*Our Patagonia trip was from 28 November to 19 December 2016.
After almost three weeks in the ‘wilderness’/outskirts, it was time for us to head back to Buenos Aires, or “Queen of the Plata” as the locals like to call it – a name befitting of the largest city in the Rio de la Plata estuary. We took a 3 hour domestic flight from El Calafate and arrived at our AirBnB apartment (location: Recoleta) at about 10pm, where our friendly host, Gustavo, was waiting for us! 🙂
We were shown to our abode for the next 3 days in Buenos Aires, and were so impressed by our studio apartment!
Hotel living at a fraction of its price (only SGD60 per night!), and a fantastic location to boot! The place was clean, well-maintained, and had everything we needed – from pots and pans to guide books and maps! Gus was also contactable 24/7 via WhatsApp, which made it very easy for us to get around town 🙂
You can book your stay here.
Anyway, here are some of the things we did (and highly recommend!) while at Buenos Aires:
1. Eat like a Porteno
The term ‘Porteno’ is widely used to describe people from a port city, and in this case, people from Buenos Aires, as it used to be a bustling port in the 1880s. So when in Buenos Aires, it seems apt to dine like a Porteno!
We had long wanted to try the Parrilla that Argentina is so famous for. Parrillas are the most authentic style of local restaurants and serve meat. The term also refers specifically to the special grille that the meat is cooked on. So basically, most parrilla restaurants are actually local versions of steakhouses.
We visited Parrilla Pena to feast on some local beef steak – we’d read so many rave reviews about it!
For starters, the restaurant provided us with a mixture of different types of breads and stuffed baguettes. They also served us two meat empanadas, which were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It was so, so satisfying.
We were somewhat embarrassed because of the generous portions – we were almost full from just the starters alone!
Anyway, we ordered a portion of their whole beef steak and grilled cheese, which were the restaurant’s signature dishes.
The slabs of meat were not particularly aesthetically pleasing… but all that changed when we took our first bite. We were literally in meat lovers’ heaven. The steak was so juicy, so tender, and so flavourful! It was easily the best steak we had ever tasted in our lives! The grilled cheese was also quite a winner, and the perfect accompaniment to the steak and wine we had.
We feasted like there was no tomorrow, and spent a total of only SGD70 for this immensely satisfying meal. *bliss*
268,C1020ADF, Rodríguez Peña 248
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Contact: +54 43715643
2. Try some local Pizza
If you have another night to spare and are looking for a lively and casual dining option, we recommend checking out Pizzeria Guerrin, which claims to serve the best pizza in town (they have been in operation since 1932). We went there on a Sunday night and its three-storey establishment was packed to the brim, with people lining the stairways as they waited for seats.
The waiter recommended us the Grande Pizza Special Guerrin, which was chock full of melted cheese, meat and olives. The wood fired oven thin crust pizza was delicious but the portion was too huge for us to finish eating.
Av. Corrientes 1368, C1043ABN CABA, Argentina
Contact: +54 11 4371-8141
3. Go outlet shopping at Villa Crespo
Villa Crespo is an emerging middle-class neighbourhood, that has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its young, artistic crowd. What remains quite a well-kept secret is the fact that it is home to many local leather goods stores that specialise in bags, jackets, shoes and more! Besides, if you are into outlet shopping, it is good to check out Calles Aguirre y Gurruchaga, where notable international brands such as Lacoste, Timberland, Armani Exchange, and local brands like Prune provide massive discounts. If these aren’t enough, Avenida Cordoba, located 5 streets away, provide more shopping options to satisfy the shopaholic in you 😀
We did some research prior to our trip and decided to zoom into PRUNE, which is an iconic ladies fashion brand in Argentina. They specialise in leather purses, bags, etc and can only be found in Argentina!
Prune Outlet Store
Gurruchaga 875, C1414DHQ CABA, Argentina
Nearest metro station: Malabia
4. Take a Free Walking Tour around the city
One of the greatest ways to explore Buenos Aires is by foot. It’s an added bonus if you have an experienced local guide to take you through the nooks and crannies of this bustling city teeming with history. So, what better way to explore Buenos Aires than by embarking on a Free Walking Tour? There are a variety of tours to choose from, depending on your interest. Tours depart daily and all you have to do is turn up at the designated meeting point to meet your guide. You can visit their website here or pick up an official brochure from tour agencies or the airport.
We took two free walking tours- the ‘Walking through Recoleta Tour’ and the ‘City Centre Tour’. The walks took us past the Congress building, Presidential House, Plaza de Mayo, and more. We had absolutely no regrets and were so happy to learn more about Buenos Aires through an experienced local guide. Of course, the added bonus was that our guide gave us some ‘additional information’ in the form of local tales and legends!
Here are some glimpses of Buenos Aires:
Did you realise that these windows are painted, and are not real?
It was an amazing experience immersing ourselves in Buenos Aires’ historical and architectural splendour. We strongly recommend the Free Walking Tours!
Free Walking Tours
5. Spook yourselves out at the Recoleta Cemetery
Perhaps one of the highlights of Buenos Aires is the fact that it has a huge cemetery, the Recoleta Cemetery, that is located right smack in the city centre. This place houses mausoleums in which the tombs of famous Argentinians lie. Think Eva Peron, José Figueroa Alcorta and the like. Basically, if you are a notable political figure or have a high social standing or are just impeccably rich, you can buy yourself a spot in this famous cemetery.
We recommend taking a guided tour as there are many (spooky) stories worth hearing, and you might need a guide to navigate through this maze of mausoleums. You definitely don’t want to get lost here and be locked in for the night!
We took a paid tour with the walking tour folks and had a most informative and interesting session!
6. Visit the San Telmo Sunday Fair
If you happen to visit Buenos Aires on a Sunday, we highly recommend you check out the San Telmo Sunday Fair located at Defensa Street. Locals set up stalls along the cobbled pavements, selling a variety of items that make good souvenirs. There are the popular and quaint handicraft stalls, as well as shops selling ‘antiques’, clothes, bags and stuffed toys. It is definitely worth a visit. Walk a little further down the street and you will reach the Antique Market. We even managed to spot a temporary street stall selling grilled meat and sandwiches, which we happily dug into while seeking shelter from the rain.
We couldn’t take pictures as it was raining the whole time we were there, but here’s a pretty decent shot we managed to grab off the web:
Photo credit here
San Telmo Sunday Fair
Location: Plaza Dorrego, corner of Defensa & Humberto Primo,
San Telmo, City of Buenos Aires
Getting there: Take the metro to Independencia station, then walk to Avenida 9 de Julio and Avenida Independencia.
Tip: If you are looking for public toilets, head to Starbucks at Calle Defensa 1102. It is probably the most accessible toilet there.
7. Pick a book (or two) in one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores
One of the distinguishing characteristics of a Porteno is the love for reading. The reading culture here is very pervasive and it is very common to find people sitting at cafes and spending the afternoon with a good book and coffee. As such, bookstores thrive in Buenos Aires. Perhaps the most famous bookstore here is the El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a bookstore that is housed in a former Opera House. In 2008, The Guardian placed it as the second most beautiful book store in the world.
True to its name, the book store itself is really a sight to behold. It houses a variety of books and has multiple reading corners and a cafe. Sadly, it has a very limited English collection but if you understand Spanish and love reading, this is the place to be!
8. Indulge in local dessert: Alfajores
If you are a foodie and would love to buy some snacks home, we highly recommend buying alfajores, which is a traditional sweet/chocolate native to South American countries like Argentina, Peru and Chile. These caramelized goodies are filled with sweet pastes such as vanilla cream, coconut or chocolate, and coated with a layer of wafer and chocolate. They are usually sold in individually wrapped pieces.
We tried a variety of brands and decided that the ones sold by Havanna were most delectable. Their stores are located all around the city so it is definitely easy to get your hands on. They also have a dining outlet at the airport, which we visited.
From left: Dulce de leche Latte and Chocolate Y Avellana Latte
In fact, we were so engrossed in our meal that we almost missed our flight back to Singapore! :O
This amazing city was the perfect end to our Patagonia trip, and left us with wonderful memories of South America. In fact, we literally fell in love with the beauty of South America and its people, and we just can’t wait to be back again!
*This is a non-sponsored post.