When I started 'A CITY A WEEK...' it had a slightly longer name: 'A CITY A WEEK AND WHY...'. As a working title it quickly felt too long but as a rationale, it is still a guiding principle. I always hope to highlight the why this or that place is worth a visit.
I was reminded of this this past week when in Buenos Aires with travel planning partner extraordinaire, Kristin Peterson Edwards of KPE ARTS.
As I mentioned in last week’s post—I am in love! Move over London, Berlin or Venice. There’s a new city on my mind and its initials are ‘BA’.
What makes any place special can never be fully answered in the absence of a visit. There is just too much that can’t be imagined without the benefit of firsthand experience.
The odd thing about Buenos Aires though is it is a lot like other places--in a good and very beguiling way. It’s a beaux arts city to rival Paris. It’s physical vastness means that this elegance feels like DNA—not a block here or a district there but preserved enough to be clustered around elegant squares and plazas throughout the city.
Its charm, though, is not just in its physical beauty but in how it feels to be there—and how it feels is great. Buenos Aires is very, very livable. There are certain economic oddities about life in Argentina to be sure--but we heard again and again from Portenos of all stripes that they truly love living in their vibrant, beautiful city—in fact, they would not consider living anywhere else.
So that’s the backdrop—gorgeous and livable—but there is so, so much more to love. The food scene is terrific. The ‘closed door’ mainstay Casa Saltshaker; the elegant Roux; the wonderful waterside Cabanas Las Lilas or the crazy good I Latina. All excellent and overflowing with energy. That’s just a starter list, btw...
The shopping? I am convinced that BA has some the best shopping on this planet. There are some of the usual suspects--both luxury and fast fashion brands--but what really distinguishes this scene is its originality. Argentina is far, far away from so much and its economics make importing expensive. The response to these combined realities is an explosion of interesting well-designed goods from the ‘well-priced’ to the ultra-luxe. Here’s a short list: Cardon; Calma Chicha; Anne Bonny; Prüne; Chocolate; Ariête; a whole wonderland of specialty shops at the various Bullrich locations; the best museum gift shop ever at MALBA and a fine local crafts weekend market in Recoleta. Honestly, I’m just getting started. I would go back just to shop…the leather goods alone are the most swoon-worthy I may have ever seen… (A brief word about pricing lest one risk death by sticker shock when pursuing these links. '$' is the symbol for both the dollar and the Argentine peso. The actual rate of exchange? It is surprisingly fluid. Currently, it ranges from 9 to 15 pesos to the dollar...)
The contemporary art scene is equally fresh and original with fine museums and galleries throughout the city. Latin American photography in particular is enjoying a well-deserved surge in international interest. Thanks to the extraordinary Rolf Art, we experienced some of Argentina’s best with a gallery visit with Adriana Lestido and studio visits with Santiago Porter, Nicola Constantino and Gabriel Valansi. A day of pure pleasure and overflowing with talent.
We stayed at Hotel Mio—a big thumbs up on that choice both for its boutique charm and its excellent location--and we drank lots of Argentine Malbec—maybe a little tiny bit too much Malbec—but every glass was excellent from the humblest house to the most expensive splurge.
I know I always say it but this time I mean it in a whole new way: ‘Go’. You will love it. Really.