Buenos Aires Holiday
With its Latino energy and old world charm, Buenos Aires is a place where passion abounds – whether through football, tango or just romantic strolls through cobbled streets and grand avenues. After admiring the faded architecture, indulging in sophisticated shopping and taking the weight off your feet in one of the atmospheric cafes, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were somewhere in Europe, not the third largest city in South America but Buenos Aires is far more than a mere replica of its distant counterparts.
Large tranquil parks complete with sub-tropical plants offer places to get away from the general bustle of street life. Shoppers heading off to the Galerías Pacífico, with its vaulted and frescoed ceilings, juggle their bags as performance artists vie for attention with the window displays outside.
San Telmo is a place to wander and simply soak up the atmosphere of the winding cobbled streets and delightfully dilapidated buildings – watching out for the manic buses that hurtle along the streets at breakneck speed. On Sundays, the barrio’s central square buzzes with the Feria de San Pedro Telmo, the city’s long running antique market, where those with a nose for a bargain can take their pick from everything from watches to old ticket machines. And once you tire of browsing, then turn your attentions to the fantastic displays of one of Buenos Aires’ most famous exports - the tango.
Tango bars around the city put on professional shows to amaze the crowds with extravagant displays of fancy footwork. But those who prefer to see just how the tango craze has recaptured the hearts of the locals should head to one of the numerous dancehalls to marvel at the entranced couples gliding along the dancefloors at events known as milongas. Complete novices can also learn the basics at classes held around the city.
Brush up on your European and Argentine art at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes or head to the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires where a number of temporary exhibitions are laid out in an old tobacco factory. To get to grips with the city’s turbulent past, visit the impressive colonial building housing the Museo Histórico Nacional which documents Argentina’s highs and lows from the pre-Spanish period to the 1950s. The Centro Cultural de Recoleta also plays host to the local artistic talent whilst the Centro Cultural Borges exhibits photography and painting from both Argentine and foreign artists.
Those curious about the dramatic life - and after-life – of Argentina’s renowned first lady Eva Perón can visit the black granite vault which now serves as her resting place in La Recoleta Cemetery. But the prima attraction is the grave of Carlos Gardel, Argentina’s most famous tango singer who now lies in the Cementerio de Chacarita. A life-sized statue of the singer standing in a nonchalant pose marks the spot whilst the surrounding stonework is covered in tributes from adoring fans.
Buenos Aires holds claim to the unofficial title of being Latin America's gastronomic capital and with a wide range of international cuisines on offer, it’s not hard to see why. A trip to one of the city’s famed parrillas – or grills - will give meat-eaters an enviable chance to sink their teeth into a succulent Argentinean steak.
And once dinner is done, then head to one of the city’s watering holes, ranging from the traditional Guinness serving Irish pubs to the latest in chic cocktail bars in El bajo. Many also offer live music from jazz to tango to rock, particularly around the San Telmo harbours.
Clubs tend to bang out commercial dance tracks but for a taste of the home-grown cumbia, head to a bailanta. Those looking for something a little more cultured can make tracks to the Teatro Colón, one of the world’s great opera houses with acoustics to rival La Scala in Milan.
Buenos Aires is very much a city in which to enjoy the good life but to really feel like a local, whether you’re eating, talking, dancing or even sleeping, make sure you do it with passion.