|The Columbus Monument.
photography by Jen Maki
LA BUENA VIDA: Thanks to the devalued peso and hundreds of travel articles in the past year, Buenos Aires has become one of the top tourist destinations in the world. If this is your first visit, you’ll be struck by the world-class museums, Parisian urban design, colossal monuments, and belle époque architecture. But don’t spend all of your time on a tour bus. BA is about the sweet life. Sip a café con leche in an outdoor cafe. Wander the San Telmo street fair on Sunday. Argue soccer and politics. Linger over a steak and bottle of Malbec. Tango! Flirt! BARGAINS GALORE: The peso is still approximately three to the dollar—so you can ride the bus across town for 15 cents or enjoy the out-of-body experience of paying $2 for a bottle of table wine in a local joint like Club Eros in Palermo (Uriarte 1609, 11-4832-1313), a dining room attached to an old soccer club with a cult following for its downscale charm. Dinner in a four-star restaurant is about $35 for two, including a good bottle of wine and dessert. Leather goods and silver are well-priced. Go to Guido (Montevideo 1613, 11-4812-3939) for a great weekend bag for only $110, but avoid imports; invariably you’ll pay top dollar. LEAVE THE LITTLE ONES AT HOME: An early dinner starts at 9 pm. Do you really want the kids here? Unless your child likes chilling in cafes, listening to jazz in unmarked bars, or watching you try on cool clothes by young Argentine designers, hire a sitter. THE BEST TOUR GUIDES IN THE CITY: No matter how many times you watch Madonna in Evita or read Paul Blustein’s And the Money Came Rolling In (and Out) (recommended), you’ll never wrap your mind around Argentina’s political and economic history. Hire a guide from Eternautas (www.eternautas.com), a collective of young historians, for a city tour or an immersion in Peronism. Book in advance and request Julian or Fernando. LAS COMIDAS: Almost any parilla is going to serve you the best steak you have ever eaten in your life. For Argentine modern, try Central in Palermo (Costa Rica 5644, 11-4776-7374). Other restaurants to try: Olsen (Scandinavian cool. Gorriti 5870, 11-4776-7677); El Diamante (Tapas. Malabia 1688, 11-4831-5735); Osaka (Peruvian Japanese. Soler 5608, 11-4775-6964); vegetarian lunch at Providencia (Cabrera 5995, 11-4772-8507); and tea at the Alvear Palace Hotel (Avenida Alvear 1891, 11-4808-2100). Time Out Buenos Aires (www.amazon.com) has the most reliable reviews for food, entertainment, and shopping. DO THE NIGHT THING: The glamour of the night is for everyone in BA; don’t be the loser passed out in your hotel room because you didn’t pace yourself on the Malbec. Check out Ciudad Cultural Konex (Sarmiento 3131, 11-4864-3200, www.ciuda culturalkonex.org) for avant-garde music, theater, and dance; the edgy night scene at Niceto (Niceto Vega 5510, 11-4779-9396, www.nicetoclub. com) on Wednesday nights; the 20-30ish scene at Opera Bay (Cecilia Grierson 225, Puerto Madero, 11-5247-0565); and Asia de Cuba (At Guemes on Dique 3, Puerto Madero, 11-4894-1328). CONSIDER AN APARTMENT: For luxury hotels, try the Alvear Palace Hotel (www.alvearpalace .com) or the newly restored Palacio Duhau (www.buenosaires.park.hyatt. com) or the Faena (www.faenaexperience.com). For a more laid-back, trendy experience, choose a boutique hotel in Palermo SOHO or Palermo Hollywood (www.malabiahouse.com.ar; www.homebuenosaires.com; www.bobohotel.com). Best bet: rent a furnished apartment (start by checking out www.buenosaireshabitat.com;www.bytargentina.com; www.apartmentsba.com). DON’T FLASH IT: Petty criminals here don’t want your life, but they do want your money. Leave the Escada suit, Rolex, and Rangers cap at home. Taxis are a bargain, but only get into cars marked “radio taxi.” (The others are independent, and the occasional rogue driver has been known to shake down oblivious tourists.) Look both ways: bus and taxi accidents are the leading cause of death in BA.
|Exterior of the Alvear Palace Hotel.
photography courtesy of Alvear Palace Hotel
How To Get There
The direct flight from Dallas on American Airlines (www.aa.com) takes about 10 hours, and at this writing costs roughly $1,300 for a coach seat (though the similarly priced Continental (www.continental.com) flight that stops in Houston offers more attentive service.) Unless you want to star in your own chase scene, avoid the flights that connect through Miami.