Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The hot and cool Bs As

Back to the city life after the Iguazu Falls, I had 8 days to kill in Buenos Aires before my flight to Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia, so I was looking forward to getting some rest. When I got to my hostel I was greeted by two Australian guys (who are ruggedly handsome as Mike would say) travelling through the Americas on two motorcycles. They asked me if I would like to join them for a tango evening and I couldn’t resist – I was on a mission to dance! The tango class & dinner took place in Palermo, a fancy neighbourhood on the other side of the center. The big Australian & Argentinian group and I had a really fun night, learning the 7 basic steps, watching the incredible dancers (more about that on my previous post) and having many many bottles of wine.

Getting some rest was on the agenda and I think I did succeed in that, at least a few late mornings. I did a lot of sightseeing as well, one of the most interesting places in Buenos Aires was the Recoleta Cemetary. The site houses the resting places of thousands and is full of beautiful small stone buildings. There were lots of different style of graves, some with most intricate and detailed carvings, with bronze plates describing the deceased and statues on top – to the very simplistic black marble boxes with merely the last name. I wandered quite a while between the hot houses and took tons of pictures.

Another famous sight in Buenos Aires is the La Boca area. It’s the oldest part of the town, close to the port, with houses painted in all the different colours. They say it comes from the time when the houses were painted with left-over paint from the ships so they used whatever they had. The area is extremely touristy I have to say, but it would be a shame to miss it. There are lots of “lunch and tango show” kind of places and various street performers. Some very cool shops. But it’s enough to just pop in and head back to the city.

Buenos Aires is great city for shopping. I stayed in the San Telmo district which is known for its antique shops - some of the most interesting antique shops I’ve ever seen, even though I don’t collect anything it was cool to see them. There are also lots of design shops and very cool urban clothing boutiques. In downtown, the pedestrian street Florida has tons of international label stores and more of the “high-street” shops. In Palermo you can see more of the designer clothes. I visited a couple high fashion shopping centers – they really had a lot of beautiful stuff. I’m happy I managed not to buy anything!

Antiques in San Telmo

Nice shopping in the Centro - Florida street

Another thing the Porteños know how to do is party! The city is famous for its nightlife and I certainly had my fair share at the zouk & axé club Maluco Beleza – and we had a time of our life there!! I took a couple of the locals and one Dutch girl who I met in Puerto Iguazu with me and they joined in the zouk class too! Later we burned the floor with zouk and axé, which is the craziest party dance I’ve ever seen. More about all that on the other post about the dance in Bs As.

There’s lots of chilled out ways to spend a day in Buenos Aires – you can go for a stroll anywhere in the city and enjoy the streetlife and the parks. Puerto Madero is a port district with lots of restaurants and old industrial cranes that liven up the sleek new neighborhood. It was extremely hot when I was there and heard it’s very normal during the summer (+35c). The Chinese New Year coincided with my stay in Bs As and we took a little trip the China Town that day. There were tons of decorations, shows – and even more people! For the rest Buenos Aires is rather laid back, not too crowded and feels very safe even during the night. Definitely a lot safer than Rio (though I can’t say I would have had any problems there either – just more suspicious looking people in Rio).

Puerto Madero (accross the water)
Costanera Sur - boardwalk (without the sea)

If you really want to relax I would recommend getting out of the city and take the train the Le Tigre. It’s a beautiful area by the river and you can take a boat out to see the summer houses in the delta. I was amazed by this area, you really forget you are just 45 minutes outside the city when you ride along the river canals and watch people sunbathe and kids jump in the river from their peers. Very laid back, almost reminds me of a Finnish summer house life. I will definitely rent a little house there if I ever come back with some friends!! My Dutch friend and I were lucky to be invited there by one of the locals and had a good tour around the various private neighborhoods, got to see some of the real Argentinian life. Our trip back to the city got postponed due to a massive storm so even got to spend a night in a real bed – a fantastic change to the hostel life!!

At the Tigre delta

Another day trip you can do is to visit Uruguay’s Colonia del Sacramento. The oldest town of Uruguay is just a little over an hour boat ride from Bs As. That sooo reminded me of Talinn! On the way there the sea was quite rough and a lot of people got sick on the boat. I’m happy I have a strong stomach – thanks to all the tons of boat rides on rough seas I’ve taken before! The town of Colonia has a lovely old town, and the puerto has lots of beautiful sail boats so it looks like it’s a good pit stop for a lot of recreational sailors. There isn’t really much to do there but to walk on the cobbled streets and learn a bit about the history of Uruguay – you can see both the Portuguese and the Spanish influences there. Lots of lovely cafés! You can also rent a golf cart if you want to see the town a bit more.



Sooo.. In conclusion: If you want to visit a South American big city I can recommend Buenos Aires for its shopping and nightlife – no beaches, world class sights such as the Corcovado or lovely fresh fruit juices like in Rio de Janeiro but you’ll feel a lot safer and can get around the town faster, easier and cheaper. In terms of food and lodging it’s not a lot cheaper than Rio, a little, but you’ll enjoy the great Argentinian wines and steaks. Buenos Aires is also very well connected with lots of domestic and international flights and busses – everybody seems to speak English and it was fantastic to be able to communicate with my Spanish too. Two thumbs up for Bs As!

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