Friday, December 3, 2010

Buenos Aires: The Sights & Sounds

We visited Buenos Aires to see the sights. Some of the best views, however, were from the place we stayed.

Instead of getting a hotel room, we opted to rent an apartment for the week. With a bit of research, we found the perfect apartment -- a studio on the 19th floor of a year-old high-rise apartment building in a vibrant neighborhood, with a private balcony, fully-stocked kitchen and a heated outdoor pool on the ground floor.

Like almost everything in Argentina, the price was the icing on the cake -- about $75 per night.

The view was amazing, and we spent several mornings eating breakfast or reading magazines on the balcony. One of my most pleasant memories of the week is ending one evening with a bottle of wine out there, watching the twinkling lights.

The view:

Paul swimming in the pool, 19 stories below our balcony

You can see more pictures of the apartment from our rental company.

We didn't spend the entire time on the balcony. In fact, a couple of the most memorable sights came on our first full day and last full day in Buenos Aires.

At the beginning of the trip, we explored La Boca and San Telmo, two neighborhoods just south of the city center that are experiencing a kind of revitalization. La Boca is known for its bright buildings with corrugated roofs -- particularly the short street of Caminito, an area crowded with tourists, tango dancers and souvenir shops.

On the last day we made a point to walk by the Palacio del Congreso, which my guidebook says was inspired by the United States Capitol. It's easy to see the resemblance but difficult to decide which is more impressive.

We saw one of our favorite sights of the entire trip, however, on a sunny Wednesday afternoon: the Floralis Genérica, a giant flower sculpture made of steel and aluminum. The petals open and close with the sun, and red lights illuminate the interior at night. The sun was high and hot when we were there, though, and I took photos from every angle.

The sounds of Buenos Aires were almost as interesting as the sights. This was my first visit to a Spanish-speaking country, and I was curious about how well my four years of high school Spanish would hold up. Well enough, especially with Paul along.

Paul lived in Mexico for 10 weeks in college, but that was nine years ago. He was understandably nervous about his ability to communicate in Spanish, but he had no problems. OK, so he wasn't about to discuss the literary themes of "War and Peace," but his language skills were more than adequate to joke around with the security guard at the apartment building, ask our waitress questions about how much food came with a certain meal (too much!) and speak to our taxi driver.

The pronunciation is different than that in Mexico -- and for that matter, what most Americans learn in high school. I could pick up words and phrases, and by the end of the week I could understand at least half of what our waiters and waitresses were saying. Even easier, though, was reading. And this was my favorite sign:

Every cat needs a video on YouTube.


  1. One of the neighbourhoods I liked in Argentina is Belgrano.
    You'll probably be on a very long trip to Buenos Aires before you venture out to Belgrano, a well-to-do neighborhood in the north of the city, beyond Palermo. It's full of private homes and modern apartments with underground garages and residents who hide behind porter-controlled doors. Its main feature is its barrancas, a series of hills in the center of the neighborhood and an enormous waterfront park, which is an extension of those in Palermo. The apartment for rent in buenos aires I had was there, so I new every spot in it. I had so much fun!

  2. I'll have to check out Belgrano the next time we visit!



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