Return to Buenos Aires
At the beginning of March, before most of the COVID-19 craziness began, I flew down to Buenos Aires for four days of sightseeing, eating, and relaxing before starting off on a 9 day trip to Brazil. The plan was to enjoy my time in South America was while monitoring the ongoing global health crisis unfolding in the Middle East, China, and Europe. Ultimately while my trip to Argentina and Brazil was cut short by a few days, the trip overall was a great last hurrah before cozying down in my house back in Baltimore.
Two years ago I first went to Buenos Aires before hiking around Patagonia and drinking all the wine in Mendoza. My trip was so amazing, a return vacation was inevitable. I was most excited to return to Buenos Aires for more Malbec, tango, La Boca, and all the empanadas.
Argentina is actually pretty difficult to navigate on arrival. It is basically a cash only country but ATMs will only dispense $3500 pesos per day (approximately $55 USD). Currency exchanges only take $50 or $100 USD bills which is not that common in the US. UBER will only pick you up with any predictability if you have the payment set to cash. Taxis from the airport are pretty expensive and everyone wants a tip for everything. Arriving in BA is not fun.
My hotel was in Recoleta, a favorite BA neighborhood of mine. A lot of little shops and restaurants line the streets where many parks and the famous cemetery reside.
But most important, there was an amazing empanada shop about 5 storefronts down. Priorities.
I got a few “normal” option but accidentally ordered a corn and cheese filled empanada once. It was pretty good but not my favorite. My tastes run to ham and cheese, Roquefort, spicy beef, and plain old cheese.
One thing I missed last time I visited Buenos Aires was the theater turned bookstore, El Ateneo Grand Splendid. It was amazing! A new life goal is to turn an old theater in need of repair into a bookstore.
They only have a few English books which are of the trashy romance novel variety (a favorite genre of mine) so perusing the shelves went pretty quick for me. My Spanish is not up to par with reading a whole book. Maybe after this quarantine though….
Being the end of summer in Buenos Aires at the beginning of March, it was quite warm. Wake up early everyday to beat the heat and walk around the city is my best piece of advice. Then later you can siesta by the pool or in your air-conditioned hotel room.
The giant metal flower sculpture, Floralis Generica, is worth a trip to see. It opens and closes along with the sun rising and setting.
Usually while I’m traveling solo, I don’t do big, fancy meals. The most common restaurant recommendation near my neighborhood was to a pizza place called El Cuartito. Argentina has a lot of influence from European immigrants so it has some Italian flair but with a South American twist.
Luckily El Cuartito let’s you order slices so I got one red sauce Italian-style and one white Argentinian-style. The white fugazzeta (with cheese and onion) pizza was the best by far- I could have had a whole pizza of that.
There was of course Malbec, Argentinian beef (which is amazing!), and all the dulce de leche a girl could want. Because the financial system in Argentina is weak, things were fairly inexpensive. My steak, wine, salad dinner cost about $14 in total. Empanadas were anywhere from thirty cents to $1.00.
These are all staples of the diet in Argentina. The seriously use dulce de leche at every meal which makes me very happy. I had some dulce de leche and calafate berry ice cream that evening.
More from Buenos Aires soon! And then I’m moving on to Brazil!