Welcome to a new feature: travel planning blogs! As many of you know we are keen travellers and we wanted to start sharing some of the fantastic destinations we have been to as well as share our travel photography.
There’s a high chance you’re reading this whilst getting ready to plan a honeymoon, so we thought we would start with our own honeymoon in Buenos Aires, kicking off an almost one month trip in South America. It’s worth noting this trip was in February 2015, so there may have been changes since then but where possible we have indicated if something is different. We never travel anywhere without a Lonely Planet guide, so we’d recommend checking one out and doing your research before you travel. Some of these images are with our DSLRs and some with a small point and shoot or phones for reasons explained below, but we still wanted to share lots of fab moments with you.
Honeymoon in Buenos Aires
We wholeheartedly subscribe to the idea of your honeymoon being a trip of a lifetime. What better way to start your married life, that with an adventure?
For us, having the world at our fingertips was overwhelming at first, but the continent that really intrigued us was South America, as neither of us had been anywhere near it. Choosing to start our trip in Buenos Aires came from our love of tango, and the fact that we had been having secret lessons in the build up to our wedding, so we could tango to Muse’s Feeling Good, much to the surprise of our family and friends – ok maybe Tom’s family more than anything else!
British Airways had a ridiculously easy direct flight from Heathrow to Buenos Aires was a big plus, and the fact that we could fly out at 10pm and essentially eat, watch a film then fall asleep and wake up to breakfast half an hour from landing – perfect!
As we had booked our trip with Kuoni, we had a transfer waiting for us at the airport. Even if you’re an intrepid traveller who likes to book everything separately and seek out the most unusual of travel spots, there is something to be said for buying into the luxury travel market for your honeymoon. The personal transfers are bliss when you have stepped off a 14 hour flight in a new country.
Buenos Aires has eight main neighbourhoods than can be very different. We opted to stay in the very cosmopolitan Puerto Madero district, which is right on the water, and is a chic mix of coffee shops and scrummy ice cream parlours, with old warehouses that have been turned into trendy apartments and boutique hotels.
We stayed in the upscale Hotel Madero, a contemporary hotel with spacious rooms. We arrived early for check in and were shown to the cool bar area to wait for our room to be ready. We enjoyed coffee and empanadas, a typical pasty-like snack which is delicious before heading to our room. We decided to go straight out for a walk, as the hotel is very near to the Costanera Ecological Reserve, where you can have a lovely stroll and enjoy the parakeets as they squark and dance in the trees above.
We’d been warned against taking our pro DSLRs out and about in Buenos Aires by our transfer guide, so headed out with just a little point and shoot until we had got a feel of the city, and felt comfortable walking around with them. If you’re interested this was a FujiFilm XP70 which we’d put on our wedding list for it’s underwater capability – we hadn’t ventured into the world of Go Pro at this point…
After an early night we headed out the next day to see the sights. Puerto Madero is a great base for walking throughout the city, we didn’t need to use public transport for our day to day travels. Walking along the water is a lovely way to get a closer look at the beautiful contemporary bridge, El Puente de la Mujer [Woman’s Bridge]. It has this name as many of the local streets have women’s names, but we were told the shape of it was inspired by the lines of a tango dancer, which we can totally see! It’s also definitely worth venturing out to see it all lit up at night, it’s beautiful.
One of our first stops was over to the federal district to visit the Catedral Metropolitana. Pope Francis wasn’t long in post, and this was his cathedral when he was archbishop. Although not religious, we do enjoy looking at churches wherever we travel, as they can tell you so much about the history and community of a place. We also like the sense of quiet, of peace in a church. Whilst you probably won’t spend long in here, it has many relics and artefacts from Argentinian history, so if like us you are on the way to The Pink House [Casa Rosada], it’s worth a quick pop in.
There’s no getting away from the fact that Eva Peron is a major part of the city’s history, and if like me you’ve sung Don’t Cry for me Argentina at the top of your lungs with Elaine Paige or Madonna, you’ll want to visit The Pink House, the government’s executive building, best known for being the site of the balcony Eva Peron rallied the working classes.
If you’re a fan of architecture and statues, you’ll find wondering around the city is something you can’t rush, as there is plenty to see, alongside mixed architecture and hints of conflict. There is also a great deal of street art you can’t fail to enjoy.
There is something about cemeteries abroad that are so different to UK cemeteries, and if you’ve enjoyed a stroll around Pere Lachaise in Paris then Recoleta Cemetery is for you. The most popular tomb is of course that of Eva Peron [Duarte] whose remains are with those of her family, but we enjoy strolling around, admiring the architecture and second guessing what the inhabitant may have been like. It’s definitely an interesting way to spend an afternoon but bring plenty of water with you as there is no shade.
We would have loved to get to know this person…
In the Recoleta area you will find a square with plenty of restaurants, and many of them a tourist trap. Average food for plenty of pennies but we ended up being drawn in by a couple dancing tango. We were feeling a bit weary and got tired of standing, so retreated to a seat outside La Biela (against Lonely Planet’s advice!) to enjoy a drink and a not-particularly-good salad but it was wonderful to keep watching them dance.
So given that it was Valentine’s Day, what better way to spend the evening that watching tango? We didn’t want to go to one of the big touristy shows, so after some research we had booked tickets to We are Tango, a more underground and intimate style tango night. We got a taxi (they’re fairly cheap) to a bar of which the location was only emailed to us a day or so before, and sat at a small cabaret style table with four other couples. A tango band were playing the most wonderful music with an amazing singer. We were given rich and warming Malbec (of course) and platters of meat, cheese and crostini – yum! Then two fantastic dancers came out, along with a narrator. It was enchanting and mesmerising in equal measure. After the evening’s entertainment we were encouraged to stay and drink with the band and dancers, a superb bunch and wonderful company. In the early hours we left happy and well, maybe *slightly* tipsy, but Las Cuartetas pizza helped sort that out! We’d say this evening was the highlight of the weekend and highly recommend it if you are in BA!
After another fantastic breakfast in Hotel Madero, for our last full day we walked over to the San Telmo district, and we met up with one of my old work friends for a coffee as he is from the area. It felt like there could be no such thing as bad coffee in Buenos Aires, and we enjoyed a coffee and pastry in the market hall. As it was a Sunday, there were lots of market stalls and a flea market, which we love a nose around. The buildings are colourful and the locals friendly, it’s a lovely place to spend some time.
Then we took a taxi to La Boca, the colourful district and supposedly original home to tango, home to Boca Juniors Football team, however do listen to your guidebooks when it tells you to not flash your phones or cameras, and to get a taxi in and out. It didn’t start well as we were ripped off by our taxi driver, but hey ho, that happens sometimes in travel anywhere. But after a stroll around the shops, mostly full of tourist tat, we didn’t even stay for a drink as the area was so intimidating, groups of local young men just staring at you. To be completely honest with you, we could have happily skipped it and wouldn’t have missed it. of course, Trip Advisor will show you lots of happy reviews, so if you want to go do it, just have your wits about you.
For our last night in Buenos Aires we went back to San Telmo to Gran Parrilla del Plata for some traditional roasted steak, and our huge plates of food didn’t disappoint in this small and rustic restaurant. Be prepared to wait or make a reservation in advance. After filling up enough to guarantee some meat sweats later, we headed to a milonga – an evening dance where locals turn up to flex their tango muscles. We went to Maldita Melonga with the awesome El Afronte Orchestra but there are many to choose from. The evening started at 9pm with a beginners tango class where we could put our moves to the test and learn a few more in the home of tango. Then from 11pm some performers arrived and gave us a show. In BA, the later it gets the better the dancers are, so try and stay in it for the long haul. We only had the confidence to dance in the first hour, then decided to leave the floor for the host of awesome locals who turned up. From around 1am, the standard was mindblowing – now what you would see in your local nightclub back home that’s for sure!
On our way home, we stumbled across a festival kicking off carnival season, and the done thing seemed to be to spray everyone and anyone with silly string and foam! Needless to say we got caught up in it and it was fun, but not quite as much as this guy…
All in all we absolutely loved our honeymoon in Buenos Aires, and it is an excellent way to kick off a trip to South America. We found a long weekend to be perfect, but had we stayed longer we would have loved to look into trips such as Iguazu Falls. Feel free to leave any questions or comments if you are planning your own Buenos Aires adventure!
Tune in to the next blog to hear about us leaving BA behind to head to Santiago in Chile, before heading north to the Atacama desert…
Inspired for your wedding? Remember we offer destination wedding photography too!