A travelogue of our first trip to Buenos Aires


January 4 - San Telmo Feria and a Parrilla

Craig's picture of the day

So our new normal is to sleep in, and that's what we did again on Sunday January 4. It was hot (about 90 F), so we put on some sunscreen and headed out.

It's the quietest BsAs has been since we arrived. There was some traffic noise from Av Sante Fe, the big thoroughfare two blocks north of us, but our little street was lifeless in the early afternoon.

Still, hailing a cab was no problem. The black-and-yellow radio taxis are everywhere, and as we were locking our apartment door, one came down the street. I hailed it, New York-style, and we hopped in. We asked the driver to take us to Plaza Dorrego in the San Telmo neighborhood so we could visit the big market that takes place there on the weekends. It's a combo of arts, antiques, junk and performing artists and it's a Buenos Aires must-see, according to all the guides, blogs, etc. We're generally not market goers at home, but when in Rome...

It was definitely crowded but not suffocatingly so. I'm guessing it's because all the locals are at the beach, and lots of people aren't traveling like they used to due to the economy; I have not found BsAs to be overly-crowded in this supposed high season. New York over Christmas, Washington DC in June, Provincetown in the fall, now these are crowded with wall-to-wall people, full restaurants and packed stores.

A side street near the market...

There was, as expected, lots of leather and gaucho-related goods, like hats, purses, stirrups, and even saddles. There were also lots of antiques (and I use that term loosely) glassware, china and seltzer bottles (see Craig's pic of the day up top). I love the blue and green of those old bottles, but I like my souvenirs to be functional, and not just gather dust on a shelf. I'll have to think more about these. I'd need some CO2 cartridges to make the fizz but I'd also need a functioning bottle to put the cartridges in.

Summer hats...

We needed to get out of the heat and get off our feet, so we ducked into Bar Dorrego, right on the plaza, for some refreshment. I like the bars here - it's first-come, first-served for tables, and there was a great table for two right by the door, so I grabbed it and a waiter showed up in a bit.

It was great people-watching, both in the bar and outside in the square. We saw, for the first time, a lot of Americans, but generally there were more Spanish-speakers than anyone else. After beer and peanuts, we were ready to get back out in it.

Cold cervesa and peanuts - a great snack!

No old neighborhood in BsAs is complete without its old church, and San Telmo is no different. This is a shot of one of the towers of Iglesia Nuestra Señora de Belén.

We caught another cab home and lazed around in the early evening. We had unwisely skipped lunch (it seemed too hot to eat at the time), so driven by our stomachs, we decided to try an Argentinian steakhouse, a parrilla. Our landlord recommended Don Julio in the Palermo neighborhood, so we thought we'd try it. We showed up for dinner early (for BsAs); restaurants here generally begin serving at 8pm (no 6pm early-bird specials!), but don't really get going until after 9pm. Sure enough, we were the first people in the restaurant at 8:15pm, and by 9pm, there were three other tables occupied, all by tourists. Oh well, we were hungry!

The waiter brought us an English-language menu but spoke no English, so we did a lot of pointing. Here's what we had:

Provoleta - grilled provolone cheese with basil. This is my absolute new favorite food! What's not to like?
An arugula, sun-dried tomato and mozzarella salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Asado de tira - a half order of ribs, cut cross-wise
Asado mariposa - a big honking sirloin, butterflied
Chorizo sausage - it doesn't taste this good in Boston!
Shoestring potatoes

All accompanied by a Malbec of course, the red wine of Argentina (the only white wine this place had was champagne). We drank a 2006 Trivento Golden Reserve and it was a great accompaniment to the steaks.

We staggered out of the restaurant (now nearly full) and decided to walk home, maybe 20 blocks or so. It was 10:00 and still light out, and we knew more or less where we were going. About halfway home, we crossed Plaza Guemes, a large plaza with a larger church anchoring one end - the Basilica del Espíritu Santo. More importantly (at that particular time), there was an ice cream place next door! I had my second dulce de leche ice cream and Craig had fruitilla (strawberry). They don't mess around with ice cream here - the portions are huge. We keep ordering smaller and smaller cones, but the servers just pile the ice cream on. But we did our best to finish off our servings, providing us a sugar-burst for the final several blocks to home. We retired to our terrace to enjoy the night breeze before turning in.

From the terrace recliner...


  1. Hi there!
    I´ve also been to Argentina and I´m a big "parrilla" fan!
    During my stay at my apartment rental Buenos Aires , I used to go to the supermarket and buy meat to prepare a parrilla for me and my family!

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