2 days in Buenos Aires
The plan of visiting South America had been in the making for a while. Finally we had bought the tickets. From Tallinn to Istanbul to Buenos Aires (with a quick refueling stop in São Paulo). The total estimated flight time was 20 hours plus ~10 hours between flights in Istanbul. Here goes the big bonus points to Turkish Airlines for allowing their transferring passengers that have more than 10 hours between flights in Istanbul to go sleep in some place more comfortable than the the airport bench. And by that they mean luxury hotels. Including breakfast (of course if you have enough time before you have to leave the hotel for your flight). How nice is that? Though, they don’t really advertise that possibility so much. Luckily my sister who was traveling with me had done the homework and was aware of this option.
Are you wondering now how can you use this comfort? Well, in Istanbul’s Ataturk airport you have to go through customs and then turn right and go until you see Turkish Airlines desk on the right. Just go there and ask if you are eligible for free accommodation. Not sure they follow that 10 hour rule, since next time we had „only” 9 hours between flights and still got the rooms.
Arriving to Buenos Aires in late evening and after such a long flight the first thing in the mind was to fall into the bed and sleep. In airport there were several local guys offering their transportation services to get to the city center (where we had previously booked an apartment via Airbnb). Since they were looking quite shady we chose the official taxi service. The distance was about 30 km and it cost us 40 USD.
Day 1: Buenos días, Argentina
The next morning we had breakfast at some local natural-themed cafe/restaurant called Hierbabuena (see more below). We were about to spend only 2 days in Buenos Aires this time so after the brekkie we took a course to the bus station (Omnibus terminal) to get the tickets to Mendoza. And while going there also check out the city’s main „tourist” attractions.
One thing that we noticed right after a short walk in the city was the amount of dogs (and their „mines”) in the streets. Don’t know if it was just too early (and weekend) so the streets weren’t cleaned yet but yeah, you had to be careful. Anyway, after successfully passing through the minefield we got down to the metro (Subte). There I first learned how difficult can it be travelling there if you don’t speak Spanish. At least in Argentina there were no signs in English at all. Neither did I meet anyone who spoke English. Luckily two people in our group spoke Spanish. But even then it took about 10 minutes after being (re)directed forth and back by locals to buy the metro tickets. Nevertheless I think the public transport (metro and coaches) is the easiest and cheapest way to move around the city.
The first stop was Plaza San Martin. There we gathered maps and other useful info from the nearby tourist information point. General Jose de San Martin is considered the liberator of many South American countries including Argentina. Therefore, streets and other places named after him are all around there. The park itself is nice and if you come from North Europe as I do then you might find all those plants and trees pretty interesting.
La Recoleta Cemetery
The Buenos Aires bus terminal is located in Retiro district which is just next to the district Recoleta. If you have searched for some what-to-see stuff about Buenos Aires then you probably have seen the name “Recoleta” before. It is where one of the world’s most beautiful cemetery is located. La Recoleta Cemetery is the final resting place for Argentina’s famous or somehow important people. It is actually really impressive with its labyrinth-like-streets between the tombs. Like a separate little town inside of the huge Buenos Aires. Outside of the cemetery was a market where you could buy different handmade stuff and paintings.
Probably one of the most intriguing tomb in the cemetery is the tomb of Rufina Cambaceres. The legend says that at the age of 19 she suddenly collapsed and the doctors pronounced her dead of a heart attack. Rufina was put into a coffin and sealed in her mausoleum. A few days later one worker noticed the coffin had been moved. So he opened it suspecting grave robbery. But what he discovered was dead Rufina with lots of scratch-marks inside of a coffin indicating her wish to escape it. Young girl had been buried alive. You can read more detailed story here.
Majority of the names you encounter there might not ring a bell for most of the foreigners but there is one that is known worldwide: Eva „Evita” Peron. Her tomb is very easy to spot. It has the most flowers on it and usually lots of people in front of it.
Since we had been strolling around the city for a while and understood that Buenos Aires is quite enormous, we decided to call it a day and head back home. By the word „enormous” I don’t just mean the scale of the city but also the size of the buildings. Feels like Argentinians have had some kind of megalomania in the past. The buildings are powerful and have very nice architecture. Also, did you know that Buenos Aires has the world’s widest avenue? Avenue 9 de Julio has 7+2 parallel street lanes for both direction.
Day 2. Buenos Aires = Good Air?
The second day was the last one for now (we’d return later) because the day before we had bought the tickets to Mendoza for this evening. This time we targeted south eastern part of the city center: the districts San Telmo and Monserrat. In the last one is located the presidential palace – La Casa Rosada. One version of why the house is red/pink is that the building was originally painted with cow’s blood and that’s where the color comes from. The house is also the same on which’s balcony Eva Peron had her famous speeches.
Another very frequently mentioned sights of Buenos Aires is a book store that is built inside of a theatre – El Ateneo. The store surely looks one of a kind and it also has a wide selection of books, both in Spanish and in English. So if you’re into books (or even if you’re not) then definitely go check it out.
After drinking some hot drinks we headed to San Telmo’s Market (it’s open only on Sundays). The market has a nice selection of different Argentina and Buenos Aries themed souvenirs (not sure if locally made though) plus some only South American related things like mate tea, mate cups etc.
Walking 2 days in Buenos Aires has also shown where it got its name from. Buenos Aires which in translation means Good/Fresh Air really was windy most of the time. Of course specially when you go towards the Buenos Aires’ coastal area where lies a pretty large national reserve park. In my opinion it’s a good idea to have such an area next to the tall buildings where people can just go and step out of the big city life (just like Central Park in NY). Walking near the park you can see another impressive example of the Buenos Aires’ architecture: the house of Defense Ministry (its size is almost the same on the side).
Where did I eat?
As soon you see the place you know it got to be good. The natural-themed restaurant’s interior has a very nice design. I had an avocado sandwich with a tea (175 ARS) there for a breakfast. Little pricey but the taste was near perfect.
A good place for seafood lovers. We got there little early and they weren’t open for dinners yet. Still they let us in and directed us through their backdoor to a basement where was a very cozy bar. There we could have a beer and enjoy the music while waiting for the bistro opening upstairs. The food was good and nicely served even though we didn’t expect the portions to be so big that we weren’t able to finish them. But as we learned afterwards, it’s the Argentinian way. In the end when their payment terminal had some errors for a while they even served us a complimentary sparkling wine.
The place which was supposedly one of the favorite for Julio Cortázar (they even have a figure of him sitting behind one table) is indeed looking very nice. And maybe they also have some fine dishes. Just after serving Spanish tortilla that was raw inside, it is very doubtful in my eyes. Though the hot drinks were good, but how wrong can you go with these:)
As the name hints it’s a pizza place. And a very popular one too. The place was packed by locals (which is usually a good sign) so we didn’t want to leave it empty handed just because there were no free tables. Since they also offer a decent selection of empanadas we bought them to go. I have to admit the empanadas were nothing special but the next time I should be around I’d still go back and try one of their pizzas and feel that local atmosphere.
Where did I stay?
Airbnb – can’t say anything bad about the place. Simple and affordable. The location is quite good if you plan to spend time in the central Buenos Aires. Plus the host is also very helpful (speaks both Spanish and English).