Buenos Aires

Trip Start Jan 10, 2008
Trip End May 29, 2008

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Where I stayed
quaint rented apartment, palermo

Flag of Argentina  , Capital Federal District,
Saturday, May 10, 2008

Iīm in love! Buenos Aires turned out to be everything I expected, and more. As we drove from the airport towards the city center, I had this at-home feeling as the twinkling city skyline came into view. That was the first of many things that would remind me of NYC while here - the 2 cities are so similar, yet a world apart. Before we got here I was in a stressed out frenzy because we were scrambling at the last minute (of course) to secure an apartment before leaving Asuncion. It was literally down to the wire - we were running 30 mins late to leave for the airport when we finally figured it out. Then, problems at the airport with immigration. GRR. There is no Paraguayan control when crossing into Brazil to see the Igauzu falls, so we hadnīt gotten exit/re-entry stamps which they deemed to be unacceptable... so after much arguing they made one of us pay a semi-ridiculous sum of money in order to stamp our passports. A-holes. As consolation, everything went smoothly once we got to BA and we checked into our adorable little studio - verrrrry small with a sofa bed that basically took up the entire apt, a closet kitchen (literally, in a closet) and a bathroom of course. This was a reminder that we can never live in a space that small, but for 1 week it was great to have a home-base that was our own. Plus it turned out to be cheaper to rent an apt then to stay in a hostel - life, in general, is much more expensive here than other places weīve seen in South America. But no where remotely close to as expensive as my beloved manhattan....
Anyway so, where do I begin? BA is so beautiful - there are lots of parks and leafy plazas, as well as these amazing old buildings. On some streets every single building is beautiful, all with these awesome iron balconies (I was walking around with my head pointed upwards, probably looking like an idiot.) Though I think we probably stick out the least here because the majority of the population is white - including many people who immigrated from Europe, which then leads me to my second reason why BA is great: the food. Lots of international choices, especially Italian....pizza EVERYWHERE which, coupled with the famous ice cream & dulce de leche (omg)  was baaaad news for my meek attempt at a summer diet. Sigh. We did spend hours and hours of our week here walking around the city at least. Buenos Aires is similar to Manhattan in that there are lots of different neighborhoods, each with its own distinct personality. We lived in the neighborhood of Palermo, which is comparable to Soho (in fact, they call part of it Palermo Soho) - it was a little quieter and less crazy than the center, but still felt like the city. And right nearby we had lots of bars, restaurants, and really cute boutiques that I wish I could shop in. The center of the city is where all the nice buildings are, as well as this nuts-o pedestrian street called Calle Florida which is full of stores and a million people that I loved and hated at the same time. Then there is an area by the waterfront which is pretty, and south of there an area called Boca which is full of really brightly painted buildings and tango dancers in the streets. Another neighborhood, called Recoleta, is where Evita is buried. We went to check it out and this cemetery was seriously the craziest cemetery ever because its like a small city of mausoleums, which was slightly creepy but also kind of cool - these people have nice digs. Is it wrong to say that? Anyway, speaking of Evita we also of course checked out the famous pink palace, Casa Rosada, which was....quite pink. Pretty. Also, on the weekend there is an explosion of outdoor markets in all these different neighborhoods which is my personal heaven, and we hence spent all of Saturday parusing the goods (especially scarves....they have grrrrreat scarves here.)
During our stay we got together with a friend of Asafīs dad, Casano, and went to a lovely sushi dinner with him, his son, and his sonīs girlfriend, who are around our age. These Argentineans talk mega FAST and with an accent which is a real problem for me.... so I basically just smiled and nodded the whole time, with no clue what was going on. Oops. Though I think I proved I am not mute when we met up w-the son and gf later in the week for drinks. Lets just say I drank around a bottles worth of vino tinto over the course of the evening and the spanish started flow-ING ---- except apparently I use the past tense instead of the future, which I imagine is slightly confusing. But hey, atleast  I can kinda communicate. Our last day in BA Casano took us out on his beautious yacht for a ride along the river and bbq. Now, this was the day after my night of too much wine and when I woke up the last thing on earth I wanted to do was be on a boat, eating meat. In retrospect Iīm glad I went because Iīve loved boats since I was little and used to go out on my grandfatherīs boats. This boat was huge with 2 bedrooms, bathrooms, living area, kitchen and upper deck, and I enjoyed relaxing on it and taking in the views (while sipping ginger ale furiously to fight my hangover.)
Alas, in the blink of an eye our week here was over. I wish we had more time to explore the city, though we will be back for 2 days before we come home...and moreover, being the explorers that we are, we just had to see the rest of Argentina in our last 2 weeks. BA will always hold a special place in my heart and I hope I can come back here again in my life...its a great city to just get lost in.


I had mixed emotions while I was in Buenos Aires; on the one hand I loved every minute of our stay but on the other I was a little homesick because so much of the city reminded me of NYC.  To be fair though, BA isnīt just a NYC clone.  The city has uniqueness in areas like La Boca, with itīs brightly colored buildings, Tango and of course Alfajores/Dulce de Leche.  Above all these reasons, what BA has is a distinct European feel that NYC definately lacks.  Wide avenues filled with immaculate colonial architecture are almost too opulent; I felt like such a nice area couldnīt exist in South America.  As Becca mentioned the city has much more variety to offer with dozens more neighborhoods each with itīs own character that you could spend months exploring.  I could have easily spent our remaining three weeks just wandering each neighborhood over and over and eating more delicious food.  I have to say though, the one thing that surprised me about the cuisine was the lack of diversity, I expected more from an international city.  There was plenty of amazing steak, pasta, pizza, empanadas but very little of anything else.  You could find the occasional sushi, chinese, or arab but you had to look hard or go to a very specific area of town.  This was hardly dissapointing because that just meant I had more opportunities eat steak that was always juicy, tender and rich.  Iīm also fortunate that we were able to spend time with Casano; our boat trip on the Rio Del Plata was a side of BA that probably few travelers have the chance to experience.  As much as I would have liked to linger, the rest of Argentina was too hard to pass up, not to mention it would have eaten into our budgets too much. Not to worry, Iīm sure we will be able to empty our pockets when we head back for two more days before we return home.
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