by Carlos Melia
Buenos Aires is a city that boasts European heritage from its people, architecture and culture. It has a late and upcoming North American influence, increased by the great number of expats moving in. Despite this, it remains true to its South American flavor and traditions, mixing in a perfect balance with the characteristic drama and snobbism of the ‘porteños’ (Buenos Aires born locals). It’s a unique and lovable destination that will make you want to come back again and again.
Awarded by a rolling and informal word of mouth, its title as the Gay Mecca of South America, given Buenos Aires' open-minded and friendly attitude towards gay travelers. Unfortunately I quite disagree, for various reasons, with the Gay Mecca classification, which I think lost years ago, claimed back by Brazil. One of the main reasons is a weak gay night scene. But I do agree and think is yet, the most gay friendly city in South America. (read more)
Buenos Aires welcomes foreigners with open arms, regardless of sexual orientation, making them feel comfortable and accepted. Not for nothing, Argentina was the second country in America to approve the Same Sex Civil Unions, and last July 2010, the Same Sex Marriage Law was passed. Buenos Aires, leans towards an accepting and mixed environment, far from the old ghetto cliché. It’s for this reason that most of the gay venues have turned straight-friendly or mixed. The straight venues desperately seek and welcome the charisma, glamour and disposable income of gays. The city is enormous, therefore I took the great advice from one of my many friends who has been to Buenos Aires before, (those that play travel agents by their own tragic experiences, which in fact saves us money and time) to take a city tour while I am still jet-lagged.
(Flickr Album) Carlos Melia in Buenos Aires
It’s a great way to discover the urban jungle, following the chronicles and pace of the city. It gives me a better understanding of my hometown and allows me to identify the areas I want to see more of while I’m here. (read more)
La Boca, originally a lower-middle- class settlement that hosted ships docking from Europe, is an itinerant street academy of tango. It is home to the national sport “futbol” and “la bombonera”, the Boca Juniors stadium (the most important soccer team in Argentina).
(video) LIVE from La Boca
San Telmo is an aristocratic and vibrant commercial enclave that hosts a famous antique market every Sunday. It’s generally but not officially considered to be the gay neighborhood of Buenos Aires, with the Axel Hotel being its best example. (read more)
Plaza de Mayo and La Casa Rosada (Presidential Palace) is where you’ll find the “Madres de Plaza de Mayo” mothers (of the ‘disappeared’) against the military regime, with their characteristic white handkerchiefs, now printed on the pavement of the square. The Plaza faces the balcony of La Casa Rosada where Evita pronounced her iconic speech.
(video) LIVE from La Casa Rosada and Plaza de Mayo
(read more) Up close and personal with the Casa Rosada
Downtown is the main business and financial district, sectioned off by 9 de Julio Avenue. It’s on this Avenue that you find the famous Obelisco and the recently opened and fully refurbished Colon Theater, a must see and visit attraction of the city.
(read more) LIVE from Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires
(video) Carlos Melia at El Teatro Colon
(read more) El Obelisco and 9 de Julio Avenue
Puerto Madero is the city’s most recent real estate development, with the Calatrava’s pedestrian bridge (“The Bridge of the Woman”) crossing the river, inspired by a couple dancing tango. The area is home to the exclusive FAENA Hotel by Phillipe Starck, where you will find the best tango show and dinner in town at Rojo Tango. Also in this area you will find the Ecological Reserve.
(video) LIVE from Puerto Madero
(read more) Carlos Melia at Puerto Madero
Retiro, (a.k.a. Retire) is the main train station allowing suburbanites to commute back and forth. Here you will find the Falkland Island’s ‘ Malvinas’ Mausoleum, the Monumental Tower and San Martin Square.
(read more) Monumental Tower
After an hour and a half of a very busy itinerary it’s time for a cool and relaxing lunch. I find the perfect place at El Claustro Santa Catalina. A beautiful bistro located inside the convent of Santa Catalina, founded in 1745. It’s a true gem in the middle of the city porteña.
After indulging myself with Volta ice-cream and Alfajores (cookies stuffed with dulce de leche) I’m back on track. I burn all those calories by walking for the next hour and a half in the neighborhoods of Recoleta, visiting the Cemetery where everyone flocks to see Evita’s resting place. Your mouth will drop at the lavish and unique design of the place; it is a sight to behold and is not to be missed.
(read more) Recoleta Cemetery and EVITA Peron
(video) Cemetery of la Recoleta
From here it’s a short walk to the Design District and Figueroa Alcorta Avenue where you find the Flower (“Floralis Generica”) by Eduardo Catalano at Naciones Unidas Square. This is one of Buenos Aires’ classic contemporary landmarks. A little further on, I step into the lungs of the city: the Palermo Parks, where I take a quick tanning nap by the Rose Gardens and the lakes. I move on to the Planetarium and the Japanese Gardens before visiting the Horse Racing Tracks and Polo Fields. Close by is the King Fahd Mosque, the biggest in South America.
When the lights go out, (which in Buenos Aires happens after 2 AM) I venture into the gay nightlife of Buenos Aires with information provided by local friends I met at Beyond Martini Club, taking me on a stylish fast-track of this diverse and energetic city, which stands out for its attractive and alternative crowd. Alledgly rumors have come to my ears, that this bar has recently closed, but do not quote me on this, just rumors.
Later I carry out to Human Club, Rheo by Crobar, Amerika, Glam, Club One being just some of the options available. Lot's to cover right ? Well porteños like to stay up and party till late hours in the morning, so plenty of time.
This has been the chronicle of my first full day in Buenos Aires, and I can’t wait to see the rest of it. I’m off to bed now since tomorrow I have brunch at OLSEN Restaurant and then, the Delta of El Tigre, in the suburbs, along with many other alternatives planned such as San Antonio de Areco, to experience the real Gaucho folk style, Villa Maria Estancia on a trip back to the Belle Epoque of Buenos Aires.... I will have to tell you about this some other time or you could just experience it on your own!
(video) Carlos Melia at San Antonio de Areco
Expert insider TIP, here you have the best recipe to prepare the real Chimichurri, the most traditional and renown Argentinean sauce, that goes very well with any type of meats, bread, salads. Handed to me by the locals at San Antonio de Areco. (read more)
Looking to say I DO, now that in Argentina has recently passed the law for same-sex marriage, being the second country in America and first in South America to grant this right to the LGBT community, one more reason to visit this fantastic country and why not, maybe plan to stay forever.
(read more) Gay Wedding Planning in Argentina by Carlos Melia
Time to Tango
I always get this question, Carlos do you Tango? And the truth is I DON’T. That is why during my stay I decided to check out some shows and even venture to have my own private classes experience. (read more).
Rojo Tango Show and Diner at the flamboyant Faena Hotel and Universe, is to my point of view the best tango show experience in the city. But if you are looking of other alternative fantastice options:
El Querandi Restaurant and Tango Show
r One of the most traditional corners of Buenos Aires, offers every night moving live tango performances and classes, live orchestra. The house, dating from the 16th century, right before the foundation of Buenos Aires. You (read more)
(video) Carlos Private Tango Class
(video) Live Tango at El Querandi
(video) Live Tango at El Querandi (II)
Tango Porteño Buenos Aires
The former Cine Metro, was originally the Metro-Goldwing-Mayer MGM owned movie theater in Buenos Aires, which became famous for being the first of its kind in Argentina to have female-only hosts. Today this luxurious setting embodiment of refined ambience stages this great example of Argentinean passion for the golden ages of Buenos Aires, Tango Porteño Dinner Show. Travel in time to the age of the forties, which is unquestionably known as the reign of the tango. (read more)
My Favorite Stays
Park Hyatt Palacio Duhau Buenos Aires
My favorite hotel in Buenos Aires. Stunning property located over the charming Alvear Avenue in the heart of the French heritage neighborhood of Recoleta in Buenos Aires. The hotel is divided in two towers, linked by both beautiful outdoor garden and an underground path turn into an art gallery. (read my experience)
Four Seasons Buenos Aires
My second absolute favorite in Buenos Aires. But after the recent renovations, which still I have not had the pleasure to experience, it my rank to the top. Nested in the exclusive neighborhood of Recoleta, over the beginning of 9 de Julio Avenue, surrounded by early century French-style mansions, embassies and international prime stores, Four Seasons Buenos Aires welcomes you with their consistent and remarkable trademark service for which they are well known worldwide. (read my experience)
Landmark 1912 building fashioned in French Classical design, at the residential neighborhood of Recoleta. (read my experience)
MIO Buenos Aires
Great location over Quintana Avenue in the heart of Recoleta. Intimate, comfortable, friendly and cozy young hotel made in by Argentina. Opened in May 2011, ranked as Conde Nast Traveler’s 2012 HOT List. (read my experience)
Design CE Hotel
Small boutique hotel with a great location. The rooms have a very modern, dynamic and minimalist style created by Ernesto Goransky – owner and architect. They offer a 24 hs. breakfast service. The hotel counts with only 28 rooms, all with wide windows and fully equipped for either long or short stay. (read my experience)
New to be opened !!!! HUB Porteño Buenos Aires. I must say that Hub Porteño has catch my eye and interest, and I will name it the hotel to be watch in the next few months in Buenos Aires. Originally scheduled to open June 2012 but still delayed, will bring sophistication, privacy and style in a homemade luxury made in Argentina concept. Only 11 rooms, and amazing small urban garden terrace in the middle of the city (read my experience)
Where to Dine and Drink
Tarquino Nouvelle Argentinean Cuisine
New Argentinean Cuisine, far from the concept of molecular gastronomy, Tarquino combines the most traditional dishes and techniques and the local produce and resources, presented in a way and style appealing to the most exquisite international palate, by the signature of Chef Dante Liporace. Former Tarquino was the original name of the first Shorthorn bull (1826) to enter Argentina, to increase the quality of a national herds. From there the name of this brand new, modern yet traditional, Argentinean restaurant, with sophisticated homemade touches. (read my experience)
Duhau Restaurant & Vinoteca
Antic and chic would be the perfect two words to define it, but what can I say then about the excellent service, cuisines and wines. Another superb diner in Buenos Aires, this time by the signature international service of Park Hyatt Group, and the stunning setting of the central gardens at Palacio Duhau Buenos Aires (read my experience)
ALDO’s Restaurant & Vinoteca
This is a keeper. If I would be leaving back in Buenos Aires, I would come to Aldo’s at least once a week. The concept is very basic, but at the same time unique, the star of the night are the wines, the Argentinean wines, which by the expert guidance of your sommelier, will be matched to perfection with your food choices. Located (read my experience)
Located in the main lobby area of the Algodon Mansion small luxury hotel in the neighborhood of Recoleta, you ask yourself in all fairness, is this a hotel with restaurant or a restaurant with a hotel. One of the only two Relais & Chateux restaurants in the city of Buenos Aires, guarantees and excellent experience matched to high culinary expectations. (read my experience)
La Vineria de Gualterio Bolivar
Molecular Food in 16 Steps by Chef Alejandro Digilio in San Telmo. To be explored on your own. Unpretentious but very sophisticated on its own particular way. (read my experience)
Frank’s Moments and Drinks
The concept of Speakeasy bar has arrived to Buenos Aires, and as for my understanding Frank’s is the only and first one doing it. A hidden main gate, a great looking bar and the surprise of a very avant-garde sex shop at the exit, in case you want to continue your night in high standards. http://carlosmeliablog.com/2012/04/21/franks-bar-in-buenos-aires-got-your-code/
Isabel B de Ferari
A mix between decadent, exclusive, trendy and chic would define this bar, where I would risk to say has a 80% straight / 20% gay crowd, but where the general rule is don’t ask don’t tell…. (read my experience)
Restaurant and Multispace. Milion should be spelled with “D” of Diversity. A stunning venue with a renewed Gourmet and Bar offer. A 05 steps degustation diner perfectly matched with local wines. (read my experience)
La Cabrera Parrilla
One of the best spots of the city of Buenos Aires to taste the local and worldwide renown Argentinean Beef and a typical ” Asado ” or barbecue (read my experience)
But also after a long day out and about in this amazing city, my other alternative options at the gourmet areas of Palermo, SOHO and Hollywood are to I treat myself to a nice dinner and a bottle of Malbec and Torrontes at Minga, Casa Cruz, MOTT, or TEGUI.
We have come to the end of my Buenos Aires Chronicle. Hope you have enjoyed the journey. Want to read more about my recommendations based on my own travel experiences worldwide as an OUT Gay Traveler, check out Carlos Melia Recommends Enews. Don’t Cry for me Argentina. Bye.! Till next adventure in full luxury. Carlos Melia
Carlos Melia is a Travel Expert, Blogger, Niche Marketing Consultant, Jetsetter, and Bon Vivant, who travels around the world discovering what's new and cool in Luxury Travel and Hospitality. His reviews on hotels, restaurants, destinations, and attractions, based on his own experiences as an OUT Gay Traveler can be found at www.carlosmeliablog.com