Check out my tips for Touring Bird:
Check out my tips for Touring Bird:
To say that Buenos Aires (BA) has been through a lot in recent years, is a massive understatement. The 'Paris of the South' has survived a series of corrupt governments, coup d’etats, dictatorships, military rule and more – yet managed to maintain its joie de vivre.
And for good reason as there are so many things to enjoy in Argentina’scharismatic capital: from its stately European facade to the superfluous steak, tango, infectious football games and the proud, passionate Portenos (BA residents) themselves.
Or as American writer, Truman Capote, once termed it: “Brazil was beastly but Buenos Aires the best. Not Tiffany's, but almost”.
Read the guide here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/cruises/port-guides/buenos-aires-cruise-port-guide/
Kaye’s constant quest for adventure has taken her back to Argentina – the land of gauchos, glaciers, football, tango and beef
Continued from last time
This is the end, dear reader.
My Argentine adventure is coming to a close and I am returning, albeit reluctantly, to the UK.
I’m reluctant to leave despite the fact that I am penning this postcard as something of a prisoner: the cafe that is acting as my 'office' today has boltedits doors owing to the fact that the Peronists are protesting passionately outside against president Mauricio Macri and his latest austerity measures.
For while the blue eyed businessman, with a penchant for polo shirts, still enjoys approval levels of 61 percent, his popularity has nonetheless plummeted since assuming office in December 2015.
This is partly due to the Panama papers saga (Macri is only Latin American president in office to appear in the Panama Papers, as a board-member of two companies located in tax havens) but mostly because the fun loving Argentines aren’t exactly enamoured with his fiscal policies…. Make no mistake: life is getting tougher for Argentines, after one-off rises of as much as 500 per cent in utility tariffs that had been frozen for years.
But I digress… I’m sad to be heading home even though, on Easter Sunday, I was mugged out of the blue in broad daylight - an experience that left me shocked and shaken to the core. (Argentina is nowhere near as dangerous as other South American destinations - here’s looking at Venezuela and Brazil - but it still can’t be classed as 'safe' per se.)
And yet while I’ve sometimes endured testing days, for the most part my adventures in Argentina have always lifted my spirits. So much so that I don’t want my trip to end: I wish I could keep going. Sure I may have slept in umpteen different Airbnb beds since the beginning of the year but, as a born wanderer who feels confined when with the same people and surroundings for any length of time, I’ve loved every minute of it.
I didn’t mean to end up in Argentina when I first visited in February 2015… it just happened. But the more I explored, the more I enchanted I became with the land of gauchos, glaciers, futbol, tango and beef.
I found I adored the fact that Argentina still has the type of shops that have pretty much vanished from British high streets. I’m talking independent bookstores, butchers, bakers, green grocers, repair shops, hardware store, proper cafes (Costa doesn’t count) and post offices. I discovered that I loved living in a country where I could stroll to individual shops each day to get my Cortado (essentially a shot of espresso, with an equal amount of steamed milk) and alfore (a divine Dulche de leche cookie) fix and fulfil my errands. And I came to love the loud and proud locals, whose passion for life you can’t help but admire.
Subsequently when I woke, in January 2016, in need of an imminent escape from Harrow - my hometown where big plans mean dinner at Frankie and Bennys and a job as a bank manager - I had my destination. I’ve encountered things - estancias, milongas, closed-door restaurants, I could continue - that I would never have encountered if I hadn’t come to Argentina. The last few months have given me a million fabulous things that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. Essentially going to Argentina I concluded, one wonderful Malbec filled (but then when did anyone ever drink Malbec and not have a fantastic time?) evening always does me good.
All of which, dear reader, is my way of announcing that I will be returning to Argentina again in the near future because, while I adore London - I must have lived in dozens of different parts and know every aspect of the city which never fails to fascinate - I don’t really belong in it. And I am never satisfied to live there for long.
Perhaps it’s not surprising then that my various London abodes have never really resembled a ‘proper’ home - partly because I have no real interest in possessions and partly because I’m hell bent upon seeing new places. Consequently lodgings in the UK are a necessity into which I have never truly settled. Even when my body is at home in Harrow, my mind isn’t - rather, it’s roaming across another continent.
Writing this with warm feelings for Argentina and one glass too many of Malbec swishing in my stomach, I can’t wait to get back but first I plan spend some time living, working in and writing about Hawaii (let's face it no one ever wrote about Harrow). I want to see and experience more of our world and fortunately for me, dear reader, I can. (Travel isn't necessarily required for me to do my jobs, but neither is staying in one place.)
Argentina has afforded me some perspective: I know now that I don’t like keeping regular - a word which, for me, is synonymous with dullness - hours. It’s almost as if I’m almost afraid of regularity having never known the order and convention of domestic life.
Conversely I find the constant movement that comes with being a digital nomad, stimulating and exciting. It’s taken a while but it’s finally dawned on me that if I keep trying to follow in the footsteps of childhood friends and family and jump aboard the conventional conveyor belt of life, only misery and madness lie in my path.
In the meantime, thank-you for reading my various ‘Postcards from Argentina’. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these diary entries - I've certainly enjoyed writing them.
Or as former Python and seasoned traveller, Michael Palin puts it: “The attraction of a diary is that it remains in its own time. It reflects only what happened on that particular day. It doesn’t flatter and it isn’t distorted by what happened later. In that way it’s the most truthful record of real life. And it’s your own life and nobody else’s. Keeping a diary means that all that seeing and hearing, loving and laughing, excitement and embarrassment, gladness and gloom that make you what you are, is not forgotten. A diary blows away the mists of time and offers your life back to you.”
To read part one of Kaye’s Postcard from Argentina series, please click here
To read part two of Kaye’s Postcard from Argentina series, please click here
To read part three of Kaye’s Postcard from Argentina series, please click here
Words and pictures: Kaye Holland
Never mind New York, New Orleans and the likes of London and Las Vegas. Buenos Aires is the real city that never sleeps. Portenos typically venture out for dinner around 10pm, before moving onto a bar at midnight and winding up on the dance floor circa 3am (call it a night before 5am and you’re an amateur). All of which means that if you want to make like a Porteno (as BA residents are affectionately known) you probably won’t be getting much shut eye during your spell in the Paris of the South… Nonetheless you’ll need somewhere to crash – if only for a few hours – in between boliche (club) hopping and breakfast (desayuno). Our man in BA has some suggestions for all budgets and barrio (neighbourhood) preferences…
Glamour meets grit in the Microcentre – the heart of Buenos Aires and home to blockbuster sights such as Plaza de Mayo and La Casa Rosada. Downtown Buenos Aires is also where you’ll find Corrientes Avenue, aka the theatre district that’s dotted with Mom and Pop pizza and pasta places (a legacy of the city’s Italian diaspora).
Best for flash packers: 133 Libertad
Most people will tell you to stay in a hotel in Palermo but personalIy I’d advise avoiding the pre packaged path and checking into Airbnb abode, where you’ll get character and local charm rather than inflated prices. There are lasting memories to be gained from staying at 133 Libertad – a gorgeous courtyard apartment that will have you checking house prices before you leave. Many of the rooms boast patios and all are tastefully furnished – proof sophistication is possible on a shoestring budget. The atmosphere is instantly relaxing and the hosts, Matias and Cande – a friendly and unfeasibly good looking young Porteno couple – will go out of their way to make sure you fall under the spell of their city. Thecentral location can’t be bettered either, enabling you to hastily tick of the sights and then lose yourself in the street life.www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/2087059
To the north of Downtown lies Palermo – a little corner of perfectly manicured paradise where men carry tiny dogs and immaculately turned out women sweep from chi chi boutiques to buzzy bars and restaurants. It’s a little bit of a bubble – Palermo houses BA’s expat and middle class contingents – but it’s a pleasant one and, where much of the city’s legendary nightlife takesplace.
Best for digital nomads: The Clubhouse
Looking for somewhere to work? You’re in luck: 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. The Clubhouse also features four distinctive rooms (like the guests, no two rooms are the same) for those who are keen to make their ‘commute’ to the ‘office’ as short and sweet as possible.
Best for trendsetters: 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. The property has been fully booked since opening its doors in the buzzing barrio of Palermo Hollywood (BA’s hippest neighbourhood) last July. Each floor – accessed by a leather adorned lift – has been decked out in a different colour (I’ve got a soft spot for the scarlet hue, pictured below) and boasts a mix of King and Queen sized rooms. Regardless, 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. The rooms positively ooze Argentine charm – so much so it would be easy to stay put. However when hunger pangs kick in, venture to MOOI – a chic ground floor restaurant whose menu focuseson seasonal ingredients. Further draws include a seventh floor sun-deck and mezzanine level bar, with a basement cabaret club due to open later this year. Someone has done their homework here and it shows: gold star.
Rougher around the edges, is the barrio of San Telmo whose ramshackle streets have long been a favourite with Buenos Aires’ artists owing to their (historically) low rents. The Sunday market on Calle Defensa is legendary and rightly so: there’s enough arts and antiques on sale, to decimate your baggage allowance.
Best for a boutique experience: Mariposita
Situated on Calvos Calvo – only a couple of blocks from the famous Calle Defensa – Mariposita is a gem of a find. On arrival, expect to be warmly welcomed by the lovely Lotte who will lead you up the Carrara marble stairs to your accommodation. There are five rooms to choose from, all of which represent a different region of Argentina. Beyond the bedrooms, there’s a gorgeous garden patio and pool in which to unwind and relax and guests also have the opportunity to immerse themselves in tango at the hotel’s onsite school. Excellent value beginners classes are currently offered at 7pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays and 1pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Even if you’ve got two left feet, do give tango a try: BA is the capital of this sexy yet melancholy strut and, as the old adage goes, when in Rome…
Best for Bosteros: Hotel Boca
Working class La Boca is home to the country’s favourite football team: take a bow Boca Juniors, whose supporters are known as Bosteros. If you aren’t able to see Maradona’s former side in action (tickets are like gold dust), you could always sleep in a yellow and blue Maradona suite at Hotel Boca – aka the world’s first football themed hotel that’s located in the neighbouring barrio of San Telmo. The hotel boasts two restaurants and a spa fit for a football star. Hotel Boca offers several packages which include tickets to a Boca football – an experience that’s not to be missed. But don’t drop the ball (sorry!) too much when in La Boca. For while this scruffy neighbourhood is loaded with charm and colourful corrugated metal buildings (the ones that you see on the cover of every guidebook), it also has a reputation for crime. Don’t believe me? Google ‘daylight robbery in La Boca.’
The antithesis of San Telmo and La Boca is Recoleta – an upmarket neighbourhood that’s often compared to New York’s Upper East Side. Recoleta is also home to Buenos Aires’ number one tourist attraction: take a bow Recoleta Cemetery. This city of the dead is where Argentina’s most famous daughter – one Eva Duarte de Peron – was buried..
Best for luxury lovers: Four Season Hotel
Recoleta is also home to the fabulous Four Seasons Buenos Aires whose recent refurb has only upped the decadence quota. Stars ranging from Sex and the City’s Kim Cattrall to U2 and Madonna have used it as a BA bolt hole. Even if you can’t afford to stay here (you’d need to boast the budget of a polo player), do drop in for lunch at Nuestro Secreto (a gorgeous rooftop restaurant serving Buenos Aires most stylish asado (bbq), dinner at Elena, a stylish place to throw your throw yourself into a feast of local cuisine, or a drink at the always lively The Pony Lounge. And don’t miss chance to try the Porteno tango massage at Cielo Spa. Your therapist will knead your body from head to toe using a variety of techniques – including hot stones – to the beat of tango music!