It was never our intention to miss out on Argentinas most famous food when we entered Buenos Aires, but unfortunately saving our visit to the steak house for the last day or two coincided with a bout of rather offensive food poisoning! That aside however, Buenos Aires is a city enriched with a wealth of history and culture.
We arrived pretty late after a flight from Iguazu and grabbed a cab from the airport to our hostel. This came as a pretty big sting to us after getting used to the cost of Ubers in Brazil where the journey would have cost us no more than £5, however it came to around £20. In hindsight it’s still quite reasonable but at the time we felt cheated. As chief translator it was also Mikeys’ job to vent the anger of Anna and Annie to the taxi driver (lucky him).
We opted to stay in Milhouse Hipo Hostel for the first 5 nights in Buenos Aires whilst Anna was with us. We had a private triple room which was a big upgrade in space from our previous hostel and had sweet sweet air conditioning so it was time for us to catch up on sleep! The hostel had everything you needed set up for you and a sister hostel with a bigger bar. We’d definitely recommend staying here if you’re in BA mostly due to it’s great location.
Things to do in the city
Although we aren’t often that keen on big group walking tours we decided we would give the ‘Buenos Aires Free Walks’ company a go. These types of free walking tours usually have staff who are studying and working part time who do free tours and work for tips. In our experience they tend have a deep knowledge of the city and also tend to be more enthusiastic than traditional tour groups. We ended up taking three separate tours with them!
The first tour was a political history tour, explaining the history of Peronism and showing political and cultural landmarks around the city. We saw the thinker and a beautiful building which was set on a novel. With the idea that you must first go through purgatory to get to heaven, there is no access to the top of the building from the top floor. You instead have to take the elevator up and walk down flights of stairs in order to access the top. The tour lasted around 3 hours and the suggested tip is 200 pesos each (around £7).
On our second evening in the city we decided to try and sample the nightlife. There was a bbq and drinks deal at the sister hostel so we went along and had some food and drink ready to go out. There’s no doubt that a night out in Buenos Aires should be compulsory, but we have to confess we didn’t make it out. The clubs start around 2/3am there (way past our bed time!). At around midnight, when some of the people we had joined decided to play a board game to pass the time before the clubs opened we decided to call it a night and head back. Another time!
We decided to take our second tour the morning after our attempted night out on the town. While we may not have gone out there was still a very real struggle the morning after. To put it bluntly, a hot climate is not your friend when you’re hungover. That said we got up and dragged ourselves to a second tour, which ended at the famous Recoleta cemetery.
Recoleta cemetery is an absolute must. Possibly the most famous attraction of the city, it is home to almost every famous figure in the history of Argentina. One thing we would recommend though is to do a tour. There aren’t ‘free’ ones available here but we did a paid one anyway as it was still super cheap.
The graves themselves are incredibly impressive… but the stories behind them make it such a more worthwhile visit. One of the highlights was a couple who had fallen out, and in the will of the wife she had a statue built facing the other direction of her ex husband. She never wanted to have to face him! That and the story of Eva Peron is one not to be missed.
Food in Buenos Aires
We were able to try some staple foods of Argentina during our stay there. The empanadas were fantastic, and often as cheap as a pound each so you can fill your boots. Medialunas are another must try. Similar in shape to croissants they are much sweeter (and arguably better), while often offered in triplets with a coffee for around £3.
The large influx of Italians in the late 19th century has left its mark on the food in the city as well. We had incredible good value pasta and there’s so many to choose from you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in an Italian city. It is said that around 1 in 4 Argentines today have Italian ancestry…
Finally… the steak. We waited for Anna to leave us to sample a steak restaurant – as a vegetarian we figured it probably wouldn’t be the best experience for her. So having been pumped for this all week we went to the town square, watched some free tango (!) and then headed to our steak restaurant of choice. It transpired that Mikeys Spanish had not been specialised in steak ordering, as we went for two ‘specials’. You can see below what they ended up looking like.
Having failed this we planned to go to another steak restaurant the next day – and maybe the following… we hadn’t had our fix of steak at all. We were struck with pretty bad food poisoning the day after however, which may or may not have been linked to the pretty gross looking meals we had. This pretty much kept us bed bound for the last part of our trip, but luckily we recovered in time for our 40hr transit to Canada!
Time to buy our van…