After another long bus ride, we arrived in Buenos Aires first thing in the morning. It was barely even light out when we got in and we didn’t want to have to deal with figuring out another bus to our hostel, so we hopped in a cab. The cab dropped us off at the corner of our hostel’s one-way street, we paid the driver, picked up all of our bags and started walking the half a block to get there.
Dave stopped to look in the window of a tango restaurant on the way, but I kept going. When I walked up to our hostel’s door, there was a man dressed in a suit who told me that he worked there and would help me up with my bags. I set them down so that he could help me and told him that I was just waiting for my husband. He peeked around the corner at Dave, and the next thing I knew, he was gone… And with one of my bags. By the time I had realized what happened, the man was out of sight. I yelled to Dave (who was still down the block) about what happened, but he also had three bags in his hands and couldn’t just drop them to chase after the man.
I had been carrying three bags with me. One had our computer, ipods, camera, all of our medicine, among other things, the second had all of our clothes for Everest. The third bag, and the one that was stolen, had the rest of my clothes in it. Jeans, shoes, sweaters, tshirts, shorts, leggings, makeup… all gone. Even though I no longer had any clothes, I still felt pretty lucky because if he had taken either of my other two bags, we would have been in real trouble. Luckily, all of the clothes that got stolen were replaceable. The biggest loss was the extra batteries and the charger for our camera. I was pretty shocked about the whole thing, but again, it could have been much worse.
As a result of the theft, we had to spend the rest of our day recovering. After we exchanged some money (again, without saying too much, we came out like bandits on this deal), we went to the police station (we wanted to file a police report to use so that we could make a claim to our insurance company; we bought travel insurance before we left which covered, among other things, theft), got me a new pair of jeans to wear for the week, wrote a letter to our insurance company, etc. Not the most fun way to start off our trip to BA, but we had actually arrived about a day and a half earlier than planned (bc of our cancelled trip to Santiago), so luckily, we at least had some time to spare.
By dinner time, we were pretty much done with everything we had to take care of, and even though we knew we wanted to call it an early night, we still had to eat. The man working at our hostel (this guy actually did work there) told us to go check out some of the restaurants in Puerto Madero, about 8 blocks from where we were staying. We scouted them out and quickly realized that they were all pretty expensive and fancy, so we decided to look elsewhere (we think he sent us there because it’s known to be a very safe neighborhood and he didn’t want us to get robbed again), and we ended up finding this great pizza place right down the street from our hostel. BA has great pizza and it’s very similar to Chicago’s deep dish (though of course, doesn’t quite measure up). We got ours with ham, cheese, peppers, and olives (typical BA) and we left stuffed!
We woke up the next morning and were ready to start having some fun in BA. We had coffee and breakfast at our hostel (every day they served toast with the most amazing dulce de leche spread and also bottomless coffee which is pretty much unheard of anywhere in South America) and decided on our plan for the day. We were going to run through Puerto Madero (where we had been the night before) to the La Boca neighborhood to see the soccer (futbol) stadium and then have lunch on the famous colorful street of Caminto. After that, we’d walk back through San Telmo, which is famous for its many antique shops and big weekend antique market.
The run by the water through Puerto Madero was beautiful, though not as long as we would have liked. We stopped several times along the way to check out some more menus and take some pics, and of course, Dave stopped as soon as we found one of his favorite outdoor gyms (he really loves them!). At the end of the port, we had to run through a park in order to get to La Boca. As soon as we got there, we saw that there was a huge market going on, so of course, we had to take a peek. We looked through rows and rows of clothes (it seemed like it was a big garage sale) and I slowly started rebuilding my wardrobe with a new pair of gloves and a long-sleeve shirt.
This little detour took a while, and by the time we were done searching, we were getting pretty hungry. The second we saw a big grill with tons of sausages and steak, we knew that our lunch in La Boca would no longer be happening. We got one steak sandwich and one sausage sandwich and loaded both up with our new favorite condiment, churrasco sauce. They were both amazing AND they only set us back around 50 pesos (about $5).
After lunch, we continued on our way to the La Boca stadium. Dave was of course more excited to see this than I was but once we got there, I had to admit that it was pretty cool. Not only was the entire stadium painted blue and yellow, every building and shop on the street next to the stadium was painted in the team’s colors as well. We peeked into a bunch of the shops, went into the stadium gift shop and took a bunch of pictures before heading to Caminito.
It was a little chilly in BA (though it felt more like the beginning of fall than the dead of winter) and I was thinking to myself that I could really use a snack/maybe a hot chocolate. We walked around a corner to the Caminito area and voila! There was a big festival going on and coincidentally they were handing out (for free) exactly what I had been thinking about. We each got a cup of hot chocolate (we think it was actually hot white chocolate, which was even better) and then shared a pastry. Though this area is very touristy, it’s also very cute and fun to walk around. Every house and building is painted a different very bright color, there are tons of souvenir shops, and even more restaurants.
We spent the next hour or so checking out the whole area and by this time it was 3 or 4 and we had no idea how it had gotten so late! We left La Boca and started walking (back through our park) to San Telmo. Our hostel told us to walk down Defensa St. which was lined with tons of antique shops. Finally, we made it to Plaza Dorrago for the weekend antique market. We had seen an awesome map in Mendoza that we loved (a map of the world that shows all of the famous landmarks, many of which we are visiting on this trip, like Machu Picchu, Everest, Taj Mahal, etc. in addition to city names), and found it again at the market. When we saw it the first time, the store had been closed, so this time we knew we had to get it (especially since it cost $3).
After we were done with our shopping, we needed another snack/drink. We had read that BA is famous for its cafes and I thought I recognized Plaza Durrago Bar as one of the ones we had read about. I looked it up to confirm, and when we saw that they were giving away free peanuts with their beer, we had no choice but to go in (we were actually going to purchase peanuts on the street anyways, so figured we may as well get a couple of beers to go with them for more or less the same price).
The entire cafe (tables, walls, bars) was all wood and every single surface was decorated with carvings of people’s names dating back to when it opened. It was a very cool place and the perfect spot for a beer. It was especially fun to throw all of our peanut shells right on the table when we were done with them (this is what we saw everyone doing, so we joined in).
Finally, we were ready to make our way home. It was our plan to go to a club later in the night, so we had to get back to get ready. We had only booked our hostel for one night because we thought we might do an overnight trip somewhere on our second day (didn’t end up happening because after really reading about BA, we realized we needed all the time we could get). The first night we had stayed in a private room, but for the second night, all they had available was a 4-person dorm room. We could have switched to another hostel, but after the robbery incident, we figured it was safer and easier to just stay where we were. So when we got back to our hostel, we walked in and saw that only the two top bunks were available, and someone was taking a nap on one of the bottoms. We quickly showered, got ready, had a few drinks, made a big to-go drink, and headed back out.
The person at our hostel (he was very helpful!) told us that if we wanted to go to a club, we should head to Palermo. And, while we were there, we should check out his favorite restaurant, Las Cabras. He said they have huge portions for very cheap, and in his opinion, it was the best restaurant in BA. Obviously, we couldn’t say no to that.
We attempted to take the bus, but somehow missed the stop and ended up 10 minutes past where we were supposed to be. Whoops! On the map, it had looked like there was a river that we’d be crossing over so that’s what we were looking for, but it turned out that it was actually a highway – I guess that’s how we missed it. Also, by this point, we had gotten pretty drunk, so not the best combo for us getting to where we needed to be. When we realized how far out of our way we were, we decided to not waste any more time and just get in a cab to the restaurant.
We got there at around 10:30 and were told there would be a 40-minute wait. We know everyone eats late in BA, so we should have expected this and maybe brought a snack, but at this point, we were both too hungry and too drunk to wait that long. Instead, we went around the corner and picked up (another) pizza. This time, the place was called Kentucky Pizza, and though we were reluctant to go anywhere with the word Kentucky, after scouting out the area, it actually looked like the best/most popular pizza plaee around.
After dinner, we made our way to find a club. The first one we saw had a huge line, and we decided to go in (for 70 pesos or $8). After about 5 minutes inside, we admitted that we were both too drunk and too tired to stay out for even another minute. So much for staying out til 4am! So we caught another cab back to our hostel and passed out on our separate top bunks.
On Sunday, our plan was to head to Tigre for the day. We had a relaxing morning (with more delce de leche and toast) and then headed to the train station around noon. We got to Tigre an hour later and we were ready for lunch. We walked through town and after passing up McDonalds and Burger King (which seemed to be the most popular places in town – we don’t get it!), we found a cute sandwich shop a few blocks away. This place had a line down the street, so we figured it must be good. What we didn’t realize though that between ordering and getting our food, we wouldn’t be eating for another half an hour, but luckily, the wait was worth it. We thought we were getting a steak sandwich and a veal milanese sandwich, but we somehow messed up the translations and ended up with the milanese and a pork sandwich. Either way, both were great (though again, add a little churrasco sauce and pretty much any sandwich would be great).
After lunch, we walked more through town and made our way to Puerto de Fruito, which is the area in Tigre with tons of shops, restaurants, and markets. It was very cute and a lot of fun to walk around! During our walk, we even came up with a new business idea that we want to bring back to the States (which I will not divulge here), and spent the rest of the day excitedly planning and discussing it.
Before heading back to the city, we decided we had to take a boat down the delta, so we did that as well. We hadn’t been sure if we’d like the hour-long boat ride (we thought it might be boring), but it was very pretty and we ended up really enjoying it. We finally made it back to the train and spent the whole hour-long ride writing down all of the ideas we had talked about for our new business. That ride flew by much faster than on the way there!
When we got back to BA, we decided that we were going to give Las Cabras another shot. We had read more about it during the day, and from all of the reviews, we pretty much gathered that it was going to be the best meal ever. Everyone confirmed that they served huge portions for very cheap, and many even said they loved it so much that they went back multiple times during their week or 10-day long visits to BA. We we’re pumped!
When we got there this time, there was still a 40 minute wait, but we were more than ok with that. We ended up only waiting for about 30 minutes before they seated us outside. We of course knew what we’d be ordering before sitting down. We got an “appetizer” of kidney, intestines, and liver (our new favorite), and their special steak meal. And, a bottle of their house wine for 30 pesos, or less than $4 (one of the reviewers had said that he ordered this wine thinking that he was getting a glass and then they ended up bringing out a bottle – not a bad surprise!).
Our food came out and the portions were even bigger than we could have ever possibly imagined that they’d be. Our “appetizer” was definitely entree sized, and our steak came out on a huge cutting board with fries topped with a fried egg, rice, mashed sweet potatoes, a grilled onion, and a huge chunk of fried cheese. After our first couple of bites, we already knew that we’d be coming back here for another meal before we left. For dessert, we got the restaurant’s special which was a bowl filled with dulce de leche, hot fudge, bananas, whipped cream, and mirangue. This was by far the best meal we’d had on our trip, and probably also one of the best meals both of us have had in our lives. We left stuffed. And all for $22.
Monday was a holiday in Buenos Aires. We had read about another market/festival about an hour away from the city that took place on Sundays, but they were having a special party for the holiday. We spent the day on Monday at Mataderos. When we asked our hostel how to get there, they were shocked that we’d heard about it and told us that tourists rarely ever go there. We had to take a train to a bus, and after a slight mishap on the train (we were supposed to get off at the last stop but accidentally missed it and somehow ended up all the way back at the beginning before we even realized what had happened- we were not having the best of luck with BA’s public transport), we finally made it about an hour after we should have. But, when we walked in and saw tons of food, drinks, and crafts, we didn’t feel so bad.
The first thing we did was pick up two huge beers to walk around with. Then, we scouted out the food situation and decided on a “special” of a whole salami and half a brick of cheese for 45 pesos, or $5 (we figured that since we’d had sandwiches for the past few days and would undoubtedly have a few more, maybe we should switch it up a bit). We picked up our charcuterie picnic, got a bottle of wine from another stand, and found a spot to sit down and eat. We leisurely ate, walked around a bit more, and then started the journey back to our hostel.
On our way back, we stopped by Florida Street, a famous BA street known for its shopping. For the rest of the trip, we were staying with our Couch Surfers. They had stayed with us about 6 months ago in New York and we arranged it so that we would stay with them in BA as well. We got to their adorable apartment in Amalgro (right next to Palermo), caught up for a couple of hours, and then they took us to their favorite Peruvian restaurant for dinner. They had to work in the morning, so after dinner (which wasn’t until 10pm), we called it a night.
We got an early start the next morning and went for our second run of the week to Recolletta, another popular BA neighborhood. Our first stop, accidentally, was the Buenos Aires University (which we later found out was the law school). We stopped in for a quick peek, had a coffee at their cafeteria, and tried to imagine what it might be like if we taught here after teaching in Thailand.
Our next stop was the reason we came to Recolleta: Eva Peron’s mausuleum. We walked into the cemetary and it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. First of all, there were no actual graves, only mausoleums… rows and rows of them, and every single one was enormous. We joked that this place might be the biggest “neighborhood” in BA. And, straight out of a horror movie.
After spending some time walking around there and the rest of the neighborhood, we continued our run back to Puerto Madero. Our Couch Surfers had told us there was a whole street there lined with food carts, so of course, we had to go check that out. We got there and were immediately in heaven. The funny thing though was that every single cart had exactly the same menu, all consisting of our favorite sandwiches! YAY! We picked one that looked good, and this time ordered two steak sandwiches, each with a different type of steak. Piled with our favorite churrasco sauce and many of the other great sauces and toppings they had, we dug in and enjoyed every bite. This was our first morning without our toast and dulce de leche for breakfast, so we were extra hungry.
After lunch, we continued on to what we thought was a huge park, but was actually a “reserve” that was basically a running path with a huge marsh on either side. Not very beautiful and not much to see. We weren’t really impressed and got out of there as soon as we could.
We got back to our CS’s apt, had a couple of hours to relax, and all shared a bottle of wine before heading back to our new favorite restaurant for dinner, Las Cabras. They had never been (or even heard of it) and we could not wait to introduce them to what we thought would most likely be their new favorite restaurant (and we were right!). This time, the wait was a little shorter (maybe because it was pouring outside and also a Tuesday – this was the first time all week we’d had anything less than perfect weather), and we were seated within 20 minutes (though they again, told us it would be 40).
This time around, we ordered the parilla and the ribs, both of which we’d seen a few days earlier and vowed to come back for, and then of course, another bottle of $4 wine. Once again, we were blown away by our meal (and the bill that came at the end). After chowing down on more meat than we could possibly eat, and then a couple of desserts, we were all stuffed, and called it a night.
By our last day in BA, we had pretty much done everything we wanted to do, so we decided to take it a little easy and walk around Palermo (which was near where we were staying). We ended up at the zoo, and after realizing that we’d never actually been to a zoo together, we decided to go in.
We were immediately greeted by an animal, not in a cage, that we’d never seen before. It looked like a very big rabbit, but from what we could gather from the sign we found about it, it was some kind of rodent. There were hundreds of them roaming all around the zoo.
We spent the next couple of hours walking around and seeing tons of different kinds of animals from lions to monkeys to elephants to some that we’d never seen or heard of before. We really enjoyed the BA zoo and also enjoyed our relaxing day.
Later that night, our couchsurfers had planned to take us to a tango dancing lesson. We felt a little better when they told us they had never been before. The lesson was a lot of fun (though Dave might disagree) though I would definitely not say that we know how to tango now. The best part though was watching the people who actually did know how and especially the ones that were really good (including our very good looking instructor!).
By the time the lesson was over, it was getting late and we were all starving. Bruno had been telling us about their go-to alcohol that they always drink (Fernet Branca) and wanted us to try it, so he picked up a bottle, we picked up a pizza, and we went back to the CS’s apartment to hang out.
The pizza was great, but the empanadas we got on the side were even better. Probably the best that both Dave and I have ever had! We really liked the drink too (which they mix with coke – no diet – we don’t get that either). We ended up staying up til 2am eating, drinking, and hanging out.
We spent the next day getting ready for our flight and then on our way to Frankfurt (our layover en route to Delhi). I can’t believe that our month in South America is already over. Before leaving for our trip, I thought that a month would be so long, but now that we’re done, as much as we did, I feel like we hardly even scratched the surface. There are so many places to visit and things to do there, and I’m very happy that we have 10-year visas to both Argentina and Brazil because I already can’t wait to go back.
As sad as I am to be leaving South America, my mom said it best when she said that the best part of our RTW trip was that we don’t have to be sad when one parts over, because there’s always another new adventure right around the corner!
And now, for our next adventure… India!