I was one of the last few people I know to surrender to Buenos Aires. In the beginning of March I decided to benefit from the fact that I had two friends studying there and convinced my mother to take this journey with me.
I’m embarrassed to say that, at the age of 24, this was the first Latin American country that I have ever visited. Well, better late than never. After a 10-day trip, inevitable shopping, and a lot of walking and photographing, I have a few recommendations for those who, even later than myself, think of enjoying the low cost of crossing the Brazil-Argentina frontier.
Some of the most common tips are: Plaza de Mayo Square, where you can see The Casa Rosada (The Pink House), which is the official seat of the executive branch of the government of Argentina and of the offices of the President; El Caminito; San Telmo and Palermo neighborhoods; Tigre; Las Galerías Pacífico (The Pacific Galleries); El Café Tortoni; El Ateneo bookstore; The MALBA Museum; La Rosa…
Everything was interesting. Some more than others. San Telmo neighborhood, for example, was one of my favorites to walk along. The best days are Sundays, when there’s a really cool fair whose center looks a lot like our antique fair at the XV Square and extremities contain more updated things, very interesting stuff, mainly handcrafted that you can only find there. Sundays aside, it’s a very pleasant neighborhood to visit anytime. For movie buffs, La Universidade del Cine (The University of Films) is in one of the little streets of this neighborhood and every Thursday night you can watch a movie for free. Oh! And the statue of Mafalda sitting very gracefully is also in one of these little streets.
While San Telmo reminded me a lot of Rio’s neighborhoods Lapa and Santa Teresa, Palermo would be Buenos Aires’ Ipanema. Filled with cool stores, with gorgeous clothes and shoes, trendy restaurants and beautiful people, this neighborhood is a temptation for shopping and also has a fair on Saturdays. Moo is a very nice restaurant, which has a 50s ambiance and amazing milkshakes! The shoe store Puro (Jorge Luis Borges 2184-Guatemala and Paraguay-zapatillaspuro.com.ar) is also fantastic. There is also a very beautiful stationery store in Palermo (Papelera Palermo) – at Calle Honduras 4945, filled with stuff for one to create his own notebooks or prints. For people who are going to stay longer in Buenos Aires, the store offers workshops to teach different techniques, such as painting, binding etc.
There are many movie and music festivals all year long. When I was there, the 2nd Tango Independent Festival was going on. On my last day, they made an outdoors presentation at the end of San Telmo Fair. Many people who didn’t know each other paired up to dance the tango. Besides that, if you wanna dance there are many different places that offer everyday lessons for 20 pesos a day. A website that can help you with that is http://www.buenosairesmilongas.com/ I, for instance, watched a bebop class, very nice indeed.
Attractions such as the Plaza de Mayo Square, El Tigre, El Caminito, The Pacific Galleries at Calle Florida, El Ateneo bookstore, The MALBA and La Rosa are places you can visit within two or three days.
El Ateneo is a very beautiful bookstore, but also very expensive. That’s why I recommend you to take a look at the vintage bookstores at Calle Uruguay (near the Uruguay subway station).
La Recoleta, where La Rosa and the MALBA are situated, is a residential neighborhood that resembles Leblon in Rio, when it comes to chicness and high prices.
On the other hand, El Caminito was a very good place to buy souvenirs, but I must say that the touristy atmosphere was a little too much. There are many restaurants on the street with people calling you all the time to sit and watch tango or other types of typical Argentinean dances.
The Pacific Galleries reminded me of Les Galeries Lafayette, in Paris. Magnificent on the inside, but very pricey.
Calle Florida offers all kinds of merchandise, that may vary considerably on the price range: cheaper than Brazil or much more expensive. The walking salespeople lie down their products on the street everyday at 4pm. It’s worth a visit.
The famous Café Tortoni is a really agreeable place. As impossible as it may seem, it is not that much more expensive than usual. Great place for a cup of tea or a slice of quiche. The waiters are agile and helpful. Its local charm is irresistible, so don’t mind the people taking pictures all the time, they are used to it.
About Tigre, you can arrive there by train for less than 3 pesos. When you get there, you can go sightseeing by boat or catamaran, or you can stay and enjoy the Porto das Frutas fair. Both options are very interesting.
The greatest thing is to walk around, take a bus, get to know the city and its enchantments. One of the best days was when I met a few Argentinians and we talked in a bar in a neighborhood called Almagro, then we went to a club to watch a Peña (which is a like a milonga, with local rhythms and dances from other places in Argentina). The dances were beautiful and the weather was lovely. We were warmly welcomed.
Well, these are my travel tips. I hope I could provoke interest into those who have never been there or into the ones who would like to revisit the city.