Way Down South: Exploring Buenos Aires

Delta Business Elite ECP-ATL-SCL
Four Points by Sheraton Santiago
W Santiago
Exploring Santiago
KLM World Business Class SCL-EZE
Hilton Buenos Aires
Exploring Buenos Aires
Aerolíneas Argentinas Club Economy AEP-USH
Alto Andino Hotel Ushuaia
Exploring Ushuaia
Aerolíneas Argentinas Economy USH-AEP
Sheraton Libertador Hotel Buenos Aires
Aerolíneas Argentinas Club Economy AEP-GRU + Delta Business Elite GRU-ATL-ECP

I don’t think I can get away with starting the introduction of my exploration of a city with “Buenos Aires is one of those cities that I have always wanted to visit.” Let’s face it, is there a city that I don’t want to visit or at least a “global city” that I don’t want to visit? Buenos Aires definitely has a ton of great “old world” influenced architecture, a reputation for good eats (especially if you are carnivorous – hello steak!), beautiful city parks and spaces and more. Going into this trip, admittedly, I did not nearly as much research into the destination than I did for my other stops. Buenos Aires would not be explored to the same level as I did in Santiago, mostly as a function of my trip to Ushuaia being right in the middle of my Buenos Aires “half” of the trip. However, even with my time limited I managed to at least visit several important landmarks, eat a good dinner, and drink with the locals. Of course it would also be on my second night that I would learn of something unfortunate.

Phase 1 – Check Out The Sites
After settling in at my hotel, the Hilton Buenos Aires, it was time to do a little bit of exploring in the adjacent area (Puerto Madero) and into the historic center. I didn’t have that much time since it was already late in the afternoon and I would be going to bed very early that night to ensure that I would not miss my flight to Ushuaia the next morning. I probably should have made a hit list for things to do and see in Buenos Aires, which is something that I had not quite got around to doing prior to my trip. As such I quickly looked at a map and then headed out.

Starting off in the Puerto Madero area, I quickly checked out the area immediately surrounding the Hilton. The big draw here was the former Argentine Naval Ship ARA Uruguay which had been commissioned in 1874. I did not go aboard the vessel, but found myself taking plenty of pictures from shore.

Puerto Madero – Outside Hilton Buenos Aires

ARA Uruguay

With the sun setting, I wanted to get out of this area and over the historic center of town, which was not a far walk by any means. A good starting point from the Hilton is just to walk in the direction of the huge Argentine flag flying on the hill almost directly due West. This gets you to Plaza de Mayo, which is also where the Casa Rosada is located, or the Argentine Presidential residence.

Argentine Flag – Plaza de Mayo

Casa Rosada

North Side Of Plaza de Mayo

From there I took a stroll down Av Pres. Roque Sáenz Pena which took me towards the Obelisk, with a few side distractions as I ventured down some side streets. One of these side streets was the very touristy Florida, where you can’t step 2 ft without someone shouting “CAMBIO” into your ear; basically random people who will exchange cash at what I am sure are non-favorable rates or with other issues attached. Basically, preying on easy tourists.

Av Pres. Roque Sáenz Pena


After the Obelisk, I continued to walk around, but without any real goal in mind. I actually found the hotel I would be staying at the night after next (Sheraton Libertador Hotel), so that was convenient. I headed back to the Hilton to drop my stuff and change into different clothes before heading back out for dinner.

By the time dinner came, it was already night and in usual fashion for me I was super indecisive. I walked up and down Puerto Madero noticing how it seemed that almost every establishment was empty. I tried to look at reviews online, but that seemed to be very hit or miss. The busiest place that I stumbled on was a TGI Friday’s, but I wasn’t going to go near that for any reason.

Ultimately, I opted for Cabaña Las Lilas, which is apparently a famous steakhouse just around the corner from the Hilton. I knew I needed to have a steak here in Argentina, so I jumped at teh opportunity. The only thing is that this place is a slightly nice place and there I was sitting on the outside patio in my North Face T-Shirt. Yep, I classed that place up! The steak was very good along with much of what went with it. I even drank a glass of wine, because why not? The only thing I found ridiculous was that the baked potato that I ordered to go along with my steak was an absurd ~$10US! Was there a potato shortage in Argentina? Probably not, but it definitely is that good ol’ tourist establishment markup…to an extreme.

The Steak Dinner

At Least Sitting Outside Was Nice

I finished up dinner, which was actually a bit on the late side, so I retreated to the Hilton to get everything ready for the morning and then jump into bed.

Phase 2 – Drink With The Locals
On getting back from Ushuaia, I took up residence for one night at the Sheraton Libertador. While, I’ll touch on the hotel extensively in a few posts down the road, it really does work well for being in the middle of downtown Buenos Aires. Everything was within walking distance which was very nice.

Since I again wasted a good chunk of the day flying and being in airports, I didn’t waste any time getting back out on the streets. The first order of business? Lunch. I found what looked like a hole in the wall deli of sorts just a few blocks from the hotel. Called El Buen Libro, I saw tons of really good looking sandwiches being made and a line out the door. I knew that this was a good sign and went in knowing that there would be a high probability of language barrier issues. However, I prevailed and was awarded with my steak sandwich after a long wait (It seemed the hot sandwiches take a lot longer than the deli meat sandwiches).

Sandwich At El Buen Libro

From there, I ventured a north of the city center to Plaza Italia, which from there I ventured to a few other parks including Plaza Intendente Seeber and whatever the name of the large park across from it is called (Google Maps has a dozen names for that area, so I don’t know what to call it). It was nice late in the day to take a stroll and even stumbling on finding the US Embassy (which I guess is always good to know). It was out here that my camera ran out of juice and thus it became an evening of taking photos with my phone. A few didn’t turn out that bad.

Plaza Italia

One Of The Parks

This Seemed Out Of Place…

That night though, since it was my last night in South America, I decided to hit the town. Of course after I hit the Club Lounge at the Sheraton to get a few snacks and a free glass of wine. The first stop was a few blocks from the hotel, and surprise it was an Irish Pub, The Kilkenny. The place was pretty busy, to the level of standing room only, but I found myself a spot along the counter and ordered my two-for-one beers and enjoyed the ambiance. Unlike in Santiago, no random conversations were had with strangers; but I did get to listen to the band play for a while.

The Kilkenny

My next stop was a place that I had found online in my pre-trip planning, Krakow. Krakow, which is a “Polish bar” (I didn’t know such a thing existed in the first place) in Buenos Aires, and honestly that was most of what drove me to checking it out. Last year in Hong Kong I had found myself drinking Mexican beer in a “Canadian bar”, and so I figured I should continue that trend. It was easy enough to find and I walked between the the Kilkenny and Krakow despite there was a bit of a good distance between the two. Side Note: I didn’t feel unsafe walking the streets of central Buenos Aires at night; it wasn’t any different than many other city centers around the world. I went through a number of beers at Krakow, which they had a decent selection, and also went for some Cuban rum. Especially since you can’t get it in the US, I figured since I had seen various Cuban rums at bars across this continent, I figured that I should at least give it a try!

Krakow Bar

From there I was going to head to another establishment back near the hotel, but as I was walking back to the hotel, I had terrible news delivered to me by my brother over Facebook: our grandmother had just passed away in Iowa. That moment definitely put a damper on the evening. It would also change the dynamics for the next day as well. The funeral was going to be that Monday after I was back in the states, so I needed to start looking at my travel options.

In fact that next morning which was planned as a half day to be used to do some more exploring of Buenos Aires was more spent on hangover recovery, making phone calls to Delta, booking hotel rooms, a rental car and coordinating everything with people back home in the US. By the time I had everything together for the trip North upon my return to the states, I ran out for a quick lunch, which sadly turned into a Burger King. There wasn’t any time at this point to really go anywhere else; and thus that Burger King in the mall was the last thing I did in Argentina before jumping into the cab to head to the airport.


My time in Buenos Aires was was way too short to properly explore the city and get a feel for it. While I did see a few sights and ate a few good meals, I didn’t really scratch my itch. I almost wonder if my time would have been better spent going to Ushuaia two nights and just had scheduled Buenos Aires for one night. Obviously that side trip was part of the reason I didn’t get that experience, but as you’ll see in a future post, my time in Ushuaia was very much worth the sacrifice of not much time in Buenos Aires. Of course the other wrench in my plans was getting word of my grandmother’s passing, but even then I just don’t think I had the time required. Another factor was the departure time for my flight home; instead of taking the late night EZE-ATL non-stop on Delta, I flew back home via Brazil which meant I had flight that was 6-7 hours earlier out of Buenos Aires other airport. In conclusion, on the surface Buenos Aires seemed like an interesting city, even if there was a little bit of a cold shoulder from the locals in comparison to Santiago, but I think I will need to head back here in the future to try again. Similarly, I can’t quite add the city to my list of favorite places, but I don’t want to write it off either. Just another reason to come back to this part of South America, right?

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