by Claudia Pesce
If you’re in the northern hemisphere, the weather has probably gotten noticeably colder by now. Maybe you’ve already gotten some snow. Snowbirds may already be planning their trips south, heck, anyone could feel tempted to fly south this winter… but what if you were to fly a lot further south… like the southern end of South America?
Have you forgotten folks, that it’s springtime in the southern hemisphere? And places like Buenos Aires, Argentina hold such wonders, so many things to see and do. In case you’re not convinced yet (after all, it is a pretty long fight) here are the top things to see and do in the city that is also known as “the South American Paris”:
1. Partake of some of the world’s most delicious beef and wine
Argentina’s grass-fed cattle is practically unrivaled anywhere in the world. The country has consistently produced superior, prime beef for centuries. If you want to sink your teeth into some beef that slices like butter try the bife de lomo (beef tenderloin). Some of the best places to enjoy it are the upscale Cabaña Las Lilas in Puerto Madero, La Cabrera in Palermo or Kansas in Las Cañitas, a steakhouse that is reminiscent of American grills, but serves only superb Argentine meat. The best way to pair any of the choicest cuts is with a bottle of Malbec, the most popular red wine in Argentina, produced in the province of Mendoza.
2. Get swept away by some 2×4
Am I suggesting you go out and buy some Argentine lumber? Not quite. Tango is also known as the “2×4” (dos por cuatro), given that the tango rhythm is based on two strong beats on four. One of the best places to catch an enthralling tango show is Café Tortoni on the historic Avenida de Mayo. In San Telmo, you’ll find lots of milongas, a dance party where people gather to tango. They are mesmerizing to watch, but beware…you might be tempted to get up and be swept into the riveting dance.
3. Cheer with the crowd
In Argentina, soccer is not a sport. It’s a religion where fans worship gods like Diego Maradona (there’s a Maradonian church, believe it or not) and the most recent soccer sensation Lionel Messi. No trip to Buenos Aires is complete without a visit to either of the high temples of soccer: Boca Juniors stadium (also known as La Bombonera) or River Plate stadium.
4. Explore its different neighborhoods
Each of Buenos Aires’ neighborhoods has its own distinct character and one that is definitely worth exploring. Your best starting point is the Centro, where you’ll find some of the city’s most historic buildings, like the Cabildo and the Casa Rosada, across from the city’s most famous square, Plaza de Mayo, as well as the financial hub known as “la City Porteña”. At the Casa Rosada, you’ll see the very same balcony where Eva Perón gave the speech that inspired the famous song “Don’t cry for me Argentina”.
Northwest of the Centro, lies the neighborhood known as Recoleta with its eerie cemetery, the final resting place of Evita and most of the city’s elite. Nearby you’ll find the National Museum of Fine Arts and a little further along the MALBA (Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires), two of the most important, yet very different museums; the first houses an important collection of Argentine and European art, while the second showcases Latin American art from the early twentieth century onwards.
Across town, on the southern end, is La Boca with its enchanting Caminito, a pedestrian street lined with picturesque, very brightly painted corrugated tin houses, the street you’ll see in typical Buenos Aires postcards. Nearby San Telmo is absolutely worth visiting, particularly on Sunday when the artisan fair comes alive. At night, San Telmo is the best place to head for a tango show or milonga.
Finally, no visit is complete without a trip to Palermo, the largest of the neighborhoods. One of its most distinguishing features is its parks, like the sprawling Parque Tres de Febrero, Buenos Aires’ very own Central Park, with countless paths and streets to explore on foot, roller-skates or bikes. The Rosedal, or Rose Garden, houses an impressive collection of roses and springtime is the perfect time to visit.
So, don’t store your shorts and sandals just yet. If you feel like a good dose of sunshine and thrills, then Buenos Aires is the place where you’ll get both – and then some!