Buenos Aires Argentina – MiBsAs (My Buenos Aires logo)
So, we are in South America. It has been on my travel radar for a long time and finally now I am here. The flight to Buenos Aires from Miami was 9 h long but went quickly, thanks in large part to onboard movies and a kindle with a few good books.
We landed in the Buenos Aires international airport and had a driver waiting to whisk us to our rented apartment in the Recoleta bario. I booked the transfer through black Lane and was happy with the service throughout.
If you don’t have a driver don’t just grab any taxi outside. Rather (as I was advised by the rental agency) “avoid taking a taxi outside the airport, we highly recommend that you take a private car (so-called “remis”) within the airport. The most reliable transfer company is Tienda Leon. As you leave customs, weave through the many stands until you see “Tienda León’s” kiosk.”
Well, we opted for prearranged transfer but I did see the Tienda Leon booth right outside and to the right as soon as you come out of the doors so it’s not difficult to find. Just passing on the recommendations of the rental agency.
We landed at 7:30 pm went through customs, met our transfer outside and arrived at our apartment at 9:00 pm after a 40 minutes drive. The property manager was waiting for us, checked us in, made a couple of restaurant recommendations and left.
We got settled and by 10:30 at night were ready to go and explore. Don’t they say that BA is another city that never sleeps? Even if porteños do sleep, they eat late so we were sure we would find some interesting places in the neighbourhood. (BsAs people refer to themselves as porteños, since this is a port city). Also, I asked the driver if they eat late here and his answer was:”no, they eat all day long, it never stops”.
Recoleta is a beautiful, high end barrio (neighbourhood, district) reminiscent of Paris in architecture and style. Gorgeous buildings in the Haussmann style line the streets and avenues and a sense of grandeur is definitely present, perhaps without the French “haut”.
Although it was late we felt very comfortable being out in the neighbourhood. There were people walking back home or en route to a late night dinner as we were. Down the block and around the corner we stumbled upon a small neighbourhood restaurant that was full of people both inside and outside. The scene was so local and interesting that we decided this was it, we are going in.
The restaurant, La Delicias Recoleta Club seemed just what the name suggests, the local hangout for nearby residents. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, seemed to know each other. Groups were sitting together, moving to visit with others, kisses on the cheeks when someone left and slaps on the back and hugs all around, restaurant staff included. Were was my hug? We wanted to be part of the scene, not just observing.
We settled at the very simple table inside, side by side with our back to the wall so we could watch everything and were fascinated by the going on. By then it was approaching midnight but nothing seemed to be unwinding. New people were still arriving, big bottles of beer opened and socializing was the thing. What time do they get up in the morning?
We ordered something to eat from the server who did not speak a word of English but my Spanish has improved after a couple of months in Mexico so I was not doing badly. A basket of breads arrived soon after with my mineral water and my husband’s red wine and we were settled in for our first local experience. One interesting thing to note is that the majority of people were male. I think there were perhaps 5 women at the restaurant, including me .
My husband ordered grilled beef loin on skewers and I ordered roasted chicken with some vegetables and mashed potatoes to share. It took a while to before they served it as everything is made to order. We didn’t mind the wait at all, it was so interesting to watch the going on. If you wonder about me ordering meat, I never cook it at home but I did taste it here because we are in Argentina and when I travel I eat local foods at least for some of the time. I didn’t come here to eat what we eat at home.
For dessert (I always have room) we ordered traditional membrillo (pronounced membrijho) which is a sweet and slightly tangy quince paste with texture of firm jelly served with a slice of manchego cheese. The combination of sweet and savoury was delicious and reminiscent of Italian, French and Spanish cheese course at the end of dinner. The membrillo is sold at the local grocery store in blocks, wrapped and ready to go.
Eventually we had to leave, although most people were still there. We walked back to our apartment totally satisfied that we are in a great neighbourhood and getting a sense of the culture, looking forward to see what the morning may bring.
Although we had a late night we were not going to sleep in too long. We finished unpacking and getting organized and by 10:00 am went out in search of coffee and see what they eat here for breakfast. Again, just up the block there was a restaurant, Dos Escudos Confiteria, full of, this time, women and couples. The guys from last night must still be sleeping. I am just fascinated by these scenes, they are so authentic.
We settled at a table, figured out how to order our coffees, glass of water and freshly squeezed orange juice, picked up a couple of croissants from the tray on the counter and returned the smiles from a couple sitting at another table, chatting. Couples, mother and little kids, a few women with their friends, all beautifully dressed in a casual sophistication. I hope I wasn’t staring too much. I certainly had my camera out but had to restrain myself from taking pictures of the people. Soon they started to interact with each other, chairs turned people mixing, animated conversations (I need to improve my Spanish skills to eavesdrop, I wonder what they were talking about). We loved it and lingered as we had no fixed plans other than go out and explore the Recoleta neighbourhood.
These first night and first morning were the perfect entry into another culture, another place. Without a tourist in sight we were settling in for a cultural treat and looked forward to explore more.
Next post: Recoleta Cemetray, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.