One Sunday morning I woke up to sunshine and warmth in Rio de Janeiro, and by the following Wednesday I was bundling up on the streets of Palermo Hollywood in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Never have I felt more like a real “traveler” than in these past few weeks.
But I have a confession to make: I’m not really a very good traveler. At least, I wasn’t in Buenos Aires.
Buenos Aires, and our week-long trip to Argentina in general, was a true whirlwind. This was the trip that I’d been anticipating most since arriving in Brazil, since it was the only other country we visited during our time here, and – unfortunately – the one I planned for the least.
Because we packed about 50% of the major travel we did in South America into three consecutive weeks – a weekend in São Paulo, a working holiday in Rio de Janeiro, and then Argentina – I didn’t have as much time as I usually do to plan events or make a list of things we had to do while we were in Buenos Aires. Very unlike me!
Another thing that made this trip extra special was that my brother flew down from Oklahoma to experience it with us, the only family member or friend we’ve seen since leaving the U.S. back in March. So I really wanted everything to be perfect on the trip.
And well, it wasn’t. There were numerous travel dilemmas from realizing at the last moment that my plane tickets were booked under the wrong name, to essentially missing our flight to Mendoza (more on that later) and finally to losing our credit card.
Troubles of these natures were bound to happen at some point, as we’ve been far too lucky with smooth flights and great weather on most of our previous travels in Brazil.
We still had an amazing time exploring an unfamiliar city with a familiar face (of which you won’t see too much, because my brother hates having his photo taken and isn’t too keen on social media either) even if we didn’t know what the hell we were doing most of the time.
What To Do in Buenos Aires When You Don’t Know What the Hell To Do
Luckily, even if you didn’t plan a thing, Buenos Aires is a very walkable city with all sorts of things to do and look at and really cheap cabs for when your feet feel like they’re going to fall off.
Look at Pretty Churches and More Great Architecture
Another reason I’m not a very good traveler is that I’m usually content to just look at beautiful architecture without going out of my way to find out the name or historical relevance of it, and most of the time without having a clue what kind of architecture it is.
I know what I like about certain buildings, like how this one merges new and old by keeping the facade of a historical building attached to a new development. But again, I don’t really know what I’m looking at, just that I like it. Whatever. Even if you’re clueless like I am, pretty things are pretty and a nice way to spend a sunny afternoon.
Or you can be a good traveler and find out more about them. To each their own.
Take a Walk in Puerto Madero (and eat massive oysters)
Buenos Aires’ old port, Puerto Madero, is a nice neighborhood to go for a stroll along the water and grab a scenic meal.
Maybe not the prettiest body of water, but as a DC girl I’m more than happy to celebrate gray, muddy waters if need be. Any water is better than no water.
We spent the better part of an afternoon in Puerto Madero taking in the sights and eating some of the largest oysters I’ve ever seen.
I’ve got to say, there’s a point at which an oyster becomes too large to be appetizing, and this was that point. The rosé we had with it was good though. Our waiter told us these were local oysters from somewhere in Argentina, so that was cool too. The smaller ones I tasted were actually quite good but I left the bigguns to Tom and Cory.
Look at Some Art
Buenos Aires is a very artistic city, from street art to public statues to its many museums.
I could spend hours looking at this sculpture, even though I have no clue what it means. Every time I look I see something news.
Street art is great, but bridge art is even more fun.
Art of the more classic variety is abundant as well, from historical statues to impressionist paintings at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.
Go to El Ateneo Grand Splendid
If you love being surrounded by books, head to El Ateneo Grand Splendid, an immaculate old theatre turned bookstore built in 1919 (look at me, facts!).
Relax in a Park
Buenos Aires has a ton of parks and beautiful green spaces.
It’s also a very dog friendly city, which I loved. However, dog owners do not seem to be about picking up their pooch’s poop, so watch your step!
Take the Typical Tourist Photos
Eat and Drink in Palermo
Because when all else fails, drink Malbec. You are in Argentina after all, and the wine is cheap and delicious. We stayed in trendy Palermo, at the OWN Palermo Hollywood hotel, and thus spent a lot of time walking the streets of this neighborhood to get our eat and drink on.
We crossed these railroad tracks, separating Palermo Hollywood and Palermo Soho, more often than I can count.
Palermo Soho is probably the more happening section of the neighborhood, with countless bars and restaurants. I loved the colorful, energetic vibe in the area.
We dined at the famous Don Julio parilla, where you choose your own cut of meat up at the grilling station and can watch it cook right before your eyes. To be honest, it wasn’t as good as the hype, but the wine was great and the service excellent.
Other notable restaurants in Palermo were NOLA for craft beer and Cajun food; Caracas for cheap wine and arepas; Las Pizarras for fresh, innovative cuisine; Dashi for sushi, when you can’t eat another bite of red meat; which demonstrates the international nature of the food scene in Buenos Aires. Italian food is everywhere as well, along with several Mexican food joints and Irish pubs. Whatever you’re craving, you can find it in Palermo.
Normally, not having a plan wouldn’t have bothered me so much, but since my brother had flown over ten hours to see me I wanted to the trip to be perfect. I felt terrible if we were finishing up lunch and I had not a clue what to do next, but I suppose that’s just part of my slightly compulsive, people-pleaser personality and no one was really expecting me to curate the entire trip.
We did plan a few activities, which I will write about later, but for the most part it turned out that winging in it Buenos Aires can be a lot of fun. I typically like to have a loose plan for each day I’m on a trip, with room for much deviation, but even though I failed to do that on this trip, things still turned out alright.
Are you a planner or more of a go-with-the-flow traveler?