It’s been about six years since I was last in Buenos Aires and what struck me this November was how little had changed. It is one of my very favourite cities. I can spend hours in a pavement cafe, people watching, looking at the world go by, reading, and Buenos Aires is a very good place to do just that.

Well, OK, there’s more graffiti and cracked pavements since I was last in town, but there are still the same super-cool people and amazing bars, shops and restaurants. Pounds, dollars and euros may not got as far as they did in the mid-noughties (tip: take dollars cash and on the semi-official blue market you’ll get ten pesos for one dollar, as opposed to around six if you use a credit card or ATM) but it’s still good value.

It’s perhaps worth saying if you’re a Brit and you’ve never been before that you might expect the Argentines to be rather anti “us” because of the Falklands palava (“two bald men fighting over a comb” – Jorge Luis Borges), but not a bit of it. Super friendly, not to mention ridiculously good-looking on the whole. (I mean there’s only so long I can walk around in 36 degree heat sucking my tummy in).

As usual I stayed at Home Hotel in Palermo Hollywood, and always recommend that any friends visiting Buenos Aires do the same – none come away disappointed.

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Some of the more imaginative street art around town

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Ah the unmistakable scent of…..Kevin.

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Argentina, home to the best steak on the planet. And thank goodness Argentines are fond of serving it well done, so you don’t get the withering looks you do from the French who like to have theirs still mooing.

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The garden of Home Hotel in Palermo Hollywood. Very definitely home from home. Well if your home looks like it’s a centre spread in Dwell Magazine.

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Argentine dogs seem very well behaved, even if their owners aren’t. Buenos Aires is, I’m afraid, the dog sh*t capital of the whole world. Scoop the poop people!

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Palermo Hollywood

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Oh Argentina how you taunt us! Even your home-grown Lego pays homage to Maradonna.

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Buenos Aires cafes run the whole range from superbly trendy & modern where the cool kids hang out over their Macbook Airs to old-school like El Gato Negro (pictured here) which, unusually, specializes in tea not coffee.

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You’re never stuck for something to read in Buenos Aires

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María Eva Duarte de Perón (May 7th 1919 – July 26th 1952)

At La Bombonera stadium watching Boca Juniors play. Amazing atmosphere in the stands, even if play on the pitch wasn't great

At La Bombonera stadium watching Boca Juniors play. Amazing atmosphere in the stands, even if the game on the pitch was a bit pants. (Great diving and acting, though).

 

By the way, two blogs I enjoyed very much during my visit: Pick Up the Fork (foodie) and Fifth Floor (general musings by an English expat B&B owner)

(My tickets on British Airways were provided by Journey Latin America)

 

 

This week’s Newsweek magazine offers another of those “must see” round ups which got me thinking about my own personal list.

Do you agree or disagree? Let me know. What’s on your list? In no particular order….

Iguazu Falls from the Brazilian side

(1) Go to Paris. Just walk around and get lost with no set agenda.

(2) Go hiking in Nepal, to Annapurna base camp and back. Waking up in a tea house in the morning and looking up to see those humongous mountains against a clear blue sky is almost beyond words.

(3) Take an overnight bus – in these days of “budget” airline travel that has stripped us of all dignity, taking a bus just reminds you it’s quite a big world out there full of ordinary people. Turkey has a great network, and in Argentina you can get seats that recline 180 degrees, but my most memorable journey was from Katherine to Alice Springs in Australia. I woke up when we got to a rest stop about 5.30am, looked out of the window and there was the silhouette of a tall wind mill set against the reddest soil I have ever seen in my life. It’s just an image that has always stayed with me.

(4) Take some children to Disneyworld in Florida. Cheesy? You bet – but the sight of a small child’s face when they see Mickey, Minnie or Donald for the first time is a really wonderful thing, however cynical you may be.

(5) Go star gazing in the southern hemisphere – try Namibia or outback Australia. Just somewhere far away from light pollution. It will blow your mind.

(6) Do a safari in as remote a place as possible. I was very lucky to be in northern Zambia a few years ago (north Luangwa). In the middle of the night a hyena let our a scream about ten feet from where I was sleeping that put the hairs on the hairs on the hairs on the back of my neck on edge, and they didn’t come down for about six months. And the same trip I went up in a microlight first thing and saw lions yawning as they woke up and swooped over a pod of hippos. Expensive, very; magical, definitely.

(7) Drive through small town America. As Brits we tend to go for the “big names” even on third or fourth trips to the States but I have done driving trips in Missouri, South Dakota, Utah and Tennessee and there’s heaps more to do in “smaller name” states than you’d think, above all unbridled hospitality when they hear an English accent. Stay in a non-chain motel with slightly sticky carpets. Have those eggs over easy. Yes your waitress really is called Betty Sue. Now y’all come back ya hear.

(8) Iguazu Falls. I’ve been to a few waterfalls and it was always “yep, pretty impressive, snap snap snap with the camera, OK now back on the bus”. But Iguazu Falls are different. Wow. Amazing. Wow. I was there three days and could have stayed longer. Did I mention “wow”?

(9) The Taj Mahal in India – for me, the only man made structure that lives up to the hype and then some. I mean the Sydney Opera House certainly gets points, and I love the Chrysler Building in Manhattan but I don’t remember being wowed by the Great Wall of China (was it the Mastercard advert hung on the side of it?)

(10) New York. Full stop.

 

 

38 year old Tom Rixton is a Dorset-raised, Argentina-based DJ and record producer. Along with his wife Patricia he owns and runs Home, THE coolest hotel in Buenos Aires, and my go-to whenever I’ve stayed in the Argentine capital – contemporary, friendly, good value, a breakfast that will fill you up for the day, and all in all highly recommended.

I have to lay my cards on the table, BA is one of my absolute favourite cities on the planet. Argentinians (or is that Argentines?) are great people and stupidly good looking; when the Spanish & Italian migrants went down there, it seems they criteria for entry was based purely on cheek bones. But it’s been four years since I was last there so I thought I’d catch up with Tom when he was in London recently to get the low-down on his adopted home town’s coolest spots.

Tom Rixton

Where should I be drinking right now?

Frank’s is a members-only’ish bar in Palermo Hollywood – you need a code to dial in the phone box for the secret door to swing open, but Patricia or I can get that for you. I love the Oak Bar at the Park Hyatt in Recoleta too – it’s just pure, old-world glamour where the walls are lined with 17th-century oak that was brought back from France in the 1930s. Belushi is another winner, as is Tiki Bar.

Portenos seem to stay up even later than Spaniards – when is too early to go out?

If you have dinner at 8.30 your only dining companions will be American tourists. I’d say aim for dinner from 9, hit the bars around 11 and never ever go to a club before 1 or 2am.

Downtown Buenos Aires

Where can I find the best steaks in town?

Don Julio, which also has a great sommelier; Azema, above all for the fillet; El Puestito del Tio (more of a sandwich kiosk- ask for a choripan) and, as I’m a die-hard Boca Juniors fan (“la mitad mas uno”), I’ve got to add Kike’s place at their stadium – he used to be head of their barra brava supporters, and his reward is the only parilla in the actual stadium itself.

Forgive & forget nothing - it wasn't a bloody goal!

Are Palermo Soho & Palermo Hollywood still the go-to neighbourhoods for tourists for shops and bars etc? What are some other up and coming areas?

Villa Crespo is the new area – great cafes full of hipsters but not so much nightlife yet.

Any cool new local bands I should be looking out for on YouTube?

Placer; Emisor, Un, Tongo, Juli en las Rocas, Trasvorder, Coco, El Dependiente and Travesti – although be careful with that last one on YouTube; it means transvestite so not sure what might pop up.

Are the “Closed Door” restaurants (chefs cooking in their own homes for the public) still popular?

Yes definitely – Casa Felix has been on the scene for a few years and is still going very strong. Then there’s a great one run by Christina Wiseman, originally from New York City, and another new one called 12 Servilletas with Ernesto Oldenburg, who is one of Argentina’s top food writers.

Palermo neighbourhood

If I want to practice some tango, which milongas would you recommend?

Parakultural in Salon Canning – Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays from 11pm. They usually have a band, there is always good energy, it’s great for all ages and it’s tourist friendly. Or La Catedral on Tuesdays from 11pm =- old chairs, and post-punk/neo-goth oddities on the walls. Attracts a young crowd and again foreigner-friendly. Nino Bien on Thursdays attracts many stars of tango. Then there’s Sunderland if you’re around on Saturday evenings after about 11.30pm – it’s actually a basketball court but there’s a really good quality of dancers.

What’s your favourite day trip out of town?

Fly fishing with The Masters of the Fly in San Pedro (north west of Buenos Aires) – the main catch there is dorado but last time I was with my dad I caught piranhas, which was just amazing.

What about shopping? Where do you get your cool threads?

Correa is an exceptional shoemaker – Howard Hughes’ son recently bought 16 pairs there for a cool US$8,000. For men’s fashion, Hermanos Estebecorena always hits the spot, then there’s the likes of Felix, Bolivia and Balthazar. As for ladies’ stuff, you’re asking the wrong man but I know my wife gets a lot of her clothes from Lupe.

Gracias Tom!

www.homebuenosaires.com

Argentina Tourism , LATA

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