The first thing that came to mind when arriving to Buenos Aires and officially beginning our round the world adventure is that the greatest part of travel is not the many wonderfully different places you see, rather the people you meet. This thought was pleasantly in mind when we were met by our good friend, Eduardo, at the E-Z-E (the fantastic initials betrothed to Ezeiza International Airport –not a posthumous honor to the great NWA rapper, Eazy-E.)
It was awesome being back in the former city we called home. It was, in many ways, exactly how we had left it: loud, assertive, curious and absolutely enthralling. Four years, however, do not pass without change. The most obvious change was the prices. Inflation has taken its toll all over the city. The prices we once knew are now considered laughable. Even with the dollar strengthening significantly against the peso (3.8 pesos to 1 USD compared to 2.9 pesos to 1 USD in 2005), this was not even close to offsetting the inflated prices. The same apartment we let in 2005 was now more than double the monthly rent. It took a week or so before we got accustomed to the new prices, but eventually we acquiesced. I would not have been so discouraged by the new price changes were it a result of the Argentine economy improving and providing more for its citizens. However, this is not the case. Salaries have not increased at anything close to the pace of inflation. It’s a struggle and constant grind for the Portenos to afford the escalating prices.
The less obvious, but more exciting, change is the growth of the Palermo neighborhood. As is the case in many instances, crisis tends to breed opportunity. The chic, trendy and bohemian divisions of the greater Palermo area are prime examples of this. Palermo Soho, Hollywood and Viejo, once spotty neighborhoods, are now chalk full of hip bars, cafes and boutique shops. The spots have been filled in with the requisite supermarkets and corner stores that every neighborhood needs. For Chicagoans, fast-forward four years and look around Wicker Park to note the change.
We made the most of our time there, renting an apartment for two weeks and catching up with old friends on day trips outside of the city and over coffee and medialunas at city cafes. We even squeezed in a 10k race in Puerto Madero to work up an appetite for a Sunday asado, or barbeque. We also had the fortune of timing our visit with our fellow round-the-world traveling friends, Greg and Ashley over at www.FollowOurFootsteps.com, and friends from Chicago. We took full advantage and spent some rowdy nights doing what I do best, drinking and eating. We made it back to our old haunts and found new ones. And we took advantage of the auspicious spring weather to explore BA’s fabulous parks, including the Rosedal.
I can’t recommend the Argentine capital enough. In good times or bad, this is a world-class city. For its incredible steaks, wine, design, people and, most of all, its tremendous energy, Buenos Aires is a must-see for any around the world traveler.