We debarked the ship in Buenos Aires just in time to spend New Years Eve and experience a heat wave in the city. It must have been close to 100 degrees, hot and humid, a little warmer than usual for December.
This was our second time in BA so we felt quite at home. Our hotel, the Marriott Plaza was quite luxurious and situated at the end of Calle Florida, a walking street full of shops and restaurants and many interesting characters. During the early evening hours as you walk along Calle Florida you will hear tango music playing. A crowd starts to form to watch tango dancers dance perform on the coble stoned streets and then pass the hat for the few coins that audiences parts with to show their appreciation.
BA is a great walking city. Taxi's are inexpensive. We were warned to only take a radio dispatched taxi. Any hotel or restaurant will call a taxi for you.
The Argentine government collapsed in 2001 and the economy is finally recuperating. There is much poverty in the city as in most big cities so you need to beware of the pickpockets and beggars. However, the rate of exchange is $3 Argentine Pesos to $1 US dollar and a great bargain for US tourists.
BA is a city of European-style boulevards, with a Parisian influence of great architecture and colorful neighborhoods. There is some pollution on the buildings but the beauty is still evident.
A city bus tour is advisable to experience the flavor of BA and find your way to the areas of Recoletta where Eva Peron is buried, lovely al-fresco restaurants in this ritzy area, the Italian section Palumbo with its beautiful parks, San Telmo where an antique-art fair is held every Sunday with tango dancers performing right on the streets. Newly upcoming is the port area Puerto Madera with upscale restaurants and a walk way along the water. Not to be missed is the very coloroful Caminito Street in LaBoca. You can pose with tango dancers for a photo and a fee. This area can be rough and it is recommended not to go there at night. It is also usually crowded with tourists and interesting to see the dilliplated and colorful tin covered buildings.
The Fine Arts Museum is lovely to visit as well as the Casa Rosada free museum from where Eva Peron made her balcony appearance. In the movie Evita it appears that the song "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" was performed from this balcony.
Argentina is one of the biggest beef-producing countries in the world and meat is everywhere. There is always a parrilla, or grill. You can get a decent meal with wine for about $30 US. Wine is good and inexpensive.
We enjoyed a Tango performance including transportation, dinner and a bottle of wine at the beautiful Astor Piazzolla Theatre for $75 per person (a bit pricey as the rate of exchange is $3 Argentine Pesos to $1 US dollar) but it was an excellent professional show, great wine and a really good dinner.
A trip outside the city to a gaucho farm is a fun day. A barbecue is served and a show of folk dancing and gauchos with their bollo's and some horsemanship is displayed.
Another nice trip is to the Delta Tigre. A bus and train will hook you up for a pleasant boat ride to see the delta and the homes along the delta where people live; many us this as a retreat away from the city.
The sharing of Mate, a Paraguayan tea, is a ritual more than a beverage, and if offered is a special expression of acceptance. Everywhere in most So. American countires people walk around with a thermos of hot water and a bowl for mate that they brew and sip all day long, something like people walking around with a Starbuck container of coffee. One of our tour guides offered a taste of the herb-like tea that you sip through a straw. It was a bit bitter but it was fun to experience their custom.
BA is a great city and well worth repeated visits as there is much to see.