After an exciting week one, Drew and I have started settling into life in Buenos Aires. In our former life, we were sort of homebodies and to be honest, not much has changed. We love to cook together, watch TV, & play with Posey. I know what you are thinking, this “shut-in” is writing about her adventurous travel experiences?
Determined not to fall into a similar routine, I started researching expat groups in Buenos Aires. The first result on google was a group called InterNations. I signed myself up and began searching through the site’s features. InterNations has chapters worldwide and offers smaller subgroups based on your interests. The subgroups meet up about once a month all over the city, however when I clicked to find out where the events were being located, I realized you have to pay a monthly or yearly fee to be an active member. Not ready to commit to payment, I moved onto my usual internet activity of Facebook, twitter, and TMZ.
A few days later I check out the website again and noticed that InterNations was hosting an “official” event the following day. The official events allow basic members to attend these events for a small fee. I signed us up and looked for the best way to get there. Located in Palermo SoHo, Borges 1975 calls itself a bar, theater and bookstore. We decided to walk from San Telmo to Palermo, even though it said it was an hour and half walk. I thought to myself, it’s a great way to get to know the city, but in reality I was feeling anxious about trying to navigate the subway system during rush hour.
I am not sure why I’ve been feeling more intimidated on this trip than I have on any other trip. I am very comfortable using public transportation. In fact, there have been long stretches in my life where public transit is the only form of transportation I have. While studying abroad in Florence, Italy and throughout my time in San Francisco, I was limited to riding the bus or Muni (in SF). I rode the Eurorail throughout Italy and even took an overnight train to Paris. I’ve ridden the subways in NYC, Paris, & Rome. For our honeymoon in Croatia I hardly planned our transportation before getting there. We boarded ferries and took bus to get from one location to the next, figuring it out along the way. So why am I scared to ride the subway in Buenos Aires? I have read countless articles and blog posts about how easy it is to navigate but for some reason I didn’t feel like pushing myself into an uncomfortable situation.
So we walked, a long, long ways. After 2 hours of walking, we arrived sweaty and our feet hurting. We both wished we wore different shoes but I was determined to have a good time and put myself out there. We were greeted at the front and were given a drink token. About 20 people had already arrived and were mingling in the brick courtyard. We went straight inside to the bar for our free glass of wine to loosen up a bit. We sat inside at a table as more people arrived for the mixer. After about an hour of working the room inside and we still weren’t getting any friend action. Though our legs and feet were tired, perhaps sitting down wasn’t the most approachable way to meet people so we decided to stand outside in the courtyard.
After a few minutes of standing around, the group behind us made a comment about the terrible pizza in Buenos Aires. We turned around and jumped in the conversation. We had our in!
We were immediately introduced to the group and asked about our time in Buenos Aires. We told them that we had walked from San Telmo to Palermo and they all laughed, saying “that’s how American’s like to get to know a city”. We quickly exchanged Facebook information with two guys. The first was from Vancouver, Canada, had residency in London, and was living in Sao Palo, Brazil. The other was from Buenos Aires and had just moved back from Santiago, Chile to venture into the startup world. They had met through InterNations years ago while both living in Santiago, Chile and had stayed connected over the years. We also met a stunning beauty from Poland who had also just arrived in Buenos Aires and was traveling throughout South America by herself. She had a great job that allowed her to work remotely.
Later in the evening we got to chatting with an older woman, who was from Colorado. After her divorce, she bought an apartment in Buenos Aires and has been living here for 10 years. We also got to chatting with a charismatic Australian girl, who has been living here on and off for the last 3 years. She was completely fluent in Spanish and credited it to intensive language classes the second time she moved here. The first time she moved to Buenos Aires, she taught English, which made it difficult for her to learn Spanish. She gave us a list of restaurant recommendations in our neighborhood and a good pizza place in Palermo.
We decided to call it a night and left the event around midnight. We found a radio taxi and attempted to give the driver our destination who was unable to understand us. After a few minutes of trying to communicate, we successfully gave him cross streets to more well-known streets in our neighborhood. 30 minutes later and only getting lost once, we arrived close to our house. We were so surprised that our total fare was around $10USD.
The following week, I came down with a cold. Most of the week was spent inside except for a few walks around the neighborhood. After a few days of R&R, we ventured out in search of good pizza.
Before moving here, I learned that Argentina is the third highest pizza consumer in the world per capita, trailing behind USA & Italy. Needless to say, we had high hopes for great, unique Argentinean pizza. Unfortunately, after a few attempts, we have been pretty unimpressed. While the Argentinians are happy with their style of pizza, it’s pretty bland to us. The dough is thick and not very crispy. There is hardly any marinara sauce which is then covered by a copious amount of flavorless cheese. They usually throw on some ham and my least favorite, tomatoes! They add an olive on each slice, which is really the only flavor bite you get. They top it with a bit of seasoning but I still find myself having to add salt on top, which something I’ve never had to do before!
So after a few failed attempts at stumbling into any old pizza place, Drew started searching for the best pizza in Buenos Aires. Filo was the closest, about a 45-minute walk. It was also relatively nearby the famous La Recoleta Cemetery, which I suggested we go to after lunch.
Our walk took us through the downtown district of Buenos Aires. I loved seeing all of the business men and women chatting and laughing with co-workers on their lunch break eating at trendy fast causal restaurants.
Once we arrived at Filo, where we were quickly seated. The place is quirky with bright murals, yellow table clothes and a sexy women statue. We flipped through the menu and ordered some beers and the Escotia pizza, which included yummy tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, serrano ham, pepperoncini and fresh parmesan. It was thin, crispy, rich and packed full of flavor.
After lunch we started our walk towards the cemetery. It was farther than I thought, but on our way we walk through several parks. As we walked through the gates of the cemetery, we were immediately transported back in time. The Recoleta Cemetery is a well maintained, massive and magnificent burial grounds for Argentina’s former rich, famous and military elite. As we wandered through the labyrinth of mausoleums, we noticed that tombs ranged from simple to lavish. Crafted out of granite, bricks, and stone, many of the mausoleums feature beautiful wrought iron gates, sculptures and stained glass windows. It’s incredible to see how people have honored their decreased ancestors with the finest materials.
Our trip to the cemetery actually brought up the conversation of how Drew and I would like to honored after we died. We both agreed cremation would be our preference however Drew also told me about this concept of being buried in a tree. You place your remains in an organic biodegradable pods or biodegradable urns which feeds the tree. I think it’s an eco-friendly option and wonderful way to be remembered.
If you are ever visiting Buenos Aires, I highly recommend visiting the Recoleta Cemetery, especially around dusk. It is free to visit the mausoleum and they offer free tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 am in English. For free tours in Spanish, visit on Tuesdays and Fridays at 11 am and 3 pm.
There are many famous graves at the Recoleta Cemetery, however none are more notable than actress and first lady of Argentina, Eva (Evita) Peró. The story of how her body came to be at its final resting place is fascinating. After her early death in 1952, her body was embalmed and Argentina began constructing a massive monument, where her body was intended to be laid to rest. During the creation of the shrine, her body remained in her office at the CGT building, however military dictatorship overtook the current regime and her body was lost for 16 years! In 1971 the military revealed that her body was buried in Milan, Italy and finally brought back to Argentina in 1974. You can now visit her at the Duarte Family tomb.
Do you know of any fascinating afterlife stories? Have you ever visited a cemetery on a vacation?
Please share your comments below. We look forward to hearing from you!