An incredible city. The best way to give you a quick impression is to say that Buenos Aires is the New York of South America.
I was told that Argentina had 50 years of great economic wealth from 1880 to about 1930. When you look at the architecture of the city, you can easily see great buildings of a modern Spanish colonial/gothic style built during those prosperous years. Really, nice city to look at; a city with some positive energy. From the moment our Andesmar bus drove through the city, both Soon Jeong and I were excited to be in Buenos Aires.
There were lots of neighborhoods that were entertaining just to walk though (E.g., San Telmo). Nice old cafes to stop in for coffee or a beer.
Sometime earlier I decided that we would be due for a bit of luxury by time we reached Argentina, so I made reservations for us at a B&B. This place not only offered a room but, they had FREE Tango lessons for guests.
What a surprise; Caseron Porteno B&B was a 5 star B&B at a very affordable price. It cost us only $58 per night for a double. It included a fantastic breakfast: Ham cheese, toast, breads, cereal, fresh orange juice and coffee. Plus, the cream for the coffee was warmed! And the thing that really made it a real luxury class place was the attention to detail. Daniel and Cinthia really have a great sense of SERVICE.
A key person in their operations is Maria. Just think of a lively, sweet, loving grandmother who cooks and cleans to perfection and you will have a pretty accurate image of Maria. You love her from the moment you meet her, we did.
In the entrance way of the old house is a weekly schedule of the free tango lessons. They have built a small dance hall at the back of the courtyard and professional Tango instructors come and give lessons at Caseron Porteno on a rotating basis.
Tango was invented in Buenos Aires. Its not only the national dance, it is a passion for Argentinians.
In our lessons, we quickly learned that; 1, its difficult, 2 its very creative and personal. We got just a taste of it and the Tango is really fun. Our teachers at Caseron Proteno were patient and fun. ,When Soon Jeong and I danced, it was naturally rather clumsy. When the teachers showed us, it was smooth and we just floated across the dance floor-giving us just a hit of how beautiful and enjoyable the tango can be.
We wanted to stay longer at the Caseron Porteno B&B but they were fully booked for the entire month.
We moved on to a couch surfing host just for the weekend. Maria was really interesting to talk to. Though we only spent the weekend with her we really packed in a lot. Saturday night she took us to a salsa club called Azukars (Sugars) they offered Salsa dance instructions from 10:00pm to 11:00.
Yes, Soon Jeong and I did have salsa lessons in Guatemala but…. we forgot almost everything. So it was back to the beginning. It was fun. Then after the lessons finished the regulars started coming in. THAT was really interesting to watch. There were definitely some professional dancers there.
Maria also cooked Empanadas with Soon Jeong. Slightly different from the ones we made in Chile. Good food.
Our next couchsurfing host was Alfonso and his dog Negro (black). Alfonso found Negro wandering around the neighborhood. He didnt want to put much thought into the dogs name. He thought well, the dog is black so … Negro. Negro was fun and Soon Jeong took a liking to him right away.
Alfonso was great. He was from Venezuela and had a job in Buenos Aires working for an oil company. He was busy with his job but made us feel very welcome and gave us nice tips about the city.
One such tip he told me about was to stop into a particular bookstore. He didn’t say why, just told me where it was and said that I would really like it. Okay.
El Ateneo bookstore, located on Avenida Santa Fe was an old theatre built around 1920. In December 2000 it was converted into a bookstore. WOW, its worth going there just to see it. (See photo) The stage is a CAFEE.
We enjoyed nice meals with Alfonso on the balcony which had fantastic vistas of the sunset on the city.
Just a few extra things to add to Buenos Aires. Near Alfonsos apartment we saw professional Dog Walkers. These people were a new and interesting sight for us to see.
Buenos Aires had the fist subway in South America. Still today, the A line has the old wooden subway cars. There is no airconditioning so it get hot inside.
Around the turn of the century the Barrio called Boedo was where many immigrants moved to. From the densely packed population of Africans, Italians, and many others in this neighborhood… the tango was born.
Today it is a tourist attraction and you can get your photo taken like we did.