i-escape contributing writer, Glenda Richards, has taken off on a year-long trip – travelling around the world with husband Pete in tow. Her epic adventure begins in South America and will take her to many far-flung places across the globe, including visits to lots of i-escape hotels, lucky thing!
In a series of digital postcards she will be sharing her travel musings and giving us an insider’s view into the places she goes. Here’s her first one from the seductive city of Buenos Aires…
Tired of Tango…
“Buenos Aires is the birthplace of the tango but during our stay here, we found a place where this dance a deux was, for once, nowhere to be seen. In the suburb of Mataderos, there is a regular weekend feria where musicians and dancers perform folk dances known as zambas. Dancers are in traditional Argentine country costumes – men in gaucho (cowboy) boots and women in flowery skirts – and dances involve lots of stomping of feet and flirtatious twirling of scarves and handkerchiefs…. our favourite couple ended every dance with a dramatic kiss.
Soon everyone is joining in and the whole event becomes a street party – complete with jugs of vino tinto and slabs of steaks and sausages on the asados, the big barbecue grills just off the ground.
We were invited into the Nueva Chicago (Mataderos shares a slaughterhouse history with the Windy City) social club for some more dancing and drinking and finally escaped back to our hotel in San Telmo by hopping on a bus, although we got off ten blocks too soon! One way to work off all that carne and red wine…”
Buenos Aires – Why Go?
Buenos Aires isn’t a Latin American city at all. Opulent baroque architecture makes you feel you’re in Paris; yellow roofed taxis and Porteños (as the locals are called) rush around as if they’re in New York; and there are more theatres and cinemas than London’s West End.
But catch a few bars of a melancholic tango from a taxi radio, glimpse a few moves of the erotic dance itself in the dark interior of a milonga, or sniff the deliciously smoky whiff of steak sizzling on the grill at a parrilla restaurant, and you know immediately: you’re in Buenos Aires.
Top 10 Things to Do in Buenos Aires:
Be dazzled by the barely-contained passion and fancy footwork of dancers at a tango show or street performance; then try a few steps yourself at a milonga (tango club) and class.
Sumptuous leather, gorgeous home wares, and seriously hip fashion – all incredibly inexpensive. Go to Palermo for boutiques, Patio Bullrich for designers, and Calle Florida for everything else. See below for listings.
Cosmopolitan eateries are everywhere, but those steaks really are something else: huge, lean, succulent, and grilled to perfection over wood grills in parrillas everywhere. Vegetarians, don’t despair! There’s excellent pasta for you. Start at Puerto Madero, las Cañitas and Palermo.
4. Teatro Colón
Take a tour of the dazzling 1908 theatre, and dress up for some world class opera or ballet. It’s a beautiful classical building with breathtaking French baroque interiors, on the terrifyingly wide Avenida 9 de Julio, a block north of the obelisk (but the main entrance is at the back on Libertad, between Tucumán and Viamonte).
The country’s real religion. See Boca Juniors playing at home (take an organized tour with Tangol for a taste of the national hysteria.
6. San Telmo markets
San Telmo’s deliciously crumbling streets are the backdrop for a rambling Sunday flea market, with superb free tango demonstrations.
7. Art Galleries
…abound, but Malba is the star: a grand collection of modern Latin American art in a striking minimalist space. There’s also a café and cinema.
8. Recoleta cemetery
The tomb of Evita (Eva Perón) is a major pilgrimage site, but this whole gothic and rococo miniature city is fascinating. Don’t miss Pilar colonial church outside.
9. Palermo Parque Tres de Febrero
Romantic rose gardens, lakes you can boat on, a Japanese garden, zoo and planetarium. And the city’s best ice cream at Persicco.
10. Tigre river delta
Take a boat along the jungly rivers and stay in romantic isolation at La Pascuala, on stilts!