Big, bueno, beautiful

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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Recoleta Cemetery

Buenos Aires is a city with a lot to offer, as any backpacker you meet will tell you. Ever since Argentina`s economy collapsed in 2000, it`s been a cheap, accessible place to visit with great food, shopping and nightlife. So I was looking forward to this city of wonders (especially for the steak), and I wasn`t disappointed.

The hostel: We stayed at Milhouse, another Hostelling International that had been recommended to me by several people. It`s the biggest hostel I`ve stayed in in South America, for sure, which is on one hand, good for meeting people, but on the other hand, kind of bad for meeting people - I would have hated to be by myself. It also needs more communal space, as the eating/bar area tended to get crammed every night. But the rooms were clean, half-decent beds and bathrooms and big cage-like lockers in every room to put your gear in.

Eva Peron's grave
The hostel is also right next door to a porn cinema and the lovely sounds of the films waft up through the bathroom windows at all hours of the day (I bet the guys loved it). The best thing about the hostel was the information they provided: every day they would write up what`s on in town on a little whiteboard in the foyer, and the staff were all very helpful about catching buses, opening hours for shops and markets, and restaurant recommendations. They even did walking tours of certain districts in Buenos Aires, and organised tickets to clubs which included a transfer to the club and a queue-jump (and sometimes a free drink). These last two things tended to have a bit of a school-excursion feel about them, but hey, when you`ve jumped a queue of about 30 Argentinians to get into the club, you can`t complain (I didn`t go on a walking tour).
Street in Recoleta Cemetery

Nightlife: Buenos Aires has some huuuge clubs, at least compared to Sydney - I`m talking about 4 big rooms, one with a water feature in it. On our first Saturday night there, we went to Opera Bay which had a choice of hip-hop, house, darker electronic stuff and cheesy 80s synth rooms. The club became packed after around 2am. It was a fun night out but I would have liked to have spent more time in rooms other than the hip-hop one, except that the one time we ventured into another room, and Argentinian boy tried to molest Tash so we got out of there quick smart.

On a Tuesday night, I headed out to a drum and bass gig with a bunch of English and Irish people from the hostel (Tash isn`t into drum and bass). We paid through the hostel, and our tickets included two free drinks but we had to make our own way there. The music was great, actually, and it was a much smaller club of just one main room and a small bar off to the side. Unfortunately, these two nights were the only nights I went out - but I didn`t mind so much; it`s a different experience when you`re not with your own friends.

Shopping: was cheap and good, and I went a bit overboard. Having worn the same clothes over and over in the last 2.5 months, it was time to get new ones - but I ended up sending another package home (well, Tash and I shared it as she had brought too much stuff) full of books and clothes. There are at least two big shopping malls in central Bs As, and several main streets lined with anything from book stores to designer clothes and shoe stores, as well as regular markets. We visited the San Telmo (tango district) markets and I went to the weekend La Boca markets on my own, all had the usual handmade jewellery and silverwork stalls but also some unique stuff, like matchsticks carved to look like tango dancers or golf players, mate bowls and even masks.

Food: This was a highlight of Bs As for us. We went to several restaurants, many cafés and ate some great ice cream. Several stand outs: we stopped by a pizza cafeteria because I wanted a snack, and the empanada I ordered was made fresh to order! Amazing. We stuffed ourselves on a big bowl of calamari and chicken mains at a funkily decorated restaurant/bar. The bakery just down the road sold everything: fresh sandwiches, pre-packed cold salads, empanadas, sweet pastries, luscious looking cakes, and even gourmet chocolate. Oh, and bread of course. Trying to compensate for all the meat I was eating, I started having egg and lettuce sandwiches for breakfast every morning, with a freshly squeezed orange juice (also from the bakery). One lunch time I had asado, for 7 pesos. It was two big slabs - quite fatty, but tasty. The pizza shop down the road did 6 peso mozarella pizzas that were great, fast and cheap. And for our last meal together in Bs As, we went to a highly recommended place in San Telmo, called Des Nivel. It´s not a fancy place, but it´s popular with the locals (and I´m sure everyone in Milhouse knows about it too). We both had the tenderloin, and it was the best steak I`ve ever had in my life. A big slab of meat, cooked perfectly, but also just a great cut of meat, with no gristle or fat, incredibly tender and so tasty. Accompanied with little round potatoes, salad and red wine - the perfect meal! The restaurant head waiter is a huge (tall and wide) Argentinian man who gave us a hug when we arrived and when we left.

The only real sightseeing we did in Bs As was visit the cemetery in Recoleta. It`s huge, with narrow streets you can wander along between all the mausoleums and graves. Evita`s grave is there, but it´s a bit of a let-down, really. Some of the older graves are eerily decrepit, and it was a grey and rainy day when we went which added to the atmosphere.

So, goodbye to Buenos Aires - it`s got everything you could possibly want. (It also looks bigger than any city I`ve seen - the high rises just go on and on and on). May I one day return...

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Recoleta Cemetery
Recoleta Cemetery
Eva Perons grave
Eva Peron's grave
Street in Recoleta Cemetery
Street in Recoleta Cemetery