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Seductive tango creates an unmistakable vibe across the cobble stone streets of Buenos Aires. Yet, the third most populous city in South America and pride of Argentina, offers much more: the taste of perfection.
A revitalized riverfront, well-preserved 19th century architecture, and a focus on art, especially the art of conversation make for an easy comparison to any sophisticated European city. Buenos Aires, the Paris of South America, also contains a strong Italian influence clearly recognizable in the language, accents and the customs. That coupled with Latin American culture establish the foundation for a diverse cosmopolitan destination.
My Buenos Aires flight landed and I was prepared for my affair with the city.
I heard Buenos Aires was a must visit, and after spending time here I must agree. I danced the tango, I soaked in the city charm on long neighborhood walks and evenings out on the town, enjoyed afternoon café chats with friends over aperitifs, and even purchased the perfect leather shoes at boutique store. While it was all enchanting, the old cliche still holds true: the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and Buenos Aires did not disappoint.
On Sundays, the streets of San Telmo explode. Artisans, musicians, and dancers entertain on Defensa St. and show the route to the antiques fair in the Plaza Dorrego. The fair, a window to view the past of the country, provides the opportunity to buy everything from jewelry and 1920s garments to army helmets and classic records. You'll work up an appetite just strolling the fair, and then it's time for the best Buenos Aires experience: a grilled steak.
The grill, “La Parilla,” is very popular in Argentina and Buenos Aires offers many options, but El Desnivel is a must. The small authentic eatery provides no-frills picnic style table settings, reasonable prices, and service with character that draws city residents and tourists craving local flavor. Other places offer a more exquisite dinning experience, but to me the local flavor was a necessary ingredient, the spice that always makes the meal. The top cut (Lomo), a bottle Malbec and some sides will cost less than a hamburger at a suburban chain and the taste from the slow burning flame and the natural Argentine beef is simply delicious.
Don’t be alarmed if a restaurant is empty. Dinner usually starts at 10 p.m. in Buenos Aires and the night out does not begin until most cities are already asleep. Countless times I found myself watching the sunrise from the window of a taxi not thinking of breakfast, but wondering if that night I was heading back to enjoy La Parilla.
Buenos Aires airfare: The 12-hour flight from New York is currently $650 including taxes and most have at least one stop before you land in Buenos Aires. Direct flights are more expensive, but with a limited time zone change as you fly south, jet lag is minimal and you are ready to explore the first day.
Buenos Aires hotels: Buenos Aires offers many options on where to stay. Top boutique Buenos Aires hotels, such as Jardin Escondido designed by Francis Ford Coppola or the CasaSur Art Hotel can be found in the trendy neighborhoods of Palermo or Recoleta for under $250.
If you are looking for cheaper accommodation, Buenos Aires offers many options to rent apartments for a week or months at a time. Buenos Aires hostels are abundant and available for under $10 per night.
Buenos Aires tours: For a great deal and tour of the San Telmo neighborhood, contact Jose Serebrenik at his language school. He offers language classes and takes his students and adventurous tourists on educational walking tours. You'll learn the history, the culture, and the origins of much of the impressive architecture, all while learning a little Spanish.
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