As a travel agent, it’s my job to inspire, yet as a traveller, it’s my greatest desire to explore. I have been fortunate, in my life, to experience many corners of the world. Each as beautiful as the former, yet stunningly unique and offering an experience that makes the heart flutter as your eyes soak in the scenery. It was August last year (2019) when I first made my debut to the wonderful Buenos Aires. The bustling hub, and beating heart of Argentina, it’s a cosmopolitan paradise, it was a stately and elegant city. Imagine it if you can. As I left the airport, taking an uber down to my hotel, the weather was ideal - being winter - and the landscape surrounding the city has snow-dusted mountain-tops and hibernating wildlife. The sky was crystal clear, and the sun offered a pale warmth that scarcely helped stave off the briskness of the air. The streets led me to the elaborate Plaza de Mayo, which was lined with stately 19th-century buildings, including Casa Rosada which is the iconic, balconied presidential palace. Thankfully, the traffic lights drew us to a stop, and so I snapped a few quick photos of the surrounding area.
My first evening was complemented by delicious cuisine and exceptional wine, plus a surprise performance by a local singer which really capped off the evening in a special way. I fell asleep quickly, which I was grateful for as it meant I could rise early for my first day in Buenos Aires. I awoke to the bustling sound of traffic and the voracious hum of a city in the early stages of waking up. After getting dressed and indulging in a delicious breakfast, I headed out of the hotel to begin my day of exploration. I had an acute list of things that I wanted to see - and things that I always recommend as being the best highlights for Buenos Aires. The first of these, I discovered relatively quickly was the Recoleta Cemetery. At first glance, I too thought ‘how macabre’ but once I discovered that it’s the burial site of the most famous, powerful and rich individuals in Argentina, I was enthralled to discover more. Incredible rows of marble tombs, complete with statues, line pathways where each sequential tomb competes against the grandeur of those either side of it. It was astounding to even just see the level of wealth that lay in this burial site, let alone the living wealth through the city. I came across the most popular of the tombs however, which was for Eva Peron, the first lady of Argentina. It was a spectacle to be sure, and was adorned with all manner of garlands, flowers and bouquets from members of the public who still love and mourn for her. It was a touching tribute by a city to a woman they had loved so dearly. It’s very easy to get caught up in travelling through this for hours (which I did) and you’ll emerge ready to discover more of this wonderful city.
After a successful start to my day, I grabbed lunch from a local cafe and then headed to the vibrant, colourful streets of La Boca. A working-class district of Buenos Aires, it almost seems like something out of a storybook or a film. Bright, bold buildings, colour-blocked and stacked together make up this festive and heart-warming region of the city. I tempted myself with some of the local cuisine and was not disappointed when discovering a place that was extremely popular with the locals. I was fortunate here to be able to take part in an Asado, which is a barbeque complete with the most wonderful array of meats (and they’re truly melt-in-your-mouth delicious!) plus some authentic red wine from the local vineyards. So far this day had seen it’s fair share of food-and-drink, but I was not done there!
I jumped on a coach tour, and headed out to the thundering Iguazu Falls. Now, I’m not sure if you’ve seen the images or not (here’s one beneath) but the Iguazu Falls are the most beautiful embodiment of mother nature that I have ever seen. These falls split the Iguazu river, and actually denote the border between Brazil and Argentina. The roar of the water was definitely evident, yet it was tranquil at the same time and (thankfully with the sun shining overhead) the light danced across the water glistening like a million diamonds. My heart was racing as the coach pulled up near the spot where we could properly observe the falls and I stepped out into the day, feeling the soft mist from the falls lingering in the air. I stood, for a time, and just watched this natural wonder - cascades of water from all different levels tumbled down between greenery, trees and all manner of wildlife. It’s truly almost impossible to describe how sensational it felt to stand and watch it.
As the chill of night began to approach and the sun began to set flushing the sky with the stunning red-orange hues that complement any holiday memory, I headed back and prepared for my evening. I had something special booked in which I was extremely excited for! I was heading to a traditional Milonga, which is a place where the community meet to eat, celebrate and tango! I had decided to prepare myself before leaving New Zealand and had taken some tango lessons, but they were not needed here. The evening begins with fine dining and ends with an everyone-up-and-dance session where we were taught some of the basic and finer steps of tango. After this, a troupe of professional dancers came in and performed for us. It was so incredible to observe how they moved, and how light they were on their feet. This traditional, fiery dance, came to life before my very eyes and it was such a beautiful way to top off an already exceptional day. As the night ended, I headed back to my hotel and fell fast asleep, very fulfilled from my first day of many in the twinkling city of Buenos Aires.
From here, each day I spent in Buenos Aires was as vibrant, beautiful and memory-making as the days I had already experienced. In the blink of an eye I was done, and it was time to return to our glistening jewel in the South Pacific. They do say there’s no place like home, but I also believe that no two places are exactly the same in this world. Thus, that’s where my tale ends, and your tale soon begins. Give me, or your local Travel Adviser, a call and let’s chat through how a Buenos Aires journey might come into fruition for you!
This story is based on the travel journeys of Ilona Szymanska from Szymanska & Turner Travel Associates in Albany, Auckland. To start building your own dream journey, get in contact with your local Travel Associates store today!
Keep your eyes out for Volume 2: Seminyak Sensations - coming soon!