Buenos Aires, Walking, Dancing and Culture

Busy Buenos Aires Avenida 9 De Julio

Buenos Aires is somewhere I’d really been looking forward to visiting on this trip. The capital of Argentina, it is a huge, sprawling, vibrant and interesting city. It was also quite warm, high twenties/thirties most days we were there and pretty humid! I’m going to describe our experiences in one blog post, although in reality we visited BA in three separate trips, using it as a base to leave some of our baggage, whilst we explored further afield to Iguazu and Uruguay.

Returning to Buenos Aires across the sea from Uruguay
Returning to Buenos Aires across the sea from Uruguay

Buenos Aires sits on the coast at the north eastern edge of Argentina. We were lucky enough to use the last of Chris’s hotel points to stay in the InterContinental hotel very near the centre for free. Since we were at the end of our trip and feeling slightly tight on money we made the most of free hotel food, including breakfasts and enough snacks and drinks to cover dinner most nights. That’s not to say there isn’t good food in BA, but unfortunately it tends mostly towards the meat-heavy or the more pricey.

Crumbling tombs at Recoleta Cemetery
Crumbling tombs at Recoleta Cemetery

We started our stay with a couple of walking tours (Buenos Aires Free Walks), they were very interesting with more background stories about the buildings and people. We visited Palermo and Recoleta districts in one tour, including the large ornate cemetery where Evita is buried. The second tour covered the city centre including the national congress building and the ‘pink house’ government office. We had one tour from a native ‘Porteno’ (person from Buenos Aires), and one from an American who had moved to the city four years ago, this was great as we got two different perspectives on the city.

Exploring the market stalls of San Telmo
Exploring the market stalls of San Telmo

We spent some time in San Telmo, a more bohemian neighbourhood with antiques shops and live tango in a sunny, tree-lined square. On Sunday this place really comes to life with a street market that goes for at least 10 blocks, selling crafts and antiques. We had a great time wandering around here with Adeline, a friend from our Northern Argentina road trip back in January who happened to be in the city at the same time.

Teatro Colón
Teatro Colón

We also went to the Teatro Colón, this is the Buenos Aires opera house and is just fantastic. The acoustics are incredible. We booked last minute so the only tickets available were standing right at the top on the eighth tier. The view was still good, we couldn’t see all of the stage, but had gone for a philharmonic orchestra performance so it was more about the sound. For £4 each we were very happy!

A final tango pose, the most professional we looked all class!
A final tango pose, the most professional we looked all class!

On our last night we went to a tango class and show at Complejo Tango. We were collected from our hotel and taken to the venue, through a small door off a side street and up into an old building with high ceilings and shuttered windows. We met our teacher and the six other people who were getting the class before the show. It was good fun, very different to salsa but we picked up a few steps and got a certificate to prove we’d tried! After class we went for dinner, we sat with four of the other dance class students, all from different countries: Ireland, France, Brazil and Ecuador. Lots of interesting conversation accompanied by three courses with unlimited drinks. As we were finishing our main course the tango show started. It was excellent, with live music and three couples dancing different routines showing the history of the dance. They were amazing, moving so fast and a world away from the slow steps we’d just been trying to master! We were driven back to the hotel all still chatting about the dancing, a great way to celebrate our last evening in South America.

Atmospheric tango show
Atmospheric tango show

We enjoyed the city, getting to explore and find out more about the history and how it’s been influenced by people moving there from all over the world. I think seeing it in a few separate trips was good, breaking up city life with trips out to the countryside.

The day we left we got a taxi in the rain to the airport, the traffic was heavy and we were a bit late. We went to check in only to be told that we couldn’t. We had a reservation, but the tickets hadn’t been processed properly and the Iberia check in assistant told us we had to pay for our flights again. This really wasn’t what we wanted on our last step of the journey! We went to the ticket desk and explained the problem, the lady checked the system and told us we had to contact our booking agency. We had 40 minutes before check in closed and it was approaching midnight UK time. We called Flight Centre’s out of hours number and they found our reservation, they then put us on hold for ages. We were getting very worried by this time. After about 20 minutes the Flight Centre man came back on the phone and said he’d sorted it all out. We rushed back to the check-in desk, put our bags through with no problem, rushed through security with not much time to spare, and were soon sat on the plane breathing a sigh of relief! What a way to end our trip!

So that’s us done, we have one more ‘thoughts on…’ post to publish but this is the final travelling blog post (in this trip anyway!).  It was an amazing journey, we saw so many different things, came far out of our comfort zone at times and met some lovely people. Over a year later and we are both so thankful we chose to make this once in a lifetime trip!

Author: Alex Greenwood

Traveller, muddy gardener, sustainability consultant

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