was old and somewhat dirty. You’ll need a card to use the metro, and sometimes when you ‘swipe’ the card it doesn’t work. We wasted a couple of dollars doing this but then again it’s like $1.50 for a return ride. We should be more concerned with the amount of money we spent downing bottles of wine.
We metro’d our way to the very touristy street of Florida, renown for high end shopping and getting harassed by street vendors.
Kik, “I hate shopping in Winnipeg, why would I want to shop here?”.
After a brief walk around the strip, we made our way to Plaza de Mayo. The Plaza is the hub for political activism in Argentina. Most famous for the Casa Rosada, the bright pink building where Eva Peron (and Madonna) spoke passionately to the Argentinean people from the balcony. Now, people mostly come here to feed pigeons but when they do have something to protest, this is the place to go. Free tours of the Casa Rosada are offered on Saturdays and Sundays, but you have to register online 24 hours in advance. We didn’t know this, so we didn’t go inside. Don’t worry, there is a free (Yay!) museum located behind the Casa Rosada (unfortunately, all the information is in Spanish only).
Day 4 – One Persons Junk Is Someone Else’s Treasure!
This is a hoarder’s paradise! (I hated it here – Clair) And yes, we’ve already messaged Rick Chabbert about this place, the San Telmo market. Full of other people’s old lamps, junk, and “antiques”, or whatever you want to call it. Walking through here had Macklemore’s – Thrift Shop song written all over it. It sure was a blast to the past with everything from old G.I. Joes to piles of buttons. You can find anything here including a contagious disease. You can go to the indoor market everyday but the street fair is only open on Sundays. It’s worth checking out! We stopped and grabbed some street food and mate for lunch. We wanted to buy all the beautiful craft items at the market, but instead we spent our money on wine tasting. We don’t remember the name of the store, so clearly it was worth it.
Day 5 – Ghost In The Graveyard, Run, Run, Run!
This is probably the most touristy place you will see in Buenos Aires. It’s really amazing and worth the trip. We didn’t do a guided tour but would recommend trying one. It would definitely have helped to have someone telling us what we’re seeing and guiding us to the most prominent graves. And you can’t miss Eva Peron’s grave – it’s where everyone is heading. It’s surprising nondescript compared to the lavish tombs of others.
Day 6 – We watched movies in bed all day because traveling is hard work guys! *Punch us in our faces*
Day 7 – Serving Coffee Since 1891
This was a day for Clair! (Like everyday – Kik) We spent the day touring some of the coffee shops in the area including Las Violetas. It’s the oldest coffee shop in the area and worth a trip. Order a cafe con facturas. This is really common and cheap way to order coffee with a selection of 2 or 3 dainties!
We also really recommend all of the empanadas in Buenos Aires. Usually around $1-$1.50 each. They are awesome! Try the jamon con queso (ham and cheese).
Day 8 – In “Heaven”
After a morning of relaxing and off-key singing to Evita, we decided to register for a tour of the Palacio Barolo building. This was probably one of the most expensive tours we signed up for, but were convinced by the inclusion of a glass of wine. We paid $35 CAD/pp to check out the free masonry architecture and the cool lighthouse at the top. The building is based off the poem, the Divine Comedy, with floors that symbolize Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven.
The tour was bilingual and pretty cool. Was it worth $35? Probably not. If you are tight on dollars skip this one, but if you have a bit to spare then it’s not a bad way to spend the night.
Day 9 – Parrilla (Steak House)
This was our last night in Argentina, and on the recommendations of friends we met we went to La Cabrera. If you arrive before 8PM you get 40% off YOUR ENTIRE BILL during the happy hour. We should have known this was too good to be true! We arrived on time at the restaurant and ordered a bottle of wine and an app, then asked about this odd “Happy Hour Special.” To which we are told that it only includes those sitting inside, not the patio. We’re slightly disappointed, but Clair’s two glasses in and we’re in too deep at this point to escape. We move on with our life and continue to enjoy the wine, but then things go downhill. The food is so bad, and not like, this isn’t great but I’ll eat it because I paid for it, but like so bad we couldn’t eat it. We pay the outrageously high bill and move on at least slightly drunk to Antares, known for it’s craft beer. We make a friend in line (because we are so friendly) and end up sharing beer, wine, and a really awesome poutine.
Day 10 – Catch Me If You Can
We wake up with serious headaches, but had to move quickly to catch our ferry to Uruguay (oh poor us right?!) Spoiler alert: we make it.