The travel Anthony and I most love, is to explore side-streets, seek out neighbourhoods where fewer tourists visit, and eat at restaurants populated by old-timers and locals; we enjoy encountering the true heart of a location we stay in, and attempt to draw as little attention to ourselves as foreigners (we like to pretend we are locals).
We found Buenos Aires to be lively, colourful, and full of character, both in the people and also in the buildings. The subway system made this large city seem smaller, and during our time here, our accommodation was towards the end of the ‘B-line’ subway route, an area consisting mostly of residential apartments, with a few industrial units thrown into the mix.
During our travels, to extend our money as far as we can and gain a degree of feeling settled, we go grocery shopping; our breakfasts are eaten at our accommodation, and we pack a sandwich each for the day, to prevent too many hunger-induced purchases whilst out-and-about.
Our lunches in Buenos Aires were often found on a quiet, side-street cafe, after checking at least 4-5 places for the best (and yummiest) deals. This might be pedantic to some, yet were are often rewarded with a hearty feast, we get to walk some neat streets, and our pockets are happy.
Pro-tip: a glass of house wine at many restaurants is often cheaper than a glass of coca cola, and the pour is generous. I had a wine with most meals out.
We try to prepare our dinners ourselves, and a night out at a restaurant is still regarded as a 'treat,' as it would be back home in New Zealand.
Each day we had full bellies and warm hearts, although we found a few challenges with food in Buenos Aires; restaurants do not supply black pepper as regular tableware, many meals are quite bland to our palates (which are accustomed to bold spices and fragrant flavours), and good coffee is incredibly hard to find. Our saving grace was a cafe called All Saints Coffee in Colegiales, who served us some of the best flat-whites I have ever had - the staff were super lovely, which sweetened the deal.
Of course, these things are all made small when compared to the richness of the culture, the intriguing character of the city, and the warmth of the people that populate it.
We were incredibly blessed to find ourselves in the home of a wonderful couple, Cecilia and Robert, their two precious daughters, and one (occasionally grumpy) cat called Felicia, who are the sweetest family. Anthony and I first connected with Cecilia through her Instagram, with mutual interests in New Zealand, photography, painting, and ceramics, and we reached out to her to see if there were recommendations for our stay in Buenos Aires - along with these suggestions was an offer to visit her home for a Saturday family lunch!
Robert is originally from New Zealand, and Cecilia herself has visited there, so we had plenty to reflect and connect on, over a delicious lunch of home-made sourdough, an array of cheeses, wine, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes - a feast finished with strawberries and sweetened cream. Their two girls quickly found seats on our laps, and were an absolute joy to hang out with, and giggle with. We felt ourselves as long-time friends in their company.
Conversations spanned hours, and we were kindly offered to stay for dinner, consisting of a traditional milanesa, with sautéed potatoes, salad, and Robert's home-brewed ginger beer and lemonade. Cecilia gifted me with one of her beautiful ceramic necklaces, and Anthony received a jar of freshly-baked muesli. Thank you Cecilia + family for your wonderful hospitality and such warm, welcoming company!
Our friends Emily and Jamie from back in Auckland, were also in the city, and we enjoyed a couple of hearty dinners with them! We found a cosy restaurant with live jazz after 9pm on Thursdays, Charlone 101, and two bottles of wine disappeared swiftly between us. So wonderful to find familiarity in new cities.
Each day we walked for hours, exploring art galleries, seeking out sun-shaded parks, and getting to know the ins-and-outs of this busy city.
We fell into a rhythm of waking late, taking time for an extended breakfast, and often not leaving the house until midday. Our feet would get us from place to place, and at around 6pm, we would decide whether we would head home to make dinner, or find a spot nearby for something easy. Often we would not see bed until midnight.
Our recommendations for a visit to Buenos Aires:
- MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano)
- Centro Cultural Recoleta
- La Recoleta Cemetery
- El Ateneo Grand Splendid ('The second most-beautiful bookshop in the world', The Guardian)
- Museo Xul Solar (we did not go here, but it has been highly recommended to us)
- La Mezzetta Pizzaria (try the fuguzetta, aka. a tsunami of mozzarella)
- La Barrita Parrilla (order the steak for two)
- All Saints Coffee
- San Telmo markets
- Banchero Pizzaria
- Charlone 101 on a Thursday night (make a booking in advance)
¡Gracias Buenos Aires, asta pronto!