Days spent: 4 + 1/2 days
Days recommended: we thought we had a good picture of the city when we left but I guess you can easily spend there a week.
Where we slept: modern Airbnb studio flat with a great view in hip Palermo. As beautiful as filthy.
What we ate: greasy burgers (Berlin vibes, skaters friendly in Palermo, Burger Joint), Argentinian empanadas (for very little money, you can find them everywhere), parrilla (grilled and smoked meat @ casual and too good to be true Las Cabras in Palermo), thai/japanese (@ futuristic harajuku-esque trippy Fukuro Noodle Bar in Palermo), rice burger and healthy salads (@ Vita, a vegan mecca in Palermo)
What we drank: draft beer (@ chilled, artsy indie rock La Puerta Roja in San Telmo), smoothies and refreshing drinks (@ straight off the design magazine cover, plants adorned, Camping in Recoleta), espresso (@ minimalistic and cozy, hipsterish LAB in Palermo)
How we travelled: night bus from Misiones (19 hours trip). Once there we moved around with the tube (requires a very inexpensive Oyster card-alike) and uber by night. As usual, we walked a lot.
How many km we walked: 70 km
How Buenos Aires affected our wallets: moderately. Prices for gourmet meals are competitive and public transports are incredibly cheap. On the other hand, accomodations, and grocery + retail stores are quite pricey. Private transportation, such as buses from one city to the other, are South America’s most expensive.
Issues we encountered: this one applies for Argentina, in general. Withdrawing money in this country is a proper nightmare. Very few stores and restaurants accept credit/debit cards, very few ATM accept foreign cards, the maximum you can withdraw when you finally make it to a compatible ATM is around $120 with $10 dollars commission (on top of your bank’s commission). Don’t underestimate this issue. Safety wise, adopt all the big city precautions. Avoid hanging around the bus station and in La Boca at night, those areas can get super dodgy.
Would we recommend it? Oh yes! Whether you are looking for a wine tasting class, you’re into secret fashion events or you’re a sightseeing freak, Buenos Aires, and its eighties European charm won’t let you down.
Analogue tips: pay a visit to the best lab I bumped into while in South America, C41 Lab, Lomography’s Argentinian embassy. I had 7 rolls developed and scanned there and bought a big supply of slide films, which are barely impossible to find in this part of the world.
What to do:
- Palermo. This is the place to be in Buenos Aires. Tree-lined roads, street art, tattoo parlours, hip barbers, independent stylists and their totally unaffordable boutiques, artsy cafes and restaurants for whatsoever taste. As much as you try to get to know other barrios, this is the one where you always end up. And, to be fair, you’re quite happy with it. It’s magnetic.
- Cementerio de la Recoleta. A maze of marble mausoleums, narrow alleys, broken glasses, towering statues, rotting coffins and rusty spiderwebs-wrapped gates in art deco, baroque and neo-gothic architectural styles, this cemetery is rightfully listed as one of the most beautiful in the whole world. An hour spent here is quite an experience. I challenge you not to get lost while hunting for Evita’s grave!
- Downtown. As it happens very often in South America, the city centre is definitely not where the locals like to hang out or live. BA makes no exception. The best way to explore this quite rough and slightly decadent area is definitely through a free walking tour. Which will allow you to discover a bit of cultural/political background, from the desaparecidos and the dictatorship, to the dualism of the Perons and the diva-esque persona of Christina Kirchner, Argentina’s former president.
- La Boca. Born thanks to Italian fishermen from Genoa and home to La Bomboniera, Boca Junior’s stadium, and to several tango clubs, this barrio is probably one of the most famous and touristic in BA. Which means that most of its old European charm is now gone to give way to cheesy tango shows, rip off Italian restaurants and dressed up dancers striking tango poses. Truth to be told, the colourful sheet metal houses and the barrio’s graffiti are still worth a visit.
- San Telmo. a whole neighbourhood of antique shops, dusty heirlooms and thrift stores, generally imbued with a bittersweet melancholic atmosphere. Me and Isa found lingering in it quite charming and couldn’t help but notice its buildings’ resemblance to Milan’s.
- Floralis Generica. A huge flower-shaped sculpture made of steel and aluminum, whose petals open in the AM and close at night.
- Spot the craziest dog sitter. BA people took dog sitting to a whole new level. If you take out for a walk a pack of less than 10 dogs you might as well consider yourself a loser. I guess the money is good.
- Start a conversation with a local and you’ll end up agreeing with me on 3 points: Argentinians don’t really care about your random (mostly made up from Italian in our case) Spanish, but they actually appreciate the effort; Argentinians know what it means to be friendly and welcoming and this applies even more if you’re Italian because, most likely, their grandfather was as well; Argentinians’ way to say pollo, playa or yo will stuck in your brain forever (poSHo, plaSHa, SHo).
Things we missed: mmm… Museums once again. We visited the Latin American Art Museum in Recoleta, but we left very unimpressed. I guess, being European, makes you very culturally spoilt when you travel. And yeah, I feel a bit bad to admit it, but we skipped a tango show. I could picture me and Isa being picked from the audience and asked to try out some moves in front of a crowd of tango hopefuls with the embarrassing outcome of us standing on stage stiff and clueless wondering: “how did we get here?!”.
Who deserves a big thank you: Daniel for giving us a great insight on Argentinian lifestyle, driving us around Recoleta in tour-bus style and for introducing us to parrilla and chimichurri (we will be forever grateful). I am glad that I finally had the chance to meet you. Lauren for all the amazing tips. Diego, the guy at C41, for doing such an impressive job with my rolls! Bruno for making us crash a private party in Palermo.
Olympus OM-10, Lomochrome Purple 100-400/Fuji Velvia 100 (35)
Canon EOS 300, Agfa CT Precisa 100 (35)
Olympus OM-1, Agfa Scala 200 (35, expired)
13-14-15-16/12/16, Buenos Aires (Argentina)