09.07.2014 - 15.07.2014 14 °C
Before getting to BA we had a flight back to Lima from Cusco. The only two things of note were that this time we stayed in the Barranco district of Lima which we loved... much more bohemian, arty and 'real' compared to the touristy Miraflores. We found a fantastic locals restaurant for lunch which was packed to the rafters in readiness for the Brazil v Germany game... and we all know how thrilling that was!
We also squeezed in a visit to Mario Testino's only permanent exhibition in the world, which happened to be about a 20 minute walk from our guesthouse. His work was beautifully presented with just four huge portraits in each room... a Kate room, a Madge room and a Princess Di room were the highlights. Fab stuff.
Then we took a flight from Lima to BA. Ahhhh Buenos Aires, what a great city.
Obviously there are a lot of factors at play which determine how much you like a new place... your own frame of mind, your chosen accommodation, the weather, the people you meet, the food and so on... and BA ticked pretty much every box.
We had splurged a little on an apartment through airbnb...turns out the company cater to the gay community, but hey - this just meant the apartment came complete with animal skin rug and chandeliers!
Our street in upmarket Palermo - a highly recommended part of town to stay
BA doesn't have lots of touristy sights compared to other capital cities, it's a 'real' city if that makes sense... people just going about their daily business. It has a European feel and is justly known as "the Paris of South America". It's really strange because we met a well-travelled, intelligent and balanced Aussie way back in the Galapagos who commented that Buenos Aires was the most dangerous city in South America for tourists and he really didn't like it. We couldn't have got a more different feeling and, whilst you have to be careful in any major city, we felt we could let our guard down much more here than say in Lima or Quito.
Plaza de Mayo - the main square
Casa Rosada - the Presidential Palace
The landmark obelisk along Avenida 9 de Julio, famous for large congregations of football fans (more on the football later) and for being on the widest avenue in the world. The avenue has up to seven lanes in each direction and is flanked on either side by parallel streets of two lanes each!
I have to say it... Don't cry for me Arrrrrrrgentinaaaaaaa
The gorgeous Basilica de Nuestra Senora de la Merced, probably my favourite church interior we've seen (and we've seen a few...)
Buenos Aires' answer to the Trafford Centre
The city's newest area - Puerto Madero, or is it Salford Quays?
What BA has that not every city can claim is an 'essence'... a certain vibe/feeling. Paris has it, as does NY and London. You just almost immediately immerse yourself in the feel of the city. There's a sultry moodiness in the air - very Latin American.
The locals sometimes appear a little rude but it's just their mannerism and way. We probably had the most gruff welcome through customs and immigration of all the countries we've visited.
It's the coolest place (temperature cool) that we've been to. It's mid-winter of course but considering this it was still mild at 14c.
We loved so much about it, but especially the steak and wine. We found some great restaurants (and a pretty bad touristy one - La Cabrera... v overrated) and the reputation for Argentine steak did not disappoint. I had one of the biggest fillet steaks I've ever seen which melted in the mouth like butter... and for less than a tenner! We pretty much drank red wine every night, to the point where we left the city feeling completely redwined-out. But when in Rome eh?!
Annie: "You're drinking great wine and about to have a steak in Argentina. You could look happier about it."
"That's more like it!"
Oh, and another thing. They eat really late over here. 8.30pm is considered early, some people were getting their main courses after 11pm! It's amazing how different the world is... many Kiwis are tucked up in bed by 9pm...
So what's to see?
BA is famed for its cemetery, and as the final resting place for the "Spiritual Leader of Argentina", Evita Peron. Granted it's an unusual tourist attraction, but it was a beautiful place to stroll around and admire the crumbling (and shiny black) vertical crypts.
We did our usual art gallery thing seeing as it's been a while since we've had our fix. We visited MALBA (modern art), Museo de Bella Artes (traditional paintings) and the privately donated Fortabat Art Collection.
Antonio Berni - a famous Argentine "New Realism" painter in the 20th century
I love this - the central woman epitomises Buenos Aires for me
The bench that keeps on giving
On Sundays an entire street is given over to a vintage/tourist market. It was crazy busy which drove Ant a bit doolally but there was a great atmosphere with excellent street musicians, puppeteers, dancers and street food vendors.
We also visited La Boca, a somewhat shady district which has a few problems, but the touristy area of La Caminita is home to BA's famous colourful buildings. We were really disappointed though as there was only really one street where you could get a good look at the brightly painted wooden or corrugated iron clad houses. The rest of the area was so incredibly touristy with very average looking restaurants, naff figurines of famous Argentinians and tango dancers pestering passersby for photo opportunities. Urgh.
And wander a street or two away from this and suddenly the area feels very grim. We walked to the Boca Juniors stadium for a quick peak and passed some kids having a kick about on an urban pitch.
There were two final key activities left to do - wine tasting and watching the World Cup Final. We really wanted to do a winery tour in Argentina until we realised the wine regions were miles away and close to the Chilean border. So as a compromise we found a wine tasting option in the city.
It was completely different to any other wine tasting we've done in that a) it was in a room in a city and b) it included small food platters with each wine. It was fab! There was only 7 of us tasting - a couple from Brazil, Tim from London over here with work and Ca & Rob who live in the UK - Ca is originally from Germany.
The evening was hugely enjoyable... not forgetting the wines which were gorgeous. And best of all the host was more than happy to top up any glasses so we ended up having full measures instead of usual tasting ones.
No doubt helped by the volume of wine, the group got along famously so when it was over we all headed to a packed micro-brewery bar to continue the evening. And we agreed to meet up the next day for the final. Nice to watch it with new friends!
Tim works for a sports marketing agency and was doing a promotion for Samsung in a busy sports bar, so it made perfect sense to head there for the game. Sadly the Brazilian couple didn't make it but we watched the game with Ca and Rob. Must've been so hard for Ca who had to suppress her support for Germany, and I was willing them to win too. Ca had put her Germany football shirt on at the start for a photo and apparently got some disgusted looks so we had to keep a low profile. We actually met another German at the end of the game who went disguised in an Argentina shirt!!
We had purposefully decided to avoid Brazil for the World Cup mainly due to inflated costs and availability of accommodation, but as it turns out to be in Argentina when they were playing in the final was probably even better. The atmosphere was electric... well until Germany scored of course and then it went pancake flat...
Oopsie... taken before the first goal was disallowed
All in all one of our favourite destinations!