By Christopher A. Pape
If you’re going to take a Cruceros Australis trip to Cape Horn, you’ll either begin or end the cruise in Argentina. While there, don’t miss your chance to see South America’s largest and most cosmopolitan city—Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital city, a place that reflects a rich and widely diverse European heritage.
A thoroughly cosmopolitan metropolis, Buenos Aires is situated on the southeastern coast of South America, edged by the Rio de Plata, or River of Silver—a name befitting the sparkling waters standing beside the world’s classiest cities.
One of the 20 largest capital cities in the world, Buenos Aires is often ranked as one of the most attractive international cities, which is why some travelers call it the “Paris of South America” for its dramatic architecture and rich cultural attractions. Many people claim it looks like Barcelona—others say is reminiscent of Mexico City, and others say it has something so Italian about it, too, perhaps because of the obvious influence of its many Italian immigrants.
Whatever you see or do in Buenos Aires, you’re bound to love it—for the city welcomes more visitors each year than any other in South American, including Rio de Janeiro, and is a top vacation destination.
Locals, called “Porteños,” or “People of the Port,” often consider themselves more European than South American, and many speak Spanish, English and Italian, and they welcome English-speaking visitors.
While you’re there, be sure to seek out the things for which Buenos Aires and Argentina are best known—such as the music and culture of Tango, the way of life of the traditional Argentinean “gauchos,” and the glorious art, architecture, cafés, shops, parks, fountains, and natural wonders. Search for the soul of Buenos Aires, and you’re sure to find it dancing the Tango in the streets.
A tango lesson, dinner and a show at Tango Porteño is a must when visiting the cradle of Tango, Buenos Aires. Tango Porteño re-enacts the sexy and glorious golden age of Tango, the 1940s, in a venue that once housed a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cinema. The Tango show held here each night could rival any Broadway revue, featuring Tango dancers, singers, and a world-class orchestra. tangoporteno.com.ar
Barrio La Boca
This popular south-east-side neighborhood, which rests at the edge of Buenos Aires’ old port, retains a strong European, and more specifically Italian, flavor, with many of its early settlers being from the Italian city of Genoa. Resting at the mouth, or “boca” in Spanish, of the Riachuelo or Matanza River, the neighborhood is popular with tourists for its colorful houses and its famous pedestrian street, the Caminito, where tango artists perform in outdoor cafes. With its share of souvenir shops, it may seem a bit too touristy for some. However, it’s a pleasant place to enjoy an espresso in an outdoor café and enjoy music and Tango..
Eva Perón’s Final Resting Place in La Recoleta Cemetery
The BBC calls the Recoleta Cemetery one of “the world’s best cemeteries”—and certainly its large marble monuments and above-ground tombs are impressive. Of all the ostentatious tombs here, Evita’s is fairly unassuming. The former First Lady of Argentina is buried in the Duarte family crypt, which stands sandwiched between more impressive mausoleums. Follow the crowds to this spot where a small plaque is the only indication that the “spiritual leader of Argentina” rests there. Hum a few bars of “Don’t cry for me, Argentina,” and move on to see some of the more ornate mausoleums there.
This central business district neighborhood, or barrio, located in the east side of Buenos Aires, is home to some of the most important most beautiful buildings in Buenos Aires, including its city hall, city legislature building, the Teatro Avenida, the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires and the Ministry of Defense’s Libertador building, among others. Perhaps the most famous of these is the enormous Casa Rosada, home to the Argentinean government’s executive branch, made famous for the balcony from which Eva Perón or “Evita” rallied working class crowds below in the Plaza de Mayo. Today the building is home to the Presidential Museum of Buenos Aires..
Estancia la Bamba
To learn first-hand about the Argentinean “gaucho” (cowboy) traditions of farming, ranching, equestrian activities, silver-making, barbecuing and singing, you’ll want to get out of Dodge—that is, outside Buenos Aires. Just a two-hour drive through the countryside, enjoy the romantic tradition of a real Argentinean horse ranch and enjoy a serene getaway stay at Estancia la Bamba, a historic five-star resort property where guests can watch a Polo match, dine on Argentinean barbecue, learn about the gaucho way of life, explore the lush grounds on horseback or by horse-drawn carriage, lounge by the pool and even meet a real-life “horse whisperer.” For an afternoon, weekend, or longer—La Bamba is Argentina at its best. la-bamba.com.ar
UCityGuides named this one of the 10 most beautiful cafes in the world. An elegant Buenos Aires coffeehouse set in the Monserrat neighborhood, Café Tortoni was established in 1858 by a French immigrant and is said to have been inspired by Fin de siècle or “turn of the Century” coffee houses of Paris. Today it features a full bar, tapas menu, and of course fine coffees. cafetortoni.com.ar.
If You Go
. To learn more about the Cruceros Australis ships and their routes, visit australis.com
. Book your Patagonia adventure, as well as trips to Chile, Argentina and other exciting destinations, through Borello Travel & Tours, borellotravel.com
. In Santiago, Chile, en route to your Cruceros Australis cruise, visit the Airport Hilton Garden Inn. hiltongardeninn3.hilton.com
. While in the area, take time for a day trip to the holistic Vik Vineyard outside Santiago in Millahue, Chile vik.cl/en
. In Buenos Aires, Argentina, enjoy a comfortable 4-diamond stay in the bright, contemporary new Buenos Aires Grand Hotel buenosairesgrand.com