I have had the opportunity to visit Buenos Aires, Argentina three times: in 1991, 2000, and 2010 (I don’t like the spacing between visits…). The first time was a weekend trip when I was living in Santiago, Chile and the second sent do co-deliver a training session for my company’s office there. The third visit was for a short business trip when I got work -again- in Santiago, Chile (yes, I am blessed!). I will write here about the trip in 1991.
Exploring Buenos Aires
Though we were entitled to be flown back to the U.S. from Santiago for Thanksgiving in 1991, we made a small “business case” to our manager that it would be way cheaper if they paid for us to go to BB.AA. (airfare, hotel and airport transportation). We worked with some Argentines in Chile who flew home every weekend (abt a 2 hr flight) so they encouraged us to go and hang out with them.
We booked a hotel in Recoleta which was a nice part of town. With our friends, we got to explore fantastic food. The well-known area of La Costanera [good eats] did deliver a fantastic steak meal. I remember that I wasn’t very hungry so I ordered half a steak. The steak was as big as the large plate it was served on – of course, to see it I had to work through the pile of French fries on top of the steak.
BB.AA. is a great city to walk around. The architecture (reminiscent of Paris) and the diversity of the people provide a lot of things to look at as you make your way between places to visit. We had to make the ¨obligatory¨visit to the cemetery where Eva Perón is buried, see the Casa Rosada (the president’s house), watch the mothers still marching many years after military left power in front of the Casa Rosada, walk down Calle Florida (a great pedestrian shopping street). Perhaps the most exciting thing we did was take a local bus to go to a colleague’s house. The bus (or ¨colectivo¨) never really stops to let you in nor to let you out so with coaching from our local friend, my other American colleague and I managed to be successful in these 2 maneuvers… A real adventure!
The thing we enjoyed the most though was a gelato chain called Fredo’s [good eats]. The gelato was superb and my personal favorite was the wine cream gelato. I think we stopped at a Fredo’s whenever we saw one.
Asado at a Friend’s
We enjoyed going around town with our friends and glad they were doing the driving. I recall the Ave. Libertador having about 5 to 7 lanes of traffic with no lanes painted on the road surface. I met chaos that night. The best part of the trip was the time we were invited to one of our friend’s parents’ house for a traditional Argentine ¨asado¨ (read, BBQ) [good eats]. True Argentine hospitality! When it came time for the main course, they brought a huge round piece of wood loaded with all the meat that had benn grilled. All the meat meant all of the cow. We were asked to choose a non-¨traditional¨piece of meat. I went for the kidney as I didn’t fancy some of the other crazier parts… Not impressed with the texture of the kidneys.
I flew Pan Am between Santiago and BB.AA. Flying over the high peaks of the Andes on my first ride ever on a 747 was exhilarating and unnerving. It looked as if the mountaintops were going to scrape the underbelly of the airplane. And yet, looking at the cabin of the airplane, I couldn’t fully comprehend how such an airplane managed to fly. On a semi-historical note, my flight back to Santiago was the last day Pan Am flew.
BB.AA. is definitely a town made to be explored and enjoyed. Back in 1991, the country was just enjoying economic stability after the hyperinflationary period and everyone’s mood was great. BB.AA. has changed tons since that first visit as I discovered in later visits – it has become even more exciting and interesting – an Argentines are still a heck of a lot of fun!