I had heard that Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America. Since Paris isn’t a city that I was particularly fond of, I was curious to see how I would feel about Buenos Aires. Turns out I feel the same way as I do about Paris. I feel like the city is large, kind of dirty and great for some types of travelers, but not me.
Since we knew that Buenos Aires, like the rest of Argentina, would be expensive, we booked an apartment through Airbnb which would allow us to cook dinners at home and also saved us the ridiculous 21% lodging tax that Argentina charges.
What We Saw & Did
The first day that we walked around we left the house without a really solid game plan of what we were going to see and do. Needless to say, we walked around quite a bit more than we intended and saw a lot less than we planned on.
Casa de Rosada
In English this translates to the pink house which is ironic because this is the Argentinian version of the white house. For obvious reasons, the house was blocked off by a lot of fences and quite a few police officers.
This is more of an area than an attraction, but basically it is a canal of water with a somewhat interesting looking bridge. The area itself was pretty industrial which wasn’t the most interesting and personally we found it surprising that this was one of the top places to visit in all of Buenos Aires.
After seeing extremely colorful pictures of La Boca, we were interested in stopping by. It reminded us of Guatape, Colombia, a small, charming city that we really enjoyed.
After a long walk through some weird neighborhoods we arrived in La Boca. There were a ton of tour buses, tourists and shops set up along the streets which made taking photographs quite challenging. The entire place was much dirtier than the pictures that we saw online.
We read after the fact that some of the neighborhoods around this area are not the greatest. We got that feeling as we were headed back to the train, which we arrived at safely but not without questioning if we were headed in the right direction.
It was not a planned stop, but when we saw that there was a soccer stadium in the area, we had to stop and take a few pictures. Andy joked that the old Yankee stadium was dirty but this stadium took dirty to a whole new level.
Because we had a lot of walking and didn’t see a ton of sights on our first day of sightseeing, we planned out everything quite a bit better on our second day.
9th of July Avenue
Right off the subte (or subway) station, there is a large obelisk. On either side of the median, there were many lanes of traffic. In fact, the 9th of July Avenue is one of the widest streets in all of South America.
We set up our tripod and took a few pictures before a little boy who looked somewhat interested in taking our gear decided to get too close. The police were nearby, but we decided that we weren’t going to chance it. We packed up our camera and headed out.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid
We took a short walk from the 9th of July Avenue and headed to El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a theater converted into a bookstore.
We ended up arriving shortly after 9am when the bookstore opened up. This worked out great as there were not too many people around which made taking pictures very easy. It was a pretty cool sight, but for some reason it was really hot in there. After we took our photos we headed out.
A cemetery is kind of a weird thing to visit on vacation, especially when you don’t know anyone who is buried there. I guess in a historical way we did know someone buried there though – Eva Peron, also known as Evita.
When we arrived it reminded me of the cemeteries that we visited when we were in New Orleans, but at a much grander level. Some of the graves were extremely old while others were newer. It was interesting to see how the style of tombs had changed over the years.
The older tombs had a lot of detailed carving on the stone work and many of them had the caskets visible from the outside. It was a strange sight to see a stranger’s coffin just sitting in a tomb, visible to the outside world. The newer tombs reminded me of high end shopping stores on Michigan Avenue. I dubbed them open concept as when you looked inside them, they legitimately looked like a funeral home.
All around the cemetery there were a number of cats. There was food and water left out for them so they were certainly not in need of food. Some of the cats were friendlier than the others and naturally I made friends with some of the nicer cats.
The most popular grave in the cemetery was Evita’s family tomb. We saw where it was located on the directory and decided to head over there. We saw a large group of tourists, so we decided to explore a little bit then come back. When we returned later, there was another group of tourists. We then realized that it was never going to be a good time so we had to join the masses to get a picture.
There is a lot of discussion from locals about visiting the cemetery, which they say is a way for the wealthy to show their excess. I have to agree that many of the graves were over the top and certainly do appear to have cost quite a bit of money.
The Floralis Genérica is one of the most popular things to photograph in Buenos Aires. It is a large flower shaped statue that opens and closes, just like a real flower, during the day. We arrived somewhat early in the morning so the flower was not fully open yet.
There were quite a few people in front of the statue when we arrived. Instead of competing with them for photo ops, we walked to the other side of the statue where we had the entire place to ourselves. We set up the tripod and took quite a few pictures before deciding to head out to the next stop.
Andy had read about a large rose garden in the area somewhat near the Floralis Genérica. Even though he saw where it was on the map, after a lot of walking where it should be, we didn’t see it. Since we aren’t sure when roses even bloom in Buenos Aires, we decided it wasn’t worth walking around in the heat any longer to find it.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the Theater
Andy is a huge Star Wars fan and it was killing him that he wasn’t able to see the newest movie yet. There were theories all over the internet and he was horrified that he was going to stumble upon a spoiler which would ruin the movie for him.
Fortunately, he was able to watch the movie in English, with Spanish subtitles, at a theater right by our apartment in Buenos Aires. Since I am not a Star Wars fan, I decided to stay home while Andy went to the movie. He came back and gave it a glowing review, then spent quite a bit of time online, reading all of the theories about where the next movies will take the story line.
Buenos Aires was not our favorite city for a number of reasons:
- It was expensive
Everything seemed to be the same price that it was back in Chicago. From restaurants to groceries, taxis to buses, everything was expensive. The one exception was the subway which was only 5 pesos or 37 cents a ride.
- There was dog poop everywhere
I laugh when people compare Buenos Aires to Paris because both cities are known for having dog poop all over the sidewalks. Whenever we walked, which we did a lot of, we had to continually look down to ensure that we didn’t step in a pile of poop.
- It was overrated
While the city had some interesting sights and beautiful architecture, overall I think that it was extremely overrated. Maybe if we were younger and explored the party scene or we were more into the arts/theater our thoughts would be different, but for us, the city wasn’t that great.
I don’t know that we will ever return to Buenos Aires again and we’re alright with that. We had fun seeing the sights, but were surprised with how few things there really were to see in such a large city.