Our latest holiday was meant to be the Grand Antarctic Adventure.
Unfortunately we were hit with a string of back luck, with not just one but two cancelled cruises (on different companies and for different reasons).
The first one was cancelled a week before we were due to leave, but we were able to book on a different one with a rather expensive deviation to our flight plans.
The second one, hilariously (I can laugh about it now, it’s been three weeks), was cancelled while we were in transit to Buenos Aires and we received notification after checking into our hotel.
With all other voyages full, and the fact that we were already in Argentina and had limited choices to make regarding flights, the Grand Antarctic Adventure was over before it had even begun.
Still! We hadn’t spent literally 30+ hours sitting on a plane just to turn around and go home.
So instead of there being a series of Antarctica posts, there will be a series of Argentina posts instead.
The following day we had a full itinerary, since I had thought we would be in Buenos Aires for a single day before flying to Ushuaia. We still hadn’t decided what we were going to do with the rest of our time in the country – we hadn’t even received confirmation that we were able to cancel our flights to Ushuaia (at the very bottom of Argentina where the Antarctica cruises leave from) yet. But that was a problem for another time.
I had booked us a private walking tour, which was great because it helped us to get our bearings for the city.
Buenos Aires wasn’t what I expected. It’s huge for one – greater Buenos Aires has almost 13 million people – and the size was obvious when we flew in and saw how far the city stretched.
Even the inner city itself is large – as we discovered during a very long, hot and humid walk to an art museum that was in the same suburb as our hotel that took us over 40 minutes.
We stayed in Recoleta, which is known as being a posh suburb. Mostly I picked the location because I had booked dinners in San Telmo and Palermo and Recoleta was in the middle of those two places. Recoleta isn’t as gritty or as cool as other places but it was nice.
The downside to our location was a lack of access to the subway, so we took taxis everywhere. Actually we might have taken taxis even if we were closer to the subway – they weren’t expensive and they were everywhere and easy to flag down. We only had one experience where the meter was running fast, funnily enough on our very last day in Argentina, and it was pretty obvious to me within five minutes considering all the taxis we’d taken in Buenos Aires.
The central city is really pretty with a mixture of different architectural styles. This is the Casa Rosada or “Pink House” in Plaza de Mayo, which is the presidential palace (although the last president didn’t live there).
And this is the Pirámide de Mayo / May Pyramid, also in the Plaza de Mayo.
Wwe spent some time walking around San Telmo, the oldest neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. The atmosphere and feel was very different to Recoleta, with narrower and cobblestoned streets, and more lower rise and much older buildings.
It’s very charming.
I realise this post is basically a stream of consciousness. Bear with me, food is next!
One place we ate at twice while we were in Buenos Aires was El Sanjuanino, which specialises in regional Argentinian dishes (from what I can judge from my limited Spanish reading) and who supposedly have some of the best empanadas in the city. They do have other items on the menu.
On both visits we ordered a selection of empanadas.
A few flavours that we tried: carne (meat – beef) and pollo (chicken).
Plus corn and cheese, and onion and cheese.
As well as blue cheese ones. These were so good. I tried to order blue cheese empanadas on our second visit but somehow ended up with tomato and cheese x_X
(Tomato and cheese was surprisingly good though.)
The empanadas at El Sanjuanino were quite large and really filling. We struggled to eat 3 and a half each – we could’ve shared 5 between us and have been comfortable. And they were good although not excellent – we ate some incredible empanadas later in our trip that I will mention in later posts.
Sánchez de Bustamante 1788
Everyone says you need to eat ice cream while you’re in Buenos Aires. And we did – but only once.
While Alastair had raspberry and lemon, mine was dark chocolate and dulce de leche – so rich and sweet. I struggled.
People with sweet tooths would no doubt eat much more ice cream than we did, considering there were shops everywhere.
We also visited Recoleta Cemetery, which holds the graves of some notable Argentines – eg Eva Perón.
A cemetery wouldn’t normally be on my list of places to see, but when we arrived I understood why people say you should visit.
It’s not like any cemetery I’ve seen before and is laid out in blocks, with numerous vaults and mausoleums.
Some were very elaborate and and even decorated with life size statues.
There were quite a lot of angels.
Many had intricate stained glass windows – designed to be viewed from the inside of the tomb and not from the outside.
Every single vault was different.
You could spend hours here, taking in all the details.
The cemetery has almost 4700 vaults, so if you did want to see them all, it would take a long time.
So many cemetery cats. The rest of the city had a ton of very well behaved stray dogs (Argentines seem to love their dogs) but the cemetery was the only place we saw lots of cats.
Sadly, some of the vaults had fallen into disrepair with a lack of maintenance and/or funds.
More on our Argentina trip to come. I have lots to say!