As I’m usually not a fan of big cities, I didn’t expect much of the capital city of Argentina. How wrong was I! Buenos Aires (translates to ‘fair winds’) is by far my favourite place so far! We spent 5 days exploring and has been the first place that felt like home.
We found Buenos Aires to be a very multicultural city with people from Italy, France, Asia and so on. It has been described as the ‘melting pot of several ethnic groups’. This means that they expect people not to always speak Spanish, so they have invented universal hand signs. We were grateful for learning ‘I have no idea what your saying’, ‘Watch out’ and ‘How much?’.
The Food Scene
While in Argentina we really wanted to try more of the typical foods and snacks but without the attached price tag!
The San Thelmo Market is a great place to try the local food such as Empanadas. They are like the equivalent of Pasties. We enjoyed a chicken and a cheese and onion one with Orange Salsa Verde… it was divine!
On most street corners you will find a Café and we were recommended to try a Submarino and Churro with Dulce de Leite inside. A Submarino is a fancy hot chocolate, where your served with hot milk and you add the chocolate. We literally couldn’t find the Churros with the Dulce de Leite inside but enjoyed a plain one instead. If you find one… well done! They literally put Dulce de Leite on everything! Its the best spread in town and easily replaced Jam for me!
Rhys from Rayuela Hostel recommended Argentinian Ice Cream to curb our midnight munchies and sweet tooth! Off we went to Nicole’s Ice Cream Parlour and with our broken Spanish ordered half a kilo of two flavours – Dulce de Leite Granzola and Vanilla with Chocolate Chunks (we can’t remember the Spanish!)
We had heard so much about the all you can eat Asados and we were so pleased when our hostel hosted an Asado evening. This involved eating endless meat cooked on a BBQ in a variety of ways with each type of meat served as separate dishes. There was about 20 people sat in a long row of tables (like school dinners!). We started eating at 9pm and didn’t stop until gone 1am. How people eat so late every day is beyond me but what an experience… needless to say we had a veggie meal the next night!
What we got up to
Buenos Aires is known as the birthplace of the seductive, energetic and romantic dance of Tango! Every Sunday at 7pm you can catch a public tango show in Plaza Dorrengo at the end of the San Thelmo Street Fair which we also really enjoyed! Everything in South America runs late so they advertise 7pm but don’t worry if you are late it actually started at 8pm. Check out their dance floor!
Casa Rosado (The Pink Palace) is where the presidential offices are and past presidential residences. There are many theories as to why the house is pink when all other buildings were white at that time. One theory is that it is a union of red (The Federalists) and white (The Unitarians). Or another theory is that the white paint was mixed with bovine blood to make it waterproof… pretty grim! Free Tours are offered in English on the weekend but you have to register online. We really enjoyed the tour, it was great to stand on the balcony where many famous people have stood including the Argentinian Football Team and of course, Eva Peron when she made her famous last speech to her supporters.
While exploring Buenos Aires, you will come across the tall Obelisk that marks the first anniversary of the Independence from Spain. We were fortunate to stumble across this at sunset and it was beautiful. The National Congress building is one heck of a building too and you will find that the Congress building, the Obelisk and the Pink Palace all link up in a triangle.
You may wonder why you see many women wearing white head scarfs, scarfs tied to peoples bag or the head scarf graffiti around the area. This is a symbol used by the Mothers of the lost children from the ‘Dirty War’. During the military dictatorship of 1976-1983, any Argentinians who didn’t agree with policy were abducted, raped and murdered. Between 10,000 and 30,000 people, were lost during these years. At the time, Mothers of Plazo de Mayo wore white head scarfs and would meet in Plazo de Mayo and hold a silent protest holding photographs of their loved ones, in a plea for answers. Still today, on a Thursday at 3.30pm you see this for yourselves.
As morbid as it sounds, you could literally wander the city of the dead for hours upon end at the Cementerio de la Recoleta (Recoleta Cemetery). It is truly fascinating to walk the ‘streets’ of statues and mausoleums. I recommend grabbing a map as you enter. This will make finding Eva Peron’s mausoleum much easier. It wasn’t as impressive as I had imagined but there were flowers there which made me smile.
Buenos Aires, as wealthy as it used to be also has a more deprived area, called La Boca. This is the working class area where you will see many street artists. Le Caminito (translates to Little Walkway) is where the beautiful coloured streets of shacks are. This has become quite a touristy area and there are many souvenir shops, local food to eat and tango dancers to watch. We came across a gentleman who had no use of his arms who was painting the most beautiful painting of the Caminito with a brush in his mouth! We was in awe of his talent and he was very kind letting us take a picture of him and his masterpiece. The Bombonera Stadium is also close by and is where La Boca Juniors play.
Where we Stayed
We found it difficult to find a great place to stay on Booking.com in Buenos Aires and in fact had a bit of a nightmare at the first place. A friend who we met in Paraty, let us know where he was staying and we jumped ship and went to Rayuela Hostel. Rhys and his kind staff made us very welcome and literally took us off the street, as we rocked up with no booking, just a sop story haha!
It doesn’t feel like a hostel, it truly feels like home and we enjoyed both our stay in the dorm rooms and our upgrade to a private room with an en-suite. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights they cook up feasts for the guests at really reasonable prices. We arrived on a Friday and didn’t cook for 3 nights… it was bliss. Vegetable Soup, All you can eat Chicken wings and then Asado… we were in heaven!
The breakfast is by far the best we have had in South America, with homemade bread, homemade cake, all the lovely spreads, fruit and tea, coffee, mate and hot chocolate! The kitchen is equipped with everything you could need (apart from a sieve but we will let them off with that one!)
The staff genuinely go the extra mile to make your stay great including extra heaters, inviting you over for a drink, recommending ice cream parlours and even lending you an extension cable when you want to charge everything at once for your next journey!
Prices range from £8 – £12 for the shared dorms, so for a homely stay on the doorstep to all the top sights in Buenos Aires, we recommend Rayuela Hostel.
Go the Distance in Buenos Aires,