Buenos Aires 2

Christmas lunch at 'Oviedo' - nice, photo, thanks, Sam!

Christmas lunch at ‘Oviedo’ – nice, photo, thanks, Sam!

25-27 December

Christmas day began with a mighty big sleep in. Most pleasant indeed. We walked to the restaurant, ‘Oviedo,’ for lunch, armed with our little presents for our very tiny ‘Secret Santa’ circle (which is hardly secret with 3 people!). During our shopping sprees earlier in the week, we had the tasks of buying a present for one of our group for less than 50 pesos (about $12) that began with either ‘B’ or ‘A.’ Formidable task, I know! So, we sat at our lovely restaurant and swapped presents – Sam got a black wooden fan (an Air-manipulator!), John got a mug with Argentina on it, and Nic got a ‘silver’ snowflake on a braided, leather, neck-thing (a ‘mere Bauble!’). The meal and wine were perfect, which was no surprise, as not only was the place recommended in a couple of our guide books, but our friend, the chef Federico, also told us it was a good choice (he knows the chef there, too). We had the most amazing tuna, cooked to perfection, and some more, simply stunning Argentinian wine (we are becoming huge fans of the wines of Argentina!). Afterwards, we staggered back to the flat (too much food…again!), and decided not to venture forth again that day. Dinner was catered for at home – we watched television and pigged out on chips, cheese, crackers and wine. Like most people’s Christmas, I am sure!

Seared tuna with a streak of wasabi

Seared tuna with a streak of wasabi

Foyer and doorway of our apartment block

Foyer and doorway of our apartment block


Bear and nuts at Bar Plaza Dorrego

Check out the graffiti on the bar!

Sunday began with a cab ride to San Telmo, the Sunday markets in our sights (it seemed to be the plan for everyone else in BA, too! – apparently Sundays see about 8,000 people in this area – locals and tourists). What began as a stroll around the tiny square, with tables set up in every spare nook and cranny, morphed into a market marathon, as the tables went on…and on…and on…all the way back to Plaza de Mayo. But before this epic journey, we stopped for a mid morning break at Bar Plaza Dorrego (named after the plaza where it lives – one of the oldest public spaces in the city), and it was beer and peanuts all round. A very interesting watering hole, this. The walls are covered in very old wooden shelving and cupboards, and the bar itself seems to be the original timber hulk from the 1930s – now covered in graffiti, (carved in, not painted on), which just adds to the charm. The floor is littered with peanut shells, as the comfortable and clumsy patrons crack open their incredibly fresh peanuts while chugging back bottles of the local cerveza (beer) served in icy cold tankards. The waiters are very ‘old school,’ all dressed in white shirts and ties. Not only impeccably dressed, but excellent at their jobs. In fact, all of the older style bistros/restaurants/cafés in Buenos Aires have exclusively men as their wait staff (whereas, BA has been the first place we have had women drivers in our cabs). In visiting the baños out the back, one must pay the old lady if one requires any loo paper. This is definitely one of the ‘must visit’ places in the city.

Loving this painted, colourful BA signs

Ahhh, shopping

Great photo – it’s a very popular sign (also the cover of our guide book!)

We braved the crowds again and wended our way through lots of antiques, some genuine, some not so much. The ‘legit’ jewellers in actual shops that ringed the plaza had some interesting pieces. Nic was enamoured by a 1945 men’s Rolex in rose gold. Not too large, leather band, would’ve looked fabulous on her – didn’t even bother going in to ask the price, but gorgeous!

An old mansion converted to a shopping mall

The universal ‘statue’ street performer…they really are everywhere!

Los Beatles!

One of the many stalls in the gigantic produce market

We had lunch in ‘El Balcon,’ an upstairs establishment, also on the Plaza Dorrego. We chose it because of the touting downstairs claiming there was a 6-hour tango show in progress from 1pm-7pm. Cool, but, bollocks. When we arrived about 1:45pm there were some excellent traditional singers and guitar players performing, followed by some dodgy tango dancers and even dodgier OTHER type of traditional dance, that was mostly blah. Then, while finishing lunch (which was rubbish – tinned potato, tinned asparagus and tinned palm hearts – someone PLEASE pass the salt, there was NO flavour to be found in the dish anywhere!), we had no entertainment for 45min-1 hour. We got sick of waiting and left.

El Balcon…not QUITE what it professed to be!

For all those Gregory House fans

This is where we slotted in walking for what seemed like miles, looking at stalls and buying nothing, and found ourselves back at Plaza de Mayo. From there we ‘cabbed’ back to our digs for the obligatory arvo nap.

Bar Grand Danzon – wasting alcohol time on mojitos instead of fabulous wine!

In the evening we went to ‘Bar Grand Danzon’ on Libertad and had the best sushi we’ve ever eaten. Completely wasted the opportunity of being in a superb wine bar by ordering mojitos – we thought we would move onto wine, and then didn’t get there. Stupid decision. May have to break Sam’s rule of ‘not going back’ to just have some fabulous wine.

A little avenue in the mini ‘city’

Lovely architecture everywhere

Evita’s tomb

The next morning, after the previous 2 or 3 days of unfulfilled intentions, we finally made it to Recoleta Cemetery. John had done a little reconnaissance trip on a previous day, which helped in him being able to lead us straight to Eva Peron’s tomb – as the main entrance is being refurbished, there were no maps available, and so we just wandered, occasionally approaching workmen with our DK Top 10 book in hand and pointing saying, ‘donde esta…?’ Nic kept remarking that the architecture of the catacombs made it look like a toy town city! There were ones that looked like a tiny bank, ones that looked like a tiny city hall, ones that looked like the tiny town bandstand! After a while, it got too hot (as with every other day in BA!), and we moved on.

Tango, baby!
Lovely detail on one of the tombs
Fabulous shadow/statue shot, by John

Went to Centro del Cuendo (the leather district, which was really only 2 blocks of one street) and Nic found a fabulous bag for school. It’s a bit of a stunner, with the top flap of leather being a big flash of furry cowhide! Wouldn’t get that in Sydney! From there, we jumped in another cab (in BA they are so convenient, so cheap, so time-efficient, and perfect when it’s too warm for lengthy strolls) and went to the second best bookshop in the world (according to The Guardian). It is truly beautiful, located in a converted old theatre, with some of the theatre boxes still used as reading nooks. We had lunch in the café located on what was once the old stage. Great view from there into the body of the bookshop. We thought we were ordering an avocado and tomato salad, and got guacamole and corn chips. But we got wine, so who cares? Found no books in English that we wanted to buy, so we moved on.

Sam and Nic with their leather purchases
Theatre bookshop from the ‘dress circle’
View from the cafe/stage into the body of the bookshop/theatre
Vasalissa chocolatier…just like a Disney one!

Walked back to the apartment via ‘Havanna’ (kind of like ‘Gloria Jeans’), where we indulged in alfajordes…and bought a box of 12 to bring home! As if the cookies weren’t enough, Nic went to ‘Vasalissa Chocolatier,’ and spent a small fortune on handmade mouthfuls of heaven. 

Beautiful wrought iron is just everywhere

About bontaks

Nic is the the 'Bon' part of 'Bontaks.' Together we are Nic and John - two travel-addicted teachers who enjoy every opportunity to go places, meet people and experience life.

2 Replies to “Buenos Aires 2”

  1. What a wonderful time you are having!!! I actually have to admit to moments of severe ENVY!! Am currently struggling to set up my new pressure washer, nowhere near as exciting as your wonderful adventure. Thanks for sharing, can't wait to catch up when u r backXX

  2. Oh god, I think you have to be very talented to dance such a difficult dance. The steps and moves are complicated and there has to be synchronicity. One of the reasons last year I decided to rent an apartment in buenos aires for me and my friends to go there and stay for a month was because I wanted us to have a real experience in the Tango country. We were able to go to a lot of Tango shows and also take a few classes. It was great!Jules

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