Travel to 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. The main draw of Argentina, or, more specifically, Buenos Aires for me, is its resting place of Eva Perón (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, there were Argentina elements that I did not care for. Uruguay was a total disaster, and you can read about it here.
This article is a special request for the Editor in Chief. We still laugh about this trip, RAWHIDE!
We stayed at Anselmo Buenos Aires, Curio Collection by Hilton. In the San Telmo district of Buenos Aires in front of Plaza Dorrego. This is one of my favorite hotels ever. It’s a combination of art deco meets industrial, with a slice of pop art — a hip and unique hotel. The room was terrific, with frosted glass doors, a 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. It is mostly an exhibition from what I have read, 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 the market that spreads over miles. You can buy amazing leather products, but the best part is as you twist through the streets following the market, you get to take in all the historical sites. We were blessed with this choice of hotel. I am at a loss as to how this hotel does not rate higher on TripAdvisor.
Shopping was an absolute 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 robust. Yippee, a cheap buzz. The reality is far too strong to consume. I think the drinks were pure liquor with a dash of the chosen mixer. I had to send the 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 were spectacular. There is something romantic about sitting and watching people tango as you sip your bevy of choices.
What Spoiled Travel to Argentina
This might not be very respectful to some, but 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 I’m thinking 20 blocks in the US equals about a mile for me. Not in Argentina! Five and a half miles later, we still were no closer to where we needed to be with rawhide. 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. 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. 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 shrewd out with “we are closed.” 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 a gringo. We ran into this time and time again. So, it is either a distaste for American’s, gringos, or those of us that cannot speak Spanish. Maybe all three?
Let’s talk about 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 steakhouses 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 the 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 scran. My hubby is my hero!
Sights to See In Buenos Aires
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, including 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 and are in such a poor state.
From what we learned, 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 magnificent 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 do get 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. If you are in Buenos Aires, this is a must-see, 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! 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 have tango as entertainment. A great place to buy souvenirs if you like souvenirs. I don’t, but each to their own. If you head to Caminto, you will also see the famous La Bombonera stadium, and you can opt to take a tour.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to travel to Argentina right now?
Argentina is one of the safest countries for travelers in South America; however, crime does occur.
Is traveling to Argentina expensive?
Expensive is a relative term, broadly speaking no – however, the big cities like Buenos Aires are more expensive. Hotels are extremely inexpensive, but food and drinks can be costly.
Do I need a visa to go to Argentina?
You do not need a visa to travel to Argentina; however, you should always check a country’s requirements before purchasing tickets.
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.