I felt very lucky to be offered the opportunity to go to Argentina with Viva Expeditions and Air New Zealand. Enjoying 3 full days exploring Buenos Aires a vibrant, lively city after dark. During the day, the city is like any other city but as evening comes the city comes alive.
Our hotel was in Recoleta, a prime area of Buenos Aires with a view of Recoleta Cemetery. So, some of the hotel rooms where definitely on the quiet side. One of the cemetery's most famous occupants is Eva Perón. This is a great location to base yourself to explore the sights of Buenos Aires.
There are many ways you can explore the city ... walking, metro, even take a hop on hop off bus. For the hardy, how about exploring the city by bike? I did even though it was a terrifying experience! I haven’t been on a bike for 20 years and probably will not be on a bike for another 20 years. But lucky BA is flat so did not have to try and climb any hills but you do have to combat 8 lanes of traffic with no road rules, pedestrians, dogs and if you are like me trying to keep the bike in a straight line.
We enjoyed a 5 hour 'Heart of the City' tour. Exploring the neighbourhoods of Puerto Madero, San Telmo, Montserrat and the colourful suburb of La Boca. Not only did we enjoy hearing about Buenos Aires colourful history, culture and people but saw some of the many urban art works, the religious heart of Buenos Aires the 'Bombnera Stadium' home of Boca Juniors Football Club, and the Plaza de Mayo and the Casa Rosada with the famous balcony where Eva Peron engaged with the people. We also enjoyed a traditional Argentine lunch at a parrilla food truck but didn’t enjoy the local drinks of Fernet and Yerba Mate (tea infusion).
It was a very good way to see BA, I enjoyed the experience even though I was really busy concentrating keeping myself upright! I can highly recommend Biking Buenos Aires, not only do they have many tours options, their guides are fantastic looking after your safety and are extremely knowledge with the right blend of facts, figures and stories. They were very down to earth and made for an enjoyable experience.
Buenos Aires is full of some amazing architecture, street art, music. Even a ride on the metro can be full of fun and interesting people. If you are in to shopping there are many options. Is it cheap? That is hard to say.
Florida Street had many leather, cashmere shops and large sports stores at one end and the Galerias Pacifico mall at the other end. Look up at the painted ceiling's, you could swear you were in Rome. Pulimo had an outlet shopping mall and streets acting as a hub for shopping. Recoleta has a large shopping mall, however this is the expensive part of town. On weekends there are markets in Recoleta that are filled with arts & crafts, clothing, with a great atmosphere of music, dance, and food.
A must do on Sunday is to head to the San Telmo Markets. The markets have been going for over 40 years. It was originally an antique market. It still has this but most of it is arts and crafts, original art, funky clothing, food and music. A great place to pick up those souvenirs or the odd football shirt.
Finally, I found a country where I didn’t worry about the food as Argentina love their meat, vegetarians be warned. They say they have the best beef in the world (still can’t beat Kobe Beef in Japan) however it was good. Argentine BBQs are very big and many of the restaurants cater for this, for example 'Clarks' in Recoleta. There were also Mexican and Italian restaurants but very few Asian restaurants. So, if you don’t like meat you could have some trouble. However, you should like your beef medium to raw as it didn’t seem to matter how you asked it to be cooked it came out the same way.
A must do in Argentina is a Tango Show, in Buenos Aires there are hundreds of options. We enjoyed a dinner and show at El Querandi in the heart of historic centre of Buenos Aires. The show was about the history of the Tango from its origins to the modern day. It was amazing and very well done, the dinner had mixed reviews depending on what you had but you could always eat elsewhere before seeing the show.
The best night out is going to the 'Argentina Experience' either in Buenos Aires or Iguazu. It is a fantastic night out with great food, drink, and a lot of laughs. We enjoyed our night in Iguazu falls. The experience offers a unique dining experience which cleverly blends exquisite food and wine, local culture, and social integration. Enjoy some Argentina cocktails and then get the opportunity to make one of your own. I was taught the art of making traditional empanadas (like Cornish Pasties) and enjoyed them afterwards. Alongside your creations, enjoy grilled provoleta cheese with sliced chorizo sausage and pork flank steak. Next some more of that Argentine steak, accompanied with velvety mashed potatoes and oven roasted vegetables. For dessert, we made our own alfajores. Our hosts throughout the evening were fantastic, they were funny, informative and it was a great night and highly recommend it to everyone.
On the border of Argentina and Brazil, Iguazu Falls is amazing and spectacular. You need a good pair of shoes, camera and definitely a poncho. You are going to get wet one way or another. Whether it is from the spray of the falls, the heavens above or getting very up close and personal to the falls with a boat ride. We spent the day on the Argentina side of falls exploring the falls viewing them from different locations and at different heights. The major part of the falls is Devils Throat. There are many circuits upper and lower to view the falls from all angles, heights, and advantage points. One of the most exciting parts of the day was the Great Adventure Boat Ride. You take an 8 kilometre truck ride through the jungle keeping an eye out for the moneys and toucans until Port Macuo where you board motor boats that take you to the Lower Iguazu rapids and the heart of the falls. You will get wet, believe me I had my jacket and poncho on and was wet from top to toe. However, it was exhilarating and couldn’t stop laughing, a must do.
Bring your passport so you can go over to the Brazil side of the falls. This is a must and a great way to see the expanse of the falls. You don’t get so up close and personal but you get the full panoramic view of the falls along with views of the lower Iguazu River and Devils Gorge Canyon. While we were there we were lucky enough to explore Das Cataratas the famous pink hotel by the falls. It is a very beautiful, traditional hotel.
You can also explore in Iguazu, the Parque das Aves which has more than 1320 birds from Brazil and around the world. You can get up close to macaws and come eye to eye with a Toucan.
If you are into Eco and adventure tourism then take one of the tours on offer into the Iguazu Forest. We did a little trek into the jungle which included abseiling down a cliff and if you are game and it’s not so cold through a waterfall. My favourite was canopying (zip lining), among the tree tops at heights of 15-25 metres. However, it was over to quickly, it felt like it was over before it began.
Argentina was amazing place with some spectacular natural wonders, interesting history, good food and music. I enjoyed my experience and would highly recommend anyone to spend some time in Argentina.