Reversal of Fortune - Argentina
I'm ashamed to admit that I was not excited about revisiting Buenos Aires. Let me explain my hesitation. It was 2007 when I traveled from warm Madrid to frigid Buenos Aires wearing nothing but jeans and a sweatshirt. My luggage remained in Spain while I endured freezing Argentina temperatures. I could have purchased replacement clothing, but stores only sold razor thin outfits that barely covered my shivering body.
That was just the beginning.
My bad luck continued when my global phone (aka travel lifeline) disappeared from my backpack. It happened during Feria San Telmo - a weekly antiques fair where locals, tourists, and pick pocketers apparently flock.
There were other unfortunate incidents that I meticulously outlined in my post, "Buenos Aires: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly". I grappled with internet policing issues, blog crashes, ATM access problems, and even lost my passport.
But the past is the past, and it's time to rewrite history.
Ten years later, I'm understandably anxious as our tour group descended upon Argentina. Did I encounter similar setbacks? Thankfully no. In fact, I experienced a reversal of fortune and was ultimately thrilled with my Argentine do-over.
Downtown Buenos Aires - Home Once Again
A lot has changed since I last visited the "Paris of South America". And it all begins with two fabulous displays in front of my Panamericano Hotel. This manicured bush welcomed me back to downtown Buenos Aires, where my initial visit began.
I stayed within close proximity to the Obelisco both times, but didn't encounter this Olympic exhibit until recently. Congrats to Buenos Aires for hosting the upcoming 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
Plaza de Mayo
Casa Rosada looks as regal as ever with the exception of excessive scaffolding throughout Plaza de Mayo. This square ushered in many historical milestones including the May 1810 Revolution and Madres de la Plaza Marches.
Former Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio performed Catholic mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires before he assumed his duties as Pope Francis. The neoclassical facade was sadly defaced with unflattering marks the last time I saw it. Restoration efforts must have taken place since these 12 pillars representing Christ's 12 apostles were graffiti-free and glistening.
It took me ten years to discover one of the most memorable communities in Buenos Aires. La Boca is a thriving barrio with colorful panels, 3-dimensional art, and a popular alleyway (Caminito) showcasing street vendors and impromptu tango performances. I was approached by one of the dancers, but politely declined his invitation since I lacked proper tango training.
I couldn't wait for my one hour lesson since Argentine Tango and its sensual, precise movement exudes artistry and beauty. After a brief introduction to basic ballroom steps, our group arrived at Cafe de los Angelitos for a show-stopping performance that left me wondering..."Do men wear protective cups?" Tango aficionados will get the reference.
I've roamed this affluent, European-influenced neighborhood before, but didn't visit Evita's final resting place until recently. La Recoleta Cemetery, one of ten most beautiful cemeteries in the world*, features tree-lined walkways, mausoleums, and tombs housing former presidents, actors, politicians, and writers.
Searching for visual and intellectual stimulation? This flagship bookstore was a former theater that once housed over 1000 patrons.
Many architectural elements from Teatro Gran Splendid are still perfectly preserved such as ornate balconies, ceiling frescoes, and the original performance stage.
Ten years ago, I spent the week touring many popular neighborhoods and never roamed beyond downtown Buenos Aires. With that in mind, I couldn't wait to visit the Santa Susana Estancia just 1.5 hours from the Panamericano Hotel. I hung out with gauchos, rode a temperamental horse, enjoyed sumptuous BBQ and traditional Argentinian entertainment.
This video captures the experience from the initial greeting to the closing gaucho showcase.
It only took 2.5 days to undo the original bad juju that defined my last visit. Amen to that. I regret missing my re-do of Feria San Telmo where the original pickpocketing incident occurred. Other than that, I was pleased with my short visit since I toured new places, experienced Argentine Tango first hand, and mingled with the cowboys during this highly-memorable trip.
This segment covers my tour of downtown Buenos Aires, Puerto Madero, Recoleta, La Boca, Plaza de Mayo, and more. What a difference ten years make.
My blog post from my 2007 backpacking trip highlights additional places to visit. Click here to read about my crazy adventure ten years ago.
To access photo highlights, click here.
Buenos Aires was the last stop on my 8-day, guided tour of Brazil and Argentina. Click here to view my itinerary.
Downtown Buenos Aires
Cafe de los Angelitos (with Tango Show)
Rodi - Bar Restaurante
Greater Buenos Aires
Estancia Santa Susana
* CNN 2013 "Top 10 Most Beautiful Cemeteries"
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”