We’ve waved goodbye to Buenos Aires and are rounding up our posts on the city that became home for nearly two months. With Steve filming in California, I lived with an Argentinian girl and mostly spent my days learning Spanish, practising yoga, writing and working on a project that I’ll be launching sometime soon. I barely left Palermo, enjoying my temporary life as a local in the tree-lined barrio.
My impressions of Buenos Aires were complicated as I missed Steve, and struggled with ‘what the hell am I doing with my life?’ questions. I also yearned for nature and found the pace of city life a little too reminiscent of my home in London. That said, and preponderance of dog poo aside, Buenos Aires won us over. Aside from our friends such as the wonderful Roberto pictured above, these are our top five favourite things about the city.
Buenos Aires is a literary delight with bookshops on practically every street. As fans of Borges, we were already intrigued by the city’s literary culture, but we didn’t realise quite how enchanted we’d be. Read about our favourite bookshops in Buenos Aires.
2. Tango and folklorico
The word tango is synonymous with Buenos Aires and you’ll likely encounter it in some form while in the city. During a meal at Pan y Teatro, we enjoyed hearing live tango music, sang by two wonderfully old-school Argentine men, spontaneously accompanied by fellow diners. But what we really wanted to see was dancers – and not just the ones who stage shows for tourists in the streets – so we went to a milonga at the beautifully atmospheric La Catedral. Although more touristy than is usual to our tastes, it was one of our favourite nights in the city. I also went to a folklorico night at La Oreja Negra in Palermo, which was a magical experience. The candlelit venue has small intimate tables, as well as a balcony and tiered benches with cushions at the back. The music was powerful and captivating, especially when the audience, made up mostly of Argentines, started to sing and clap along. There are regular live music events at La Oreja Negra, which you can find out about on their website.
3. The barrios
Like every city, Buenos Aires is split into smaller areas with individual flavours. It’s fun to simply explore the barrios and find a taste to suit you. We personally loved bohemian San Telmo and trendy Palermo. We also enjoyed spending time in Boedo and Villa Crespo. The picture above was taken at the student allotment at the University of Agriculture, which is in a park that borders Paternal, Villa del Parque and Agronomia. I went there to meet a couchsurfer who told me about his plans to provide student lunches from the allotment’s produce. The park is a peaceful, and completely non-touristy place to visit.
4. Puerta Cerradas
We loved this concept from the moment we heard it. Puerta cerradas are where someone opens their own home as a restaurant, normally for just one or two nights a week. Mostly they are social affairs with guests encouraged to mingle or even be seated around the same table. We went to both sociable and more intimate options and loved them both. Read about our experiences at Jueves a la Mesa and Casa Felix.
5. Vegetarian food
Argentina is famed for its beef and we have repeatedly been asked how on earth we are coping in such a meat-loving country. The truth is, Buenos Aires is one of the best cities we’ve ever been to for vegetarian food. Palermo, in particular, is flooded with vegetarian options – so much so that we couldn’t try them all. On our first night there we were stunned to find two raw food restaurants within five minutes of each other. Needless to say, we ate very well in the city. Read a round-up of our favourites and our vegetarian fast food finds. We also loved Palermo’s cafés.