After a wonderful visit with our oldest son and his wife in Hawaii, we took six flights across the world to make our way to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in preparation for our Antarctic adventure.
One of our flights was on an ill-fated Boeing 737 Max that had to turn around just after leaving Rio de Janeiro when all travel on those planes was canceled while we were mid-air. We’ll blow past the rest of the details of the travel that brought us from Oceania to southern South America, because it was exhausting and more than a bit nerve-wracking.
But we made it! And that’s what counts.
As usual, Mike picked the perfect hotel for us to explore the city on foot. We stayed at the delightful Hotel Eurobuilding and used that as our home base for a 10-miles-a-day walking tour of Buenos Aires.
I was most excited about seeing San Telmo market, so our route headed that way first.
The oldest neighborhood of Buenos Aires, San Telmo features well-preserved colonial buildings that house cafes, antique stores, tango parlors, and bars along cobblestone streets. You’ll also find contemporary art galleries and a vibrant street art scene.
Making our way to the Sunday market, we saw a number of street performers. Mimes, musicians, caricature artists, and even bands that commandeered the whole avenue for spirited performances that were eagerly received by people of all ages.
The Feria de San Telmo antiques market runs every Sunday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and features 270 stands selling furniture, art, crystal, silver, clothing, colorful vintage goods, and more along with food and drinks. Because the market is all inside, it’s a great destination for bad-weather weekends in Buenos Aires, although you should know that everyone else in town will have the same idea. On fair weather days, the market spills out to street vendors and gives you a bit of breathing room indoors.
It’s hard to get “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” out of your head while you’re walking around Buenos Aires. They aren’t big Madonna fans, from what I could tell, but Eva Perón holds a very special place in the hearts of most Argentinians.
Sadly, Plazoleta Eva Perón doesn’t live up to the woman or her legend, but at least there’s lots of colorful, well-executed street art to enjoy on your way to the very sad little park filled with much litter and more than a couple homeless people’s mattresses.
Next on the itinerary was Puente de la Mujer, or Bridge of the Women, a rotating footbridge at Puerto Madero. It swings to allow boats to pass, and even when it’s sitting still, the asymmetrical design makes you feel like you’re seeing things. Or that could be the excellent Argentinian wine.
What will definitely make you feel like your head is spinning is the magnificent El Ateneo Grand Splendid, named the “world’s most beautiful bookstore” by National Geographic.
This incredible space first opened as a grand theater in 1919 and features spellbinding Italian frescoes and hand-sculpted caryatid columns along with a handful of paperbacks in English. You can turn your first pages in the cafe, which is located on the former theater’s main stage.
We strolled past the grand old office building known as the Palacio Barolo on our way back to the hotel, but at that point, we were far more interested in more of the country’s velvety wine and tender grass-fed beef.
And we found both at the oldest restaurant in Buenos Aires, El Imparcial, where a three-course dinner for two with a bottle of wine will cost you about $30 USD.
Next Stop: Ushuaia, Argentina, known as the “End of the World,” as we prepare to embark for our Antarctic adventure