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Buenos Aires - dia 1

Thursday, Dec 14th

Well, expect the unexpected, right.  I blindly stepped foot on continent number six of the year.  Having just returned from Asia just 15 days ago, I honestly didn’t have time to do much research about Bueno’s Aires before arriving.

It’s a MUCH bigger city than I expected.  Only while in the taxi from the international airport to my hotel located in Puerto Madero (an upscale area of the city) did I start to wonder about my home for the next 6 days. Google informed me that I was in the fifth largest city in all of the Americas.  Home to 15,000,000 people it’s also the largest economy in South America.

It also contrasted greatly with the calm and order of Asia.  It was a very noticeable contrast.  Traffic lanes are a simple suggestion (actually a waste of paint because they mean nothing to anybody behind the wheel).  There was a lot of honking (no, I was not driving).  More so than any other country I visited, language and signage is largely only in Spanish.

Don’t jump down my throat.  I am well aware I am visiting a Spanish speaking country and I am not an elitist that thinks everything should be available in English, it’s just an observation that language and navigation has been much more difficult here than any other spot this year.

Argentinian Spanish is also very different than Mexican Spanish.  Llamo (like Lam-o in Mexico is pronounced Jamm-o in Argentina) when you struggle to get by with one, trying to converse while converting into two languages is even more difficult.

I hit the ground running on day one.  My flight landed shortly after 8a on Thursday, Dec 14th and I was in my hotel room by 11:30.  The forecast for my time in Buenos Aires doesn’t look that great with a lot of rain predicted over the weekend, so I needed to take advantage of a partly cloudy day.

I took an Uber to the famous Recoleta Cemetery.  Wow, such beauty.  Like every tourist to the cemetery, I visited the tomb of Eva Peron, the female Argentinian that changed life and gave a voice to the labor party in Argentina

I needed to take a few minutes from the heat, so I sat at a nearby cafe that sits alongside a park and drank a Coke, ordered my first empanadas, and listened to the nearby street performers that absolutely killed it.

While the Street Art/Graffiti was noticeable in Hong Kong, the Street Performers/Musician have been totally noteworthy in Buenos Aires.  I am definitely going to need to explore that more over the next several days.

Bearings collected and ready to venture back out, I left the cafe and wandered the streets of Recoleta before taking a ride back to my hotel.

As I mentioned earlier, BA is a huge city.  Traffic is a thing.  It took 45 minutes to ride ~4 miles.  It also only cost $8 USD.  How those two things go together is unknown to me, but Argentina has been much less expensive than I would have guessed

There is also an official exchange rate and a “street exchange rate”.  I first learned of this back in the Asian adventure a few weeks ago, where my new friend Kiran informed me to use exchange houses found on the streets versus banks, as you literally get 3x the official exchange rate.

My limited understanding of why: The Argentinian economy is in a bit of turmoil, and while Argentinians generally don’t talk about politics publicly, they recently elected a new President that has caused some shockwaves in its economy and the currency has fallen drastically.  Fearful of more devaluation, the street exchange houses are betting on further devaluation so are paying a premium for US Dollars.  The larger the denomination, the better the exchange rate too.

It’s also not convenient to carry around a wad of $1000 notes, literally 93 of them in the equivalent of a single $100 bill.

Back at the hotel, I had to prep for Friday.  I am taking flights 65 and 66 of the year on a day trip to see Iguazu Falls, located on the northern boarder of Argentina and Brazil.

In a perfect world, I would spend a night up there and see the falls from both Brazil and Argentina, but time is limited so I’ll fly up early morning and back in the evening and be able to hit the ground running again on Sat in Buenos Aires.

Before I could go to sleep, I had to eat dinner.  Dinner, like many Latin American countries doesn’t start until 8p and most don’t even think about dinner until 9:30.

I met up with a new Instagram acquaintance, Carlos, BA local who recommended El Preferido.  Located in Palermo, the restaurant hub of BA, and another 30 minute Uber ride away for me, the wait to get in was an hour by the time we met and arrived.

It was definitely worth the wait.  Burrata and fresh bread, a mixed greens salad with fresh Parmesan, Papa Frites (fries) and a humongous steak for two with herb compote butter and Argentinian Pinot Noir.

Dinner finished 3 hours after we arrived.  Now past midnight, we said our goodbyes and I taxied back to my hotel where a 4:45a wake up call was pending for my day to Iguazu.

Eek.  That’s not much sleep between a red-eye flight and now a late first night in South America, but I am out here soaking it in and can sleep at some point in the future.

The company and conversation was good. We practiced some language with each other, spoke about our families and upbringings, and reveled in the delightful meal, street side under the awning at a candle lit table.

We are going to talk about the fries. The steak was grilled to perfection, as one would expect in Argentina. They are known for their beef and wines.  Both were top notch.

Carlos and I unanimously agreed the fries were the silent highlight of the meal.  They must have been soaked extensively to extract all of the starch before being friend in fresh, hot oil that made the outside perfectly crunch and the inner’s a soft, pillowy delight that can only be compared to the buttery inside of a croissant. Unsalted.  Perfection.

It’s one of those moments and memories that this year has been about - unplanned perfection.

A great first day in Argentina!

Cole from Colorado

The Continental Counter



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about me:

Hey!  I am Cole from Grand Junction, Colorado. In 2023 I stepped on all seven continents, in a single calendar year, solo!

The year continues to shape my life and my lust for travel.

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