Argentina: Buenos Aires, the city with many faces and many friends

With special thanks to Ludmil Radenkov, Peter Aidemirski, Nandsh Yajnik and Ivan Sharankov Jr

My Ivan lost his Canadian driver’s license on our first South American border crossing. Since then, we crossed more than 10 borders using a combination of his International Driver’s license and his NEXUS card.

If you lose your license, the only way to renew it is to go in person to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation office. If for any reason you are outside of the province or outside the country, you can apply online, but they would send your new card to your foreign address only. With our latest lifestyle, we couldn’t provide an address where to receive it. Ivan applied for his replacement license from Ecuador and used the address of our friend Ludmil in Quebec.

In Bolivia, after a few days of using some fuel barely resembling gasoline, the oxygen sensor of our poor car Fory gave up. Finding such unusual spare parts for Subaru in South America turned mission impossible. Here our friend Peter came to help. He bought the parts we needed and our friend Nandish who joined us for a few days in BA brought them to us. He also brought essentials like Lindt chocolates, Kit Kats, spices and a huge Kinder Surprise egg from our loving son Ivan.

We want to THANK YOU, boys. Without you, our trip would have been harder.

The things we love about Buenos Aires

The architecture:


I expected a lot from Buenos Aires. It was one of my friend’s favourite cities and she told me a lot about it.  I was not disappointed. With a population of more than 13,000,000, it is a huge city by any standard. Often named Paris of South America, Buenos Aires astonishes you with beautiful buildings from all architectural styles. Here, the glass and aluminum live together with Neo-Gothic and Neo-Classical buildings, and French Baroque palaces are next to art-deco houses.

We were lucky enough to have an apartment booked in the Retiro neighbourhood. It was in a building constructed in the early 20th century, decorated with stylish, antique furniture.


It was a great pleasure to have wine and cheese at the iron bar’s balcony overlooking the buzzing Avenida Santa Fe.


La Recoleta Cemetery


La Recoleta cemetery is often referred to as the largest open-air museum. It is listed among the most beautiful cemeteries in the world and contains almost 6000 vaults. All of them are above ground and 94 of them are declared National historical monuments by the Argentinian government. The mausoleums are adorned with beautiful angels and statues in different styles.

When you walk in the smaller alleys of this huge city of the dead, sometimes you can see exposed crypts, broken windows and open doors.

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They create an uneasy, ominous feeling, as the dead just wait for the sun to set and for tourists to go home… I had some anxious sleep and nightmares that night.

Teatro Colon and El Ateneo Grand Splendid


Teatro Colon is the main opera house in Buenos Aires. It is ranked as the third-best opera theatre in the world and acoustically is one of the best five music venues in the world.

The construction took more than 20 years. The theatre was designed by three architects. The cornerstone was laid under Francesco Tamburini. He died two years later at age of 45. His student Vittorio Meano took over building the theatre, but in 1904, at the age of 45, he was killed by his wife’s lover. After Meano’s death, the government appointed Belgian architect Jules Dormal, who at the time of the appointment was over 45 years old and he successfully finished the construction. The materials were imported from Europe. The interior of the theatre is white Carrara, pink Verona and yellow Florence marbles, beautiful real gold paint and nice French furniture.16265388_10154961345444371_6535422236991385727_n

El Ateneo Grand Splendid is one of the best-known bookstores in Buenos Aires and according to Guardian is the second-best bookstore in the world.

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The building was designed and opened as a Teatro Grand Splendid in 1919. It has frescos-painted ceilings and caryatids sculptures.  In the late twenties, it was converted into a cinema and showed the first sound films in Argentina. In the 2000s the old theatre became a bookstore. It is Mecca for any book lover.  We were fortunate to have our apartment just two blocks from the store, so I visited it a few times and enjoyed every minute of it.

Can you guess which book I bought here – “El Principito” or “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

San Telmo Feria


Every Sunday from 10 to 4 the oldest neighbourhood of BA San Telmo transforms into a huge open-air market drawing over 12,000 people every week. The antique dealers (my passion and occupation) were concentrated around Plaza Dorego. I spent some time looking at and recognizing familiar porcelain back stamps on the plates and beautiful bisque dolls.

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Tango dancers and jazz musicians were on every corner of the long street. This is the place to buy local crafts or art for yourself or for friends at home.

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A coffee with Nandish at the oldest café in Buenos Aires (Café Tortoni – established 1858) was a nice end of this Sunday stroll.


La Boca

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A visit to Buenos Aires is not full without a visit to the La Boca neighbourhood and the famous La Bonbonera Stadium. I was not too much into soccer, but Ivan and Nandish were thrilled to see the home of the Maradona soccer team.


The small picturesque street El Cominito is the most recognizable view in La Boca and the colourful houses are very photogenic.

The big trees


We love trees. Even more, we love big trees. Ombu is a perfect tree for public parks. It is a large Banyan-style tree growing on some of the small Recoleta plazas. It is amazing, huge, and beautiful and under its shadow, you feel like in Brother Grimm’s story tale. With Ivan, we tried to find and walk around all the Ombu trees in our neighbourhood

The Ceibo is Argentina’s national flower


Milonga or tango


Visit to Buenos Aires is not full without tango or milonga. We weighed our options and opted for milonga instead of the popular touristic tango and dinner shows. The best way to see real Argentinian people dancing in a real setting is to visit some milonga place. This is a very useful website with dates and places for milonga parties –

We don’t have too many pictures. We have been asked to retain from taking pictures but we danced our ‘real’ milonga. It was fun.


Puerto Madero


The old port of Buenos Aires looks very much like South Banks in London or Distillery District in Toronto. With the construction of the new port, old docks and warehouses fell in despair. In early 1990 the place was transformed and the old warehouses were refurbished into new apartment buildings, offices, shops, cafes and restaurants.  The streets in Puerto Madero are named after women names.

The Puente de la Mujer (the woman’s Bridge) is the newest link that connects the east and west sides of the docks. The place is beautiful and vibrant during the day, as well as, at the night.

Tigre and Parana delta


Our last day in Buenos Aires was left for a visit to Tigre and a little cruise to the Parana delta. The small town and the delta is the place where wealthy Argentinians escape during the hot summer days. It looks very much like Kawartha cottage country with beautiful small houses, green yards and boats at the docks. The only difference is the water. The water of the Parana river often is described as nice latte colour, but Ivan defined the colour in a more naturalistic way. As a matter of fact, the water is not dirty at all, it’s just muddy because of the rainy season in the colour of the soil.

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We did well, didn’t we?



  1. Thank you so much for having me along for Buenos Aires! It was indeed something I will treasure forever.

    An experience I hope to repeat somewhere else later on in the trip.

    With love!

    Nandish (on my birthday…you must be thinking of me).


  2. It would be fun to have seen Ivan dancing the tango live… I have no doubts about Marinela though 🙂
    Can’t wait to see you in Colombia guys


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