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Things to do in Buenos Aires

December 26th, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

With our four-year anniversary this week, Suzanne and I were thinking back to our wedding and honeymoon. Also, a number of friends of ours have visited Buenos Aires over the years, so we thought we would take a little time to note some of our favorite attractions.

Follows is a brief list if some shopping and dining recommendations from memory. I will add more when I get a chance to find our old guidebooks to figure out other off the beaten path suggestions.

Currency

Making purchases in Argentina is an interesting experience. Since the Argentine Peso was pegged to the US Dollar for some time, businesses will accept payment in dollars, and since we arrived not long after the collapse of the Argentine Peso, some preferred payments in US Dollars, at least during our visit.

One of the first things we noticed when shopping in Buenos Aires is the Argentines use the same symbol for currency we do in the US ($), though when we visited, the exchange rate was 3.3 Argentine Pesos to the US Dollar.

What confused us at first was everything was priced at what we would consider a reasonable price in dollars; a can of soda at the corner store listed as $1, a bottle of wine at the market for $6, a cashmere sweater was listed as $60. These were all prices in Argentine Pesos, so it was like finding everything on sale for 70% off! I believe the Argentine economy has recovered some since the spring of 2004, so the deals are likely not what they once were.

Dining

Cabaña Las Lilas
Alicia Moreau de Justo 516 (Puerto Madero)

What is considered one of the finest restaurants in Buenos Aires, Suzanne and I enjoyed what was, if not the best, the fanciest meal of our trip.

Cabaña Las Lilas serves what is thought of as the quintessential Argentine dish; grilled beef. Everything (including sides for the entrée) is a-la-carte; Suzanne and I split one of their signature dishes, Baby Beef 800gr., along with Puré de Calabaza (Mashed Pumpkin) and Verduras Salteadas (Sauteed Vegetables).

We accompanied the meal with a wine selected by the Sommelier. As a note, the most expensive bottle on the menu at that time was $200 (Pesos), so I was prepared to go with whatever he suggested, and I recall it being a more modest $80 (Pesos).

We completed the meal with Suzanne’s favorite, Panqueque de Dulce de Leche con Helado de Crema (Caramel Pancake with Cream ice cream).

While we split a serving of each, and shared a bottle of wine, we were quite contented at the end of the meal. With tip, I believe the total was about $330 (Pesos) or about $100 with the favorable exchange rate.

Shopping

Poppy’s Leather Garments Factory
930 Florida Avenue (not at street level)

Argentina is well know for leather goods, and Suzanne and I planned to buy leather jackets as our be splurge on the trip. Suzanne did some research before we left the US, and decided on a small factory/retailer.

Poppy’s is not at street level (you have to go up an elevator to get to their floor), so while a bit harder to find, the less expensive space allows for a more competitive price on their goods.

The small showroom contained an extensive selection of styles, types of leather, and colors to choose from. You can buy off the rack, or if you have a few days, have an item altered, or even custom made.

Suzanne and made our selection, had a fitting, and returned two days later to pick up our coats, which we were very happy with. If I recall, we got a middle grade of leather, and paid around $150.00 (US Dolars) each. That was back in 2004, so prices may well be higher now.

Kelly’s
Paraguay 431

Two blocks from Av Florida we found Kelly’s, a shop with a very large selection of reasonable priced Argentine handicrafts of wool, leather and wood. In addition to typical gaucho products and mate gourds, we found an intriguing selection of crafts by Argentina’s indigenous people, including fabrics and carvings.

Suzanne and I stocked up on hand woven alpaca scarves, and hand carved animal “masks.” The scarves varied in price based on the material, and cost between about $10 and $100 (Argentine Pesos). The carvings were between $20 and $100 (Argentine Pesos). With the great exchange rate, I think we spent around $120 (US Dollars) for ten masks, and four scarves.

Silvia y Mario
M.T de Alvear 550

One block over from Kelly’s, Suzanne and I did some clothing shopping at Silvia y Mario. Like Poppy’s, this is another factory direct store, though much larger, and with an extensive line of cashmere, in addition to leather goods.

The cashmere sweaters we looked at were of better quality than most we saw at the tourist shops on Av Florida, and not that much more expensive. I have read that cashmere is a little different in Argentina, and made from a combination of sheep and goat wool.

If I recall, we paid around $20-$25 US for sweaters, and after almost four years of wear, mine are all in great condition (I bought four, while Suzanne bought one, and we gave a few as gifts to family members).

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