Anuja and Mayank were in Argentina in February 2012 and, after introducing us to the pleasures of the Carnaval in Salvador, they now take us along on their reminiscences about Buenos Aires.
Open, airy, beautiful and so European in its feel…that’s what Buenos Aires is. The city is divided into barrios (neighbourhoods) of which Puerto Madero, San Telmo, Recoleta, Palermo are the most important.
Incidentally, Puerto Madero, a planned waterfront district, is where we stayed at the Faena hotel. Designed by Philippe Starck, this spacious hotel offers over-the-top elegance. It occupies an old grain silo and has everything from a cabaret stage to a hammam, with 110 rooms.
It is a gorgeous hotel with beautiful rooms, and more importantly, with most beautiful and well-dressed people in Buenos Aires. It has a great bar with special evenings now and then where the city’s beautiful people turn up – the perfect place to people watch! The Rojo Tango show in the hotel is not to be missed. Expensive, yes, but a must watch. OUR TIP: Take the option without dinner.
Puerto Madero is by the Río de la Plata dotted with restaurants all along the two sides of the waterfront development. It’s great to walk around and see what you like and a must do here is a meal at the Cabaña las Lilas. Widely considered the best parrilla (barbecue) in Buenos Aires, the 400-seat eatery is always packed for its variety of steaks. The table “cover” — which includes dried tomatoes, mozzarella, olives, peppers, and delicious garlic bread — nicely whets the appetite. They also offer a good salad selection, so even vegetarians can share a table with friends.
While on food, eating Provoleta, a barbecued cheese dish, is a must while in Argentina. It is available at most restaurants especially the grills.
Recoleta is where the old cemetery is and a place not to be missed. The entire cemetery is laid out in sections like city blocks, with wide tree-lined main walkways branching into sidewalks filled with mausoleums. The most important French and Italian designers have shops in Recoleta and the neighbourhood has two main shopping avenues. While high end shopping is on Avenue Alvear there are two malls in the area with good options for shopping – Gallarias Pacifico and Patio Bullrich. Check out La Martina, an Argentinian brand, known for its Polo tradition.
It is easy to spend an entire day in the Palermo neighbourhood. With lovely local stores and fabulous restaurants and cafes dotted all over, one can start at breakfast and continue until the evening. Arm yourself with a map and you will find that six to eight crossroads have all the stores amongst them. Design wise the stores are spectacular. Osaka is a much talked about Japanese restaurant in Palermo but we felt it was highly overrated.
San Telmo, the old part of the city has many antique stores with a flea market on Sundays. Good to walk around once can see street tango shows and experience vibrant street music. La Brigada is the place for a meal when you are in this area of Buenos Aires.
To sum it up, we feel that 3-4 days in Buenos Aires are sufficient. You get great shopping, especially for men. When it comes to moving around town, cabs are easy to find and, in general, not very expensive. The food is lovely with eating at the local grills definitely an experience not to be missed. Remember, they eat late and most restaurants are open till midnight. Clubs open very late, around 1am and carry on till about 4-5 in the morning.