When we originally planned our trip down here, there were 2 places at the top of our list. Santiago and Buenos Aires. Santiago won out by a hair, but BsAs was right up there. After copious amounts of harassment from Robin, I finally gave in, and we picked up some cheap tickets to duck over there for the weekend. For Christmas. I’ll comment on the sanity of that in a minute, but here are some general notes from our Christmas weekend in Buenos Aires!
- Christmas Eve (Nochebuena?, Dec 24th): We arrived at about 7pm, expecting to have a ride waiting for us, as organized by the hotel. Don’t know what happened, but that didn’t work out, so we ended up getting a fixed-price taxi (a remise) to our hotel. Once we got ourselves checked in and sorted out, we went out for a walk to see what we could find and what we could eat. If we had done our homework, we’d have known that the night before Christmas, known in South America (amongst other places) as “Nochebuena“, is one of their biggest celebrations, and a LOT of things are shut. After stumbling around the empty, strange streets for a while, we (on directions from a hotel bus-boy) ended up in Puerto Madero, where at least a few things were open. It seemed that most of them were reservation-only, and had fixed menus, but we eventually found one, and ended up having a fixed menu dinner in a place that was absolutely packed. It was expensive (by local standards), but included a bottle of wine, 3 courses, champagne toast at midnight, free water and an extra free dessert cake… thing. I’m not entirely sure what it was, because I didn’t eat any (since I was already full, and thoroughly dislike fruit cake), but it looked like a fruit-cake variant of some sort. It also kind of felt like we were sitting in the kitchen, because they were preparing some plates in the area where we were, but at that point of the evening we were just happy to have someone serving us food.
- Christmas Day (Dec 25th): I don’t know what you did on your Christmas, but I spent the entirety of mine walking almost aimlessly around the streets of Buenos Aires 🙂 Oh, and we spent a little time in La Recoleta Cemetery, looking at the amazing tombs there. We went all through Microcentro, Retiro, Recoleta and back through Barrio Norte. Along the way we saw the Floralis Generica, which for my money is one of the coolest pieces of public art I’ve ever seen, anywhere. Again, most things were shut, and there was hardly any traffic on the streets, so it was quite a weird experience, but it made it easy to get around (on foot) and see all the buildings and whatnot.
- Boxing Day (Dec 26th): Since I was scheduled on for the day, I had to get some IntenseDebate support work done in the morning, so I headed to a cafe and got to it. Robin went off on her own to have a look around, and ended up back at La Recoleta Cemetery. Once I was done with work, I headed in her direction and ended up stopping at Cumana, a place recommended to me by DK to get some food. I (almost randomly, since I didn’t really know what it was), picked a lentil cazuela and a Quilmes beer. I must say, the cazuela was freaking amazing. I ate every scrap of it from the dish shown below. After that we caught the metro (Subte?) down to Plaza de Mayo, then walked down through La Boca which was a pretty cool neighborhood to explore. That evening we had reservations for a Tango Show and Dinner at El Querandi. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting; it was almost more of a mini opera show with live music, some singing, and then some tango dancing mixed in. The meal was quite good as well, and again was a fixed menu which included a bottle of wine and mineral water.
- Dec 27th: On our last day, we didn’t have too much time to get anything done, so we slept in a bit, then were awoken by a call from the front desk, telling us that our ride was there. That was strange — it was supposed to be there at midday and it was only 10am. Apparently there had been some confusion, or something was lost in the (admittedly poor) translation. He was not happy about it. After getting the concierge at our hotel to help get the message through, we canceled that ride and booked another one for 12, then checked out and went to get some breakfast. At the airport, security was SUPER easy. No taking off your shoes. No separating your laptop. No clear bag this, empty bottle that, too big, too small, too wet, too pasty, too much junk in your underwear. Straight through, grab some food then sit around at the airport for a while and come home. Once back in Chile, we hopped a Tur Bus (which are excellent, convenient and cheap) back to the Metro, trained back home and were greeted by this view from our balcony, not bad:
The only real disappointment of the trip was that we were there for a very, very quiet time of year, so I don’t think BsAs was remotely the lively, vibrant city it normally is (or so I’ve heard). We both definitely would like to go back, so hopefully that’ll happen at some point.
More photos from this portion of our trip can be found specifically in the Buenos Aires set on Flickr.