Originally we planned to spend about two weeks in Buenos Aires, but getting short on time we decided that we couldn’t stick to our original plan. At most, we would only have six days—at the minimum three days if we made the trek to Iguazu Falls. Fellow travels told us that two to three days was enough to experience Buenos Aires. Thank goodness we didn’t heed their advice. Instead, we listened to fellow Seattleite and residence expert Tango Tina who recommended skipping Iguazu Falls for a longer stay in Buenos Aires. Based on the short time we spent in Buenos Aires we agree with Tina that a longer stay is preferable. We don’t feel Buenos Aires’ essence can be absorbed in three days, much less one month.

That being said, here’s our take on some aspects of this eclectic city.

Transportation
Buses, trains, and subways all served as our cheap mode of transport. Thrilled by the 30 cent fares we used public transport to get almost everywhere. Despite warnings we found the subway safe, clean, and easy to use with one exception. On our first subway ride a homeless child of about seven persistently tugged at Jodi’s water bottle in her purse pocket. Being well aware of the BA scams we remained vigilant with our belongings (carrying all our gear at the time made this slightly more difficult) as the rest of his family wandered around us (think, sharks circling). After a constant stream of “NO” we finally managed to pry the bottle from his grip and tuck it away inside her purse. Finally succumbing to defeat he stalked away with a hiss and slap to Jodi’s knee.

The buses and trains were also cheap, timely, and clean. In every town, we established a bit of a routine. In Buenos Aires route 17 was our routine. It took us near several different subway stops and into the city center and out to swanky Recoleta. Between these different modes of transportation you can get anywhere in the city, which is great for travelers like us on a budget. You just can’t beat a 30 cent ride ….

Shopping
From grandiose shopping malls to artisan stalls, Buenos Aires offers a little bit of everything for the hard core shopper. With Christmas approaching, we spent our first several days strolling artisan and antique markets. Near our hostel, the San Telmo Antique Market bustled with tourists and porteƱos alike. We wished we knew more about antiques because old soda bottles, pocket watches, china, and silver filled stall after stall. After getting our fill of antiques, we made our way to the artisan market outside the cemetery. Filled with local crafts from the surrounding regions, the artisan market offered unique gifts. However, we also recommend making an effort to get out to the Tigre fruit market for other Argentinean products. Loaded with homemade jams and jellies, leather goods, and wood carvings, the Tigre fruit market met all of our Christmas shopping needs.

In search for handmade chocolates for my grandfather, we made our way down Florida street and into several high-end shopping malls. Argentina’s currency plummeted in 2002, but by the look of the merchandise and shoppers you wouldn’t know it. Let’s just say we only window shopped, certain there wasn’t anything we could afford.

Public Parks
Buenos Aires is filled with many accessible public spaces. There is the Buenos Aires cemetery, filled with crypts for the wealthiest families from the city (including the final resting place of Eva Peron). It feels like a mini city but lined with intricately crafted crypts instead of homes.

One of our favorite parks was located next to the Buenos Aires National Museum, where paintings from the likes of Monet and Picasso are housed. We watched parakeets and other birds bathe and drink from puddles and happily looked on as people exercised while we took naps on the cement benches. One of the things we’ll miss most about South America is the parks. We enjoyed whiling away hours just people watching and relaxing in the beautiful parks. With siesta lasting several hours, parks served as our refuge.

On Jodi’s birthday we found our way to Barrancas de Belgrano (a park) to watch the local milonga (tango), La Glorieta. It felt like Tango Tina let us in on a little secret as we gazed at the couples swiftly dancing about the dimly lit gazebo. Tango is a seductively romantic dance, and we could have watched the dancers for hours if we didn’t need to catch the subway before it closed.

PDA
Public Displays of Affection (PDA) seemed to be in effect everywhere we went in Buenos Aires. We hate to be prudish, but it seemed like just about every park we visited had at least one couple who were making out with disregard for anyone around them. Jodi was convinced that they were all having affairs, and that no married couple would make out like that in public (despite my pleas).

Beef
Argentinean beef is hard to avoid. We abstained from beef for our entire trip, but on Jodi’s birthday we suspended our usual non-beef eating rule to try the legendary Argentinean steaks. We can report that there status is well worth the praise. They were incredibly tender and delicious. You could probably cut our steaks with a spoon they were so tender. But, be forewarned…the portions are huge. After finishing off nearly a 12oz tenderloin, we quickly entered a beef coma and could barely waddle home. Forget making it out to the clubs ….

Overall, we enjoyed our stay in Buenos Aires. The diversity of the city made our last days in South America end on a good note.

One Response to “Our last days in Buenos Aires”

  1. Jeannie says:

    are you going to write about your trip home? broken pipes, non-working car, freezer burned chicken????