There is so much to do in Buenos Aires. Some highlights for us over the week that we spent there include the walking tour that introduced us to the town, touring the magnificent Teatro Colón, seeing the famous Recoleta Cemetery, and going to a tango show.
But to be completely honest, the real highlight was being in the same room as 5 of my all-time favorite friends. Jen, Lamont, Isaiah and I arrived a couple days earlier, but when we saw a little yellow taxi pull up outside our apartment and Kate and Will hop out of it, you bet I let out a squeal of excitement from our second story balcony. Upon hearing that, Kate and Will knew they were in the right place.
Help me set the scene by imagining being in the same group of friends with these visitors throughout our college days – most often as roommates, housemates, or next door neighbors.
Then after graduation we girls got a house together and dove into the real world. The working world, not The Real World. Slowly we married off to friends we all already knew and remained in the same small town hanging out as much as possible. Perfect, right?
Then one couple gets the bright idea to move to Paraguay for Peace Corps and the other couple moves out to California for a new experience than the town she’d grown up in. All three couples separated for the first time in more than 10 years. What a transition.
We’ve kept in great touch via email and video calling, but having a flesh and blood reunion in Buenos Aires still brings me to tears. It was amazing. Life giving. An instant circle of comfort created by people who truly know you. Oh how good it feels to be known.
So it may now be more understandable why one of my favorite parts of the trip was sitting on one of our terraces laughing or crying with our favorite friends. It didn’t hurt that the apartment we rented was amazing. Recently fixed up but in the original, ornate style.
We did a lot of walking and talking, taking in the feel of the city and the styles of the different neighborhoods. Like when we stopped for breakfast in Puerto Madero along the river-way, admiring the graceful Puente de la Mujer (Woman’s Bridge).
Or the brightly colored buildings in the funky La Boca neighborhood where we picked up a unique painting of a boat on the water that we plan to hang in our new house.
I highly recommend taking the tour through Teatro Colón. Our tour guide was professional but witty and spoke perfect English. The size of the theater is impressive but the detailing of nearly every inch of floor, wall, and ceiling takes your breath away.
He told stories of the fancy couples who attended the events at the theater to be seen. And the special box in the front right-hand side of the theater saved always for the president of Argentina.
We saw for ourselves that the view from that particular box wasn’t great, with part of the stage being blocked due to the angle. But sitting in that box, the audience can’t help but to look at you in eyesight of the stage. In a way, you become part of the show. And for the president, that is the point.
I also give all thumbs up to a guided tour of the Recoleta Cemetery.
Without one, it would still be a huge cemetery with small streets almost like a miniature town and worth seeing. But the background stories are what makes it so intriguing.
Like the meaning behind the adornments that families chose for their mausoleum. Or how the materials used changed over the years and why. Or how many times the body of Eva Peron, more affectionately known as Evita, was moved over the years.
Or the story of the young girl who was pronounced dead from a heart attack. Following tradition, the ceremony was held right away and the sealed casket placed in the family’s mausoleum. But a few days later the groundskeeper called the family to tell them the casket was slightly ajar and, so the story goes, scratch marks were found on the inside of the casket. It was later discovered that the young girl was in what we now know as a coma, and upon waking had tried to escape.
Our friendly tour guide was quick to point out the line between historical stories and legends gets blurred over time. And how it’s thought that there are so many cats in the cemetery because they like to play with the spirits. Our tour guide, on the other hand, choses to believe they live in the cemetery because two elderly ladies feed them there each day. You be the judge.
We saw the fancy mausoleum of the man who learned how to remove the lactose from milk, therefore becoming Will’s hero. There are no longer any available spots in the cemetery that is known as the resting place of the rich families of Buenos Aires. But there were a few spots for sale if you’re interested, somewhere in the range of $50,000 a piece.
It didn’t seem right to spend time in Buenos Aires, home of the tango, without taking in a tango show. So we gussied up and headed out to El Viejo Almacén to be entertained by songs and tango dancing. It was geared toward tourists, but nevertheless impressed and entertained us and had us all walking home with an extra dance in our step.
Our time in Buenos Aires was one to remember. Isaiah and I are still so grateful and honored that our friends took the effort, vacation time, and moolah to make this coordinated trip that got the gang together again a reality. From Buenos Aires, Jen and LaMont flew back stateside while Kate and Will journeyed on to Paraguay with us.
Have you been to Buenos Aires? What are your must-see recommendations?