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Thursday, April 30, 2009

MoS Goes South...

Make that WAY Buenos Aires, Argentina! For the last week, MoS Washington decamped to Buenos Aires for a much-anticipated trip to the city often called the Paris of South America. For months I've listened enraptured as friends described their trips there in near transcendental terms, wondering whether BA could truly live up to the hype. How, I wondered, could a place be so universally adored by so many different types of people? From my fellow MoS girl in Charlotte, whom I consider THE shopping authority, to my free-spirited friend from college who shared an apartment there with a tango dancer, to my nightlife-loving friends- everyone spoke equally adoringly of BA. And after six days there, the verdict is in: this city does not disappoint!
San Telmo
First thing's first: where to stay? BA has dozens of wonderful, modern, well-priced boutique hotels. Yes, you can stay at the larger hotels in Recoleta or El Centro (MoS Charlotte says amazing things about the Caesar Park in Recoleta), but I definitely loved the idea of staying somewhere a little more intimate in more of a "neighborhood." We selected the Dazzler Suites Juncal in Palermo. If you do a little research into BA hotels, you'll see something must get a little lost in translation in terms of names! Case(s) in point: Five Cool Rooms, Mine Hotel Boutique, BoBo Hotel, Glu Hotel, Vain Boutique Hotel. Adds character if you ask me!
After being stuck with hotel rooms the size of a shoebox in New York and most European cities, our room was downright palatial. We loved the decor- dark, wide planked floors, white linens, dark, angular furniture, and modern chrome and leather chairs and stools. We even had a large kitchen area with a refrigerator, sink, and stovetop. We didn't do any cooking there (cooking in BA is blasphemy given their amazing variety of restaurants), but the space was much appreciated, as was the mini-fridge for my stash of Quilmes!

Probably the first thing I noticed upon arriving in BA is that it's a dog crazy city! New York and Washington have nothing on this place. Everywhere you go, on every block, people have dogs. Leashes are pretty much optional. Labs, retrievers, pugs, mutts, hound dogs, beagles, toy dogs, great danes, even rotweilers- you name it, we saw it. Because of its proximity to several parks, Palermo is host to zillions of dog walkers. How one person walks this many dogs, I'll never know. However, with this comes a word of advice: don't take your eyes off the sidewalk when you're walking lest you encounter an unwelcome surprise. Just as leash laws don't seem to exist there, neither do picking-up-after-your-dog laws!
Some canine buddies tethered to a lamp post while their dogwalker went upstairs to collect yet another member of the posse!
While BA is a very modern city, in terms of architecture, the old is even more memorable than the new. In their crumbling splendor, the wrought iron balconies, ornate trim, tall wooden double doors, and cobblestone streets reminded me of European cities thousands of miles away. It's a really intriguing reminder of BA's rich, and Euro-centric, history.
The wrought iron balconies, crumbling old brick, and faded salmon color remind me of Venice.

These rounded balconies and tall wooden doors have a distinctly French vibe, no?
Weeping willows only add to the romantic effect.
With old doors this splendid, who needs new? I love these doors in Palermo Soho, chipped paint and all.

Even iron gates seem romantic when graced with distinctive patterns and painted coral.

How majestic is this building in San Telmo? And the (probably original) tall wooden shutters inside are the finishing touch.
Majestic is the only word that can describe the ornate work on the top of this building and above the windows. The contrast of the pale blue/green paint and the once-white stone darkened with age...magnificent.

The green shutters with the bright white building was a particularly striking combination that would look impressive on any home.

By the time we made it to the cemetery at Recoleta (the resting place of Eva Peron and many of the city's other notable families), a guard told us it was closed, which is unusual. Rats...guess we'll just have to go back! But in the meantime, check out the view through the gates. It looks like a city within a city!

American cars from the 50's and 60's are omnipresent in BA. I can only imagine it's what a trip to Havana must look like! Vintage cars aside, BA is not big on cars, literally and figuratively. Most cars are old, dinged up, and extremely small. The "fanciest" cars I saw the entire trip were one old BMW and one small Lexus! Perhaps in more suburban areas the cars get a little bigger and newer, but when driving in BA, compact and casual is key!
Coming on Monday: we'll continue our tour of Buenos Aires and talk about two of our favorite things- shopping and eating there! Don't miss it! Have you ever been to BA? We'd love to hear your favorite memories and recommendations!


Lalla said...

We had a great time in Buenos Aires last August! We stayed at the Hotel Bobo (mentioned in your post) and loved it! The people who worked there were so nice and helped us get tickets to a Boca soccer game and even sent us a Christmas Card. My favorite parts included the Eva Peron museum and Recoleta Cemetery. We loved all of the neighborhoods, especially Palermo.

We can't wait to go back!

Paloma {La Dolce Vita} said...

What a visual treat! I am dying to visit Buenos Aires. I wish my husband had unlimited vacation time and that we had unlimited funds to go everywhere we want! It seems like such a gorgeous city. The dog photo cracks me up! Apparently, there are more dog owners in BA than in any other city in the world!

goheels83 said...

I love thise post! Awesome pictures. I can't wait to read Monday's post!!! This is so interesting to me. All of the old buildings are so gorgeous. I especially like the white home with the green shutters.

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