A week in Buenos Aires makes you realize just how boring your life is, in a quiet San Francisco suburb.
Of course, I love my life – as I have stated so many times on this blog – but my life IS kinda boring when compared with the intense energy of a big, vibrant, bustling, never-quite-asleep South American city.
Buenos Aires is a beautiful city, but I’ll spare you the photos of landmarks and monuments. Much more interesting is the street art and the graffiti – the city is basically covered in graffiti, some of it beautiful, some of it, not so much.
It is also one of the dirtiest cities I have ever seen (with the notable exceptions of Beijing and Xi’an):
The food? Basically, we ate empanadas (fried turnovers filled with beef, lamb, rabbit or ham):
And Dulce de Leche (here as a filling inside a traditional alfajor cookie):
Pretty much every day, although you can also get excellent grilled seafood here – especially octopus (this was at Agraz restaurant in Caesar Park Hotel, and it was the best octopus I have ever eaten):
In Mercado de San Telmo (San Telmo Market), we’ve seen beef parts that we’ve never seen before, except maybe in Barcelona’s Mercat De La Boqueria:
I can only hope that this:
Will find its way to the trash and not to the inside of a hot dog or a sausage.
While recovering from the above sights with an excellent cup of strong Argentinian coffee, one can catch some lovely street tango:
Street Tango in San Telmo
That night, at La Lorenza restaurant in Barrio (neighborhood) Recoleta, we enjoyed a platter of parilla (traditional Argentinian mixed grill) that included many of the parts we had seen at the market. We took a bite of each (hey, I’ll try anything once – even blood sausage), but the steak (vacio, or flank steak) was the only part we actually liked.
After dinner, you can’t go to sleep. People here start dinner around 9pm, and when it ends, around 11pm, the night is still young. So you roam the streets, which are full of people until well after midnight – this photo was taken in the city center around 11pm:
Or you go to a milonga, where ordinary people come to dance the tango, with admirable skill:
You can also go to a tango show, although these are for tourists only – no self-respecting local goes to those (we went anyway):
In Puerto Madero, the dockland area, we strolled along many street vendors selling parilla (mixed grill). You put grilled beef in a bun, then add salads:
You can also get freshly squeezed orange juice:
I’m not sure what they use the eggs for, but as those eggs are kept at “room temperature” which is around 95 degrees F:
We opted to avoid eating in one of those stands and instead had a fancy – but sadly mediocre lunch at the pretentious Faena Hotel:
One CAN find delicious upscale cuisine in Buenos Aires:
CHILA restaurant: a dish of "Truffle cream, egg 61º, shallots in cognac and little pieces of blood sausage"
Oviedo Restaurant: "Croquettes of spinach, ham and mushrooms"
Duhau restaurant, Park Hyatt Hotel: "Lama tenderloin in homemade bread crust and ‘muña muña’ herb
Quinoa cream with fresh goat cheese and four colours corn stew, Mirasol pepper sauce"
We celebrated New Year’s Eve at Fervor restaurant, where we ushered in the New Year with music, traditional food (empanadas, beef, grilled seafood, chocolate mousse, and flan with Dulce de Leche), lots of champagne, and – to our surprise – a lovely and quite skillful belly dancer:
While I adore Buenos Aires and its warm, affectionate people (very different than the polite, distant Northern California frost), the city has its issues – trash and graffiti everywhere, poverty, and crime – especially theft – apparently so bad that at La Cabrera restaurant in Barrio Palermo, the nice security person tied our backpack to our chair to prevent it from being stolen!
And the cab driver that took us to the train station (we took a day trip to Tigre, a small riverside town) warned us to keep an eye on our belongings. “No tengas miedo, pero tenga cuidado” he told us. Don’t be afraid, but be careful.
We managed to avoid theft, and if the flight from San Francisco wasn’t so darn long, I would definitely visit again. But my list of places to visit before I die is long and gets longer by the minute… so we bid a smiling adios to Buenos Aires:
And I’m already planning our next trip. You see, my life is kinda boring… travel helps.