Where the experts holiday: Sophia Constant, director Rose Travel

Sophia Constant, together with her twin sister Rosanna, runs Sophia Rose Travel which specialises in organising luxury adventure travel in Africa and Latin America. The team shares a passion for exploration, deep local knowledge and planning expertise, creating tailor-made journeys for every client. Sophia is also a freelance travel writer, always enthusiastically planning her next escape.

What do you like to do on holiday?
Working at a fast pace in a city, holidays have to provide a real sense of escape. I personally crave wide-open landscapes and complete silence (birds aside) to let the mind wander and to gain perspective over all the daily worries that most people spend too much time focussing on while in a working routine. 

I am incapable of sitting still on a beach, so being active outdoors or going on adventures makes me feel like I’m making the most of precious time off. There has to be an element of discovery, whether that’s a new place, culture, history etc. I love the sense of freedom to be found while exploring wilderness regions, be it hiking in the Scottish highlands, riding in the Andes, or a 4x4 safari in remote corners of Africa, camping under the stars and dining around a campfire. 

I also love culture-heavy weekend-breaks –  just following my feet around a new city, and, having studied languages, I love trying to communicate and engage with locals wherever I go, which so often allows you to better understand the way of life in countries so different from our own. 

Latin America is my favourite place for both practising Spanish and devouring the continent’s treasure trove of distinct cultures and extraordinary history, particularly learning about the ancient Inca and Maya civilisations. But most importantly, every holiday should allow for total indulgence in food and wine. It’s not a time to hold back! Which is why Argentina is always at the top of my list...!  


Where did you last go?
A spectacular road trip through South Africa’s northern and western capes on a press trip writing for Country Life Digital. We were exploring really remote communities in the country’s most breathtaking and pristine far reaches, where few tourists ever go, simply because so little of its beauty is known beyond its borders.

It was the perfect balance of adventure and culture: kayaking the Orange River, wildlife safari, learning about herbal medicine from nomadic San Bushmen, cooking over a fire with the Nama People, and sleeping in original diamond diver huts on the beach, miles from civilisation on the Atlantic coast.

I’d highly recommend it for the curious, intrepid explorer who’s willing to forgo the luxuries of a more developed tourist trail to enjoy a truly offbeat adventure. 

Do you know where you’re going this year?
Back to Kenya in November. My father lived there for many years and would take us on incredible safaris through really wild, uninhabited regions, which whetted my appetite for offbeat exploration, and inspired my career in travel. 

Through Sophia Rose Travel, we try to arrange experiences that widen the perspective, build bridges and understanding between distinct cultures and promote sustainable tourism that will positively impact local communities. My November trip is with travel videographers, Matthew Williams-Ellis and John Alexander, putting together a short film on the experiences Sophia Rose Travel arrange in Kenya. 

We’re highlighting lesser known regions and experiences to show just how diverse a journey through Kenya can be. We’ll be taking a camel safari in Laikipia, spending a night under the stars in the bush, interviewing the founder of ForRangers about developing anti-poaching units, learning about the delicate harmony of ranching alongside wildlife on unfenced ranches, such as Sosian in Kenya’s high-country, visiting the beautiful Aberdares mountain range, home to buffalo and elephant, meeting with women’s beading co-operatives in Samburu, and learning how to deep sea fish on the coast. It should be an incredibly varied and fun trip with so many new experiences –) I can’t wait! 


Of all the places you’ve been to, which was your favourite and why?
Argentina holds a special place in my heart. I went there to learn Spanish and have been nurturing my love affair with the country ever since.

I worked in a hotel near Iguazu Falls, taking guests on adventures into the jungle to spot endemic wildlife and birdlife. The following year, I went on a mesmerising road trip through the puna, the high-altitude plains of the Andes in North-West Argentina, which is one of the most extraordinary regions on earth. 

A single day can take you through desert dunes, salt-flats, copper-coloured mountains, cactus-covered valleys, turquoise lagoons scattered with flamingos, a labyrinth of house-sized pumice stones, and into bucolic fields sewn with high-altitude vineyards that produce the most delicious wines. And you’ll hardly see another car. 

There is nowhere more dramatic or breathtaking than Patagonia, where I would highly recommend a riding safari with Jakotango across the Andes, one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had in the country. 

And every time I explore a new region of Argentina, I love book-ending it with a few days in Buenos Aires, whose sultry streets I could wander endlessly. I’d move there tomorrow!

Which destination do you wish to travel to, but haven’t yet been?
My list just seems to get longer and longer. I long to sail the icy shores of Antarctica and observe the uninhibited wildlife of the Galapagos Archipelago. 

Having spent years organising tailor-made journeys through Latin America for clients, and having had the privilege of enjoying incredible African safaris, I had never given much thought to Asia until I went island hopping in Bali last year. I couldn’t believe what I’d been missing and just loved the openness of the people we met, all the exotic foods we tasted, the celebration of craftsmanship, and the spirituality that I encountered in certain parts. 

I realise I have only scratched the surface and every region will have such a different cultural identity! Japan is top of my list – a country with such a fascinating history and ancient culture that is so far removed from our own. I’d love to stay in a traditional Ryokan for a restorative, nature-focussed experience, and see the contrast between Japan’s modern metropolises and its most pristine countryside. 

In your own country, what would you recommend tourists see that isn’t in the travel guides?
In the UK, the big cities and the south coast seem to receive the most visitors. Rural England, Scotland and Wales, deep in the countryside, is where I feel most inspired by natural beauty. 

I’m from Yorkshire and think the Dales and Moors are completely breathtaking! These wild, remote and unspoilt landscapes are home to the most down to earth, hard-working people, traditional country pubs with a wonderful warm atmosphere, castles, abbeys, stately-homes, pretty fishing villages, a heart-melting coastline, the best fish and chips hands down, and you’re only a couple of hours from London on the train! I’d really recommend visiting to get a more rounded and genuine experience of life in the UK. 

How do you plan your holiday?
A combination of all of these. I love having a hard-copy guidebook, starring intriguing places and circling restaurants or museums that sound unmissable. 

While we have so much information at our fingertips via the internet, it can be hard knowing what and who to trust. There’s such value in booking holidays through travel companies that give advice from first-hand experience, with in-depth knowledge of a region, as well as building a personal relationship with the client so that each recommendation is tailored to their interests. 

This is what we pride ourselves in at Sophia Rose Travel and it’s where we really ensure that we add value to an exploration. We particularly love providing specialist guides who will bring a place to life. I always make sure I leave some time completely unplanned to just wander and see what I find. That makes it all the more exciting when you stumble upon somewhere particularly beautiful or special. 

How often do you go away?
Working in travel, even though I absolutely love it, I sometimes feel a bit too nomadic. For Sophia Rose Travel, I’m often away on reccies in Latin America or Africa to ensure my knowledge and advice is both fresh and imaginative. 

I am also a freelance travel writer and love embarking on journeys of discovery to new destinations. I’m trying to make sure that every few months I spend at least two weeks solidly at home to decompress.

I think it’s essential to have at least one week’s holiday a year that is completely dedicated to R&R, recharging the batteries and disengaging from your busy schedule. In July I spent a week on a river in Scotland: fishing, reading, walking and sleeping. It was just what I needed to take on the rest of the year with positive energy and to give my work my all. 

Who do you travel with?
My twin sister and I share our travel business together – she lives in Kenya and I live in London. We often travel together, both for work and holiday, which gives us time to catch up and reconnect. If you are able to find time to travel as a family, it’s incredibly special to share new experiences together and enjoy each other's company outside of your usual home environment. 


Where do you see tourism in your country, in 10 years?
It’s hard to say with the UK – I imagine we’ll see a strong revival of ‘slow-travel’ as life seems to be too fast-paced! Whizzing around ticking off a bucket-list or guidebook highlights has lost its appeal, and more often people are keen to get under the skin of a destination, to really try to understand and engage in different cultures, and take journeys at a leisurely pace. It’s so important to slow down every now and then to actually appreciate what’s around you. 

In the regions where we arrange holidays, Africa and Latin America, in recent years we have seen a major shift towards sustainable tourism, with a rise in travel companies promoting eco-friendly accommodation and cultural experiences that positively impact local communities. 

Among our clients, we’ve noticed that now almost everyone is conscious to incorporate an element of their trip that is about giving back to whichever part of the world they are exploring. It’s been really uplifting to see this greater awareness and respect amongst travellers and indeed the travel industry. 

Thanks Sophia! For the low-down on Sophia Rose Travel, please visit Follow Sophia Rose Travel on Instagram.

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Airports are off their trolleys

As a seasoned traveller, it goes without saying that I love – nay live for – travel. Indeed I’ve taken jobs not because I was angling for the role per se but because they offered me the chance to jump on a plane and immerse myself in a different culture.

From the Middle East to South America via Asia and the Caribbean, I’ve repeatedly relocated in my quest to become intimately acquainted with different destinations.

Yet as much as I love travel there is one thing that I loathe. It’s not the constant packing and unpacking, airport security or even hours in the air. Unlike my colleagues, I am quite partial to a plane meal or two and have yet, touch wood, to be seated next to the flight companion from hell.

No, my biggest bug bear is reserved for airport trolleys. If you ask me, every self respecting airport should offer an array of trolleys but alas trying to find one can prove as elusive as a taxi on New Year’s Eve.

Should you succeed in tracking down a working trolley – one with fully-functioning wheels and whose brakes aren’t broken – you’ll find that in London at least, passengers are charged £1 to hire the trolley, a fee that has to be paid for with a clunky one pound coin. 

Cash is old-fashioned, sometimes awkward (case in point, it can’t be used on a public bus waiting to whisk you away outside the airport terminal’s door) and in today’s cashless society, no one – be it a Brit newly-back from a foreign holiday or a stranger who has just touched down on UK soil – can be expected to have local coins in their pocket to pay for said trolley. Really, how hard can it be to make a trolley that can be released with the tap of a credit card?

Not that, in my mind, airports should be charging passengers for trolleys anyway. Make no mistake: they make more than enough money from extortionate airport parking drop-off charges (here’s looking at Luton and Stansted) to fees for plastic security bags to shop rents, airport taxes and the inflated cost of food and drink in the airports’ outlets. Do they really need to fleece every passenger on arrival, too?

After all we’re not talking about a fancy porter service here – simply a trolley you can lay your case on and make getting from the luggage carousel to the car/ taxi rank/ tube station that bit more bearable.

Yes rolling luggage (suitcases that can easily turn 360 degrees, enabling their owners to glide through immigration smoothly) makes travel easier. However I maintain that if you’re elderly, travelling en-famille, or laden-down with golf and ski equipment, you’re still going to need a little help with your luggage.

It’s a situation that my friend James Drummond, a returning expat, recently found himself in. After 16 roller-coaster years based in chaotic, colourful Argentina, James made the decision to swap Buenos Aires for his native Britain.

The 50-year-old packed his South American life into five suitcases and checked them in at Ezeiza International Airport without any issues – at least that is until he landed in London to learn that while he had plenty of Argentine pesos in his pocket and a wallet full of credit cards, after 16 years of living overseas he had zero pound coins.

James’ description of the endurance test he faced in shepherding five suitcases from bag collection to arrivals made for an amusing dinner party story, but has it really come to this: charging £1 – only coins accepted! – for the privilege of using an airport trolley?

Welcome to Britain? Please. We can do better than this.

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Where the experts holiday: Omar Beretta, travel writer

Travel writer, Omar Beretta, shares his experiences on the road with JAT readers

What do you like to do on holiday?
I like to go to to places that are not spoilt by Western consumer habits, meet the locals, learn about their music and traditions, and find some quiet space to read and write.

Where did you last go?
I just came back from a month in Lima, Perú where I took notes to write an article about Trans Diversity in Perú. I read books by Peruvian authors that helped me connect with the mood of the city, namely Julio Ramón Ribeyro, probably my all-time favourite writer in the Spanish language, (especially the short stories in La Palabra del Mudo) and Jeremías Gamboa’s Contarlo Todo, destined to be one of the most powerful novels of the twenty firsy century.
I also spent some time in a hamlet called Yarina, near Pucallpa, in the Peruvian Amazon, learning and writing about shamanism. Preparing for Yarina I re-read Castaneda’s Journey to Ixtlan as well as The Yage Letters by Burroughs and Ginsberg. I am writing a series of articles about shamanism in the Peruvian Amazon, the first of them can be found here.

Do you know where you’re going this year?
In 2018 I will travel all year! I will visit Paraguay, Peru, The Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Cambodia and Brazil.

Of all the places you’ve been to, which was your favourite and why?
Asunción del Paraguay, South America’s best kept secret. Expect very friendly people in the middle of majestic nature, namely the mighty Paraguay river. It’s one of the oldest cities in South America with unspoilt colonial architecture, a rich cultural scene, vibrant night life and expats that never ever want to go back home. Last March I taught a creative writing workshop in Asunción and I wrote about this experience here.

Which destination do you wish to travel to, but haven’t yet been?

In your own country, what would you recommend tourists see that isn’t in the travel guides?
Many years ago, I was hitchhiking in southern Patagonia with a friend and we got stuck in a petrol station in the middle of nowhere, halfway between the towns of Rio Gallegos and Calafate. A truck that was taking goods to a nearby farm took us from Río Gallegos to the petrol station. We had purposefully missed the daily bus from Gallegos because we preferred to hitchhike, and there was no other bus going in that direction until the following day. It was winter. We spent the rest of the day by the road, waiting for a car that never came. There, in the middle of nowhere, we experienced the vast expanse of the Argentine wasteland like never before. We felt the night crawling, a few animals curiously watching us from a distance, and the Milky Way brighter than ever enveloping us. That unknown corner where we spent the night was the most beautiful spot that I have ever seen in Argentina, and yet I could not point it in a map because I do not know exactly where we were. We took the bus to Calafate the next morning. We were going to see the glaciers, the highlight of that trip, but I was sad to leave our petrol station in the middle of nowhere. So I would recommend to take the less known roads and get lost!

How do you plan a holiday?
I still like to own guidebooks whose weight I can feel in my hands, that I can scribble and leave marks on it. I especially like second-hand guidebooks that have notes or drawings from previous travellers. I own a 1925 Baedeker guide to Egypt and the Sudan that belonged to my great Grand Uncle that I enjoy reading from time to time, especially when I come across passages like “travel in Egypt is as safe as in Europe,” advising that “weapons for self-defence are an unnecessary encumbrance.”
I rely very much on advise from other travellers that I know personally, whose blogs I follow, or whose interests I share. Another important source of inspiration are essays and novels. Lost Cosmonaut by Daniel Kalder and most of the work by Colin Thubron encouraged me to travel in Siberia, because they presented the remote in a way that I can relate to. In fact, in our novel Shaman Express, one of the main characters reminisces about a trip he took in Central Asia and says: “Being buried in the anonymity of a remote part of the world proved soothing,” which is a line I wrote in my travelling journal when I was in Kyrgyzstan. The books by Willliam Dalrymple are a mine of information and I brought some of them with me on trips to Western China and India. Bruce Chatwin is always a great source of inspiration for new destinations. The Songlines is probably my favourite because it deals with aboriginal communities, they are my main area of interest now. Claude Lévi-Strauss Tristes Tropiques can be read as an adventure novel and a must read for anyone going to the Amazon. Last but no least, Nicolas Bouvier’s L’Usage du Monde (The Way of the World) is my favourite travel book and a great influence when I hesitate about going away.

How often do you go away?
As often as I can. In 2017 I realised that I had gone away so many times, that I would have saved money on air tickets if I had not came back home to Buenos Aires after each trip. So I sold everything, including my books: I put up my house for sale and I decided to take one long trip during 2018.

Who do you travel with?
Alone, almost always alone. Traveling alone gives me all the room I need to read and write. However, I have friends in most of the destinations I travel to. For example, as I write these answers, I am sitting at the terrace of the house of an old friend in Catania, Sicily with fresh coffee and a fantastic view of the Etna volcano. We just came back from nearby Noto, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where we spent the weekend with friends. He will join me in the evening when he finishes work and, together with other friends, we will go a Pink Floyd event with live music in a nearby country house. Early next month another friend that plays in the band Gabacho Maroc has invited me to go on tour with them in the South of Spain, where I plan to write an article about fusion of Western and Middle-Eastern music, a topic that I am very interested into. So I travel alone, but I get to spend a lot of time in excellent company.

Where do you see tourism in your country, in 10 years?
Thriving. Argentina has fantastic travel potential and it is a safe and friendly place to be: I can see a large increase of visitors in the next ten years. So pack your backpack and come visit soon, before it gets too crowded!

Omar Beretta is the co-author with Bénédicte Rousseau of Shaman Express . A former lawyer, yoga instructor and publishing company owner who – after a near-death experience – left his corporate career to practice yoga and shamanism, Beretta is now a full-time world traveller. He learns from people living in countries not yet fully spoilt by Western capitalism as well as indigenous communities.Beretta teaches creative writing workshops in Asunción del Paraguay. For more information, see

About Shaman Express by Bénédicte Rousseau and Omar Beretta (31 May 2018; paperback £9.99; I eBook £3.99; Amazon)
Although they barely know each other, a depressed divorcee and a recovering addict – both at a crossroads in their lives – decide to embark together on a journey with the intention of writing a book on experiential shamanism. But spiritual retreats and self-help books haven’t prepared them for what lies ahead.  Moving between pastoral Italy, the rugged steppes of Siberia, and the crowded streets of Thailand, the story alternates between ordinary reality and shamanic non-ordinary reality, the borders of which become blurred along the way.  They may not find what they thought they sought, but they will be forever transformed. 

Talking travel: Buenos Aires

In the first episode of Talking Travel - Women Radio Station’s new weekly show for travel news from around the world, fascinating guests and answers to your burning travel questions - we’re shining the spotlight on Buenos Aires.

Until recently Buenos Aires was starved of direct, affordable flights from the UK but - happily, listeners - change is on the horizon.

From Valentine’s Day, budget airline Norwegian Airlines will be showing its love for Argentina’s charismatic capital with the launch of the longest-ever nonstop route from Gatwick to Buenos Aires.

And the good news is that regardless of whether you’re down to your last dollar or have oodles of cash to splash, there’s plenty to do in the Paris of the South - as BA is affectionately known.

So let’s start with those who are suffering from that January skint feeling….


Recoleta Cemetery
By far and away, Buenos Aires’ number one tourist attraction is Recoleta Cemetery which is open from 8am-6pm. This city of the dead is where generations of Argentina’s great and good – including Evita – were buried.
Even better? It’s absolutely free to see Evita’s final resting place.  And don’t worry about missing Eva Duarte’s mausoleum – simply follow the crowds or join a complimentary tour that’s offered in English at 11am every Tuesday and Thursday.

San Telmo market
The barrio - which means neighbourhood - of San Telmo is famous for its narrow cobbled streets and crumbling villas  – and the Feria de San Telmo (from 10am) – an unmissable Sunday market selling some of BA’s best arts, crafts and souvenirs including bombilla, the metal straw used to drink Argentina’s beloved Mate (a bitter herb drink). Even if shopping isn’t your bag, the San Telmo street market is worth visiting for the atmosphere alone: expect to see colourful street performances plus vendors loudly peddling freshly squeezed orange juice and empanadas (super South American pies).

La Casa Rosada
The Presidential palace – whose pretty pink hue demonstrates what happens when pigs blood is mixed with white paint – is home to the balcony where Argentina’s most famous son, Diego Maradona (a footballing god who made an enormous amount noise both on and off the pitch) greeted crowds from the balcony after winning the 1986 World Cup for Argentina. The pink palace is also where Evita – the country’s beloved First Lady – used to address her legion of fans often called the descamisados (shirtless ones) owing to their impoverished status.
You can tour the building for free on a Saturday or Sunday upon presentation of your passport.

Reserva Ecologica
When the hustle and bustle of BA gets too much – as it will  – escape to the Reserva Ecologica. Compromising 360 hectares of wetlands, the Reserva Ecologica Costanera Sur – to give it it’s full name – is a popular place for hikers, picnickers, bird watchers (expect to see 300 species), bikers, nature lovers – river turtles, iguanas and nutria are all present and correct – alike. For the best views of the Rio Plata’s muddy waters, head to the eastern shoreline of the reserve.

La Boca
Working class La Boca is loaded with charm and colourful corrugated metal buildings (the ones that you see on the cover of every guidebook). It doesn’t cost a penny to stroll El Caminito – the barrio’s most famous street and browse the crafts and watch the tango dancers strut their stuff.

Feria de Mataderos
BA’s best kept secret, the Feria de Mataderos is held every Sunday in the working class barrio of Materados. Admittedly Materados is a bit of a schlep to reach (you’ll need to take bus 126, 155 or 180 from downtown for around 90 minutes) but it’s worth it to watch gauchos (Argentine cowboys) and folk singers entertain the crowds. The highlight however is the La sortija show: gauchos gallop at their fastest along a corridor of sand before rising up out of their saddle– leaving just their feet in the stirrups – in an attempt to spear a small ring, all the while cheered on by rowdy locals.

Milonga madness
One essential is to experience a milonga (traditional tango dance night.) Argentina is synonymous with sultry tango – a passionate dance that has seduced the world – and nowhere more so than Buenos Aires, where the spirit of tango oozes on every street corner. Confiteria Ideal (the grand dame of BA’s tango scene) and La Cathedral (quite possibly Baires’ coolest tango club) are mentioned in every guide book and for good reason.
However if you’re on a budget, look to La Glorieta – a free outdoor milonga which takes place every Saturday and Sunday evening at the Barrancas de Belgrano bandstand.

Now if you’re feeling flush, you’re in luck for while BA can be a bargain destination, it’s also a great place to blow the budget.
And if you start feeling a little guilty, consider this: life is short, you work hard and you deserve it…

The Clubhouse
Co-working in Argentina is on the rise but, as remote offices go, The Clubhouse stands head and shoulders above the competition.
By day this Palermo Soho destination for all things cool serves as a much needed work sanctuary for the creative industries, in a metropolis plagued by poor WiFi.
By night it’s a lively scene straight out of a magazine: model-esque staff serve top notch cocktails around the prettiest of pools, while other ‘after work’ events include art exhibits, tastings, talks by opinion leaders, theme parties, fashion shows and private dinners.

Floreria Atlantico
Floreria Atlantico – a secret, basement speakeasy – is arguably the best bar in BA right now. And that’s saying something in a city with no end of trendy places to go…. Upon entering the rather charming flower shop, look for the industrial freezer door and then descend the stairs to this decadent drinking den – the brainchild of renowned Argentine mixologist Renato ‘Tato’ Giovannoni.
Thanks to its modernist lighting and decent drinks mixed by cool staff, this long and narrow bar is great place to meet both hip locals and expats. Not hip? It doesn’t matter. The whole point of travelling is that you don’t have to be yourself.

Hotel Classico
Hotel Classico – the second project from Argentine born, Los Angeles based restaurateur and television personality, Adolfo Suaya – is without a doubt the hottest address in town, something its occupancy rates bear testimony to. This place is permanently full.
Guests can look forward to luxurious leather headboards, marble bed frames, walk-in rainfall showers, organic toiletries, chandeliers and classic images of the Paris of the South. Further draws include a seventh floor sun-deck, mezzanine level bar and basement cabaret club due to open next year.

Elena, Four Seasons Buenos Aires
For a sophisticated dinner, try Elena at the Four Seasons Hotel –  the BA bolt hole of choice for stars ranging from Sex and the City’s Kim Cattrall to U2 and Madonna. I’m not usually one for staying to the confines of a hotel but Elena – a stunning two storey courtyard restaurant – is worth making an exception for.
Rich interior furnishings – including a marble butcher’s table manned by an expert chef and locally-sourced antiques – seamlessly blend South American and European cultures in true Buenos Aires fashion, with hand-crafted finishes by local artisans adding a unique character. It’s the perfect place to throw yourself into a feast of local cuisine: think a selection of meats loved by locals, from precision-cut dry aged steaks to  Argentinian kobe beef expertly prepared on the rotisserie.

La Bombonera
You can’t leave Argentina without watching a live football match. To say that the Argentines adore football is arguably the understatement of the century. Football isn’t just a game in this country – it’s a religion.
And if you’re visiting Buenos Aires in particular, there’s absolutely no getting away from it (there are around two dozen professional teams in Argentina’s charismatic capital alone).
The country’s favourite team is Buenos Aires based Boca Juniors who play at the legendary La Bombonera stadium in working class La Boca.
Boca was also the first club of one Diego Armando Maradona – the street kid with a gift from God who succeeded in escaping the Argentine shanty town of Villa Fiorito, where he shared a room with seven siblings, to become the only footballer to set world-record for contract fees twice.
But bagging tickets to a Boca game isn’t cheap: you’ll have to part with a crazy amount of pesos through a ticket agency.

Casa Felix
My final suggestion, would be check out a puertas cerrada - aka closed-door restaurant. This underground dining concept has swept BA and basically sees talented chefs serve private dinners in their own homes.
Dining with what are, in essence, complete strangers may not be everyone’s cup of Mate (Argentina’s beloved herb tea) but – for me at least – this was a big part of the attraction. I loved breaking bread (both bitterly and metaphorically) with fellow foodies who, after a glass of Malbec, soon felt like old friends at a private dinner party. I felt a sense of community, together with a frisson of excitement throughout the evening – although the fact that most puertas cerradas are illegal may have had something to do with it.
If you’re listening/reading this and wondering how the (ever resourceful) Argentines are able to get away with running closed door restaurants that violate the law, all I can say is: this is Argentina. Laws there are rarely enforced.
If you’re going to a closed door restaurant, just don’t forget to bring cash (it’s a cash only world in Argentina) and book ahead: most closed-door restaurants are only open in the evenings from Wednesday to Saturday and, the buzz surrounding them is so big, that they tend to fill up fast


So there you have it! The low-down on BA…

Certainly the city can frustrate with its weekly power cuts and corruption, all of which means Buenos Aires can’t be described as an effortless destination.

But the rewards are immense: make no mistake this is one of Latin America’s most exhilarating cities where it’s still possible to bag tickets to a big gig only a few days beforehand and where dinner reservations don’t need to be made a month in advance.

It’s one of those places that makes you feel better, just by being there.