Updated: Jul 1
Every so often, it is a lucky thing to have a spouse that travels for a living. When boondoggling with a working partner, planning is key. You must expect a lot of alone-time and you must strategise accordingly. This is like solo travel, with the bonus twist of someone else paying for it!
Now that my children are adults, 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 neighbourhoods, chic shopping, beautiful green spaces, and friendly people. The food scene is spectacular and there are beautifully appointed museums that cater to any taste.
There are 48 official barrios, or districts, in Buenos Aires. These divisions are drawn on the demarcation lines of historic Catholic parishes. I bought myself a guidebook 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 favourites:
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).
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 well-known 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 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 Café Tortoni. This is the oldest café in the city and is voted one of the most beautiful cafés in the world. The basement of the Café Tortoni is also a great place to try out those tango lessons.
San Telmo is the oldest barrio in Buenos Aires. This romantic neighbourhood is characterised by its cobbled streets and well-preserved colonial buildings. The area boasts markets, tango parlours, cafés, 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.
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, located in the Palermo Chico district, 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 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 to buy food, or just pack a lunch and linger.
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)
The number one tourist attraction by far is the Necropolis. The elite of Argentina have 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 a military coup deposed her husband three years later, they exhumed her body and sent it 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, 6400+ grandiose mausoleums modelled 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 granddaughter of Napoleon Bonaparte.
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 plot. He commissioned a statue made of himself, applied the finishing touches to his site, then went home and committed suicide.
With so many 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.
Located between Palermo Chico and Palermo Soho, this museum is
housed in a beautiful, Italian Renaissance mansion. It is dedicated solely to Argentina's former, most famous, and most controversial first ladies, Eva Peron.
The exhibit includes fashion, jewellry, propaganda posters and videos.
This is the largest bookstore in South America. Situated on Sante Fe in Barrio Norte is the El Ateneo Grand Splendid. This bookstore was 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.
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 want that when there are so 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 cafés 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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