We are very happy that we ended our Argentina/Chile trek with the final four days in the fantastic city of Buenos Aires. We have seen small towns, the wine country and Patagonia grandeur in both Argentina and Chile and now it is time to enjoy the big city life.
La Recoleta Cemetery is just around the corner from our hotel. This is where Eva Peron is entombed, as well as many other rich and famous Argentinians. The cemetery is very unusual. The location is in the middle of this upscale neighborhood and has an amazing number of mausoleums arranged in long narrow pathways. Some are very elaborate while others are in shabby condition. People meander through the cemetery in a very slow and quiet manner. There are also many feral cats in the cemetery, and they often like to relax at the entrance of one of the grave sites.
No stay in Buenos Aires would be complete without a Tango show. Our concierge tells us that there are some 50 Tango shows nightly in the city. Most of the shows work directly with the hotels and ticket agencies. You book a Tango show and a van will pick you up at your hotel. If you want a good seat you also book a dinner reservation. Our Tango show worked a little differently. On the advice of a friend we booked a very traditional Tango Show, El Viejo Almacen. This includes dinner across the street from the Tango Show. This restaurant reminds us of the Italian American Hall in San Francisco. It is family style dinner and the place is packed with folks anxious to see the Tango. The majority of people in the restaurant are Spanish speakers. When dinner is done, we are escorted across the street and delivered to our reserved table. The show is fabulous, as I am sure all Tango shows are in Buenos Aires. It is hard to describe the experience of a Tango show unless you are actually there. We liked the spontaneity of the crowd who periodically would join in and sing parts of traditional Spanish songs.
On Sunday, the place to be in Buenos Aires is the market in the San Telmo barrio. We spent several hours strolling the market that is centered on Calle Defensa but spreads to other side streets. The most fun is people watching. There are Tango dancers in the streets, musical groups, and all others trying to sell their wares. We take time for a very enjoyable lunch at La Brigada, a restaurant that also doubles as a sports bar. It is a locals’ hangout but many tourists have also discovered this restaurant. If you like football (soccer), this is the place to hang out. They have big screen TV’s position for watching football and football banners and memorabilia hanging from the walls. We watch a waiter bring a gigantic T-bone steak to a British fellow. It has to be at least 3 lbs. When it is placed on his table, people all around burst out in laughter at the absurd size of this cut of beef. Astonishingly, this guy finishes the steak, leaving only a scrap of fat on this plate.
Shopping is plentiful in Buenos Aires. We toured shops in the Palermo district and nearby from our hotel in Roceleta. We try the new area called Puerta Madero. We were very disappointed; the area is very upscale, modern, and very expensive. It does not have the old charm of the traditional barrios of Argentina. The best thing about the place, the Bridge of the Woman, was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calitrava. It is a walking bridge with a rotation system, allowing ships to get to the port for docking.
For our final night we stumbled on a wonderful restaurant by the name of Rodi Bar. I don’t think you will find it in any of the guidebooks. It is only a block from our hotel, but in the opposite direction of the fashionable area. There is nothing fancy about this place but it is the people in the restaurant that make it what it is. It is fun, loud, jovial, and just a plain old good time. The food is good not great but it is the ambience that counts in this situation. We lucked out.
I am posting this at 10:45AM Argentine time. We will be picked up at 5 PM today and taken to the airport to begin our long journey home, with an arrival time at SFO around noon on Wednesday. It has been great traveling with Mary and Mike Beltran. We have had a tremendous time and lots of fun enjoying wine, food and good times with the friendly people of Argentina and Chile.