South America Trip Report: Buenos Aires

The gate at the Congress building in Buenos Aires.
No one I asked seemed able to explain why the national seal featured a hat on a stick.
While I’m sure a quick internet search would tell me, I’d prefer to let the mystery be.
Hello! I’ll finally start writing a bit more about our trip to South America in November and December. We were gone for a month, so in a way it was like we had three or four little “trips of a lifetime.” I’ll divide to report into six sections:
When I get each section finished, I’ll link each post in the list above. I also realize that the “Logistics” section may seem a bit weird and not necessarily self-explanatory. In that part, I just intend to talk a little bit about the traveling itself, like how we got tickets (the tickets to South America were basically free because of frequent flyer miles, so I’d like to explain how that worked, in case some of you can benefit from the information).
So, let’s get into it!
BUENOS AIRES
Ah, Buenos Aires, city of tango, gauchos, Evita, legendary cafes, and monetary crises. Sort of. Of those five things, it seems we only saw Evita’s grave, but perhaps we’re just crappy at planning tours.
I guess we also saw Evita rocking the mic on this skyscraper. She lit up at night.
We used Buenos Aires as a sort of “base” for our whole trip. For the first week, we stayed in an apartment I’d found at airbnb.com. I suppose this could also go in the logistics section, but it’s just a quick note. For about 450 dollars a week, much less than a hotel would have cost us, we got a flat in the heart of Buenos Aires’ historic San Telmo district. The apartment had a bedroom, kitchen, living room, full bath, wi-fi, and even a cell phone to use. I mention this not only because you could benefit from the site, but also because it fundamentally influenced the nature of our trip, letting us to feel like we were “experiencing” the city more. It was obviously not as “full-service” as a hotel, but it allowed us to relax and feel at home in a way no hotel can.
Angela with a graffiti mural near the apartment we stayed at in San Telmo.
Our time in Buenos Aires was spent on three main activities: visiting, walking, and eating. But most of all walking, it seemed. Although we could have taken cabs, buses, or subways, spring was in full swing when we were there, and the beautiful weather pushed us to walk. That is, it pushed me to walk, and I in turn pushed a slightly more reluctant Angela to walk. On one day we even apparently covered 76 blocks, but I only told her that after we were back in the apartment and I checked it out on a map. I thought she’d be proud about how much distance we’d covered, but instead I think she tried to use the information as an excuse to call for a walking hiatus the following day.
Our first day, our first walk. It was also the only day it rained a bit, so we waited it out in front of a huge, golden bank door.
The two of us in the Plaza San Martín. The trees and blossoms were beautiful.

The “generic flower” sculpture. The park is really nice, and the sculpture apparently opens and closes while following the path of the sun.
We also were able to see various friends. It was Angela’s first time in South America, but I had previously been to Buenos Aires in 2006 to visit my friend Andrés, who I had met when the two of us were exchange students in Germany in 1998/1999. In that 2006 trip I also met some of his friends, and we were able to see some of them on this trip, as well. For example, I had met Leandro and Vicky on that trip, and on this trip they were living in a lovely apartment in the city. They kindly let us crash at their place after between our jaunts to Uruguay and Ushuaia, and they were very gracious hosts. We also got to see some of Andrés’ family and met a friend of his name Paula, as well as the two enormous dogs living at the house Andrés and a friend are renting.
Andrés (left) and Leandro with a diminutive-looking Angela. It was great to hang out with them and other friends.
One of the glorious beastdogs that Andrés uses to guard his house.
Oh, and eating. We ate a lot of beef, empanadas, ice cream, and Italian food, as well as anything else that we happened to come across and that was too slow to escape from us. Of course, we also drank copious amounts of mate, which is basically a tea made from an herb called yerba mate and drunk from a gourd through a metal straw.
Angela drinking mate in the apartment where we stayed.
A provopan, a basic sandwich made with grilled provoleta (provolone) cheese on a bread roll. The dark parts are grill marks (they actually put the cheese itself on the grill) and a bit of herbs and oil. It looks a bit revolting, but it was absolutely delicious.
I think the best part of Buenos Aires was probably the people, and not just because we knew some friends there. I know that everyone says the best part of a trip is “the people,” and I’m sure I’ll also say it when I do the reports for the rest of our trip, but at least in this case, it’s true. The people in Buenos Aires can be loud and suffer from a slight superiority complex at times, but they’re nevertheless very welcoming and friendly. And they know how to make delicious food, especially grilled beef, so for me that goes a long way after spending over five years in Costa Rica, which is a bit of a culinary boondocks.
In the end, we ended up staying in Buenos Aires at three different points. The first was in the apartment we rented, the second at Leandro and Vicky’s, and the third was in a Sheraton (I’ll include more about how we managed to swing this in the Logistics post). Normally this would have been very well out of our price range, but I was able to use points and money for the stay, which reduced the cost substantially. We loved the hotel and our room, but the best part was possibly the pool and hot tub on the hotel’s roof, which gave a scenic view of most of the city.
The view from the hotel’s rooftop pool area.
So, that was Buenos Aires. If you want to see any more pictures from Buenos Aires, you can check out my Buenos Aires set on Flickr. I’ll try to put up the other reports in the next few days, so look for them if you’re interested.
Thanks for reading, and have a great day!
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