– Why do you travel? – asked Expat in BA
– To learn, to explore, to better relate to people and to discover what it means to be human… – I replied without the slightest hesitation.
Cliche. I know. But…
…frankly, I don’t get those who live within the boundaries of one state (by choice). How can you not be interested to walk by the Casa Rosada where years ago Evita Peron moved the Argentinian nation by speaking from its balcony? Even today, fresh flowers always decorate Eva’s grave at La Recoleta Cemetery.
The cemetery is considered the most upscale one in BA and is a city itself. A ghost town full of stories left behind by famous, influential or simply rich. Like the story of Rufina Cambaceres, who was buried alive after suffering a cataleptic attack. She was only 19. Rufina woke up in her coffin and began screaming. Security guards heard the screams, but by the time they were able to rescue her she had died of a heart attack. Rufina’s mother built a new tomb made of Carrara marble. It is carved with a rose on top and a girl turned to the side as if watching Rufina. The marble sits behind a glass pane, so if she wakes up she can be rescued.
Leaving the past and joining the present, I walk outside to a square in front of the cemetery. I ask a concierge at Intercontinental to reserve tickets for a tango show. These shows are similar to Paris’ cabaret at Moulin Rouge and many may consider them tourist traps. Personally, I enjoyed it – costumes, choreography, music, and the whole tango theme. Watching street tango is fun, but seeing professional dancers on stage turned into a great evening in BA.
There are a few theaters in the city that host tango shows. I recommend booking a show only and having dinner somewhere else as there are tons of amazing restaurants in BA.
Like Osaka described by the locals as mind-blowing and truly lived up to that statement. The restaurant captures Peruvian and Japanese cuisines into a whole new level of creative fusion and boldly introduces its evolutionary vision of sushi. Reservations are a must, otherwise, you will end up not getting in or, if you are lucky, eating at the bar.
While it’s rather inexpensive (due to the exchange rate) to dine and wine, it is costly to make such acquisitions as clothes, shoes, accessories. Especially, in Recoleta, BA’s the most upscale area. For good quality leather bags, belts, and polo boots, go to Arandu. It’s definitely not your 10$ place (maybe because Bill Clinton shops there), and yet I know that a handbag I bought will last for quite some time.
I celebrated my purchases at the Faena hotel together with ColdPlay (the band stayed there while touring Argentina) and had a few glasses of champagne at the hotel’s Library Bar. When you get tired of walking around the city or shopping in local boutiques, street fairs (San Telmo is the largest one), stop by Faena for a drink or have tea at Four Seasons. It’s not only a good break but a nice exposure to the Argentinian culture.
Speaking of culture, don’t forget to visit La Boca with its colorful houses and pedestrian street, the Caminito, where tango artists show off their sensual moves. I suggest spending no more than an hour there to walk around and watch street performances. Try visiting the neighborhood during the day as I’ve heard it’s not quite the same in the evenings.
From La Boca take a cab to the center of the city and stroll down Avenida 9 de Julio. This is one of the widest streets in the world with eighteen lines of traffic! In the middle of the street stands a 67 meter obelisk, a pretty generic column that, however, offers fantastic views of the city if you get to the observation terrace on the top.
You can even see the marching Mothers at Plaza de Mayo that gather there every Thursday afternoon in a silent hope to find their children who “were disappeared” during the Dirty War.
As an unidentified local gentleman pointed out (while I was minding my own business waiting for my travel-friend to get ice-cream), four days is not enough to truly explore the city. “It has too much history, too much passion, too much going on”. I found BA to be more in line with the European rather than South American style and culture.
It reminded me of Paris. And every morning, almost awake from my slumber, jumping around the poop on the streets, for a second I would get confused – is it really a city of tango, or… of dogs?:)