This trip erupted some time last year when an agent rate to Buenos Aires came out to launch Air New Zealand’s new direct flight to Buenos Aires . I am unsure of the pricing now, but I recall it being too ridiculous to say no to. After mentioning it to travel companion número uno (that would be Jordan) and a quick chat to our friend (and also my colleague) Ben; myself, Jordan, Ben and his girlfriend had booked a trip to South America for June 2016.
Being on the same part of the southern hemisphere as New Zealand, the weather was similar – winter, which was a big contrast to my Texas trip only a week prior and because I was in the USA, research on Argentina was slim to none! We went into this trip, in hindsight, I feel very closed minded as we arrived to the shock of very little English being spoken. Being in an apartment, not a hotel, I think this was even more difficult as our late arrival meant only the one security guard (non-English speaking) to hand over our key. Still, we arrived ready to hit the hay and prepare for days ahead.
Tip number one: learn basic Spanish! “quatro tequila per favore” will not help when you are looking for a banyo (bathroom).
The bus tour we had booked for the following day was again very hard. While it was in Spanish followed by English, by the time the English translation came along, we had either passed the object being described or it seemed to be only half of the information the guide had mentioned in Spanish. None the less, alongside parliament and the city centre’s high lights, we were able to have a wander through La Boca which was on my “list”.
Because it was only a five day trip and 2/5 of those days were spent at Iguazu, instead of waffling on about our day to day, I have simply done some waffling on the bucket list ticks for this trip.
La Boca is a little neighbourhood in Buenos Aires where many European settlers migrated to – a bulk load being Italian. The “tourist spot” is a couple of blocks of colourful houses/homes of the migrants – some still relatively untouched and some converted into coffee shops and side streets with little shops where you can find trinkets and the like. Aside from this small area La Boca is a relatively poor neighbourhood and is “not safe” after dark or if you are lost alone.
In the neighbourhood of Recoleta you will find La Recoleta Cemetery one of the worlds “best” cemeteries. I thought that was an interesting word, but once you see it, you will understand why it is in the world’s top 10. It contains the graves of Eva Perón, some Argentine presidents and even a grand daughter of Napoleon. 94 of the thousands of vaults have been declared National Historical Monuments and are protected by the state. The cemetery was built to represent a small city and it certainly does feel like it as you find yourself walking through the small sections of blocks and branching down little “side streets” to ponder at various mausoleums. Some graves are well looked after while others have broken glass etc as you peer into the vaults to see the coffins inside. We did not do a tour of the cemetery; however, if you would like to know where the people of importance are buried and enjoy history of such places I would suggest doing one.
Tip number two: do a tour of a place if you want the historical background, but make sure you research if it is in English and/or refer to tip number one.
I could have stayed here for hours…
To all my book lovers out there, while you are out in Buenos Aires by foot make sure you stop by El Ateneo Grand Splendid, one of Argentina’s best known bookshops. It is an old theatre that has since been renovated into a book shop where the theatre seating has been replaced by bookshelves. Chairs are still available throughout the building where you can have a read before you purchase (though you need to refer to tip number one and test your Espanol, as the majority of books are in Spanish) and you can also grab a coffee on what was the stage, which is now the book store’s cafe.
One MUST DO in Argentina is the Argetine Experience. If you are looking for an English Speaking social night out with good food and unlimited wine, this is where you will find it. If you do not believe me, check out the raving reviews on trip adviser. Upon booking you have the option to take part in a cocktail making class before dinner, which is a blast, bow ties and all! You are shown how to make three signature cocktails which are paired with foods as you taste and are then put to the test to make one yourself and seeing what kind of “shake face” you have.
Dinner is then followed by a three course meal with wine paired to each food. As well as learning about foods you will also learn how to make some – such as the entree which are empanadas, a signature South American pastry, that you will make yourself in a custom chefs hat and apron to match. The main course of steak is cooked beautifully and you have the opportunity to meet fellow travellers along a long group table. Timing is perfect as while things are cooking you will find yourself doing interactive things such as an empanada making competition (I won!) and some neat language tips put on by the friendly staff. Did I mention unlimited wine?
If, or should I say when, you are in this neck of the woods you MUST spend the extra few hundred dollars and visit Iguazu, meaning “Big Water”, for it is here you will see the wonder that is Iguazu Falls and pop in to Brazil while you are at it!
The falls are the largest waterfall system in the world and the Iguazu River is what creates the boarders of Argentina and Brazil. We did a short 1 night tour with Intrepid flying into Iguazu airport from Argentina. On the day we arrived we checked into our hotel for the night. We were picked up by our English speaking (YAY!) guide who drove us across the boarder to Brazil to see the first side; here you can also do helicopter rides over the waterfall (which we did). They say the Brazilian side is like “looking into the paining” and the Argentine side “being inside the painting”.
If you like birds, while you are on the Brazilian side we also popped into the bird park: Park das Aves, where you will come in very close contact with some beautiful colourful birds!
Back on the Argentine side, inside the painting… and the Devil’s Throat, which is the beginning of the waterfalls, you can also do a boat ride (which we also did) that takes you right up to the spray of the waterfalls. Being winter, it was freezing however we were the only ones on board! You will see the Devil’s throat by air too on the Brazilian side.
Tip number three: bring a change of clothes if you plan on doing the boat and/or refer to tips number one and two.
Please note the pictures here do not do justice to what you see with your own eyes and the awe you feel in your soul when you are surrounded by something so naturally magnificent and beautiful. One thing you also need to remember is that the waterfall is not man made, therefore weather has a lot to do with your experience. For the time of year we went we were extremely lucky to have had blue skies and rainbows – a friend of mine was there in February only four months before us where it was grey, overcast and she did not see a thing!
Tip number four: check the weather forecast for natural wonders and/or refer to tips number one, two and three.
While you are in Puerto Iguazu make sure you have dinner at “Aqva” where they use fresh fish caught from the Iguazu river!
One last thing… ICE CREAM! In the Palermo area there are many cafes and many which have delicious ice cream but make sure you brush up on that tip number one, unless you are happy with a surprise-no-idea-what-he-said ice cream, like mine, below 🙂
Buenos Aires is a great destination for a quick stopover or for longer. You will definitely find something for everyone and the food (when you can order it) is phenomenal – just make sure you follow tip number… have you remembered it yet?
I hope you have enjoyed a short and sweet browse through another one of my trips. Thank you for reading/gracias por leer 🙂