Before I started my trip, I had already heard that Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America. However, I didn’t put an expectation behind it, I was just curious what it meant. And as with any big city, it’s best if you know locals, especially when Christmas and New Year’s Eve are around the corner. Here is where my friend Michael helped me out again and gave me the address of his parents, Ernesto and Elisabeth. I contacted them and they had no problem with having me for Christmas, which saved me from spending it in an overcrowded hostel, where it feels even less like Christmas. (It’s quite strange to be in summer during December when you grew up in the northern hemisphere.)
On Christmas eve, more of the family came over to celebrate with us. We started off with a big dinner at 9:30 pm, where everyone contributed a little bit, but in the end we still had a lot of leftovers. At midnight we switched the plates for a glass of homemade punch to watch the neighbor’s fireworks from the garden. It didn’t last for very long, because the fireworks are very expensive and people want to save them for New Year’s Eve. After that it was time for dessert. Now everyone was ready for some presents and I was chosen to be Santa Claus, picking the presents out of a big bag and giving them to the right person, which is kind of difficult when you have just met most of them for the first time a few hours ago and don’t remember all the names.
In Argentina the 26th is not a holiday, so most people have to go back to work, especially if you want to save your holidays, because 10 days per year is not a lot! So I was quite happy, when Brice and Elise arrived in Buenos Aires and were ready to explore the city with me. And it didn’t take long to realize, why this is called the Paris of South America: Wide streets with trees, old and tall buildings and a great atmosphere.
With two French people in Paris I didn’t need to worry, they had it all figured out. During the following three days we walked from the Japanese Garden to the planetarium and from the old zoo to the National Museum of Fine Arts. In La Boca we ventured through the streets with colorful Victorian style houses to its famous stadium “La Bomboneira”, which is home to one of the most popular soccer teams of Buenos Aires.
From there we made our way to San Telmo, another neighborhood with old and small houses. It has a lot of bars and restaurants, but also antique shops and an indoor market for antiquities, fruits and vegetables. Almost next door is the “Avenida 9 de Julio”, a boulevard like the “Champs d’Elysee” in Paris, with a tall obelisk in the centre and grand buildings, like the Colon theatre, on each side.
Being impressed by the displays of tango in La Boca, Elise had to get some dancing shoes for herself before flying back to France. It was a nice and fancy shoe store that had only one room, which was empty except for a big mirror on one side. Being the only customer, she still managed to keep the shop owner, her assistant and two little girls busy – or rather everyone was trying to do some work, as there was not much else to do.
After Elise and Brice had left, there was still one big event waiting for me in Buenos Aires – New Year’s Eve. I spent the day with Ernesto and Elisabeth discovering some parts of the city that I hadn’t visited before, like Puerto Madero, an old harbor area that has been revitalized with apartment buildings and offices like the HafenCity in Hamburg. In the evening we went over to Elisabeth’s brother and had another big dinner with family and friends, before watching some more fireworks.