Buenos Aires, Argentina

The final destination on our honeymoon was Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina and the city of Evita, architecture, steaks and tango. What’s not to like?

Having blown our budget on some other hotels, we were staying in an Airbnb in the Palermo Soho neighbourhood. It was a cosy little place, with a balcony and a swimming pool on the roof terrace, and as seems to be standard with Airbnbs, an extremely complicated system of keys and codes to get in and out of the apartment.

Pool, rooftops and the city, Buenos Aires, Argentina
The pool. We didn’t use it.
Rooftops of the city, Buenos Aires, Argentina
The view from the roof of our Airbnb

As we were on the third week, of our honeymoon, we took it fairly light on the tourist side of things, but did visit Cementerio de la Recoleta, to see the grave of Eva Peron. Some of the graves in the cemetery were bigger than our flat in Teddington. As with all cemeteries, you could easily find Evita’s grave by following the crowds. It’s a strange thing, graveyard tourism, but we went along with it, and took some photos which we’ll probably never look at.

Evita's grave, La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Evita’s grave. Plenty of other tourists just out of shot.
Looking in a grave at La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Nicola having a peep. We couldn’t work out whether this was disrespectful. If it is, then why have windows?
Tombs at La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina
The place was like a housing estate.

One morning we went on a free walking tour, with a vivacious local called Jime. She marched us from the National Congress, up to the Casa Rosada and across to the Obelisco de Buenos Aires. She dropped in all sorts of interesting facts about the city, its history, buildings and people. One particularly memorable story was about the mothers of the disappeared, who march around the Plaza de Mayo every Thursday afternoon, in memory of their children who disappeared during the military dictatorship of the 1970s and 1980s, never to be seen again. Hundreds of children went missing, many from concentration camps, and the families continue to campaign to this day to find their children and be reunited.

Casa Rosada, Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Casa Rosada and Plaza de Mayo

A few days after going on the walking tour, we happened to be returning from San Telmo market on Thursday afternoon, and saw the women stolidly marching around the pyramid in the middle of the square. It was a poignant sight.

The Mercado San Telmo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Inside San Telmo covered market
Mercado San Telmo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
A particularly colourful stall in San Telmo
Nicola at the Mercado San Telmo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Nothing fitted in her suitcase. Shame.

The military regime began to unravel after the Falklands War, still a very contentious topic in Argentina today. We passed a few Malvinas memorials in the city, and kept our voices low so no one would realise we were English. It’s clearly a very recent, raw and emotional memory for many people here.

Eating and drinking

We had some amazing food in Buenos Aires, some of the best food I’ve ever had. We got into a superb routine each day of having breakfast in our Airbnb, then looking for a place to eat lunch, where we’d then work out where we fancied dinner.

Chori, Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
The delightfully yellow Chori

A particular lunch highlight was Chori, which serve one of the most authentic foods of Buenos Aires, a sausage in a bun. Delicious. The service was slick, the food was good, the walls were cartooned and bright yellow; it took everything in our power to not go back every day.

Nicola in Chori, Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Nicola getting stuck in at Chori

Parilla Don Julio, one of the oldest steakhouses in Buenos Aires, was a few doors down from our Airbnb. Hundreds of wine bottles line the walls, and the waiters wear crisp white shirts and aprons. The sommelier came over, and we after we admitted to knowing nothing about wine, we ordered one we vaguely recognised from our time in Mendoza. We ate well, with delicious, rare steaks swilled down with robust Malbec before the 30-second walk back to our bed.

Another good lunch was the burgers we had at Big Sur, where the patty was caramelised and chargrilled, and perfectly pink in the middle, with a plate of crunchy and salty triple-cooked chips. I also ordered a basket of chicken, which came crumbed in corn and with a generous tub of creamy blue cheese dip. We sat on high stalls at the pavement table and watched dog walkers on their lunchtime stroll around the Palermo neighbourhood.

One night, feeling particularly flush, we decided to go to La Carniceria, a butcher-themed steakhouse, and gave them a call to reserve a table. They said they did have one available table for two, at 10.30pm. Sure, we thought, why not have a massive meal when we’d normally be asleep? It was one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to, with steaks cooked over an open wood-fired BBQ. We ordered sides of salty provolone cheese, and some fairly forgettable salad; the main event was a whopping great T-bone steak between us, which must’ve weighed over two kilograms. It was smoky and juicy and delicious and I’m slightly worried I’ll never have a better meal as long as I live.

Another highlight was Pizzería Guerrin, a Buenos Aires institution where you just stroll in, grab a slice of pizza, and stand at a counter to eat. It was great pizza, slathered in cheese and the slices were so full that they were bending under their own weight.

Guerrin_-_Buenos_Aires
I didn’t take any photos, for some reason. This is courtesy of Beatrice Murch

Finally, before I bore anyone reading this with a list of place that we ate, the best chicken we had was at Nola, a restaurant in what seemed to be a mechanics workshop, serving two main things: craft beers and chicken. I had some Cajun chicken in a crispy roll, the charred sauce soaking into the bread, and dripping into the basket it came in. The hoppy flavour of the beer cut through the grease of the chicken, and the juice ran down my arm to drip from my elbows. As we left I had to grab a wodge of napkins to mop up what the bread couldn’t. It was my favourite sort of place.

la-catedral-milonga-01
Inside the Milonga La Catedral. Photo courtesy of Aguiar BA

To work off all the calories we had undoubtedly piled on in Buenos Aires, on our final night we headed out to a tango class. We arrived at La Catedral about 9pm, had a couple of cups of the house red and took to the floor for our group class. It’s safe to say I was absolutely awful at tango. We had to do this bit where we swayed without moving, which I couldn’t manage, and ended up looking more like one of those inflatable flailing men from petrol stations. We swapped partners every so often, much to Nicola’s annoyance I was partnered with a selection of Argentine women who were all very good, and seemed to find it charming that I was even trying, when I was clearly so bad.

Nicola was partnered with a large sweaty man who was almost as bad at tango as me. Every so often our dance paths crossed, and I caught parts of their conversation, where they were talking about the traffic on the A316 and rat-runs to Heathrow. Turned out he used to live in Hounslow, a few minutes down the road from where we live. After a tortuous hour and a half, the lesson finished and the evening began. We retired to the side to watch the professionals, and after cementing our bravery with a couple more glasses of Malbec, took to the floor once again to tango away our final night in Buenos Aires.


GavinNicola (535 of 657)

Back to reality

As we packed to return to London, cramming three weeks of clothes, souvenirs and memories into our suitcases, we talked about our trip in a montage similar to those you’d see in Hollywood films.

We realised that our honeymoon, which was meant to be relaxing, ended up as anything but. The sandy beaches and thumping samba of Rio De Janeiro, dining on countless bananas and fish in Ilha Grande, thundering waterfalls in Iguazu, autumn days spent exploring the Andes, luxury breakfast spreads, full-bodied Malbecs, charred pink steaks, spicy empanadas, Caipirinhas on desert islands. It had been the most magical three weeks away.

We had an amazing time exploring Brazil and Argentina. Exhausting, eye-opening, and at times bewildering, we feel we’ve barely scratched the surface of these amazing countries. Hopefully we’ll be back at some stage. But for now, time to get on with married life.


The links

We stayed in: “A Chic Studio in the middle of Palermo Soho” (airbnb.co.uk)
We ate sausages at: Chori (cntraveler.com)
We ate brilliant steak at: Don Julio (parrilladonjulio.com)
We ate delicious burgers at: Big Sur (tripadvisor.co.uk)
We ate the best steak ever at: La Carniceria (lonelyplanet.com)
We ate pizza slices at: Pizzería Guerrin (pizzeriaguerrin.com)
We ate Cajun chicken at: Nola (nolabuenosaires.com)
We danced the night away at: La Catedral (wander-argentina.com)

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