Buenos Aires, Argentina
Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know … ?
- At 460 feet, the widest avenue in the world is Av. 9 de Julio in Buenos Aires.
- The first explorers on the Rio de la Plata were killed and eaten by cannibals.
- Buenos Aires boasts South America’s oldest subway system (1913).
- Founded first in 1536, the city was abandoned in 1541 and refounded in 1580.
- One of Recoleta’s 4,800 tombs contains a young woman who was accidentally buried alive.
From tea to tango
For the traveler who loves good food and wine, nightlife that lasts until dawn and a lot of variety, Buenos Aires is full of promise. How about steak for lunch, a proper English tea in late afternoon, live music for midevening entertainment followed by a very late dinner of, say, Italian pasta and then maybe a drop-by at an Irish pub? Then, throw in tango — either as a spectator sport (there are tango dinner shows plus opportunities to see dancers in public squares) or a contact sport (join the dancers in outdoor settings or at tango nights, called milongas).
This rich variety has roots in history. Although the Spanish were dominant, Argentina was settled by Europeans from several nations. About 1 million came from Italy alone. Out of that mix, Portenos (Buenos Aires residents) created a social and entertainment scene that lures North Americans south.
Not to say there aren’t other reasons to visit. Buenos Aires is a beautiful city that resembles Paris in some of its architecture and its system of wide boulevards and parks.
Plaza de Mayo and the Monserrat and San Telmo neighborhoods are the city’s historic center. Business and government are concentrated in the Microcentro (i.e., the downtown).
Top attractions, in the traditional sense, include the Plaza de Mayo with its Casa Rosada (Pink House, the presidential palace) and Metropolitan Cathedral; the Recoleta Cemetery (and not just to see Eva Peron’s tomb); the historic opera house, the Teatro Colon; and the colorful working class neighborhood, La Boca. Even tourists who have outgrown wee-hours nightlife want to see, and maybe try, the tango.
Street fairs are another draw, as well as the cultural attractions that are musts for any great city: theater, opera, museums, etc.
Finally, there are the sports events, which are very important to Portenos. Active travelers have choices, such as biking, golfing, sailing and waterskiing, but spectator sports are really big, especially the soccer and polo.
Buenos Aires has a problem with street crime, which can be dangerous. The brightly painted houses of La Boca and some popular nightspots are in iffy areas, so visitors must plan accordingly.
Things to do for Venturers
- Take tango lessons, in the city that claims the tango was born (inauspiciously) in its slums and houses of prostitution. Then show your stuff at a neighborhood milonga, which is a tango dance night.
- Enjoy the Bosques de Palermo and Palermo Chico residential and embassy area from the seat of a bicycle. You can use a bike for a proper guided sightseeing tour in the city, too.
- Get tickets to a soccer game. Or take in a polo match.
- Buy your leather clothing here (and allow time for custom fittings).
- Listen to live music — it could be jazz — then, have dinner at midnight, just like the Portenos.
- Head about 45 minutes north of the city center where you can take lessons in waterskiing and wakeboarding — assuming you need lessons. Otherwise, enjoy your sport.
Things to do for Centrics
- Devote an afternoon and evening to Puerto Madero, a redeveloped warehouse area that is now a popular site of new shops, eateries and entertainment. The area has two museum ships, too.
- Taste the mate, a traditional tea drink taken through a straw from a gourd, also called the mate. Then, shop for a mate kit to take home.
- In the land noted for its fine beef, take a master barbecue class.
- If the light is right, book a helicopter tour for great aerial photos of the city.
- Join a tour to the colorful La Boca neighborhood. Pose for photos with a professional tango dancer on a Boca street corner.
- Make a day visit to an estancia (ranch) outside the city.
Things to do for Authentics
- Look for Eva Peron’s grave in the fabulous Recoleta Cemetery then wander around the place as you might in any other neighborhood you have never seen before. You won’t mind getting lost (for awhile) in this cemetery.
- Play golf in the park, meaning the Bosques de Palermo.
- On Sunday, shop at the flea market on Plaza Dorrego in the San Telmo neighborhood. Another Sunday option: the Mataderos Fair to see folk dancing and the gaucho displays.
- See and hear an opera at the famous and recently renovated Teatro Colon. If you cannot get tickets, schedule a tour of this historic building.
- Have afternoon tea with all the trimmings.
- Join a guided tour of the Casa Rosada (Pink House), which is both a museum and the seat of Argentina’s national government.
For more information, consult Argentina Tourist Information at www.turismo.gov.ar/eng/menu.htm