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City Break: Beguiling Bueno Aires

Updated: Apr 24


Sometimes it is a lucky thing to have a spouse that travels for a living. When traveling with a working partner, planning is key. You must expect a lot of alone-time and you must strategize accordingly. This is like solo travel, with the bonus twist of someone else paying for it!

Now that my children are grown, I can take advantage of all those miles we have been saving up for centuries and join Joe on his adventures. I haven't been back to Central or South America since the 1980s, so I jumped at the chance to join my husband on his recent trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina.



Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city in Argentina. It is an urban adventure filled with historic neighborhoods, chic shopping, beautiful green spaces, and friendly people. The food scene is amazing and there are beautifully appointed museums that cater to any taste.



There are 48 official barrios, or districts, in Buenos Aires. These divisions are based on demarcation lines of historic Catholic parishes. I bought myself a guide book and set about walking as many of the districts as possible. There is no better way to discover a new city than by walking its grid. I find that the districts of Buenos Aires are all varied and all have something different to offer the visitor.

The following are my favorites:


PALERMO

Palermo is the largest barrio and is subdivided into four further sub-districts. Each of these subdivisions offers a different experience.



Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood are very edgy, with well-planned graffiti and bohemian bistros. This is hipster-shopping central.


Visit the Kevin Bacon Fast Food Fuc#in Porn Food in Soho. A meal at this questionably named restaurant will cost you a week's worth of calories, but anything for Kevin Bacon, right?



Palermo Viejo (Old Palermo) is bursting with Spanish-Colonial revival architecture. Las Canitas and La Imprenta are upmarket residential areas, with plenty of five-star eateries.


Palermo Chico and Barrio Parque, on Palermo's north-eastern edge, hosts upscale urban living. Here you will find Neo-Classical buildings housing international embassies. Alongside are mansions owned by Argentina's wealthiest individuals. Located in Palermo Chico is the San Martin National Institute and the Museum of Latin American Art Buenos Aires (MALBA).


RECOLETA

This is a very affluent area. It is well stocked with upscale shopping, top-shelf hotels, and fine dining.


The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and the Centro Cultural Recoleta are located in this district. As is the Cementerio de la Recoleta. This Franciscan cemetery contains the graves of many famous poets and politicians of Argentina, including Eva Peron.


For funsies, visit the Patio Bullrich shopping centre. This mall, originally a neo-classic livestock auction house, now houses luxury brand shops as well as a fabuloso food court.

MICROCENTRO


Casa Rosada

Microcentro is Bueno Aires' financial and business centre .

I loved strolling the Avenida de Mayo. This restaurant-lined avenue leads to the Casa Rosada. This mansion is the 'official residence' of the president though it is more often used for public events.


Stop in for a coffee and a spot of jazz at the Cafe Tortoni. This is the oldest cafe in the city and has been voted one of the most beautiful cafes in the world. The basement of the Cafe Tortoni is also a great place to try out those tango lessons.


Cafe Tortoni, Microcentro

SAN TELMO

San Telmo is the oldest barrio in Buenos Aires. This romantic neighborhood is characterized by its cobbled streets and well-preserved colonial buildings. The area boasts markets, tango parlors, cafes, and antique shops. Tres Bohemian. The Mercado de San Telmo, built in the 1890s retains its original purpose selling fresh fruits and veg along with household goods.




CULTURE


As I mentioned before, this city is full of museums, shopping and dining. You will never fall short of things to do in Buenos Aires.


Museo National de Bellas Artes

Located in the Recoleta district, this museum has much to offer. Spending at least half a day would not be wasted. Founded in 1896, the museum moved to its present location in 1932. There are over12,0000 pieces of art associated with this museum and 800 are permanent. It has an incredible amount of international masters.



Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA)

This museum is located in the Palermo Chico district. This Is a fabulous building, similar to the MOMA in NYC with its many levels and hallways. There are more than 500 pieces of work that represent Latin American artists including Frida Kahlo.


Plazas and Green Space


Jardin Japones

Jardin Japones was a gift from Argentina's Japanese residents and is located in Palermo Chico. There are bonsai trees, pagodas, festive shrines and an impressive Koi pond. This is a great place to sit and people watch as well as stage photos As the scenery is delightful. There is a sushi bar or you can pack a lunch and linger.



Jardin Botanico

Jardin Botanico is also located in Palermo Chico is the botanical garden. A pleasant walk, this garden is home to over 5000 species representing every continent. Plants and classic statues create a tranquil garden.


All Things Evita (1919-1952)


Cementerio de la Recoleta

The number one tourist attraction by far is the Necropolis. The elite of Argentina has been entombed here since the mid 19th century. The most famous resident is Eva Peron, wife of pro-working class president Juan Peron (1895-1974).


When Evita died of cancer in 1952, she was buried in the Duarte family crypt. However, when her husband was deposed three years later in a military coup, her body was exhumed and went on a 20-year transatlantic excursion before finally returning to the crypt. The Duarte tomb is modest with tribute plaques and fresh flowers placed daily.


This is one of the world's most extraordinary graveyards with over 6400 grandiose mausoleums modeled on Gothic chapels. Whilst it is good to stop by and get a picture of the Duarte Tomb, don't stop there. There are so many fabulous vaults in various stages of upkeep or decay and all are worth a visit.




Isabel Walewski Colonna was just six days old when she was buried at the Cementerio de la Recoleta. She was the illegitimate grand-daughter of Napolian Bonapart.


Rufina Cambaceres went into a coma and died when she was 19. Workmen at the cemetery swore they could hear screaming from her tomb, and when they opened the coffin, they found scratches on the coffin she must have made when trying to escape. David Alleno was an Italian gravedigger who worked at the cemetery for 30 years, saving up to buy his own plot. He commissioned a statue made of himself, applied the finishing touches to his site, then went home and committed suicide.


With over 6400 plots, there are so many stories! The cemetery is a labyrinth of narrow lanes sided by bronze and granite. There are maps for sale at the entrance. Not a bad idea.



Not Madonna



Museo Evita


Located between Palermo Chico and Palermo Soho, this museum,

housed in a beautiful mansion

of Italian Renaissance design, is dedicated solely to Argentina's former and most controversial first ladies, Eva Peron.


The exhibit includes fashion, jewelry, propaganda posters and videos.










Shopping

Ateneo Grand Splendid

This is the largest bookstore in South America. Situated on Sante Fe in Barrio Norte is the El Ateneo Grand Splendid. This bookstore has been voted 'The Most Beautiful Bookstore in the World' by National Geographic. The ecclesiastic building is a former theatre and features ceiling frescos by Italian artist Nazareno Orlandi. One million people walk through the doors of the El Ateneo Grand Splendid each year.



Patio Bullrich Shopping Plaza.

This is a great way to see the styles of Argentina and rest your weary feet. The plaza is in the Oleta district, close to many of the international hotels. They have fashion, housewares, and food. The food court, as mentioned is top-notch. Yes, there is a McDonalds but why would you?? Many cuisines are represented. There is also a wine tasting business that offers a wide selection and knowledgeable suggestions.

Dining I'm just going to say that there is no bad food in Buenos Aires. Empanadas are great for food on the go. There are cafes that cater to any need and dinner dining with tango entertainment is a must. Argentines eat later and languish about the table. Make a reservation, always.


Ten in Viaje Maravilloso.....have a wonderful trip!


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About Us

 

Fearing the empty nest? Don't! Since my children have flown the coup, I have had time to refocus on my passions of travel, art, and writing.  This little blog is a handy tool that helps me share what I have learned with others.

 

I grew up in the States, but have lived a large chunk of my adult life in the UK. I now split my time between London and South Africa as well as chasing the sun around the world. 

 

 When my nest emptied, I began to plan my trips according to my own schedule, indulging in going solo. Once one gets used to traveling solo, it can be a very freeing experience. I seek out interesting, informative and unique experiences, and proffer advice with my network of readers.  I also have a lot of fun!

 

 Spa retreats and personal growth travel are core to what I do.  If there was a master's degree in the art of booking massages, I would be a scholarship student! I also plan to conquer Europe one city break at a time and with all that effort, I need as many beach holidays as possible. 

 

So please enjoy reading my tales of travel. I hope you are encouraged to get on that plane and perhaps have a few giggles along the way.

-Beth

When my large family was quite young, we lived in several international postings. In an age before Google Translate,  I negotiated the grocery stores of foreign countries in search of tasty ingredients. I soon became an expert at discerning information from food labels and also learned to cook healthy, quick meals from local sources. 

 

From this experience, I became quite the foodie, even before 'foodie' was a word. And now as an empty-nester and devotee of food travel networks, I  interpret those old recipes into smaller, even tastier versions. 

 

Being an editor and food/wine travel columnist,  I travel the world sampling indigenous recipes which I share on Old Bag on a Plane. I also love wine!

-Phyl

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