Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is internationally recognized as “The Paris of South America,” and during our one week stay, it was easy to see why: the elegant avenues and exquisite architecture evoked more feelings of a European capital than that of a Latin American metropolis. An entire week was the most amount of time we had allotted to a single city, finally allowing us to explore at a leisurely pace. We stayed in a one-bedroom apartment in the posh neighborhood of Palermo and experienced Argentine living at its best.
FLORIDA, CORRIENTES, NEUVE DE JULIO… ALL I WANT TO KNOW!
Minh sang all the songs of the musical Evita as we strolled the streets of Buenos Aires, and stroll we did—up to 10-12 miles everyday! Despite a great subway system at less than a dollar per ride, we couldn’t resist seeing as much of this beautiful city on foot as possible. Some of the sites we covered included:
1. Casa Rosada, the executive mansion and office of the President of Argentina.
2. Recoleta Cemetery, where the wealthiest and most important Argentinians are buried, including Eva Peron.
3. Florida Street, the downtown pedestrian shopping street lined with money-changers yelling, “Cambio, cambio, cambio!”
4. The Sunday Market in San Telmo, bustling with artisans and antiquities.
5. La Boca, with its colorful houses and infestation of tourist traps.
DUAL IMPRESSIONS AND DUAL CURRENCY EXCHANGES
It’s a good thing first impressions aren’t everything. We originally visited Buenos Aires on a 13-hour layover between Iguazu Falls and Ushuaia and were understandably underwhelmed. There wasn’t enough time to see anything but Florida Street. Determined to love it, we came back after working our way up Chile and over to Uruguay. Since this second time around we were able to stock up on US dollars to exchange on the blue market, everything essentially became over 30% off. What would be an expensive city and country at the official exchange rate of 8.5 pesos to the dollar is a steal of a deal at the blue market rate of 12-14 pesos to the dollar. How the blue market rate is set and openly exists is a mystery to us, but we’ll take it!
DON’T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA
We had dreams of retiring in Buenos Aires long before we ever set foot in Argentina. Maybe it was the name, which means “Good Airs” or “Fair Winds” in Spanish… or the très chic association with Paris… or Madonna belting that famous ballad on the balcony of the Casa Rosada that had us romanticizing a life as porteños… Whatever the reasons, we actually fell in love with Buenos Aires more than we both expected. And there’s so much history and culture we have yet to unlock. You may notice we didn’t even mention “tango” once in this blog post. Until next time and a “next time” there will surely be!