Argentina: The truth is I never left you!

I bet you didn’t know that the famous song “Don’t Cry for me Argentina” had more lyrics than the title. If Argentina had a peso for every time a tourist quotes this song, no  one would ever have to work for living there. But until then Argentina just charges Americans $140 to cross the border and lets them walk around all day humming this song off-key for no additional charge.

After this trip to Argentina my non-existent bucket list got a lot smaller:

Checked Off My Bucket List: Argentina
Checked Off My Bucket List: Buenos Aires
Checked Off My Bucket List: Colonia del Sacramento
Checked Off My Bucket List: Cataratas del IguazĂș
Checked Off My Bucket List: La Recoleta Cemetery

If you are looking for a an interesting destination and don’t mind paying the price, Argentina might be a place to consider.

Contrary to multiple tour guides and websites, nothing in Argentina is an extreme bargain, except for the public transportation. Your meals will probably cost you about the same as here, maybe slightly cheaper depending on the restaurant. Clothing is more expensive, and although you can find high quality leather products, a good leather jacket starts at $250. Vodka and vine cost about the same as here. Electronic items are significantly higher but most of them are  unusable here anyway. I have no idea how much precious stones cost in this country, but I’ve been told that they are cheaper in Argentina where many of them are mined.

Speaking about food. Although I’ve never seen a similar density of cafes, restaurants, coffee shops, sandwich stores, ice cream places, chocolate stores and whatever food establishments one can imagine, food was somewhat a disappointment for me. Not because it was bad – it wasn’t – but because it was so ordinary and somewhat bland. I was shocked to discover that Argentinians are not fans of spicy food. Their famous grilled meats served in omnipresent parrillas are usually just seasoned with salt and lemon juice. The quality of meat is excellent and the servings are huge with beef, chicken, pork, several kinds of sausages including blood sausage, chinchulĂ­n (chitterlings) and mollejas (sweetbreads) served in one huge pile on a plate.

It’s up to the eater to identify what’s what, if one cares to do so. Various side dishes and salads are also served with the dinner. At a popular all-you-can-eat restaurant, you walk up to the counter in front of the grill and a parrillero will slice up the meat you want.

Outside of the urban Buenos Aires grills like this are not uncommon.

After a trip to a local butcher shop a restaurant meal can be replicated at home.

Luckily the trip to get the lemons was only as far as the lemon tree in the backyard.

In our attempt to try as many different foods as possible we ordered a pizza but it was just that.

We tried empanadas – the only spicy food we had throughout the trip, these were really good; we tasted some multilayered sandwiches made with sliced bread and offered in quantities of 8 to 500, not that great but it was the only food I managed to order to go and only because the restaurant was carry-out only; we ate mass quantities of every imaginable kind of ice cream and gelato.

We even managed to buy some huge baked pocket filled with cheese and onions from a street vendor without knowing what it’s called. It was delicious.

We didn’t eat at (allegedly) the only kosher McDonald’s outside of Israel but could not pass up taking a picture.

Beautiful pastries, artfully displayed in every restaurant window, turned out to be a disappointment as well. They looked better than they tasted. On the other hand, the Argentinian traditional breakfast of cafe con leche (coffee with milk, more milk than coffee) and small croissants – medialunas, became our favorite. Dulce de Leche – the Argentina’s favorite flavor is served with everything.

So our trip wasn’t about the food. It was about the great country, a magnificent city, about time with friends, about learning, and seeing, and being wowed. It was all of that and more.

It was about wanting to come back…