While on a three-month assignment in Chile many years ago, I visited Buenos Aires, Argentina for the first time to spend the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday there. Besides locals, my co-workers included a fellow American colleague and folks from Buenos Aires (abbreviated in Spanish “B.B.A.A.”; leave me a comment if anyone is curious why not “B.A.”). We all had great fun in Santiago and exploring Chile together. So when the time came to book our tickets home for Thanksgiving, the other American and I thought to ourselves: why not go to BB.AA. and get to know it with our friends from work? We thought for a moment about our families and about missing the turkey, and decided (smartly) that this was our chance to see monumental BB.AA., all travel expenses paid.
Seeing some of the key sights
BB.AA. is monumental. Period. Not only because of its size but also because of its architecture too, reminiscent of Paris and Madrid, just rolled into one. Of course, it is not Paris but it gets as close as I have seen any other city outside of France to look like it.
No visit to BB.AA. at that time could skip seeing the Plaza de Mayo, where the mothers of the people who disappeared during military dictatorship had been protesting for years (and, at the time of my visit, maybe for other reasons, according to my local friends). The plaza is in front of the Casa Rosada, the Argentine president’s residence and offices.
BB.AA. has evolved since those days, as all places do. For example, Puerto Madero has become a great area to visit, dine, etc. But in this first of my three visits to Argentina, that area was nothing like it is today; it was a blighted area.
We walked tons, visiting the cemetery where the aforementioned Evita is buried, walking down the sprawling Ave. Libertador with its many lanes that behave as one, shopping in Calle Florida, and all that good stuff. It is, like many great cities, a city one can enjoy best by roaming aimlessly.
Food. Oh, the food.
Food, oh, food. The Argentine capital is a veritable source of good food. Nothing complicated. We had Thanksgiving dinner at an Italian restaurant near Ave. Callao. Being that Argentina has tons of Italian blood for many immigrants, the meal was top notch. It wasn’t turkey but it was outstanding.
One of our co-workers invited us to an “asado” – BBQ Argentina-style. It was at his parents’ place and they grilled EVERY part of the beast. We were teased into trying a “weird” part so I opted for the kidney which seemed the “safer” thing. Not a fan of the texture though the flavor wasn’t bad…
My favorite meal was at the Costanera. I don’t know if it exists in the same format as it did so many years ago but, boy, the piece of steak was OUTSTANDING and it was buried under a PILE of REAL French fries. I ordered half a steak and it covered the entire plate – a normal size plate! A meal to remember – if you don’t drink too much wine with it.
Finally, my absolute favorite thing was Fredo‘s ice cream – really, gelato. There were many locations and every time we ran into one, we had to go in… My favorite flavor: wine cream. Out of this world or, what Argentines would say with great fervor: ¡¡¡ES-PEC-TA-CU-LAR!!!!
Monuments ‘R Us
There are many ways to describe BB.AA. but one that sticks with me is that it is just a massive collection of monuments. Wow. Every place you turn, a statue (with or without a fountain)! Incredible. Here is a series of photos showing what I am talking about…
Do you agree that Buenos Aires is a monument-al city??