I’ve been putting off writing this blog post for a while now for two reasons 1). I knew it would be a long one and 2). I don’t think I could ever express in words how much we loved Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires overview
Buenos Aires didn’t get off to that great a start for Leah and myself….
After travelling overnight from Rosario we arrived in the huge bus terminal on the edge of the city in the early afternoon. We’d been warned that the taxis in the city are sometimes rigged so attempted to use public transport to get to our hostel in el centro.
Unfortunately the day we arrived the metro line that we needed was closed so we ended up walking around for over an hour trying to find a different route – carrying our large rucksacks on our back, our day bags on our fronts and a bag full of food each.
We were eventually pointed in the direction of the bus stops but after queuing up for another 20minutes in the baking mid day sun we were informed that you can’t pay for the bus in cash. You need a pre topped up metro card to use any of the cities public transport and the only place to buy one was in the metro station (which was closed) or back in the bus station that we’d just come from. By the time this was explained to us in spanish Leah and I – exhausted, hot and hungry now- were almost in tears.
However…. From this moment onwards our time in Buenos Aires became much more enjoyable!
A women on the bus paid for our journey using her own travel card (and refused to accept our payment – it was the equivalent of 3 pesos – 6p each) and we made it to the hostel pretty speedy afterwards!
Hostels in El Centro
The Millhouse hostel chain had been highly recommend to us for a place to meet other travellers and have some big nights out in Buenos Aires. Unfortunately the dorm prices reflected it’s popularity so on our budget we couldn’t afford to stay there for our whole visit to the city (which ended up almost being two weeks!). Instead we decided to stay in Millhouse Avenue for the weekends (Thursday, Friday and Saturday), moving somewhere cheaper on the days in between.
You honestly do get what you pay for in Millhouse Avenue. The rooms are spacious and clean, the beds are pretty comfy, the showers and breakfasts are the best that I’ve had since being in South America and the location is great!
There are also big lockers in the bedrooms with safety deposit boxes in the basement for guests to use before checking in or after checking out. The only let downs are the wifi (which only works in the reception/dining area) and the kitchen (which is very basic and lacking in cutlery).
Described as a party hostel there’s always something going on each night, be it at Millhouse Avenue or it’s sister hostel Millhouse Hippo. Each night there’s a party in one of the hostels starting from 10pm until 2am when the crowds start to move on to the bars and clubs.
Although the hostel does recommend bars and clubs for everyone to go to its mostly electro/ dance music so little groups disperse once the taxis arrive.
Most of the clubs and bars are in the Palermo area so if you get to one which isn’t great it’s not a very long walk before you find somewhere else!
For our first night out in Buenos Aires we ended up in a club called club 69. We’d gotten a taxi there straight from Millhouse Avenue with a bunch of people and even though it was described as electro (not mine or Leahs thing) we went along to see what it was like. Due to turning up in a large group (10 people) we were given free entry and walked straight onto the dance floor.
Although most clubs in Buenos Aires seem to only play electro and dance music there is a hidden gem amongst the local scene in the Rose bar.
Unlike club 69 which had a high percentage of backpackers in, after a Thursday, Friday and Saturday night in Rose bar (spread over two weekends) we only met a handful of backpackers. This might seem like an odd thing for backpackers to want – especially when you don’t speak much spanish- but we met so many really nice people from all over Buenos Aires! The music was a perfect mixture of spanish, U.K. Chart music, RnB and dance; the dance area was large and there was a decent outside area for when you need to cool down/ smoke.
Due to making Rose bar our goto place for a good night out we realised that different days of the weekend attract different crowds.
Thursday the bar is only open until 2am so attracts the afterwork crowd. On Friday night there is a younger crowd but on Saturday night there’s a right mixture of everyone!
Girls – 100 pesos entry but get a free drinks voucher
Guys- 150 pesos entry (no drinks voucher)
Buenos Aires is a huge city so it’s definitely worth buying a travel card when you arrive. Not only are the main sites pretty spread out across the city, some of the areas aren’t the best for tourists to walk through so its sometimes better to go via public transport.
Due to us staying in el centro for almost two weeks we’d walked down almost every side street possible.
Restaurants and shops line the Main Streets; 9 de Julio and Avenue de Mayo but almost down every side street there’s little cafes to be explored. The main tourist draws of the area are the obilisque and the image of Evita Peron (which looks best at night) on 9 de Julio as well as the theatre and shopping areas.
At one end of Avenue de Mayo you will find the modern day government buildings and at the opposite end is the famous ‘pink house’ where Eva Peron gave her famous speech. Surrounding the pink house is a square popular with demonstrations, an old church and some nice pedestrian only streets.
Although it’s the financial and business area of the city you can easily spend a whole day wandering the streets around el centro looking at the buildings.
To leah and myself the colonial style of buildings made us feel at home which was really nice after 8 months of backpacking. The architecture is beautiful as well so it’s impossible not to stop and look around you!
La Boca is an area of Buenos Aires that fits into two extremes. Within the tourists barriers of the quirky colourful houses, tango shows, football stadium, restaurants and souvenir shops tourists can relax and wander the streets. Outside this little area it gets a little sketchy and its best to be passing through in either a bus or taxi.
The streets of La Boca are lined with colourful wooden houses, even if you come off of the main tourists streets the colour continues. Many a fashion designer most probably wouldn’t agree but the yellows next to the purples, greens, blues and oranges give the whole area a happy appeal.
One of the highlights for La Boca for me was the amount of graffiti art in the area.
The bombadrome is the football stadium of the Boca Juniors team. It’s possible to go for a walk around the grounds and to the musuem but its pretty pricey if you’re not that into football (around £10).
Across the city there is a big divide between the various regions football teams and some of the games can get pretty heated. The two biggest rivalries are between Boca Juniors and River so when this match is played only the home fans are allowed into the grounds.
When we were there Boca Juniors were playing Racing . We’d planned on watching the match in a bar in La Boca but were told that the tourist area closes as 6pm and the rest of the area would be unsafe. We ended up watching it in a restaurant in el centro because we couldn’t find a good sports bar….
There are lots of restaurants in La Boca however most of the main tourist ones are within the first few streets by the port. The restaurants all actually have very good menus that although are similar to one another have a great variety of choices.
Vegetarian options are easy to find here but vegan is a little bit more tricky if you can’t speak the language. Most restaurants are happy with making substitutions but you’ll most likely end up paying for the items that you’ve asked to be removed such as an avocado and cheese sandwich without the cheese.
Outside of this little area the prices drop as you find little cafes selling more traditional Argentinian foods such as choripan and lomo.
Advice for the area:
Leah and I had been to the area on 4 different occasions and didn’t have any trouble but one friend had her mobile phone stolen on the bus on the way out of town. She had literally took her phone out of her pocket to check the time, a guy next to her grabbed it out of her hand and jumped off the bus.
Outside the tourist area is pretty rough and I can say from experience that if you get off the bus many people you pass will think that you’re either a drug dealer yourself or looking for one!
I’ve already mentioned a little about the nightlife in Palermo but the area is a great place to walk around during the day, especially at the weekend.
Each Saturday and Sunday the main ring road around Palermo park is closed as joggers, cyclists, roller bladers and other fitness enthusiasts head there. Families, couples and groups of friends all head to the park to chill out on the grass, eating ice creams from the sellors there or drinking the mate tea they’ve brought from home.
Palermos a great place to visit during the week too especially if you’re interested in recent political history of Argentina. There’s a great museum on the life of Evita (Eva Peron) detailing events from her childhood up to her early death in 1952.
Price: I can’t remember the price for here but student discount is accepted (half price).
There are four main draws to the area of Recoleta: the cemetery where Evita was buried along with many other famous and prosperous Argentinian families; the mechanical flower in the nearby park; the pretty high street and the performance of Fuerza Bruta.
Fuerza Bruta is a highlight of my time in Buenos Aires and if you visit when there’s a performance on its well worth the 250 peso price tag. The performance is so powerful that it’s impossible to give enough credit to in words.
Think of a combination between circus tricks, acrobatics, mechanical engineering, singing, dancing, drumming, water features and role play!
Bomba de tiempo
Bomba de tiempo is another musical performance but again it was unlike anything I’ve seen before. A group of drummers head to the Konex centre each Monday and take to the stage to give a crowd of over one hundred people an unforgettable performance.
Buenos Aires is probably one of the best places in the whole of South America to need to visit.
Unfortunately whilst leaving Rosario I’d slightly fractured a metatarsal in my foot and after I tried to run on it on my second day in Buenos Aires the fracture worsened… I ended up in hospital Aleman and the whole visit took around an hour for me to see a consultant, have an X-ray and to have it examined.
As many sports enthusiasts know that stress fractures don’t usually show up in X-rays (which mine didn’t) so although I was now £50 out of pocket (£25 for consultation plus £25 for the X-ray) the English speaking doctor was able to confirm that at least it wasn’t broken….
Running in Buenos Aires
Although the first time I visited Buenos Aires I was unable to walk, a few months later we returned and after testing my foot I was able to resume my training.
Staying in el centro once again there’s lots of pre planned routes to run on strava but my favourites were around Puerto Modero as from Millhouse hostel you run passed the obilisque, Evita’s mural, the pink house (which is beautiful lit up at night), all the way down to the port. If you’re feeling a little fitter it’s also possible to keep running to the national park on the edge which has lots of little trails to explore!
Although Tigre isn’t exactly in Buenos Aires city it only takes one hour on the train (not metro) to get there and 3 pesos on your travel card. It’s a great place to visit for a day trip (although not on Mondays and Wednesday’s as everything is closed) with the options of taking one of the site seeing boats out into the sea.
Food in Buenos Aires
The food is Buenos Aires has a lot of Italian influences. There’s lots of pizza and pastas on the menu as well as the traditional Argentinian steaks, milanesas and locros.
The prices vary greatly from one restaurant to another so it’s better to have a look at a few menus down a street before making up your mind. We also found that just because one restaurant looks expensive doesn’t mean that it’ll be anymore pricey than one a few doors down that looks like a cafe!
There’s lots of per kilo restaurants all over the city which are best to visit around 12-1pm or just before the dinner crowd at 9pm where they have their freshest dishes out. Most range from 8 pesos to 11 pesos per kilo and have a big selection of dishes- a veggies dream!