Argentina Part I: Buenos Aires

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Saturday, December 31, 2011

From Iguassu Falls, most travelers chose between two popular destinations; Montevideo, Uruguay and Buenos Aires, Argentina. I went for the ladder.  After Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires was the highest destination on my bucket list.  Many people call Buenos Aires South America's version of Paris.  From the colonial architecture to the late night Tango shows, BA is as elegant of a city as you can find in the modern world. 

I arrived in BA at 9:00 on a Sunday morning.  This is the time when most portenos (BA locals) are finishing there night out on the town.  I made my way to my hostel, which was inside of an ancient colonial style building located in the city center.  After checking in and ditched my bags, I began to exploring the city.  With close to 15 million people, BA is monstrosorous in size.  I quickly learned that I needed to narrow my list of things to see

That night, I met up with a Brazilian girl whom I had originally met in Florianopolis.  We decided to head to a Cuban salsa club, which was recommended by several people staying at her hostel.  Here, I was enthusiastically introduced to salsa.  For 3 hours, I attempted to learn this art, which seemed to have been perfected by everyone in the club except myself.  Watching me dance salsa is like watching a bear ride a bicycle.  It just doesn’t look right.  Despite my serious lack of salsa skills, I ended up having a great time.

The salsa scene in Buenos Aires in great, but it’s the tango shows that give the BA nightlife legendary status.  We were recommended a place called "El Matador" which offered both tango lessons and tango shows.  I decided to stick with the latter and leave the dancing to the professionals.  The venue itself was the best part.  It was old and dark, smelling of wine and empanadas.  The venue’s wooden ceilings and floors were complemented by tango paintings and crystal chandeliers.  The Latin feel was undeniable, unlike anything I have experienced thus far.  The show itself was OK.  I have seen better shows at bars.  However, the slightest tango ability is impressive to me.

I decided to spend an afternoon in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires.  Palermo is a bustling neighborhood in BA which was settled by Sicilian immigrants years ago.  It is known for a number of things including great restaurants (mainly Italian restaurants and Steak houses), lively nightlife, parks, and shopping.  I don’t really care about shopping and I had already been to half a dozen parks in Argentina and Brazil, so I was there for the restaurants and the nightlife.

A few friends and I had made reservations at one of Buenos Aires most famous Steak houses… “Don Julio”.  I had heard of the restaurant from the travel channel, which I watch chronically back home, but it was also recommended to me by numerous BA locals.  The steaks here are the size of your head, and contain about as much flavor as your taste buds can handle.  $10 got me a 16 OZ rip eye and a liter of local beer. 

Next stop is wine country.  I will visit Cordoba and Mendoza in Argentina before heading over into Chile.
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