A couple of days spent in Buenos Aires

Entering Buenos Aires hit me like a ton of bricks — the humidity and bustle of city life were the wake-up call I needed after a long 26 hours of travel. After checking into our AirBnB and with several hours left until sunset, Spencer and I rallied to stroll through Puerto Madero, a busy port and promenade, meandering through its greenery and witnessing a surprising mass of runners power up and down short hills. 

The next morning, we had our first task: get local currency. Because the country is in a state of hyperinflation, I’ll talk about that experience and the situation in more detail in another blog post.

Day 1: Walking through the historic city center

Our first day was simple: walk as much of the city as we could. Before our afternoon city tour along Avenida de Mayo, we stopped at a few other touristy spots including the Obelisco at the center of Avenue de 9. Julio. This monument was built in 1936 to celebrate 400 years after the founding of Buenos Aires. We walked past the Teatro Colón, and visited one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, El Ateneo Grand Splendid. This area of the city is influenced by Dante’s Divine Comedy, included seeing El Pensador (a copy made by Rodin of his “Thinker” statue) and Palacio Barolo. We also snuck glimpses inside Cafe Tortoni before ending at Plaza de Mayo where we saw the Catedral Metropolitan de Buenos Aires (former home to Pope Francis), Museo Histórico Nacional del Cabildo y la Revolución de Mayo, and Casa Rosada (office of the president). It was a whirlwind tour where we learned a bit about the history of Buenos Aires and how it became the city that it is today.

Day 2: La Boca and tango

Our second day was filled by a tour in another beautiful neighborhood called La Boca. This neighborhood is the historic port of the city, and the place where immigrants came to start their new life in the promised land in the 1830s. Life in this neighborhood was rough, with too many people and not enough housing. Housing was so expensive that people were paying for beds in 6- to 8-hour shifts, and even more people ended up sleeping sitting upright on benches that had rope tied in front.

To liven up their living quarters, they used leftover paint from ships to paint their buildings. This mismatched pattern is seen all over the world in port cities for this very reason (see Cape Town’s Bo Kapp neighborhood). Since the early 1900s, the port is no longer in use once Puerto Madero was built.

Early on, immigrants found community by creating the dance that we know as tango, by combining several dance types across nations. This dance evolved over the decades, as we saw in our tango show at Querandi later that evening. The area has changed to accommodate the tourism that its conventillos or brightly colored houses bring, but remains an economically-disadvantaged area within the city. We saw the main Caminito, or little street, and walked along the edge of the river, where we learned of the city’s efforts to slowly rejuvenate the water after years of pollution have impacted the health of the community.

You also can’t miss the Boca Junior stadium also known as La Bombonera or bonbon box. This stadium is home to one of Argentina’s winningest football teams and they hold a lot of pride in their soccer team, so don’t dare try to wear red and white in the area while you’re visiting. While their stadium may look like a giant Ikea, they sure mean business when it comes to pride.

Argentinian food and wine

Our first night we found a smaller local restaurant called La Poesia, where Spencer enjoyed his first Argentinian steak. We discovered a few of the local food options throughout the next few days — medialunas or lunas are small, thick, sweet croissant-like pastries. We also grabbed ourselves some empanadas at a small shop (140 pesos per empanada or less than a dollar per empanada). With an evening free, we ended up grabbing a bottle of Argentinian wine and enjoying the evening together in our little apartment. We rallied ourselves for a late-night snack and found the ‘scene’ at Chin bar. We had a drink among locals and then went around the corner for late-night tacos (late night meaning 10 pm, which is Argentinian dinner time). 

On our second day, we meandered back to the San Telmo market, a space where locals and tourists can come and enjoy an intimate indoor space with delicious food. Walking around, I felt the cozy, congenial nature of the space and soaked up every minute. We ended up walking back from our La Boca tour with a pair of Australians and had a lovely lunch of Italian pizza in the market. In the evening before our tango show, Spencer found a vegetarian place called Naturaleza Sabia not far from our hotel, where we enjoyed our free and delicious on-the-house appetizer and meal.

Our last little experience in Buenos was to visit a tango show, and luck would have it that a pretty famous one was on the same block as our apartment! We booked a last-minute ticket and enjoyed a show of dancers performing tango dances from different time periods to a live band. It felt like the perfect way to end our time in the city. I also got to taste the last Argentinian delicacy of dulce de leche at our tango show, since we got a free dessert included with our tickets!

Buenos was a beautiful city with lots of little neighborhoods to explore. On our last day, we came back to the Recoleta neighborhood, where we meandered through the Recoleta cemetary before catching our flight home. I loved visiting this vibrant city to get my first taste of Argentina!

2 thoughts on “A couple of days spent in Buenos Aires

  1. Walsh, Colleen


    How exciting! I’ve been to Buenos Aires (BA) a dozen times myself and simply love it there! I’m so glad you to got experience it…..the food (steaks are AMAZING), the people, the sights! I also went to a tango show (Tango Carlos Gardel), walked around the Recoleta area (did you make it to the tomb of Eva Peron), Puerto Madero, all of it. Did you walk down Calle Florida and the gazillion small shops?

    I started working there before the inflation rate skyrocketed. Back in 2009 it was around 6%, and I could bring back all kinds of leather souvenirs for my friends and family. Now forget it!

    Did you also visit Patagonia? I would love to read about that – I couldn’t find it on your site.

    Hope all is well! Thanks for sharing your travels!!



    1. Colleen!! So good to hear from you. We did end up visiting Torres del Paine National Park and El Chalten. Blog posts are still to come on those 🙂 Hope you’re doing well!!


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