Fabulous Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires was a wonderful surprise. Apart from booking hotels and a few flights within Argentina (to Iguazu Falls and Mendoza), I did very little planning. I wanted to arrive and then just… wander.

Do you ever feel that same urge?

At times reading too much about a destination ahead of time colors my perception of it. On the ground, I want my senses to be alive. I want to notice unexpected details and be delighted by fresh personal discoveries.

It turned out that having few expectations was a perfect way to discover Buenos Aires. My first day, I spent hours exploring the Recoleta Cemetary, San Telmo and downtown districts. In no way was I disappointed with colors, culture, sights, tango, and oh my goodness, the food!

One disadvantage of not reading up ahead of time though was that my apparel was ill-chosen. I visited Argentina in July and should have known better about the seasonal flip flop between Northern and Southern Hemispheres But at that time, I was living in San Diego and somehow “forgot” that other places didn’t have mild weather year round. I had to buy a few pieces to tide me over, including a hat and gloves when I visited Mendoza.

1. The Casa Rosada is the sight of many political rallies and speeches. I can see Eva Peron hailing the crowd from the famous balcony.

2. The Art Hotel in Buenos Aires is an excellent value. This 100 year old former townhouse is a stylish and well situated hotel in the Barrio Norte Recoleta district. The rooms were comfy and service top notch.

3. One of my favorite photographs from any of my travels is this street performer with his mini-me puppet. They are wearing identical outfits right down to the red suspenders and socks!

4. Argentina’s colors… blue and white souvenirs and jerseys abound on the streets. I wonder what the little boy in the corner is pointing at?

5. From a restaurant in the charming San Telmo district, I spied this street mime on stilts. To the crowd’s surprise, he reached down and pulled a baby into his arms. I had a few tense moments expecting the mime to stumble and the baby slip from his grasp, but baby’s mother had no anxiety at all.

6. The Recoleta Cemetary is stunning. The big draw of course is Eva Peron’s tomb, but we saw plenty of other gorgeous ones to admire.

7. I couldn’t get over the food in Argentina. It was all delicious, fresh, and inexpensive. I especially loved the flan with cajeta (which sadly, I did not photograph)

8. I realize I’m late to the party about this one, but one of my favorite “discoveries” was the thriving Tango culture. I was amazed by how prevalent the dancing and music are in Argentine lifestyle. I loved watching tango dance performers on the streets, attending milongas dance parties in the evenings, and hearing lively music trailing out of passing cars and shops everywhere.

9. Strolling the city, I happened upon this tree in a park. I  couldn’t resist a photo sitting on the lovely branch. Unfortunately, I didn’t record this location. Anyone out there know?

How do you best discover a place when you travel? Are you a planner or a wanderer?

36 thoughts on “Fabulous Buenos Aires

  1. I find wandering to be the best way to discover a new area. I read up before hand, but stay away from guided tours. There is usually so much culture to discover that I don’t quite mind not finding whatever it was that I set out to find when I left in the morning.
    Happy traveling 🙂

    • maryrichardson

      Dear Souzan,
      I agree that many times I get sidetracked from my original plan, but end up finding something perhaps better! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. How was the flight? Argentina is on our wish list, but I’ve heard horror stories about the flight to get there. We are huge lovers of South American wine and really want to visit some vineyards.

    • maryrichardson

      Dear Kendra,
      The flight from San Diego to BA was pretty awful, but that was because our row of seats had no electricity! Would you be flying from Europe? We visited Mendoza for wine tasting and vineyard touring and it was really lovely… I love South American Malbecs, so I’m with you! I highly recommend going!

  3. Amy

    I am an over-researcher, at times, and I can’t shake the feeling that I am missing something when I don’t do some advance research and have some sort of game plan. But wandering around is so fun and interesting. So I waver back and forth.

    Love that tree, by the way. I can’t wait to go to Buenos Aires. South America got the boot on our round-the-world trip so someday…

    • maryrichardson

      Dear Amy,
      Like you, if I’m going to what I perceive as a big place, I tend to get more into the planning, but if a city seems small to me and there’s a metro, I let go somehow… I hope you make it to South America soon. You know, for the longest time, SA got pushed off my travel itinerary too. Then I went, and now i feel like a whole new continent is waiting…

    • maryrichardson

      Dear Andi,
      Lucky you! I was in BA for only a few days and then I travelled other parts of Argentina. The whole trip was sadly only 10 days… how long are you going for? What’s on your agenda?

  4. I overresearch a lot too – I think it has to do with often being on such a limited time-crunch when traveling and needing to plan to maximize everything.

    I couldn’t agree more that non-planning is a beautiful travel luxury…should be indulged as much as possible! Gorgeous pix and a perfectly unplanned vacation…thank you – I feel like I went on a mini-vacation myself 🙂

    • maryrichardson

      Dear Jude,
      It’s true that when there’s only a few days you feel like you have to organize the time… it’s funny but sometimes when it’s a destination I’ve been dreaming about, I’m more likely to put a lot into the research. If it’s a destination that only recently popped up my radar, then I don’t so much. In the latter case, I’m usually so pleasantly surprised.

  5. Ahhh, Buenos Aires and Argentina in general. I can never get enough of that country. Lucky you, you’ve been there. I haven’t. If it’s you posing in front of the Casa Rosada, you probably blended in very well with the Argentinians. That building brings to mind Fito Paez’s song “Cuervos en Casa”: “Estoy sangrando por algún pulmón/Cuervos en Casa Rosada, Cuervos en Casa Rosada.
    Cría cuervos, la Casa Rosada.”

    Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

    • maryrichardson

      Dear Cuban,
      Yes, that’s me in front of the Casa Rosada! I do have a Latin background (Mexican mother), so I might have blended in after all! I’m going to look that song up… I’m happy to have a music alternative association for the building. In my mind, it’s the whole Andrew Lloyd Weber Evita songlist…

  6. Mary, we were in Buenos Aires in January – for the first time after being a tango dancer for over 8 years. I hope you took some lessons. Argentine Tango is beautiful, subtle, romantic and complicated but there is no other dance like it….And you know, Recoleta did not quite have the same impact. Of course I wanted to visit Eva Perone’s tomb but it made me extremely sad and I had to get out of there fast….I hardly expected such a reaction…
    I linked to my post about Argentina so we can compare notes. Where is all your shopping? I went tango shoe crazy as you can see ;)!

  7. Hi Mary!

    Sometimes I plan a little, sometimes a lot and sometimes I don’t. The first time I went to Florence oh-so-long-ago was on a whim…there’s something to be said for not planning – I was incredibly relaxed because I up with some very relaxed friends, and had the luxury of being there for 10 days- which made it possible to put off all the “must-dos” until the end. By then knew enough to know what I wanted to concentrate on in a museum like the Uffizi,

    Oh my, I love your photos and perspective on Buenos Aires… makes me want to pack right up and leave today (and just maybe pick up a guidebook at the airport – but not necessarily 🙂

    • maryrichardson

      Thanks Margo!
      10 days relaxing with friends in Italy sounds heavenly to me! I think it’s enough time to know how to concentrate your efforts when you have to… if not, what a reason to return!

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  9. That tree looks like it’s straight out of a fantasy novel. One of the perils of wandering, I guess, is that you often forget how you got there, or where it was. But it’s great when you’re actually experiencing it.

    • maryrichardson

      Dear Beth,
      You have an excellent point- it’s hard to make it back to that exact spot! In my mind, I can somewhat remember how I strolled to reach that park, but i’d never be able to give directions to anyone else!

  10. Joe Freire

    • Like Margo, Sometimes I plan a little, sometimes a lot and sometimes I don’t. It depends on what I want, according to that; I choose what the best way to enjoy a place is. For example when I went to Argentina, I was a planner. My trip to Buenos Aires with my wife was something marvelous, and it was possible thanks to the careful plans that we made. We had the opportunity to attend to a football match and a Tango Dinner Show, both events were book in advance trough bsas4u, those activities were amazing things that we could only enjoyed on that way, we also did some wanderer stuff that we really enjoyed, and that with the planned activities made us to have a fascinating time.

    • maryrichardson

      Dear Joe,
      A football match in Argentina sounds amazing! That’s one experience there I wish I’d planned! Thanks for stopping by…

  11. Fantastic photos Mary. I’m a wanderer and a planner. I love to explore and discover new places, however, I still like to have a general knowledge of where I’m going. Be detailed but not too detailed is my motto. 🙂

  12. I lean toward being a wanderer. They’ve been times when this has backfired, like when I’m just wandering around trying to figure out where to go and just wasting my precious time. Now I just make a rough outline of what areas and things I want to visit for the day and night and work out how to get to each place. I can never be one of those people who make reservations for certain shows and restaurants months prior!

  13. winxrocker

    A few of my friends were planning a trip there, but sadly, I couldn’t go along with them. One of these days I am going to make SURE to go there. The pictures of Igazu Falls they brought back made me envious of them.

    • maryrichardson

      I hope you make it there! You won’t be disappointed… you can also go to the Brazilian side of the falls. I didn’t do it at the time because I didn’t want to buy another visa, but now I sort of regret it.

      • winxrocker

        Thanks for the tip! I’ll have to see about the visa though, I’m going this December. We’re going to spend Christmas with my mom’s sister, she lives there.
        I’ve heard Brazilian visas aren’t so easy to get, so we’re trying to make arrangements well in advance…

  14. Raffaella

    I have a picture with that same tree!! Or at least I think it’s the one, and there were at least 6 or 7 of them, it was in a small plaza in the Recoleta neighbourhood somewhere around Plaza Francia.

  15. I went to Buenos Aires last month. There I saw local people and even foreigners walking a lot! So, I wanted to know the city in the “local way” and I booked a walking city tour around Palermo and it’s green areas. It was great! I would recommend to everyone who wants to know a real Buenos Aires. My guide was perfect, very kind and has an undefectible english. I booked it with a local agency called BsAs4U (www.bsas4u.com), and it couldn’t be better!!

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