Our Destination Experts share their BA highlights
A bunch of our Destination Experts recently got together in Buenos Aires for a bit of work and a lot of play. For most it wasn’t the first time they’d visited Argentina’s sophisticated, surprising capital and – if these experiences are anything to go by – it certainly won’t be the last.
Three of our DEs rated the Teatro Colón – Buenos Aires’ magnificent opera house – as the highlight of the trip. The guided tours are fascinating (you’ll explore the bowels of the theater and visit the dressing rooms) but you should really try to see a show too. Our DEs caught a performance of Romeo and Juliet (the ballet) but there’s nearly always something cool on. Self-confessed “theater dweeb” Corey Cruzado Jay waxed especially lyrical: “Consistently ranked as one of the world’s Top Ten opera houses, the venue did NOT disappoint! We were seated in the fourth tier of about seven levels of spectacularly ornate balconies. The whole auditorium seemed like a marvelous gilt-edged setting for the world’s coolest Where’s Waldo? search.” And had this to say: “Created so that the ‘masses’ could also experience the beauty of theater, Teatro Colon has six tiers with seating and standing room, meaning tickets to a world-class show can cost less than $5!”
Despite being wowed by Romeo and Juliet, Staci Steele still ranks the Recoleta Cemetery as her favorite BA attraction. “It’s the most impressive cemetery I’ve ever seen, with intricately decorated tombs of all sizes. It’s just filled with so much history…and the park out front is a great spot for a picnic.” And as for Julia Steck? She says no-one should leave BA without eating steak (guess who got the right surname!).
Jeanie O’Halloran adored the Evita Peron Museum and especially the chance to see some of Evita’s outfits in the flesh. Julia loved the modernistic MALBA museum (with a great building and collection of Latin American modern art, the nightly film shows get her vote) and Staci says “anyone wanting to experience how passionate Latinos can be” should definitely check out a local soccer game. While “not for the faint of heart,” it’s an experience you’ll never forget.
Riva Bacquet, our Director, was a fan of the walking tour of the street art in the Palermo neighborhood. “I really enjoyed learning the history of street art, how it’s evolved over time, and getting up close and personal with examples of each era of street art. It’s a great add-on to a regular private tour as it gives you greater insight and a unique perspective on the city.”
Wine and dine
When Jeanie lived in BA last year she frequented The Burger Joint in Palermo. “There’s only a handful of different types of burgers and maybe two beer options. You order at the bar and they shout your name when the food is ready. It’s very ‘hip’ and was always hard to find a seat.” She also loved Nola, a similar kinda joint where the speciality was southern fried chicken.
BA is not known for its vegetarian fare, but Staci was very happy with the veggie version of the choripan (Argentina’s superior take on the hotdog) at Chori in trendy Palermo. “My sandwich was filled with fried cheese and a variety of sauces and veggies.” Non-carnivores will also find plenty to munch on at Saigon Noodle Bar, says Kim Leary, who really enjoyed her Vietnamese rice noodles and banh mi sandwich. “I’m not a vegetarian, but I am a meat minimalist, so in the land where cow reigns king, this was a welcome relief.” The old school Lauryn Hill soundtrack didn’t harm, either.
Julia, on the other hands, says La Carniceria was “hands-down” her favorite…“Although as I’m sure you can tell from the name, every single item on the menu was meat.” She also liked Mishiguene (“very cool Jewish restaurant” that’s rated one of the best places to eat in Latin America) and Casa Cavia a quirky restaurant/printing house near the Japanese Gardens. “It’s definitely a swanky place, but has a great lunch deal that includes wine. There’s a pretty courtyard in the back, and the music-themed cocktail list is very interesting.
Stretch your legs
Buenos Aires is big and busy, but fortunately there are some really cool outdoorsy attractions outside town. Riva absolutely loved the ‘Bike & Kayak Tigre Tour’, although she would only recommend it for active types as it includes biking for several hours and about an hour of kayaking. The trip entails cycling to the train station within the city (“Guides were great at making me feel comfortable in the city traffic on a bike.”), then taking the train to San Isidro, an upmarket suburban area just outside Buenos Aires city limits. From there you cycle “along water, cobblestone streets and open, tree-lined roads” all the way to the Tigre Delta. At the delta you switch to kayaks and row to an island for a “meat heavy” and well-deserved lunch.
Another great way to get away from it all, says Riva, is to visit a polo estancia. Lots of folks go to traditional estancias, but the polo estancia gives you the unique opportunity of watching – and, if you’re feeling brave, even playing – polo. “For a horse-lover like me this is an added twist on a typical horse-ride and also a great way of discovering Argentine culture.” (Eight of the ten best players in the world are from Argentina – I can’t think of any other sport that is dominated by players from one country.) The estancia is close to the international airport so works nicely as an initial or final overnight/day tour.
One of the genuine gems of South America, Buenos Aires truly does have something for every kind of traveler. Discover this incredible city on one of our many Argentina itineraries or chat to one of our Destination Experts about crafting the bespoke city break of your dreams.
Credit to Sander Crombach for the title image of this blog.