Buenos Aires Through New Eyes

Written By: jeff

Posted On: April 24th, 2011

career break, career break travel, career break advice, travel the world, Argentina travel, Uruguay travel

Mike and Joy at the big flower in Buenos Aires. Copyright

This week was a real treat.  Two of my friends from San Antonio, Mike and Joy, came down to BA to spend their Thanksgiving holiday with me.  So, I had the duty to show them around the town.  They arrived on Saturday morning, the 17th, and after a quick workout, I met them at their hotel around noon and we headed out for lunch in Palermo at Minga.  To properly welcome them to BA, I thought it would be appropriate to have a typical Argentina asado (barbeque).  We had a little excitement as the hostess stand on the sidewalk fell prey to a grab and go robbery.  I’ve been here for months and this was the first time I had seen anything like this.

We walked around Palermo and made our way down to the Plaza Italia and past the zoo and botanical garden.  The city is filled with the purple Jacaranda trees which are all in bloom.  The parks and city streets are lined with beautiful purply flowered trees everywhere, all beautifully scented.  Around 5, I returned Mike and Joy to the hotel to rest before a long night out.  On our way out, we went to the Gay Pride parade which was wild and lots of fun.  We had a beautiful Peruvian meal at Ceviche in Palermo along with other friends from San Antonio, Chris and Nancy, who also were traveling to Argentina this week.  We were also joined by my Argentinean friend Karina.

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Mike at the San Telmo Market. Copyright

Sunday we spent the day walking and shopping.  First, we met up at the San Telmo market.  I had been in September, but as tourist season has geared up, the market has exploded.  It is a bit touristy, but still a must-see.  There were all kinds of things to buy from art to antiques to leather goods.  There were street performers of every ilk and the sound of tango bands filled the air.  After a quick lunch, we walked away from San Telmo towards the Retiro district through the Florida street market to find “leather alley.”  We continued on – to be clear, these guys were wearing me out – to the Malvinas Memorial.  We finished up with a quick tour by the Obelisk.  Mike almost had his Blackberry stolen by a guy on a bike.  We think Mike was a target because of his new bright white tennis shoes.  This stuff never happens to me alone; now we’ve had two incidents in two days – damn tourists, hehehe.  We took a quick break then met up for dinner.  The restaurants I had picked were closed, but we had a very friendly and helpful taxi driver who helped us find, Estilo Campo, a great steak place in the Puerto Madero barrio.

Chris and Nancy went on to Patagonia for a few days so Mike, Joy and I continued on.  We met up at my place and had lunch at Rabelais, a French restaurant that was somewhat disappointing.  We then walked over to the Recoleta cemetery where Evita is buried.  We headed over through the parks to see the “Floralis Generica” sculpture, a giant steel sculpture.  We grabbed a cab and headed across town to see the Casa Rosada, the main government executive house.  We found a cafe to rest and enjoy a beer.  We were feeling a little tired so Mike suggested that we go back to their hotel, order a pizza and drink some wine – which is exactly what we did.  We called it an early night since we were leaving early the next day to go to Colonia, Uruguay.

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Arriving to Colonia, Uruguay. Copyright

We arrived at the ferry terminal of Buquebus at 7AM to buy our tickets to Colonia.  We made the 1 hour boat ride over to find Kim, my kiwi sister, waiting for us.  She arrived a day and a half earlier and had been exploring Uruguay a bit more after I left her in Punta Del Este.  We spent the day walking around this incredibly beautiful colonial town enjoying the old buildings, art galleries, shops, docks, etc.  Kim found us a great Italian restaurant where we dined on the sidewalk on fresh caprese salads, pastas and seafood.  The owners were a gay couple that had been in the business for a while and were very charming.  We boarded the ferry at 9 and made our way back to BA.  We dropped our stuff at my place then walked over to a row of restaurants along the Recoleta Cemetery to find a nice steak and seafood restaurant.

On Wednesday, we met up and took a cab over to the Plaza Serrano in the Palermo district.  We found a restaurant with couches and had a great light lunch.  We headed over to the Botanical Gardens for a quick walk through.  They were nice, but not nearly as great as the one in Rio.  We then headed out towards the Museum of Latin America Art (MALBA).  The museum had a great selection of Latin American artists including Frida (saw her self-portrait), Diego Rivera and Fernando Botero.  We headed over to Freddo, my favorite ice cream shop in the world to introduce Mike and Joy to the grand, creamy experience.  We headed back towards the apartment and hotel through several great parks in full bloom with plenty of people out for the afternoon alone, with their partner or with their dogs.  It was Joy’s birthday so we had a celebratory dinner at Oveido, a great Spanish restaurant.

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Old lighthouse in Colonia, Uruguay. Copyright

On Thursday, we met up for lunch in Recoleta and had a quick lunch at La Strada, an Italian restaurant.  We walked back over to Palermo to check out the Evita museum.  I was wiped and found a seat next to a comfy wall where I took a cat nap while Mike and Joy enjoyed the museum.  We saw the pictures, stories, movies and jewelry of her life.  It was great.  Joy started feeling sick so we found a cafe where she could rest a bit.  Feeling slightly better, we grabbed a cab back to the apartment and hotel to rest up for dinner.  Unfortunately Joy was down for the count (24 hour bug) so Mike and I met up with Nancy and Chris who had just returned from El Calafate.  We ate at Bengal, one of my favorites in BA.  We ordered the tasting menu and dined like royalty.  We ate exquisite food, drank incredible wine and had a great time.  In total, we had 7 courses of food, including 3 courses of desserts.  The food just kept coming and coming.

On Friday, I met Mike and Joy at their hotel as they were finishing up their packing.  Their goal was to finish up their shopping so we walked around so they could get what they needed – they found some great stuff!!!  We went back to the hotel so they could pack up their goods (in the extra suitcase they brought).  Around 7PM, we had a sad goodbye.  We had a great week and we were all sad to see it end.  Plus, we knew that we wouldn’t be seeing each other for a while.

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Meeting up with Kim in Colonia. Copyright

I met up with Nancy and Chris in San Telmo for dinner at Defensa Al Sur, where we had a great meal.  I had the best rack of lamb ever.  They had plans to see a tango show but missed it as our dinner ran long.  While in San Antonio, I didn’t get to know Nancy and Chris well.  But, it was great to catch up and get to know each other better.  We spent Saturday having lunch and finding the final few items that they wanted to buy before leaving.  Late afternoon we said our goodbyes so they could head back to the states.

It was refreshing to see old friends from back home.  I’ve been meeting new people all year which has been great – even keeping up with a few.  But, it was nice to be able to be around familiar faces again.  I also got to see BA through the eyes of my friends making their first trip to here.  To Chris and Nancy, I would love to see you guys again in some other exotic place. And, a special thanks to Mike and Joy for making a special trip out to see me.  I really appreciated it and had a great time – it was like I had never left.  Only next time Joy, we will have that tennis game.  Hopefully we can do it again – soon.  Can’t wait to see your pics!  It all went by way too fast.

Originally Published November 24, 2007

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