Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, what an amazing city!  In our two weeks we saw a total melting pot of vibrancy, history, redemption and evolution.

So for those of you who don’t know, or haven’t been, Buenos Aires is broken up into several barrios.  While we’re not the authorities of BA Tourism, we found that each of these barrios is very distinct and has its own unique vibe.

Vibe #1 for us was Recoleta where we stayed our first week.  A sure bet for us as it’s known as one of the safer neighborhoods.  Plus, it’s considered the wealthiest area full of name brand shopping and chain restaurants, or this place called Freddo, which served ridiculously good ice cream that we had to try more than we probably should have. 

Our excursion got off to a bit of a slow start as one of us was fighting a big time cold.  That would be Leah.  However, we were within walking distance to a few things, one of which was the Recoleta Cemetery.  The Cemetery, while ominous, was a rather remarkably beautiful homage to respective family members featuring elaborate vaults including the unbelievably popular, Evita.  Just to describe what one vault might look like, picture precious cuts of granites and marbles crafted into a beautifully detailed mini-cathedral-like building, with a looking glass to peer inside.  Each roof allowed for the sun to shine through a kaleidoscope of colors.  Vines and flowers were climbing across the walls of the vaults, with each completely unique to the lineage it held.

Between the heat, humidity and habitual nose blowing, we took solace in a cold, dark theatre to watch Bradley Cooper and Sienna Millers' riveting performances in American Sniper.  While the acting was phenomenal, it was interesting to watch such a U.S.-Patriotic film amongst an international audience.

Vibe numero dos leads us to Puerto Madero, which is Buenos Aires’ newest barrio and quickly becoming the most expensive.  When this port was initially built, draw bridges were installed to let passing ships through the river, but the wealthy people living here also had the advantage of raising the bridges and separating themselves from the rest of the city, basically becoming an island.  The Ecological Reserve, a beautiful accident with thousands of species of trees and plants spread across the coastline of Puerto Madero.  Imagine a park with dirt trails, picnic spots and ocean views, but with wild, lush jungle vegetation surrounding you.  Puerto Madero is also home to the famous Puente de la Mujer, or Women’s Bridge.  You can see in our pictures it’s unique (or somewhat unique as we learned like 6 other bridges just like it have been designed by the same architect around the world) design, which is inspired by a couple dancing the tango. 

When we moved from Recoleta to Palermo, we felt more at home.  The tree lined streets, younger crowd, artsy cafes and mom and pop restaurants, gave us the feeling of the Westside (L.A.).  Palermo has multiple neighborhoods within it, however, two of our favorite places to hang were Palermo Hollywood and Palermo Soho.  We signed up for a cooking class not knowing what to expect, but were greeted by a friendly couple: Manu, the chef and Veronica, a sommelier, in their charming apartment.  Manu showed us how to create traditional fillings and artistically wrap empanadas.  We also attempted to whip up flan, dulce de leche and alfajors (a sweet filling sandwiched between two cookies, possibly coated with coconut or chocolate).  We sipped on local wines from all over Argentina and chatted with them into the wee hours at a local watering hole they took us to.

Another total highlight of our time in Palermo, and in Buenos Aires, was an intimate tango show.  Live music set the stage with an extremely talented band and singer who brought us through the evolution of tango.  The dancers gracefully moved from one era to the next with athleticism and beauty.  We were wowed!  After the show ended, Skyler sat with the band chatting up in broken Spanglish about music and their favorite bands.  Totally smitten.  We did pick up their CD and you guys are welcome to check it out, or better yet go to We Are Tango in Buenos Aires and see the magic in person.

There were so many great restaurants, but we have to talk about Skyler’s birthday dinner!  After some quick research, we walked up to Don Julio Parrilla (think steakhouse) and were greeted by at least 60 other people trying to grab a table.  But… champagne while you wait isn’t a bad way to pass the time.  The service and the food were outstanding. We celebrated with a bottle of wine we had picked up in Mendoza a few weeks back.  This experience was really made special when they asked us to sign the bottle so they could put it up on display with those of other lucky guests from the past – our bottle even got a 50 yard line seat!

To top off our stay in Palermo we took a run to the rose garden, which was breathtaking and a great way to spend Valentine’s Day.  Imagine fields of roses, every color, every type, thousands of blooming beauties!

From rose gardens to straight up husltin’.  Calle de Florida is a long pedestrian street in the Retiro barrio that is nestled between Recoleta and Puerto Madero.  This is where you go to exchange your dollars into Argentine Pesos at what they have nicknamed the “Blue Market.”  Instead of exchanging money at banks, where the government has set a lower rate, you can get more pesos for your dollar trading them on this black market that lingers in a gray area of legality.  Literally every other word you hear walking down the street is “Cambio” where the young, old, men and women alike are vying for your U.S. Dollars.   

We got a great view of all these wonderful areas and more with a bike tour of BA.  Pedaling by churches, rivers, parks, landmarks and historical sites gave us a great understanding of Buenos Aires and the identity that makes this city so special.  Ciao for now!