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Buenos Aires… a taste of Paris

February 12, 2010
The waterfront in Buenos Aires

The waterfront in Buenos Aires

After our adventures in Rio it was off to Argentina and the sophisticated city of Buenos Aires.  We arrived late in the afternoon and checked into our hotel.  That evening we set out for Cabana Las Lilas, a large parrilla (steak house) in the Puerto Madero neighborhood.  Las Lilas is in a restored brick warehouse in the old port area of Buenos Aires, an area transformed into a bustling district of restaurants oozing with charm.  The photo above gives you some idea of the port area with all the sailboats moored along the edge of the harbor.    

Cabana Las Lilas

Cabana Las Lilas

Las Lilas is the top steak house in Argentina according to various sources including the New York Times. Argentina has beef that rivals the US, but it is range fed with less chemicals and hormones.  So, some have claimed Las Lilas is the best of the best.  I do not want to start a debate…  We invited some people we met to go with us, a woman from DC and a man from Italy and Slovakia (he now lives in New York and travels all over the world on business.)  

Steaks on the Grill

Steaks on the Grill

We ordered large rib eye steaks – pink in the middle – thick and juicy.  Our table was outdoors on a patio facing a most charming harbor.  The smell of the place was unbelievable.  We arrived early and the wait was an hour and a half just to get in.  But, it was so good it brings tears just to think of it.  Our traveler companions have dined in cities from Moscow to Beijing, every major city in Italy and all about Europe, many cities in Africa, Central America and South America.  You get the idea.  Our group voted Las Lilas the best.  The Italian in our group had taken many cooking classes in very high-end hotels and he could not figure out their secrets to a perfect steak.  We left well after midnight and people were just being seated.  A great day and back to the hotel around 1am.  Hmmm, this vacation stuff is addicting.  

Casa Rosada (The Pink House)

Casa Rosada (The Pink House)

The next day was our day to explore Buenos Aires, the great city of 13 million Portenos (people of the port).  The city is situated along the Rio de la Plata (silver river) and is a port with ready access to the Atlantic Ocean.  The city has an elegant feel with architecture similar to Paris and is widely acknowledged as the Paris of South America.  At times I felt like I was on location with a movie shoot as I wandered the streets in the business district and the cultural areas.  Look one way and here was a steady stream of slender women, ever so chic, clutching their Louis Vuitton and sipping an espresso.  And the men were quite dapper in their classic suits with snappy shoes.  It seemed like any moment Humphrey Bogart would step from the shadows and give that half-smile; then his elegant co-star would step out from the wave of beautiful women walking down the sidewalk.  She would acknowledge his smile and they would embrace.  This is no back-water city.  

The Cabildo

The Cabildo

Our tour of the city took us to many places including the Casa Rosada (Pink House) where Eva Peron gave the rousing speeches in the 1950s.  Nearby was the Cabildo, the government house during the colonial times of the Viceroyalty of the River Plate.  It was first built in 1610.  The city has a grand feel with many parks, monuments, magnificent fountains and wide avenues.  One of the more unique sites was a large stainless steel tulip with motorized petals that open during the day and close at night.  It must have been 50 feet high.   

A large stainless tulip sculpture

A large stainless tulip sculpture

Traffic in Buenos Aires is substantial to say the least!  Ave 9 de Julio is the main boulevard running through the city.  An ocean of cars stream up and down these 19 lanes and pedestrians are thankful for the grass median in the middle.  It is a safe haven for those who cannot completely cross all lanes within the time alloted by one green light.  Crossing this street is a must for the daring!  🙂  And our cab ride was an adventure!  We do not know Spanish and our driver did not know English.  This was a fine compromise.  We would write down the destination and he took off.  Trust is always important in situations like this.  We eventually got to our destination and the fare was incredibly reasonable… and our driver was delightful. That’s it for now. 

There is more so share of this great city… coming in the next blog.  

Also, stay tuned for an update on the grandkids!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2010 8:23 pm

    As always, the pictures are beautiful! I now have another addition to my “Places to visit” list. In my limited travelling experience, I have found that driving/riding in cars or buses in other countries terrifying. LOL~ As for getting into a cab and not being able to communicate with the driver, very brave and trusting. Looking forward to reading more. Hope your back is feeling better.

  2. February 16, 2010 9:49 pm

    M, thanks for stopping by and thanks for your kind words. This place was awesome and the prices are so much more favorable in South America (compared to Europe, etc.) And the food was obscenely delicious. There are places you go… and places you do not. But, stay in the right places and things go smoothly. And my back is doing so much better. Thanks for asking.

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