Steak, Tango and pick pockets..
Trip Start Dec 02, 2010
17Trip End Mar 04, 2011
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Where I stayed
Friday 10th - Sunday 12th
We were really looking forward to Buenos Aries after hearing so many good reports about the place and we weren't to be disappointed. We stayed at Palermo Vieja B&B in the Palermo area. The B&B was fairly simple, but at US$85 per night appeared to be good value for the area. Ariel, the owner was great, really friendly and offered lots of insight into things to see, places to go and the all important bars and restaurants to try out.
We loved Palermo as an area and Gwen was at home amongst all the independent clothes shops, coffee/cake shops, ice cream parlours and bars/restaurants. We really enjoyed just strolling down the tree lined streets, chilling out in one of the many cool cafe bars. Bar 6 was a favourite. The only thing that was a bit of a downer was the amount of dog dirt on the pavements, I spent more time keeping an eye on the pavement than looking at the shops. But hey, shit happens.
We decided to go on one of the tourist bus tours to familiarise ourselves with BA. To be honest, it was pretty rubbish. The commentary was not very insightful and some of the route was a bit dull, but at least it enabled us to get a view on things. It took in the main sights of the pink house, plaza de Mayo, the zoo, La Boca, Puerto Madero and San Telmo amongst others. We stopped off at Recoleta to visit a really good street market, the famous cemetery which is home to many of BA's illustrious former residents. There was a cool vibe around Recoleta with some great street music, people dancing the tango and generally just hanging out having fun. More coffee and ice cream were consumed...
Sunday morning was spent walking around Puerto Madero which was similar to the new developments around the Thames in London. Lots of old mills and shipping areas that have been converted into apartments and new restaurants. It was ok, but lacked a bit of soul. We spent the afternoon in the San Telmo area which is known for its antiques market, live musicians and outdoor tango dancing. After some initial perusing of the antiques which nearly resulted in me purchasing a 1950's Omega watch (I regret not buying it now, but maybe when we return February!!!!) we settled down at Bar do Dorrego to watch the world go by and drink a large jug of fruit cider (think sangria, but with cider). We ate pizza from the upstairs balcony of Amici Miei and spent even more time watching the world go by. We are starting to get pretty good at this now :-) life was good.
We heading back to Palermo for the evening. We were really surprised at how busy the area was. The streets were packed with families and friends out for an early evening stroll and ice cream. Muis bien.
On Monday, we set off on a 1.5 hour trek across the suburbs of BA for an empanada cooking course. This involved a long walk, the subway and finally a train journey to Adrogué. The trains and subways appear to be a real centre of commerce in BA. People are constantly walking up and down selling everything from socks, stickers, cd's (following a 20 min sample at full blast first), pens, food and drink, impromptu public performances of poetry, singing and the like. Everyone appears to take it in their stride and there is no hard sell.
The cooking course was with a lady called Teresita and her husband at their lovely house and garden in a suburb called Adrogué. We had a ball and met two couples from LA - Anne and Chris and Ralph and Karen - who we subsequently met up for dinner in Ushuaia to share stories of Antarctica, penguins and pick pockets in Buenos Aires!!!! During the day we learnt how to make both meat (beef, onion, olives, hard boiled eggs, peppers and spices) and corn empanadas. Half were deep fried and the other half baked. Both with sugar sprinkled on the top (not convinced by that little touch to be honest). We then sat in Terista's garden chatting, drinking great red and white wine and eating the fruits of our labours. What a lovely way to spend a Monday!
In the evening we went to a concert called Classica Y Musica in downtown BA. The venue was a converted bookstore which now acts a music venue, restauant/bar and a much smaller bookstore. It was a really intimate venue with 10 tables or so and the music was just 3 older men playing the classical guitar, double bass and a cello. Dinner was another Argentinian steak. I have got to say, I'm yet to get that excited by all the hype around argentinian steak. Nothing has come close to the one I had in Goucho in Leeds a couple of months back!!! We have had a few now (Don Juno in Palermo was ok, but nothing special) I am sure my quest to find the perfect steak will not go unrewarded...
Our final day in BA left us with a bit of bitter taste in the mouth after having such a great time so far. We went our separate ways in the morning for some Christmas present shopping and then went into the town centre (Centro) for a last view of BA. Unfortunatley, I was pick pocketed on the tube and had both my iPhone and my favourite Paul Smith wallet stolen. All the more irritating as they were in separate pockets!!!! Anyhow, after cancelling the credit cards, getting the phone barred, wiped and SIM card swapped we were back cooking on gas and ready to end our time in BA on a high. First up was a tango show at Cafe Tortoni followed by a spot of fine dining at a restaurant called Crizia in Palermo. I had the crab and prawn ceviche and Gwen had oysters for starters followed by fish and seafood grill to share.
Final thoughts on BA...fantastic city, some great neighbourhoods, people are friendly, food is fantastic....just don't get pick pocketed.
Next up.... Ushuaia (Southern most city in the world) for a few days before we head off to Antarctica.