Argentina was a natural choice for us, given that we were in Brazil. As I have mentioned before, I am a fan of multiple location trips using multiple one-way flights. Argentina’s main draw for us is the resting place of Eva Peron (Evita). Eva’s story has captivated me for some time. I wanted to see where she lived, where she rests and soak in the ambiance of Argentina. I imagined the best steaks ever, dancing and romance. It delivered on a couple of these things, but sadly, I did not care for elements of Argentina. Uruguay was a total disaster, but I’ll discuss that later.
We stayed at Anselmo Buenos Aires, Curio Collection by Hilton. This is in San Telmo district of Buenos Aires in front of Plaza Dorrego. This is one of my favorite hotels ever. It combines art deco meets industrial with a slice of pop art—a hip and unique hotel. The room was terrific, with frosted glass doors, bamboo wood shower floor, raw concrete ceilings, exposed brick, and plush white bedding. The restaurants were fabulous, and they made many custom meals for us that were inexpensive. The location is unbeatable. You come out of the hotel directly into the square where tango dancing takes place nightly.
From what I have read it is an exhibition, but I noticed many people joined it. You can sit at a bar or café outside and watch the square come to life with dancing. On Sundays, you have a market that spreads over miles. You can buy fantastic leather products, but the best part is as you twist through the streets following the market, you get to take in all the historical sights. We were blessed with this choice of hotel. I am at a loss as to how this hotel does not rate higher on trip advisor.
Shopping was a royal treat here. I do not consider a trip a success unless I can buy something that I can’t buy in the States. I’m not interested in Gucci, Versace, or Channel. You can buy brands anywhere. FYI, if you are into brands, they are always cheaper in the States. I typically look for jewelry and household goods. In Argentina, I bought a couple of leather bags, several bracelets, and some coasters. I’m a huge fan of markets and weaving through the streets. Overall, I would say this place delivered.
Drinks in Argentina are, shall we say, different? No, let me give it to you straight – highly potent. Knock you down. I’ve been slipped a mickey potent. Two drinks in, and you will see stars. It’s great that the drinks are cheap and strong. Yippee, a cheap buzz. The reality is far too strong to consume. I think the drinks were pure liquor with a dash of a chosen mixer. I had to send most drinks back. Sending a drink back is not unusual for me since I can be picky, but sending it back because it is too strong is unheard of. This aside, once the alcohol level was adjusted, the drinks we spectacular. There is something romantic about sitting and watching people tango as you sip your bevy of choices.
What Spoiled It
This might be offensive to some, but I think that Argentinians do not care for tourists. This may have been bad luck; I am not sure. What I do know is that we were treated poorly. A factor that may have contributed is neither of us can speak Spanish. Here are a couple of examples:
We asked for directions to Plaza de Mayo. We were told to make a right and walk about five blocks. I do not know about you, but for me, I’m thinking 20 blocks in the US equal about a mile. Not in Argentina! Five and a half miles later, with literally a rawhide, we still were no closer to where we needed to be. And yes, we did continue walking. Our thinking was, maybe a block here equals a mile? I cannot even begin to describe to you how painful this was. This was all in 100 degrees! A raw posterior, chaffed legs, and swollen feet, lovely. I now refer to this walk as five blocks of total bollocks.
This happened a couple of times, so my interpretation of this is that it was deliberate. After the second run around, we got wise to it. To this day, I have flashbacks. When someone says it is 6 or 7 blocks, it makes me want to punch them – literally.
Along with bogus directions, food was an issue also. Many times, we would enter a restaurant and be shewed out with “we are closed.” Yet, they were taking orders at tables. Brian and I are not raggedy, and Brian’s Latino. My best guess for this one is it was apparent that he was American, and I’m obviously a gringo. We ran into this time and time again. So, it is either a distaste for American’s, gringo’s, or those of us that cannot speak Spanish. Maybe all three?
Let’s talk about the food. Everyone raves about Argentinean steak. I would consider myself a bit of an expert in this department. Brian and I have dined in many of the best steak houses here in the states. In a nutshell, Argentinean steak tastes like game meat. So much so that after a couple of attempts, we moved on. Argentinean food cannot hold a candle to Brazil, period. Not only did I not like the food, but it was also astronomically expensive. We spent more on food here than anticipated, and I do not think it was worth it at all. Fortunately, I loved the restaurants at our hotel. When the food is not my taste in a country, I will rely on my staple – anything Asian. Poor Brian had to navigate through some seedy parts of town to get me some decent grub. My hubby is my hero!
Sights to See
*These are just some of the highlights. There is much more to do.
Plaza de Mayo
Located in the financial district, this is home to Casa Rosada. If you are not familiar with the name, this is the Presidential Palace. Some refer to it as the Presidential mansion. Regardless, this is where Evita delivered many of her famous speeches included her final one.
I’ve seen the movie, the play and have read many books about Evita. I even own the soundtrack. For me, seeing this in person made the whole trip worthwhile. Evita’s presence is everywhere. Loved or hated, you cannot go far without running into some form of memorial.
If you are lucky enough to be here for New Year’s Eve, you will be treated to paper confetti. Everyone tears up or throws out the last year’s documents (including banks). The belief is that doing this leaves the past behind. It is quite an unusual thing to see!
Plaza de Mayo is home to political activity. You will run into protestors. The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo are a permanent presence. We encountered several groups protesting political rights and some religious groups. Be aware that there is military on-site, and they are armed. I did not find it intimidating, and we encountered no trouble at all. I have read that some protests can be tumultuous, especially around election time. Like any heavily visited place of political interest, have your wits about you and enjoy.
La Recoleta Cemetery
The final resting place of Eva Perón (Evita) and Juan Perón is La Recoleta Cemetery. I wanted to visit to pay my respects. I knew the cemetery was some form of attraction, but I did not know what to expect. First, know that it is massive. If you plan to see it all, you will need several hours. It’s eerie and gothic.
In some cases, downright scary. Some of the tombs have been vandalized, and some of the coffins are open. It’s sad to see the graves that are not maintained in this state. From what we were told, it boils down to money. If the living can’t afford to maintain the tomb, so be it. Some of the graves are astonishingly adorned with grand monuments. There are entire family tombs, and you can see who had stature or money. Evita’s resting place is significant but pales in comparison to the grandeur of the other graves. This place is also full of cats. The cats are fed, so I assume this is for vermin control. Sadly, the cats are wild, and we saw one catch a bird. I know this is nature, but the cat drug it around alive forever, and you could hear the bird screaming. This is a must-see if you are in Buenos Aires, but it’s not for those with a faint heart. If you have seen Double Jeopardy, recall the scene in the cemetery? It is like this, only creepier.
Do not miss this! This is a street museum bustling with life, and tango is the norm. Some people will tell you it’s the ghetto and not safe. Sure, it is in La Boca, but it is safe, especially throughout the day.
We opted for a tour with this one to avoid any potential hassle. This place will only take you a couple of hours to take in the highlights. If you want to stay longer, you can and should. I wish we did because the bars were bustling, and all had tango as entertainment. This is also a great place to buy souvenirs if you like souvenirs. I don’t, but each to their own. If you head to Caminito, you will also see the famous La Bombonera stadium, and you can opt to take a tour.
As of April 2018, visas are no longer required for Americans. They were when we traveled.
You can cab to everywhere within Buenos Aires.
You must be aware of alcohol content, and the proof levels are way higher.
Know the areas you are in. It is very safe, but like any large city, there is the other side of the tracks.
Map all your routes. DON’T take advice from the locals.
Roll with the punches. This is the most unorganized city I have ever visited. Stuff will go wrong, and that is quite alright!
Nikki Webster is a travel writer who covers how to travel while grinding a day job and travel without breaking the bank, hotels, cruising, and off-the-beaten-track experiences. She is particularly fond of Florida and writes extensively about the state. She flies around 60,000 miles per year and has visited 54 countries, 50 states, and six continents. You can read all about her travels at www.britonthemove.com.