So, Buenos Aires is really cool. That’s what I (Lore) decided after spending nearly a week in Argentina’s capital. Matt and I stayed in a nice hostel with a relaxed (but sociable if you wanted it to be) hostel in the neighbourhood San Telmo. First of all I was very happy with our choice of neighbourhood (or shall I say mine since I’m usually in charge of booking accomodation). San Telmo has a good vibe and you can find some really beautiful old houses, even though they are usually a bit run down and covered in graffiti. Some houseowners even seem to cover their walls with a nice wallpainting or graffiti as a (pretty succesful) strategy against the less artistic stuff. Coffee is a bit more expensive on the main square, Plaza Dorrego, but it’s a great place for people watching and you can usually see some good tangodancers in action (which is a decent alternative for the very expensive and touristy tango shows). On Sunday there is a antique market and in the evening a tango night on that same square, which we sadly missed (a reason to come back I guess). There are some really nice cafés and antique shops and just walking around is the best way to find them.
We spent most of our days picking a neighbourhood or barrio and then just walking around in it with a bottle of water in hand. We lost track of time most days only realising we should eat lunch around 3 or 4 p.m. (or maybe we are just adapting to the Argentinian rythm?). What I loved about Buenos Aires is that all the barrio’s are so different from each other. Palermo is really calm and leafy with a lot of hip(stery) restaurants and shops and has a very European feel to it. In about 10 minutes you can walk from the Retiro station, which has some slums surrounding it, to the posh La Recoleta barrio. The Recoleta cemetry is famous for hosting the ‘mine is bigger than yours’ graves of the rich and famous of Buenos Aires and reminded me a lot of the cimeterio monomentale in Milan. Puerto Madero is a newly developed restaurant and bar area and feels a little artificial, but the story behind it is quite funny. They built this nice new harbour for the city, but the math behind it didn’t quite add up. The result: a harbour that is too small for the ships that were supposed to arrive in it so they decided that it could serve as a nice spot to have an overpriced coffee or meal.
Another thing I’ve noticed in Buenos Aires (and all the other Argentinian cities we’ve been in so far) is that there is a very particular shoe fashion amongst the Argentinian chicas. Platform sandals. In all styles, heights and colours. To me, unlike regular heels, they don’t seem to be that elegant and don’t do much for your posture except adding some height. After walking on the pavements in Buenos Aires for almost a week I think I finally understand why this style of shoes is so popular though. With all the holes and cracks in the foothpaths it’s practically impossible to wear normal heals, let alone stilleto’s. I seriously think that even the most experienced heal-wearers (à la Carrie Bradshaw) would have trouble walking here without breaking their ankles. I’ve been told that in Buenos Aires each house owner is responsible for their own patch of pavement, which would make sense because the style of tiles is different in front of each house, and some people take that responsibility more seriously than others.
After a little less than a week we had to leave dirty, chaotic, lively, amazing Buenos Aires (with a little pain in our hearts) to catch our fight to major (touristic) attraction Iguazu Falls. More on that next time.