Buenos Aires, Argentina | More Culture than a tub of Yoghurt

Now that I have your attention I might as well add that Paris should be called the Buenos Aires of the north. After spending 3 nights in Buenos Aires and having little expectations, I was blown away at how much I really loved this South American gem with its wide boulevards, formal gardens, grand buildings, street art and of course the swagger of its people.

Buenos Aires is a shopper’s heaven. We spent the afternoon exploring the famed Palermo district, known for its world class leather outlets; yes I bought my good wife a nice leather handbag. The Palermo district feels very much like the Latin Quarter in Paris, full of interesting boutique shops, little cafes for a quick latte and plenty of dog droppings on the footpath. The other place for shopping is the Calle Florida, a mile long pedestrian shopping street in the heart of the city.

Buenos Aires is also well known for its array of street markets, selling locally made arts and crafts to antiques to just about anything else that can be sold. A visit to one of these markets, especially on a weekend is a must to truly immerse yourself in the Buenos Aires way of life.

A must see attraction in Buenos Aires is the famous La Recoleta Cemetery, home to the graves of the rich and famous of Argentina, including Eva Peron. The grave site of Eva Peron must be one of the most photographed in the world. This place must be seen to be believed as most of the vaults (graves) are ornate and beautifully designed. At La Recoleta Cemetery it’s all about keeping up with the Jones’s.

There are a few interesting day trips to be had from Buenos Aires, the first being an hour’s drive out of the city to Estancia Villa Maria. Estancia Villa Maria was built in 1927 on 74 hectares of botantic parklands and is now a weekender for rich Argentinians and overseas tourists looking to escape the city. We enjoyed a tasty gourmet barbeque (lots of lamb) before touring the parklike gardens and historic estate. It was nice to relax and experience a different side of Buenos Aires. You can stay overnight at Estancia Villa Maria and enjoy the multitude of activities from horse riding to polo to wine tasting plus 3 gourmet meals daily, you could be in heaven.

The second day trip we took from Buenos Aires was to the town of Tigre on the Parana Delta, approx. 30 kilometres to the north of the city. The Parana Delta is made up of over 5,000 different waterways and the best way to explore the area is by boat, so that is what we did.

Our relaxing cruise took about an hour and showed us the highlights of the region, which is scenically beautiful and a real contrast to the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires which is less than an hour’s drive away.

The real highlight of my visit to Buenos Aires was the nightlife, we managed to see two tango shows and visit the grand opera house for a classical music concert, and yes I have become a culture vulture. Buenos Aires does not get started at night until about 10 pm, so it’s a late dinner and then a show or two and maybe some dancing. You can sleep on the plane on the way home.

The first tango show dinner was at the Café de los Angelitos, a smaller more intimate venue with an audience of about 200. The dancing was sexy, the food excellent and left me tapping my feet most of the next day.

I think I had fallen in love with dance.

The second tango show (Tango Porteno) was a full on production in a large art deco theatre with an audience of about 700, making it a totally different experience than the first show I attended. The dancing was fabulous as were the dancers and costumes. The audience really got involved with the singing and dancing which really added to the atmosphere of the night, making it a wonderful experience even though it was all in Spanish.

When visiting Buenos Aires don’t be afraid to visit more than one tango show as they are all so difference and at last count there were over 25 different shows on offer in this city that never sleeps.

Buenos Aires does rival any of the grand cities of Europe and is a must on any itinerary to South America. Viva Buenos Aires.

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