In September 2013, I had just arrived in the Czech Republic for my Fulbright year and remember receiving an excited message from my good friend from university: she was engaged! For a moment I remember feeling so far away—not only physically, but also emotionally. Here was my friend taking a huge step to settled adult life and here I was, about to embark on a year-long solo adventure, taking a huge step in the opposite direction. I could not have felt more apart and alone, yet, my year in Znojmo is also the reason I felt confident enough to fly 17 hours alone to attend my same friend’s wedding in Buenos Aires, Argentina this past month.
The first half of my week in Buenos Aires was actually spent about 45 minutes north of the city in the beautiful suburb of San Isidro, where the wedding was scheduled to take place. For some background, while my friend is from the USA, her whole family is from Argentina, hence the reason for the wedding location. Meanwhile, her now husband is from Iowa, but sadly I was unable to attend their second ceremony there. Argentina seemed to more enticing 🙂
San Isidro itself is a really beautiful area, with gorgeous homes and a quaint town center. As it was autumn at the time of my visit, the neighborhood looked especially beautiful with its vibrantly-colored, tree-lined streets. I explored both this area and the center of the city with my rediscovered friend Katie and I think one of my favorite things was the multi-course breakfasts we shared together. One night we stumbled upon the cutest café called Suca that looks like the Mad Hatter’s tea party and resolved to return the next day. Then the next day we enjoyed an “American Breakfast” at the famous, La Biela near Recoleta Cemetery, which required 2 tables and featured a full slice of cake. As I seem to find typical with other countries, the bread of Argentina tasted much richer than that of the USA and in general, an Argentinean breakfast is perfect with a café con leche and some medialunas (“half moons” or just croissants).
The wedding itself was spectacular with the formal Catholic ceremony in the central Cathedral de San Isidro and the reception at the majestic mansion, Sans Souci. Because of the short winter days and the general late Argentine schedule, the wedding festivities kicked off in the dark at 8:30pm. Watching my friend get ready, she truly looked like a princess in her wedding dress and for me, it was fun to put on my winter formal floor-length gown from 2006 🙂 The wedding ceremony was bilingual, temperature chilly and overall very special to be a part of. Then, the grand fiesta itself kicked off for an epic 8 hours of eating, drinking, dancing and much more dancing. It was so fun to see the cultures and blend between general American, Iowan and Argentine all together. While at first some were hesitant to dance to country and others to salsa, by the end everyone was having a blast to all kinds of music until 6am!
After the wedding, I spent a few more days exploring Buenos Aires itself, while living in the center. Both earlier with Katie and then later on my own, BA became a city for walking. By the end of my week, I actually strained my foot from walking so much in not-the-best shoes. While the architecture is very European, the obvious distinctions while walking between and around different neighborhoods reminded me very much of New York City. Similarly, there is a real blend of old and new, traditional and modern, to the extent that it was hard to remember that I was still in the same city from one day to the next.
From an experience of spending from a few hours to one day in each neighborhood, here are some pictures, captioned with 5 words that come to mind when I remember them:
Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur: Peaceful haven, sunset, muddy shoes.
Puerto Madero: Posh, ships, bridge, lamb burger.
Recoleta: UES, mystic cemetery, Roberto, quiet.
San Telmo: Sunday market, antiques, guitar, plaza.
Downtown: Congested, history, tour, Parrilla steak
Balvanera: In circles, original city, lively.
La Boca: Moments of fear, colorful, necklace.
Palermo Soho/Hollywood: Trendy, waiting for life, lost.
Palermo: Peaceful, rose garden, MALBA, lotus.
Buenos Aires is a beautiful city and I would wholeheartedly recommend that all travelers should visit. However, while I walked the streets for days searching for magic, I never felt a strong connection. Maybe it was the cold or that I was exhausted from my grand NYC finale or my hostel or the people I met or didn’t meet. By the time my flight to Colombia approached, I felt I had done and seen everything I needed and wanted to, yet something intangible had escaped me. Maybe I’ll have to go back or maybe that was all we were meant to be.
Coming soon: Part 2 (and 3) in Colombia!
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