Hot, smelly, polluted, busy, loud…ahh, I’m back.
We arrived in Buenos Aires early Thursday morning and John and I were both working off of about an hour of disrupted sleep – we were zombies. We checked into our cute little apartment in Palermo Hollywood (one of the city’s many districts), but couldn’t get in until 1pm. We were both starving, and found a little place nearby to have some breakfast. Our Spanish is bad on a good day, so with only 1 hour of sleep we reached for something recognizable on the menu: huevos (eggs) and café (coffee) and went for it. What arrived were 2 huge plates of scrambled eggs, bacon and 2 plates of white toast with butter & jam. Delicious, but after living in a hotel for a few days, multiple meals out, way too much bread, and airplane food I was ready for some normal, healthy food.
One of the first things I like to do when I’m in a new city is check out the nearest grocery store. This gives me a good idea of what I’m working with. Luckily in Buenos Aires there are fruit & veg stands on every block. In Buenos Aires, bananas, manzanas (apples) naranjas (oranges) and pomelos (grapefruit) are readily available, and avocado, tomatoes, red peppers and butternut squash are the popular veg.
On Friday, we discovered a giant Costco-like grocery store called Jumbo, which is about a 15-minute walk from our place. I went in thinking they would have everything, but this is not the case. Argentina’s economy is not doing so well, and recently the cost of food has gone up. This is really noticeable in the grocery stores because they don’t have a lot of selection. For example, items like raisins, coconut milk, spices, whole wheat pasta, hummus, nuts, quinoa and cranberry juice (no cosmos!) are either not available or really expensive. Over the last month I’ve realized that when travelling you have to be flexible with food, and work with what you have. We ended up buying a lot of produce, brown rice, frozen peas & broccoli, local Argentinean steak & cheese, oatmeal and some whole grain bread. I’ve also noticed that I can find the ingredients to make my go-to roasted cherry tomato pasta pretty much anywhere. Friday night we enjoyed yummy pasta and a bottle of Argentinean Malbec/Syrah – so good.
We explored as much as we could on the weekend, but this city is way bigger than I thought. 3 million people live in the city core and 14 million people live in the entire city (Toronto has 2.5 million). Before arriving I read that Buenos Aires is often described as the most European of all South American cities. I can definitely see the European influences in the architecture. It’s kind of like Paris, but rougher around the edges, which gives it a more casual feel. A little too casual at times as there is dog poo everywhere! It’s also really hot here, but I can’t complain about that. We went for dinner on Saturday night at 11pm (they eat really late here), and it was still 30 degrees!
Overall, I like Buenos Aires, and I’m excited to keep exploring what this city has to offer. I also plan to take more pictures. I’ve been a little nervous to pull my camera out in public because I don’t want to be pegged as a tourist (they have a slight mugging problem here), but I’m sure I’ll get more brave as the weeks go on. For now, here’s a photo from the roof of our building at sunset. Adios!