We arrived in Buenos Aires around 3pm and without a hotel booking. We’d talked to a few travelers and read that the Palermo neighborhood was one of the cool spots to stay in, so we jumped in a cab and gave the address of a hotel we’d read about on Trip Advisor. When we got to the hotel, we didn’t expect it to be fully booked; in fact it never really crossed our minds that any of the hotels would be fully booked, but this quickly become the reality after the 3rd hotel was also booked up completely. Our nice cab driver took us to another hotel which only had a suite available, but we figured we’d take it and figure something else later on.
We’d already underestimated two things about Buenos Aires (a.k.a. BA). Hotel availability and the size of the city (huge- top 20 in the world). Throughout the week we discovered more things we’d underestimated, but you’ll have to read on for that.
We decided to walk around Palermo and the streets, restaurants and shops all looked amazing and unlike Santiago, we hardly saw any stray dogs. In fact, most dogs are well looked after pets and the only strays we saw were a poodle and sheep dog (go figure). We had read about the Argentinean culture and specifically the late dinners and vibrant social life. I have to say until you experience it you can never truly appreciate these people. They seem to play hard, enjoy life, and somehow work in-between. My only theory on how this is achieved is the Stella Artois we noticed everyone drinking and soon starting drinking as well. They serve it in one liter bottles for less than US $5 and the beer tastes so damn good, even Tovah couldn’t get enough of the beer. Devin Ramga would have been in complete heaven, so Devin, the beer on the right was for you! We spent several days in a row simply wandering around, stopping at cafes with patios, and drinking Stellas in the sun, leaving only to find yet another cafe to sample or a Parilla for dinner (which serve the famous Argentine steaks that we were actually a bit disappointed with).
We found BA to be an incredibly stylish city too (which led me to finally shave my beard and for Tovah to regret her packing decisions) and everyone seems to constantly be outside socializing. Although Tovah’s Spanish was getting pretty good, many more people spoke English and when they didn’t, were amazingly friendly. We posted a request on A Small World (a.k.a. ASW – social network website) to meet up with locals to check out some of the hot-spots. We only got one response, but undoubtedly, it was the right response. Our hostess, beginning on Thursday was a wonderful lady called Romi, whom we got along so well with that we saw her everyday after right up until she literally put us in a taxi to the airport (and negotiated a rate for us and insisted the driver put on the A/C for us) She took us to all the best places, including several that were invite-only, and hooked us up with VIP service absolutely everywhere.
We also decided to rent a condo for the remaining week rather than staying at a hotel. We found this really cool place in Palermo that gave us a lot more space at a cheaper price. Originally we’d planned on going to Iguazu Falls during the week but it didn’t seem worth it anymore given the cost and time it would take. Apart from that we were enjoying BA so much and knew we’d be back one day and could go there then.
We visited the Evita Museum which was OK, and discovered that cats own the parks and gardens in the city. I’ve never seen so many cats hanging out in a park, and people coming into the park to feed them, much like birds.
One thing everyone had told us to do in BA was to checkout a Tango show. We found a few online, but Romi recommended what she believed was the best Tango show in BA. We tried to buy tickets, but they were fully booked so we started looking for alternatives. As soon as we told Romi this, she went on a mission to get us into the sold out show. What we realized about Romi was she knew absolutely everyone in BA. She called the owner of the Theatre and got us a VIP table, picked us up from our Condo and took us to the show. The show was amazing, I only hope the video reflects that.
Romi truly made our BA experience incredible and Tovah and I couldn’t thank her enough for her hospitality and friendship. We met various friends of hers and other ASW travelers from France, Columbia, USA, etc. Went clubbing until 6am (Club was still going very strong when we left), drank Champagne, and explored the city in a way most travelers can’t. BA is definitely on my top 5 cities in the world, and certainly number 1 for it’s social life. BA put the icing on the cake for South America and our desire to return some day with friends and family.