A popular cruise port on South America voyages and World Cruises departing from Fort Lauderdale, Buenos Aires also boasts a vibrant nightlife (many cruise ships that call overnight in the city). Not to be missed nightlife offerings include that Argentine gift to the world: the tango with combos entertaining in "milongas" (dance halls) and in coffeehouses like Confiteria Ideal on Suipacha 380 and Café Tortoni on Avenida de Mayo 825.
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The Plaza has set the scene for political protests through the decades including those of "Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo," mothers whose children disappeared during the military dictatorship of the 1970s-80s.
Other Buenos Aires highlights include the Avenida 9 de Julio, with 12 lanes, one of the world's widest avenues and graced with a 220-ft. high obelisk commemorating the 400th anniversary of the city's founding; the Teatro Colón, one of the world's greatest opera houses built in 1908; the Recoleta Cementery, with Evita's grave and those of many illustrious "porteños" as the residents of Buenos Aires are called.
Cultural gems include the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes with more than 12,000 works including art by Argentine artists and pieces by Rembrandt, Rubens, Goya, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Rodin, Van Gogh, Picasso and many other masters. The romantic neighborhoods of San Telmo and La Boca merit a visit each to enjoy strolls on their cobblestone streets, people-watch at one of the cafes, browse for local art and drop into a tango bar for music and a glass of the excellent Argentine wines. Bring your camera to El Caminito, a curving cobblestone street in La Boca with multi-hued facades painted by Italian immigrants.
In addition to city tours, popular excursions offered by cruise ships that call in Buenos Aires include tours to area ranches where visitors can ride on horseback like a "gaucho" (Argentine cowboy), enjoy a typical barbecue lunch with Argentine beef and watch a folkloric show.
If your ship stays in Buenos Aires overnight, as many do, you may wish to consider getting a room at a centrally located hotel and making it your base of operations. The Four Seasons Buenos Aires (www.fourseasons.com/buenosaires) boasts a convenient location to explore the city on foot it is steps away from the Avenida 9 de Julio, the Teatro Colón (ideal if you would like to take in an opera or concert at the theater) and convenient to other highlights of the capital.
Another hotel option is the Alvear Palace Hotel, within walking distance of the Recoleta Cemetery where Evita is buried. Visit www.alvearpalace.com.
Local flavors not to be missed include the "mate," a semi-bitter local tea-like brew sipped at all hours. Gourds to drink the "mate," often adorned with silver and including a metal straw, make a popular souvenir. Culinary delights include "parrilladas" with excellent grilled meats, "provoleta," a disk of cow's milk or goat's milk that is heated over a grill to a crisp consistency, and "empanadas" or little baked pies with meat or other fillings. Try an "helado" or ice cream, creamy and delicious in fruit flavors, vanilla, chocolate and more, and reminiscent of Italian "gelato."
Shopping in Buenos Aires is a rewarding activity with boutiques and stores selling excellent leather goods, silver jewelry, fashions and other merchandise. Calle Florida, a pedestrian street, is a popular spot for shopping with 10 blocks of shops from Plaza de Mayo to Plaza San Martin with its equestrian statue of Argentine patriot General San Martin.
Cruise lines that visit Buenos Aires include Celebrity, Costa, Crystal, Holland America, MSC, Oceania, Princess, Seabourn, and Silversea.
IF YOU GO For additional information on Buenos Aires visit www.argentina.gov.ar.