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On our way down to Antarctica, prior to embarking on our Quark ship out of Ushuaia, we stopped in the amazing city of Buenos Aries (BA).

Argentina’s vibrant capital is friendly and captivating. And very Spanish, of course!

What comes to mind when you think of Argentina? I mean after the musical Evita! and the song, Don’t Cry for Me Argentina! When I think of Argentina, I think about tango, soccer, wine, meat, and more TANGO!

Tango is one of Buenos Aires’ most iconic cultural exports and a must-see. From street performances to elegant ballroom shows, there are endless opportunities to experience tango. We booked a dinner show through our hotel. It was apparent that there were many shows to choose from, some were very expensive. We chose Gala Tango. We were picked up from our hotel and chauffeured to the restaurant. We were served wine and a 3 course dinner. The food was adequate but the show was excellent.

One thing I hadn’t appreciated before was that tango is not just a dance – it is a culture . Tango is very particular music made by very particular instruments. Then there is the story-telling, singing, provocative costumes and of course the moves, intricate footwork, close embrace and dramatic pauses that convey the intensity and emotion of the music. The Gala Tango Show was performed in a lovely showroom with a white grand piano, double-bass, guitar and 2 bandoneon players (a type of accordion) . The dancers and singers were amazing and the costumes were a delight.

Love the white grand piano!

My research suggested the best neighbourhood to stay in for first-time visitors to BA was Palermo. We were delighted with the trendy restaurants, nightlife, shopping and close proximity to some inviting green spaces in the heart of the city.

One of our first discoveries was a Japanese Garden. Designed by architect/landscaper Yasuo Inomata, the gardens were first opened in 1967. The gardens are a beautiful and tranquil oasis to rejuvenate after our morning trek through the barrio.

Inomata Japanese Gardens of Buenos Aires

The garden spans almost 8 acres and is home to a wide variety of plants, trees, and flowers, most of which are native to Japan. There is a large koi pond, a waterfall, and several traditional Japanese structures, including a tea house and a bridge. We had a very expensive but tasty sushi lunch at the restaurant there.

Finding the parks and gardens in the big cities is always one of our favourite things to do. There is no shortage of them in BA! The Jardín Botánico and the Parque Tres de Febrero are popular spots for picnics, jogging, and enjoying nature.

And of course, when you have had your fill of all the beautiful living things in the gardens and parks of BA, the next logical course of action is to visit the dead!

Recoleta Cemetery (inaugurated in 1822) is a famous cemetery located in the Recoleta neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Recoleta spans 14 acres and has almost 4700 different vaults – all above ground. The architecture ranges from Baroque and Neo-Gothic to Art Deco and Art Nouveau. Recoleta has been declared a National Historic Monument of Argentina and is considered one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world.

Recoleta is the final resting place for many notable Argentine figures, including politicians, military heroes, writers, and artists. The most famous grave in Recoleta Cemetery is that of Eva Perón, the former first lady of Argentina.

Familia Duarte Crypt – Eva Peron

The cemetery is known for its elaborate and ornate tombs and mausoleums, many of which were designed by prominent Argentine architects. It’s fun to wander through the maze of tombs and admire the impressive art and architecture. However, the crypts were in varying conditions, some were neglected and forgotten, in ruins internally, often with dusty lonely coffins sitting on shelves. Others were well-maintained and some were massive with marble sculptures and carvings.

Walking through the “streets” and reading the dedications gives you a glimpse of the lives and culture of the people in Buenos Aires over several hundred years. It was a ghoulishly interesting hour.

One of many crypt-lined streets in Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires

Next, we headed over to a very famous street called Caminito.

Caminito is a lively and vibrant street located in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is known for its multi-coloured buildings, tango performances, and impressive artistic displays.

One of the colourful streets of the Caminito district of Buenos Aires

Originally established in the late 1800s by Italian immigrants, Caminito’s eclectic buildings were constructed using leftover construction materials, and their bright colours were created using the remaining paint from the nearby shipyards.

Besides the vivid architecture, Caminito is famous for its lively tango performances, with dancers taking to the street to showcase their impressive skills. If you’re interested in learning, Caminito also offers tango lessons.

Restaurants are everywhere and they all seem to offer el fresco dining (outdoor) with tango performance alternating with cantantes (singers). So civilized!

One of the most iconic dishes of Argentine cuisine is asado, a traditional barbecue that typically features a variety of meats, including beef, pork, and sausage, cooked over an open flame. We enjoyed our first taste of Argentine meat with lunch and tango at Encuentro Nativo in the Caminito district.

Argentine cuisine includes a variety of snacks and small plates, such as empanadas (savory turnovers filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables), provoleta (grilled provolone cheese), and choripán (a sandwich made with chorizo sausage). The Argentinians also like pasta dishes, such as gnocchi and ravioli, which reflect the country’s Italian heritage. We enjoyed a delightful sampling of the best food Argentina has to offer at the Argentine Experience. You can book your table for this memorial interactive evening in either Buenos Aires or Iguazu Falls.

If tango isn’t your thing, Buenos Aires has a thriving arts scene, with numerous museums, galleries, and theatres showcasing local and international talent. In the Palermo District not far from our hotel, we stumbled into a wonderful club called Lucille. We were treated to a show upstairs in the “showroom” that consisted of storytelling, dance, drag and talented musicians. So much fun!

Downstairs at Club Lucille in the bar, we had a drink listening to El Capitán – a fabulous yet eclectic 6 piece rock band. Colin found it amusing hearing Another Brick in The Wall with a Spanish accent. (Instead of the usual British one!)

Él Capitán performing ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL at Lucille in Buenos Aires

So, Tango, food, colourful streets, friendly people, gardens, cemeteries. . . what else? Unfortunately, soccer season was over when we visited, much to Colin’s chagrin, but there was street art everywhere that reminded visitors that soccer is a way of life in Argentina.

Street art and favourite soccer stars are everywhere in Buenos Aires.

On our last day in BA, we found ourselves at the Plaza de Mayo. This is the central square of Buenos Aires, surrounded by historic buildings and important monuments. It is a great spot to people-watch and take in the city’s energy. Here you will find Casa Rosada, an important government building that offers tours for visitors to brush up on their Argentina history. There is also the Teatro Colon, a world famous opera house and the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Inside the Metropolitan Cathedral

There was a sobering COVID memorial at the Plaza de Mayo. Each stone had the name of someone who had died as a result of the pandemic. I was very moved by it.

During your “heart of the city” tour you’ll definitely want to take a stroll down Avenida 9 de Julio, the world’s widest boulevard.

Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires – the world’s widest boulevard.
Nice to grab a seat on the busy street. These are everywhere. They are cement. Not too comfy.

Back in our stomping ground for our last night in Buenos Aires, we had a tasty dinner at La Pescadorita and stumbled into another jazz bar to hear some great musicians. There is no shortage of live music in BA!

Live jazz in Buenos Aires

So, on your next adventure down south, stop in at Buenos Aires. Be sure to stay in the Palmero District. Check out Caminito, Plaza de Mayo, Avenida 9 de Julio, book a tango show, visit Recoleta cemetery and bop at some jazz clubs. Sample the carne asada (BBQ meat), visit a park or two, you can even rent a bike. So many things to do and see in Buenos Aires!

**Our flights and accommodations were arranged by Mr David Lyons-Black, Flight Centre, Langley, BC.

We stayed at Palo Santo Hotel, BA (Palmero District).

Other posts you might enjoy from our Antarctica Adventure including Buenos Aires:

Gobsmacked by Iguazu Falls

Ushuaia – End of the World – Gateway to Antarctica

South Georgia Island

The Falklands

Antarctica – A Wildlife Photographer’s Dream

Cruising Antarctica with Quark