On December 27, we finally began our long awaited 7-month around-the-world journey. We had purchased a one-way ticket to our first stop, Argentina, several months ago, after one of Alie’s best friends set a December 30 wedding in Buenos Aires. After an overnight plane ride, we arrived in this Spanish-Italian South American city both excited and optimistic, and proceeded to kick off our journey with a number of laughable lows offset by more enjoyable highs:
- Low: To meet our travel budget, we need to be thrifty (or as Alie calls it, “cheap”) as we travel. In our first attempt at employing said thriftiness, we shirked the taxi line at the airport and instead decided to take the public bus to the center of the city. However, after an hour of trotting back and forth in the arrivals terminal (with our 25 pound packs) attempting to purchase bus cards, we were achey, confused, and no closer to city center.
- High: After leaving the terminal, having decided we might be better off finding the public bus on our own, we stumbled upon an Aerolinas Argentinas bus headed into the center of the city. We attempted to pay but were instead asked for our boarding passes. Somehow we found a FREE bus – even better than thrifty!
- Low: After being dropped off by the bus in the middle of the largest avenue in the world (or so claimed by Porteños), we decided to continue our free transportation and walked 20 minutes in full gear to our hotel. Upon arriving to a dim neon lobby, a feisty woman behind glass told us that we could only have our room for 2 hours. Assuming she meant in 2 hours, we sat down to wait. We quickly realized that this was defnitely not our hotel despite her response “si, si” when we asked for the Rutgers-Revol wedding. This was a place for “escort ladies” and their clients.
- High: After making it to our hotel (we eventually splurged on a 40 peso – i.e. $3 – taxi ride), we met up with some friends and grabbed breakfast – much needed after our long journey to our Recoleta hotel.
- Low: Michael was excited to test out our Steripen, a portable water purifier that kills bacteria via a UV-light. The pen is essential to provide drinkable water throughout our trip while avoiding the waste and cost of plastic water bottles. Unfortunately, despite being brand new, the pen didn’t work.
- High: Buenos Aires’ tap water is totally drinkable. Even better, we got a new Steripen from New York City in 3 days thanks to REI, Task Rabbit, a friend of a friend of a friend (aka a stranger) flying to BA, and Alie’s cousin Matt who works at Bloomberg with said stranger. Long and amazing story.
Knowing our Steripen was safely enroute to Argentina, we finally headed out to explore Buenos Aires.
Buenos Aires is a massive city, and also one that straddles the developed world (with beautiful European-style buildings) and the developing world (with gaps in every sidewalk and frequent power outages). Despite its size, we did a ton of walking amongst the city’s many neighborhoods.
In 5 days we:
- Enjoyed the many parks and trendy blocks of Palermo Soho – sipping cervezas in Plazo Serrano, admiring the bright graffiti-covered walls and exploring hip leather and record stores.
- Stumbled through Recoleta, the city’s most prosperous neighborhood with the infamous Cemetario de Recoleta. The neighborhood also has many parks and cafes where we relaxed and took refuge from the heat.
- Ate empanadas, more empanadas, and even more empanadas.
- Embraced Buenos Aires’ nightlife, staying out until sunrise at Char and Mati’s tango and entertainment filled wedding celebration. Breakfast – in the form of steak sandwiches – was even served at 6 AM!
- Lost track of time on a NYE walk and ran into friends, and fellow honeymooners, Eric and Namoi, in Puerto Madero just in time for midnight fireworks. We enjoyed unlimited wine and champagne (thanks to Eric and Naomi) surrounded by boisterous Argentines dressed in all white.
Despite the 90 degree summer heat, the blazing sun and the high humidity, we had an awesome stay in Buenos Aires, and found it a great starting point for our three months in South America.
Things to do:
- BA Free Tour offers a great free walking tour of the city’s center that helped provide some historical context while also helping us get oriented. With stops in Plaza de Mayo, the Obelisco, Teatro Colon and Ave 9 de Julio, we got a good sense of the country’s colonial past and democratic struggles. We heard that the bike tour ($60 per person via Biking Buenos Aires) is also great, but you need to book in advance.
- We missed the many weekend markets throughout town (such as in San Telmo), but still enjoyed the culture and style of the city as we strolled through Palermo, Palermo Soho and Recoleta.
- BA has tons of museums, parks and gardens. While we didn’t do any art viewing, we did manage to make a pit stop at the zoo (highly recommended by Michael, who thoroughly enjoys any chance to feed goats and llamas).
- La Boca and Puerto Modero are other awesome areas of town to explore.
Days Stayed / Recommended: 5 days was enough time to take in many of the city sites while also offering enough relaxation time. Keep in mind that if you take advantage of BA’s nightlife, you may be starting each day (much) later than expected. 2 to 3 days is a good amount of time to see the city.
Accommodations: Trianon Residence offers basic two and three bedroom apartments in Recoleta. Recoleta is also home to some of the city’s nicest hotels like the Alvear Palace and the Park Hyatt. Palermo Soho has tons of fun boutique hotels and Airbnbs.
Local Food: Empanadas! Pollo, carne or queso are standard, but we tried trendier ones (like sweet potato and spinach) at Cumana. No matter where you go, these tasty treats cost only around 15 pesos, or close to $1. Also lots of delicious steak – popular steakhouses like Don Julio and Cabana Las Lilas are world class.