BA the Best

After the grueling work of Bolivia, I now stepped into the proverbial light by hitting Buenos Aires.

BA the Best

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by WitlessWanderer on November 1, 2005

Wow! What a place! Modern, stylish, and cosmopolitan, with a generous supply of beautiful, beautiful people, Buenos Aires (BA to its friends) is a city to rival the finest in Europe. It´s by far the most European place I've encountered in South America, and I'm enjoying the luxuries.

It´s a city of broad boulevards, including the 16-lane Avenue of 9 July, which has a claim to be the widest road in the world. Buenos Aires was something of a late developer, and so the buildings in the centre are generally from the 1920s heyday of the city. Rather than trapping the place in a period, it only adds an air of old-school elegance.

The people from BA are known as porteños and are gregarious, sophisticated, and stylish. That pretty much describes the nightlife as well, which has to be seen to be believed. From super-swanky modern clubs in the revitalised Puerto Madero docklands to wood-lined bars in the Palermo, there's a good chance you'll still be going by the time the sun comes up. But you start late (approx. 10pm), so an afternoon siesta is recommended.

${QuickSuggestions} High quality dining experiences abound in BA, and the area along Calle Denfensa in the San Telmo barrio is recommended.

BA is generally pleasantly hot during the day, but can still get chill on some October nights, so remember to carry a jumper so you don´t get left freezing.

Pick up the city map from any tourist info office - it´s a good one.

${BestWay} Walking can get you quite a long way in BA, particularly along the main shopping streets of Florida and Sante Fe, but if you want to really explore the city, then you'll have to tackle the public transport system. The metro system ("Subte") has four lines and at AR$0.70 flat fare is a cheap and easy way to access most of the main areas.

Trains are rather more awkward and a number of stations have shut.

There are plenty of buses around (AR$0.80), buy judging where they go can be interesting. However, they´re a good way to see this well laid out city.

Taxis are frequent, obvious and easy. It seems to be relatively well regulated and most cabs have meters.

Soul Cafe

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by WitlessWanderer on December 13, 2005

Soul Cafe is, by its own admission, a boogie restaurant. With its blaxploitation posters, funkadelic decor and smooth grooves on the stereo, it´s certainly a different world from your standard BA restaurant.

But strip away the soul stylings and the menu is the relatively standard Argentine beef and pasta selection, albeit with a few stir fry options thrown in as well.

I went for the Chicken Molotov at AR$23 (because the 1930 Soviet Prime Minister is clearly a boogie icon). Chicken on a bed of prawn risotto topped with tangy guacamole (!) and ready salted crisps (!!). No questions over quality - it was great - but the portion was surprisingly small, certainly by BA standards.

You're definitely paying for the decor, which is maybe the way forward when there are so many fantastic places in the Las Cañitas area. It just seems like a good idea that they didn´t quite follow through.

I can´t quite decide whether it´s tongue in cheek. It does have Risotto Don Corn-Leone and for dessert, James Brownies, but these kind of entertaining puns are the exception rather than the rule. I´d just expected it to be a bit more fun. And the Godfather´s not really soul, is he?

Verdict: More Erma than Aretha.
Soul Cafe
246 Las Canitas
Buenos Aires, Argentina
+54 (011) 4778 3115

Cementerio de la Recoleta

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by WitlessWanderer on December 19, 2005

Guidebooks will tell you that the big sight in the cemetery is Evita's grave. And indeed you can see the plaques on the Duarte Mausoleum (her maiden name) and take the photo. I did. The saga of how her body got here is explained in Palermo's fine Evita Museum.

So you've seen the big sight. Don´t go home yet.

But I enjoyed wandering round the sombre marble streets of this necropolis in the centre of the city. Many of Argentina's greats are here--you´ll recognise the names from major streets: Lavalle, Pueyrredon, and Alem, among others.

As with other public spaces in this city, it's heavily populated by stray cats. It seems porteños keep dogs but lose cats. On that note, watch where you step in this part of town--they love their dogs but hate cleaning up after them.

Of course, Recoleta didn't always used to be in the centre of the city. Indeed, it used to be a country retreat for Buenos Aires' rich and famous. When yellow fever broke out in 1871, they moved out here permanently, abandoning their mansions in La Boca. But the city caught up with them as it expanded and now Recoleta is pretty central (but still outside the public transport system).

The cemetery is open from 7am to 6pm daily and is absolutely free. You don´t really need the guide, but bring your camera, as there are some fine photos.
La Recoleta Cemetery
Junín 1790 Recoleta District
Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1116
+54 (11) 4804 7040

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