Air New Zealand is launching direct flights from Auckland to Buenos Aires in December, so they invited me to scoot over (on LAN via Santiago for a layover, I lament) to check out some of the best things to do there.
Here are my picks for the first time visitor to Buenos Aires:
See a football game!
Football is a passion here with 30 teams in Buenos Aires at more than 30 home stadia across the city. However you’ll never get a ticket as season passes are sold out! But never fear, go with a couple of hard-case tour guides who will “rent” you a membership card for the night and prepare to chant your head off, swing your shirt and become staunch fans.
I went to a Boca Juniors game, Diego Maradona’s club, and the atmosphere was like a Rugby World Cup match – every week!
Take a Tango lesson
Of course one must learn to tango when in BA, so because I had never worked my feet in such fashion before, I went to a lesson followed by an appearance at one of the many milongas in town.
My instructor was an Irish man named Gerry and his Argentinian wife Lucia (here’s my post about my lesson with pics!) But if you don’t want to dance, I’d still recommend popping along to a milonga just to drink in the vibe. Be aware that they don’t get started until 11pm at the earliest.
Learn how to play polo
Being terrified of horses, I was not looking forward to my polo lesson, but it was actually brilliant fun. The ponies are trained to teach novices like me. We met the horsey set at Puesto Veijo ranch and watched a game, then donned our gear to look the part and tried hitting the ball around for an hour or so.
If you’re more of a pro then me, you’ll love the option of staying in the 10-room hotel here and having lessons each day and games each afternoon. Or do what I did and just have fun! (See my post on my polo lesson here>>)
Empanada cooking class
I love to learn to cook local food on location, so it was with great delight that I found myself kneading dough and dicing fillings to make scrumptious empanadas – the South American version of the Cornish pasty. If learning to barbecue Argentinian style is more your thing, you can do that too at Cook Abroad classes.
Argentina’s queen of hearts is undoubtedly Eva Peron, or Evita, as she was affectionately known. Her legacy and death at the age of 33 is shrouded in mystery and just enough skulduggery to shine intrigue over her resting place.
A tour of the elaborate tombs at Recoleta Cemetery is a fascinating insight into what became of Evita and her final resting place after her body had been stolen and was discovered in Milan.
Visit La Boca
This is the colourful neighbourhood you’ve seen all the famous photos of. The buildings are wooden and it’s all higgledy piggledy as owners would paint their houses from the left overs that came in at the docks at the end of the street. This is very touristy, but don’t let that put you off because it’s where you’ll find local art, tango dancers hoping for a peso to pose for a pic and the colour and culture of this bohemian quarter.