By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Just three hours by plane from Rio de Janeiro lies the exciting Argentinean capital of Buenos Aires, arguably the most popular city destination in Latin America. Oozing with hedonistic charm and faded glamor, Buenos Aires captivates its visitors, drawing them in to a whirlwind of tango, music, passion and history.
A city where the past and present collide in a pleasingly effervescent mixture, where the unmistakeable face of Eva Perón still adorns many of the buildings alongside that of her present day equivalent Christina Fernández de Kirchner. A place where one can explore streets lined with ancient colonial bistros that blend with McDonald’s and Starbucks coffee houses and where the memory of past revolution lingers in the air.
Buenos Aires by Day
No trip to Buenos Aires would be complete without a visit to the Casa Rosada and the legendary balcony where Eva Perón famously stood and addressed her descamisados (working class followers). Visitors can enjoy a free guided-tour through the palace and on to the balcony itself, though be prepared to queue, especially on weekends.
Once outside, check out the May Pyramid in front of the Casa Rosada surrounded by symbols of white head scarfs painted on the ground. This marks the area walked by people making silent protest whilst wearing this distinctive head attire to signify their displeasure.
As for sightseeing, two of the prettiest areas in Buenos Aires are Recoleta and Palermo, where one can wander the streets and take in the impressive architecture. Recoleta is famous for its large weekend arts and craft market situated close to the cemetery where Evita is buried.
Similarly, Palermo’s weekend market in Plaza Serrano offers handmade goods, souvenirs and clothes at very affordable prices. The square also has a number of outside bars and restaurants where one can sit and watch the street entertainers, usually performing a tango show.
Buenos Aires by Night
Food lovers will find themselves in paradise, especially when it comes to meat. Argentinean beef is widely considered to be the best in the world, and when accompanied by a glass of Malbec, presents the perfect way to unwind after a busy day spent exploring.
Combine dinner with a tango show and visitors are in for a real treat. After all, tango is to Argentina what samba is to Brazil, and there’s no better way to enjoy it than in the traditionally decadent surroundings of the theater-com-restaurant, Café de les Angelitos.
The venue embodies the epitome of the glamorous 1930s with a large stage where the band, dancers and singers all give fantastic performances culminating in a standing ovation.
Afterwards, head to Palermo, the swanky up-and-coming middle-class area that seems to have the best bars. Pay a visit to Thelonious Club on Salguero 1884 where live jazz is performed every Wednesday through Sunday.
Otherwise, enjoy a different type of cuisine at Patagonian restaurant Fin del Mundo on Honduras 5673 and then head to Acabar (Honduras 2733) for cocktails and board games. Yes, board games. The bar has a huge selection to keep customers entertained, providing a great way to interact and meet people.
Where to Stay
For those looking to splurge, Hotel Mio Buenos Aires is a beautifully decorated boutique hotel right in the center of Recoleta. within five minutes walk from the market and cemetery, it is ideally located for sightseeing, and staff are helpful and multilingual.
Travelers looking for somewhere lively and affordable should check out Milhouse Hostel, considered by many backpackers as the place to be. It is centrally located and near all the action, and staff are helpful and friendly and the hostel relaxed and clean.