We spent a few days in Buenos Aires between our Viking South America and Antarctica cruises. We really liked the city. More importantly, we felt safe. We were able to walk around the city without any more worry than we’d have walking around New York.
Probably one of the best-known, or at least the most recognizable, neighborhoods in Buenos Aires is La Boca. La Boca has a rich cultural history. The houses and retail shops are brightly painted. From what I’ve read, this was due to a 1950’s effort to revive the district.
The neighborhood is home to the Boca Juniors football (soccer) team. There was a lot of soccer paraphernalia out, as Argentina had just won the 2022 World Cup. You can see their hometeam jerseys on some of the characters staged on the balconies.
In 1884 the all-volunteer Fire Brigade of La Boca was founded. It was necessary because the neighborhood of La Boca was deemed not relevant to the larger district of Buenos Aires and therefore, firemen would not make it to La Boca in a timely manner. Murals, as seen in some of the photos below, depict the great appreciation that the district has for those who volunteer their services as firemen.
On our last evening with Viking, we participated in an Argentina Dining Experience excursion. We had a ton of fun making empanadas, Alfajores, and Mate. Believe it or not, I had never eaten an empanada until my visit to Argentina. It is quite yummy. My favorite part of the meal though was the Alfajores cookies, which are sandwiches made out of buttery shortbread cookies and creamy milk caramel. The delectable cookie sandwich is then rolled in coconut and dipped in melted chocolate. My mouth waters just thinking about them.
The Mate was OK but I don’t think it would be something that I’d drink often, even if I lived in Argentina where it is deemed the most popular beverage. Mate is a caffeine-rich herbal drink made from dried leaves called yerba mate and then mixed with hot water. You drink the Mate through a metal straw, known in Argentina as a Bombilla.
In addition to enjoying some great Argentinan food, we had a great time being enentertained by our young hosts. They were quite the comedians and kept us laughing.
One of the most unique places to visit in Buenos Aires is the Recoleta Cemetery which houses over 6,400 statues, coffins, and crypts. Most of the crypts and gravestones are huge baroque masterpieces. I could have spent days there taking in the details of each. Many of them are stunning, and each tells a story. Many of Argentina’s rich and famous residents of the past are buried in this labyrinth city of the dead. Families of those buried here must pay to maintain the crypts. If they stop paying then the crypts fall apart. You’ll see some that have been subjected to ruin in a few of the photos below. I had a hard time picking out the best photos so I decided to just upload a slew of them into a slideshow. I hope you enjoy them and find the cemetery as interesting as I did.
The most interesting thing we did was to take a private tour of the Paraná Delta. The Paraná Delta is the delta of the Paraná River. It consists of several islands known as the Isles del Paraná. For reference, a river delta is a landform created by the deposition of sediment that is carried by a river and enters slower-moving or stagnant water. The size and shape of a delta is controlled by the balance between watershed processes that supply sediment, and receiving basin processes that redistribute, sequester, and export that sediment. Here is an aerial view of the Paraná Delta, downloaded from Wikipedia.
We caught a taxi boat in Tigre and toured the river to the house of Ariel & Flavia. The ride up the river took about 40 minutes. The first section of the river is bustling with other boats. There are many houses and restaurants along the river in this section. The latter part of the river is much quieter. The houses are farther apart and boat traffic is minimal. Groceries, water, propane, and anything else you need, are delivered by boat. You don’t want to forget to order what is needed, as getting to a grocery store is quite an ordeal.
As mentioned, we started our taxi cruise in Tigre, shown at the bottom of the photo below, and worked our way up to the point titled ‘Day on the Delta.’
Our hosts made us a wonderful lunch, which we ate out on their dock.
After lunch, we took a stroll around the grounds behind the house. It is a beautiful, quiet area. I had fun photographing some birds and a dragonfly along our walk.
After our walk, Ariel gave Charlie and me, along with Juan, a ride on his boat. We toured farther up the narrow waterway to the Paraná River. When we returned to Ariel’s boat dock I handed my camera equipment to Charlie and during that time my iPhone fell into the river, which as you can see from the aerial photo above, is brown and full of sediments. I thought it was gone forever. However, Ariel jumped right into the water, which was about 3-4 ft deep, and swept his hand gingerly along the bottom of the river until he came up with my phone, which was still working. I was so grateful for his quick reaction and his kindness. I don’t know what I’d have done without a phone, knowing that I was about to depart for our Antarctica cruise in just a couple of days!!!!
We ended our afternoon on their back porch with tea and music. Ariel is a gifted bandoneon player. Charlie even gave the instrument a try.
Our day in the Delta, spent with Juan, Ariel, Flavia (Ariel’s wife), and Flavia’s good friend (I really wish I could recall her name), was an amazing experience. It was relaxing and provided us with some great memories of our visit to Buenos Aires.
We spent another day with our guide, Juan, on a personal tour around Buenos Aires. Below is a slideshow of the highlights of that tour, as well as photos from an all-day self guided tour that Charlie and I did.
Palacio de Aguas Argentinas (Water Palace) Palacio de Aguas Argentinas (Water Palace) Argentine National Congress Hilton, where we stayed ARA Presidente Sarmiento Ship Museum Kirchner Cultural Center Interior of Palacio Barolo Interior of Palacio Barolo Interior of Palacio Barolo Interior of Palacio Barolo View from Torre Monument View from Torre Monument Torre Monument El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore Argentine National Congress The Casa Rosada houses the offices of the Argentina President Casa Rosada (Pink House) Monument to General Manuel Belgrano Old iconic building Libertador Building – Ministry of Defense
We had a fabulous lunch at a very popular pizza restaurant. Guerrin pizzeria has been in business since 1932. I can certainly see why, as the pizza was delicious! Our pizza was topped with Faina, a thin bread made from chickpea flour. Fiana is a customary accompaniment to pizza in Argentina.
Another memorable dining experience was at the Grand Cafe Tortoni. This cafe was founded in 1858 and has seen a large number of high-profile visitors, such as Albert Einstein; the King of Spain, Juan Carlos de Borbón; Robert Duvall, and many famous artists and writers. It was fun checking out the photos and memorabilia displayed around this iconic restaurant.
Of course, we had to attend a tango dance, since we were in Argentina. It was entertaining.
Well, that sums up our visit to Buenos Aires. I’m so happy that we had a few days to explore the city and the Paraná Delta. We left with a ton of wonderful memories.