Wait, what? The Paris of South America? For the longest time I thought of Buenos Aires as another big city, with no much to offer but crazy soccer fans in matches like River Plate and Boca Juniors or Independiente and Racing. But I was mistaken because Buenos Aires is full of culture, nice big and beautiful architectures, and the most known of all, sexy Tango.
Lucky for us, I seem to have friends and family spread throughout the world, and the best thing is to be able to visit and spend some time with them. Also, the local expertise when it comes to visit the new city is simply 100 times better! In Buenos Aires, I have two of my oldest friends, pretty much family, both successful doctors and happily married. Friends I hadn’t seen in more than 10 years and happy to be able to spend some time together after so long. The day after we arrived, the did the typical thing to do in Argentina, a BBQ or better known as parrillada. Argentina is well known worldwide as having one of the best meat. The gauchos really take care of their cattle and are proud to have good meat. We had a lot to drink, even more to eat and best of it all, we had a chance to create new memories.
Onto the next few days, we decided to visit this great city and what better way to start than with a free walking tour. The free walking tour Buenos Aires had great reviews and it wasn’t short of great. It took about 4 and half hours as there is much to see in this big city, and we didn’t do it all. We started behind the Opera house, Teatro Colon and continued on until the graveyard of La Recoleta where Evita Peron is buried. Our guide was really great and went on to explain a lot of things about Buenos Aires and Argentina, including the hand gestures many people make when they speak and a bit of the history of course.
After XXII, many Europeans decided to escape to Argentina to start again. It seemed like the best alternative as Argentina offered many benefits of living and a great opportunity to start businesses. For about 80% of the people here, they have a grandfather or grandmother or both from Italy, Germany or Spain. Many Argentinians have double citizenships from the countries mentioned and after the economic crisis of 2001, decided to flee the country in search of a better, more steady economy. Buenos Aires has gone through many ups and downs, from many economic crisis, to dictatorship, to terrorist attacks and more. The one major issue in the country is the economy with an inflation of nearly 35% every year, and the black-market for dollars. However, the city has always recovered and moved on. The Porteños, as the locals are called, are proud to have the best opera house in the world according to the sound, great tango possibilities, the widest road in the world and of course the honor to be called Paris of South America.
What to see in Buenos Aires
From the Teatro Colon you can immediately head to Avenue 9 de Julio, which is the widest avenue in the world, with the Obelisco in the middle of it. The name of the street honors the Independence Day of Argentina, July 9, 1816. The Teatro Colon is a point of interest and a beautiful one to observe from inside and outside. It is ranked the third best opera house in the world as well. (National Geographic). It is known to have great concert venues and very good acoustic.
More towards the city center on this same road stands the Obelisco which is a national historic monument and an icon of the city. It is located in the Plaza de la Republica and was built to commemorate the fourth centenary of the first foundation of the city. One of the Guinness world records Buenos Aires holds, is the biggest condom, which was placed in the Obelisco to commemorate World AIDS day.
Walking more toward the city center, then come the Florida Street, a big walking road for window shopping, and exchange dollars in the black market. It is one of the city’s leading tourist attraction. By evening, the pace relaxes as street performers sing and dance on the street. At the end of the street walking from the Obelisk, you have the Plaza de Mayo where the Casa Rosada (Pink house) is where the President resides.
Otherwise, we enjoyed a lot to visit the other neighborhoods such as Palermo or Recoleta for the elegant streets, cute parks and impressive cemetery. It is listed among the 10 most beautiful cemeteries in the world for the various garden, flowers, and decoration. It contains the graves of notables people including the famous Eva Peron, president of Argentina and Nobel Prize winner.
Puerto Madero also charmed us for the beautiful walking path by the rivers, boats and numerous restaurants. It is a must do day or night. However, the highlight in term of colors and contrast has been the famous Caminito street which located in the Boca neighborhood. This district is not too safe at night but there is no problem to visit it during the day. Some of the streets offer locals dancing Tango, tons of restaurants and coffee shops, art and very colorful houses everywhere.
For the soccer fans, it of course a good place to go visit la Bombonera, Boca Juniors stadium or El Monumental, River Plate stadium and one of the biggest in South America.
Buenos aires has definitively a lot to offer. It is our last stop in South America and it is great place where we can close a beautiful chapter on our trip in the latin part of the world.
When to visit BA: The best time to visit Buenos Aires is from April-June (fall) or from September-December (spring).
Where to eat : Everywhere we can try the good meat of the country and find some good Malbec to accompany it with. If you are vegetarian, try the excellent restaurant Osaka for great sushi.
How to visit the city: With the Free Walking Tour BA.
The Caminito (warning): People are dancing tango on the street in the Caminito neighborhood but of course they would dance with the tourists, in exchange of some pesos.