Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Weekend in Buenos Aires

The six of us headed to Buenos Aires for a long, holiday weekend. I was especially excited for the trip because I’ve wanted to visit Buenos Aires for a long time. More importantly, I thought visiting Buenos Aires would help serve as a comparison for Santiago. Even though I’ve been to Peru, I never left the Lima airport.

Buenos Aires is sometimes called the Paris of South America. After visiting, I don’t really think that’s a fair comparison – more on that in a separate post. This post will briefly chronicle our weekend.

We were delayed a bit leaving Santiago due to a mechanical problem. We landed in Buenos Aires in the afternoon and unsure how exactly to get to our hostel. The airport is about 40 km from the city center. We opted to take a van, which ended up being our own small bus. When we arrived at the hostel, we ended up with an incredible room on the roof overlooking the city.

Views from the hostel on Monday morning when it started to rain

That afternoon, we walked from the city center near el Congreso past the Pink House to Puerto Madero.
The "Pink" House

Puerto Madero is probably the nicest and most modern area of Buenos Aires. It’s also quite American, with a Hooters and a TGI Fridays.

Puerto Madero

We went to an Austrian (after Austrias, Spain) near our hostel for dinner. Afterward, we explored the nightlife of the city at a club in Palermo, the trendy district.

I spent most of Friday with my friend Rachel, who has spent the past semester studying in Buenos Aires. I was sick, so unfortunately, I had to spend a lot of the day inside cafes. I still managed to buy a leather jacket in Murillo. Leather is very inexpensive in Argentina. I also saw Rachel’s university. It was a huge building with probably 7 to 10 floors. It felt like a mini city with people selling food, books, art, and other goods inside. The walls were covered in political posters and event advertisements. I also learned first hand that Buenos Aires has indoor heating! I’m going to devote another post to the topic of heating and why Chile lacks it.

The rest of the group spent the day learning Tango in the colorful district of La Boca.

I slept for 12 hours Friday night, so I was feeling better on Saturday. I no longer had a fever and was ready to explore more of the city. I had to pick up my leather jacket, which needed to be lengthened. I met back up with the group in Recoleta. We spent the late afternoon exploring a crafts market. I purchased a Mate set (Argentine tea) and a neat flattened wine bottle to hang on the wall.

We all met up with my friend Rachel and her friend, Dillon. We set out for a Parilla (grill), but ended up at a different one than the one she had been to before. The meal, however, was excellent. For about 50 pesos per person, or $14, most of us had a steak dinner, with a delicious salad bar, and a glass of red wine. The steak prices in Argentina are incredible. Not only was the slab of meat nearly twice the size of what one would expect in the States, but it also only cost a quarter of the price.

There was a liquor ban beginning at midnight until 9 pm the following day in anticipation of the congressional elections on Sunday.

The congressional elections were held on Sunday. The streets were empty and many shops were closed. I heard that voting is compulsory, but I’ll need to check on that for the entry about the elections. The group met up with Karna’s friend, Chris, who is living and working in Buenos Aires for part of this summer. He showed us el Congreso, which is their capital building.

He then took us to the famous San Telmo market. The craft market stretches blocks along a street in the oldest district in the city. Antique and art shops line the street. We ate at a cheap Parilla for lunch, where I once again had steak. I needed to make up for the several meals of Italian food I had on Thursday and Friday.

Entrance to one side of the market

In the afternoon, we went back to Palermo and the Zoo. Instead of visiting the zoo, we took a horse drawn carriage around the parks in that area of the city. The open parks and small lakes surrounded by tall, elegant apartment buildings was my favorite part of the city.

For dinner, we wanted to try a restaurant that Chris had recommended. However, the restaurant was closed, so we went to a delicious restaurant next door. This time, I opted for sirloin and caramelized sweet potatoes.

We woke up at 8 to make the trek back to Santiago. Flying over the Andes is one of the most beautiful flights I’ve ever taken. I had a great view of Aconcagua, which is the tallest mountain in the Western and Southern Hemispheres at nearly 23,000 feet.

The tallest peak is Aconcagua in both photos

In the coming days, I hope to post several entries on specific aspects of Buenos Aires, including the heating situation and the election results. If you have any other areas you’d like me to cover, let me know!


  1. Hey Grant,

    I liked your description of Buenos Aires! I'm glad you enjoyed your time here (especially your time on Sunday after we split up).

    You are absolutely right that voting is mandatory in Argentina (INCLUDING for patients in mental wards and criminals in prison). Checkout my blog entry for more information about the election and feel free to link to it if you want to: http://argentina-chris.blogspot.com/2009/07/elections-una-farsa.html

  2. Grant: el dictador- payaso Hugo Chávez le "regaló" a Argentina una parte de la franja del Orinoco para que ellos pudiesen explotar la franja con petróleo y derivados - gas, etc- Comprenderás entonces que para ellos es fácil obtener su combustible y de hecho imagino pudiste comparar el precio en Chile como en Argentina. Botado de barato. Entonces imagino que esa es una de las razones por las cuales nuestros vecinos tienen combustible para calefaccionarse como Dios manda. Hace dos años nosotros tuvimos severa crisis energética porque lamentablemente estábamos conectados a los gasoductos argentinos, pero ellos comenzaron a dejarnos sin gas para surtirse ellos primero. no los juzgo, de verdad es comprensible. Chile está buscando nuevas formas de energía y buscando una solución al problema energético.