So here I am, enjoying the rhythm of the BsAs here and there playlist, for the next story, which as the title says will tell of a trip to Buenos Aires…
It was rather an unconscious decision, I was there looking at my boring financial reports, when I saw an incoming email announcing a super offer to fly to Buenos Aires, and without noticing how long it took me to decide on dates and fill in all the information, I only realized the magnitud of the rush when I saw the confirmation of our flights to Buenos Aires, six days with my family (dad, mum, sister and two nieces)!
The influence of Argentina is big in South America, and I can for sure tell it was true for Peru, at least when I grew up in the 90s. So going to Buenos Aires for the first time got me thinking about my teenagehood, of the tv shows I liked to watch and the music I danced and listened to back then, those famous bands whose music brought back especial memories of time spent with my friends, of friends I have until now, and friends I never saw again, of those first butterflies in the belly and of course also the heart breaks. The golden years of teenagehood, a time of self-discovery and sisterhood, times of craziness and drama. Treasured memories accompanied by Argentinian bands (that you can find in the playlist).
Traveling with family and especially with a two year old child was quite a challenge, for we could not walk for as long as I would normally do, and we needed to stop every now and then to get her some food. The trip went up to a whole new level, considering also my parents getting tired quicker than I thought, definitely not everyone could go at my pace or share my energy, so it took me the first day to figure out the differences and readjust the activities.
We had to include far more trips on the ‘Subte’ (that’s how they call to their underground train) than I would have liked, and we also had to hop on a sightseeing bus, for the first time I was on the upper deck instead of walking in the streets or enjoying a bit more of the gardens and parks. Contrary to what I thought, I enjoyed the explanations it offered and quite quickly fell in love of the background music which to my amaze was called Electrotango (mixing tango with electronic music) I am until now a lover of Electrotango and all kinds of traditional music from anywhere being mixed harmoniously with electronic sounds.
This mix of old, traditional with modern and vibrant, is exactly how I could better describe what Buenos Aires is. Traditional because in South America family ties are very important, hence large families tend to often gather together, so as life-long family-like friends do, that is what we saw in areas such as Boedo or la Boca where people get together to watch a football match, or even better go to the stadium to cheer their favorite team, to then get into the Subte singing the anthems and songs they have learnt from their parents, and they from their parents, and so on. Being in the Subte with people coming from the stadium was something that we will never forget, the passion they transmitted got to our bones, the whole carriage rumbling with their songs and small drums, even my little niece was clapping and smiling with excitement.
Speaking about football, which is big for us in South America and even more for Argentinians, we all have suffered during matches, we have changed sides depending on who was the other team, we know that there is no world cup without Argentina and Brazil, we love Messi and admire Di Maria, we remember the great Batistuta (from when I was younger) or ‘La Bruja Veron’ and the beat goes on… ah by the way did I mention I used to be passionate about football? If not then, surprise!!
Buenos Aires is like mini cities in one. The centre area is rather European, when we got to the Obelisco and saw the buildings around it I had a flashback of Picadilly Circus, a feeling of being back in London but somehow confused for knowing I was in Argentina. This area is nice to explore at night and enjoy of the bohemian style of Corrientes Avenue with its tango making your whole being dance.
Make sure not to miss a visit to the Casa Rosada (Pink House) which is perhaps one of the most emblematic buildings in Buenos Aires, and serves as the office of the President of Argentina (back in 2011 Cristina Kirchner, and now Mauricio Macri). At Plaza de Mayo you can also visit The Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral where there is the mausoleum of General José de San Martin, who was one of the leaders of the Independence of Chile, Argentina and Peru in 1821 (for the latter), a very important person in our history.
If you love antique markets, then San Telmo is for you, the oldest neighbourhood in Buenos Aires, which is known for its antiques market on Sundays, but it also has very nice restaurants with tables in a little square, where while you indulge yourself with delicious food you can enjoy a good tango show (not that you don’t find it everywhere else in the city). This area is the opposite to the modern Puerto Madero, where not just visitors but business Porteños (how people from Buenos Aires are called) enjoy of steak and the best views over Rio de la Plata.
Palermo and Recoleta are also beautiful neighbourhoods, each with a distinctive architecture and style, but surely known for the easiness to go around, the cafes and restaurants as well as shops and museums, perfect for a day or two exploring at your own pace. The city takes you by surprise with its European architecture, mixed with tango, murga and cumbia rhythms, modern bars and the smell of great food inviting you to try the old and the new recipes.
Buenos Aires certainly has a lot more to do and see, six days were not enough for me, but rather more than enough for the rest of my family who were happy to go back home after enjoying the warmth and kindness of Argentinian people, not without experiencing one more (and perhaps the most memorable) act of kindness and consideration towards elder people and kids that we’ve ever experienced.
You see, I was having a great time, proud of being such a good guide for my family in a city I was also new to, and in charge of all the arrangements myself. When the time to do the check-in for our returning flight came, it was early morning and we were in a hurry to go to Puerto Madero, I saw in the computer screen: “Departure time 8:45” and left. It had always been difficult for me to read time in the 24 hour format, I always used only the 12 hour one knowing if it was before or after noon. So when we got to the airport that day at 5:30pm I was relaxed until the lady from the airline told me “your flight was this morning” anything else she said after was just noise.
With the useless boarding passes in hand, we headed to the counter where another lady was in charge, with my ‘I always stay calm during crisis’ face I explained the problem to her, she looked at us and said: “I’ll be right back”. When she came back after five minutes, she said: “We will check you in the next flight at 7:45 pm, my colleague over there will give you the boarding passes, and you don’t need to pay anything because you are traveling with children and elder people, enjoy your flight back home” And off we went.
That trip helped me to understand that traveling with family is complex but fun, that each person enjoys different things; my father loved to try to dance tango, my sister loved the shopping malls, my little niece enjoyed the Subte with the songs and drums of the football fans, my other niece enjoyed an afternoon at the Barbie store, my mum enjoyed touring on board of the sightseeing bus, and I found a particular pleasure in arranging trips for others and making it possible to do what each of them wanted, the reward? a face expressing the excitement and joy of the moment, when no words are needed that’s the best signal!
Argentina is high on my traveling list, not only to go back to Buenos Aires, but also to explore it from the wine land of Mendoza, to the south of the Argentinian Patagonia, passing through its highlands. It has cultural richness and diversity that I need to explore more, and you should do too if you have the time.
Time to plan another trip, this time for my friend who was coming to visit Perú, one week to explore Cusco and surroundings, you’ll see what I prepared for her, meanwhile… Hasta pronto! See you soon! Auf Wiedersehen! A presto! Au revoir!