The Fearless Journeys community launched our fifth group trip – and the first in South America. This trip was divided into three parts, allowing travelers to truly chart their course by choosing to attend Part A, Part B, Part C, or a mix of any two (or all three) consecutive parts of the trip.
Part A of the trip (5 nights in Uruguay) was outlined in this post.
Part B of the trip – 4 nights in Buenos Aires, Argentina – began after travelers from Part A disembarked from the 1 hour, 15 minute ferry ride from Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. That’s what we’ll explore in this recap below.
Presidential Arrival Day in Buenos Aires
Of the 16 people who came on Part A in Uruguay, 12 continued for the entirety of Part B, while one member of Part A extended his stay for the first two nights in Buenos Aires.
In addition, one traveler, Jerome Hudson, flew in from Florida just to attend Part B. His flight arrived a couple hours before our ferry arrived from Uruguay. He was provided with private transportation from the airport and shown great hospitality by our local partner in Buenos Aires, Alejandro “Ale” Storni.
The rest of our group disembarked from the ferry at the port of Buenos Aires and had a shuttle to transport us to our accommodations. Half of the group stayed in a shared home in Palermo, each with their own private bedrooms and bathrooms, with a common living space and a huge rooftop! The other half of the group each had accommodations in private apartments in the Palermo Soho area, with short walks to lots of cafes, restaurants, and shopping. Palermo Soho is one of the more attractive shopping and dining areas in all of Buenos Aires. We think Messi would probably agree.
Ale and Jerome met us at Casa Bulnes, the official name of the private home that half of our group stayed at. After everyone checked in to the home and the apartments, we all then met up at El Patio for lunch in the Palermo Soho neighborhood.
After lunch, we had a few hours of free time. Some chose to keep shopping in the Soho area. Others went back to take a nap or catch up on some work from back home.
Later in the evening, our private transportation picked us all up and took us to the Recoleta area of Buenos Aires where we had an exclusive experience at Presidente Bar, rated one of the top 50 bars in the world. On an average night, the lines are long to get into Presidente Bar, but most can probably make it in at some point. The bar is located inside of a mansion. Almost everyone comes here simply for drinks. After all, it’s a bar.
Yet, there is an exclusive area of this bar, that you enter almost like you enter a speakeasy. It is called “The Library” and it is named appropriately. It is surrounded by books. It is a small room and fits about 15 people for dinner. It can only be reserved in advance and only with a proper introduction, which we had through our friend Ale. Another aspect Fearless Journeys delivers: we know the locals and help you get an insider experience like only a well-connected local might!
Having dinner in our own private library – at one of the top 50 bars in the world – was a really amazing introduction to Buenos Aires. Considering that the broader Fearless Journey community isn’t just about travel, but also includes a book club, there may not have been a better place to start our journey through the city that is dubbed “The Paris of South America”
After a few hours of dinner and drinks, the group was transported back to our homes in Palermo. A few people chose to stay at Presidente Bar, which turns up the music and has a small dance floor. We give our travelers the freedom to do this with instructions on how to make it back home should they choose to chart their own course!
Politics, Pizza, Theater, and Tango!
On Thursday morning, private transportation was provided from our homes to the Argentine National Congress, where we had arranged a private tour for our group. Thanks to a connection by one of our travelers, Patty Hohlbein, we were able to arrange this over a month in advance of the trip.
It’s a good thing we did.
Congress was in session in late March and protests erupt outside the capitol nearly every day they are in session. For outsiders like us, it was an absolutely wild scene. There were hundreds of people protesting, chanting, and even lighting smoke bombs! Without a private reservation to the Congress, they would not have let any of us in due to the chaos happening on the streets. In fact, the security the front door seemed surprised that a group of 14 Americans had our names on a VIP list. Usually only well-connected Argentines would know how to get such an opportunity like this. Luckily, we know a few well-connected Argentines.
During our tour, we were able to sit in the chamber reserved for the lower body of Congress (what we would consider the House of Representatives in the U.S.) and learn about its history. The upper body, the Senate, was in session that day, so we were not permitted into its chamber. However, we did visit many rooms in this congressional building, including walking by a major press conference that was happening.
When we asked our tour guide about the crazy protest happening outside, she shrugged and said it’s like that almost every day here.
Don’t cry for me Argentina!
By the end of the tour, we also visited a room reserved for members of Congress and special visitors that looks almost like a lounge area, with nice couches and television screens.
After our tour, the group gathered outside for some nice pictures and to spend a few moments admiring this really beautiful building and the monuments and buildings that surround it.
From there, we took a 20-minute leisurely walk towards lunch, with some members of the group stopping into some stores along the way. By walking, we were able to feel the vibrancy of Buenos Aires on a busy weekday. On the way to lunch, we walked through the theater district, which reminded some in our group of NYC’s Broadway.
We arrived at Pizza Guerrin for lunch. It is a lively “pizza hall” and was packed. This is not really a place where you can ask for reservations, as they tend to move people in and out very with very fast service.
Luckily, when we arrived, we were seated in the “Presidential” area in the back of the restaurant at a few nice big tables so we could all be together for lunch. The group ordered whatever types of pizza they wanted, all included in the price of the trip of course!
Pizza is a big deal in Argentina, and especially in Buenos Aires. On our way to Pizza Guerrin, we walked by many other pizza shops. All smelled so good! The smells increase the appetite.
After lunch, we walked a few hundred feet over to one of the most iconic areas of Buenos Aires, featuring the Obelisk. This is the area that was completely surrounded by millions of fans – less than four months before our trip here – when Argentina won the World Cup. The Obelisk looks like a smaller version of the Washington Monument. In fact it looked kind of miniature. I think some of us called it “cute.”
After we felt the vibes of this plaza, some of our group grabbed some afternoon coffee just before our mid-afternoon tour of Teatro Colon, which was just a 5-minute walk from the Obelisk. This is one of the most splendid theaters in the world! The beauty of the design and the exquisite detail of the art and architecture were just amazing. While we were visiting, we sat in on a rehearsal of one of the upcoming dramatic performances the theater was hosting. One member of our group came back to Buenos Aires the following week to take in a performance. The reviews have been top notch and the prices are very reasonable.
After our tour here, our private shuttle picked us up and took us back to our homes. A few of our travelers chose to spend more time in this area, particularly to shop. Some chose to relax at their accommodations, while others used this open time block to catch up on work back home.
Fearless Journeys group trips have structured agendas with many planned activities and insider experiences on the itinerary. However, we also leave room for free time with suggested activities and places to explore should people want to keep touring on their own. We also leave time for some rest so you can be rejuvenated for the rest of the itinerary.
On Thursday night, we were off to an amazing tango dinner show experience at Rojo Tango which is in a relatively small room inside theFaena Hotel, a grand 5-star hotel in the Puerto Madero area of Buenos Aires.
Because our group was so large (13 of us at this point), Rojo Tango provided private transportation for us from our homes to their location. On the way, we were able to see a lot of different parts of Buenos Aires, including the city lighting up at night. We also crossed over the iconic Puente de la Mujer, which is especially beautiful at night.
Upon arrival at the Faena Hotel, the red carpet is rolled out. You feel like you are entering a different time. It is absolutely exquisite. Once seated at our private table (in a room that fits maybe 60 or so people, if it was full, and it was not on this night), the short dinner menu gave us few options during each of the courses.
About half of the group had the steak for their entree and several travelers said it was the best steak they had during the entirety of the trip (and that’s saying something in these parts). The wine poured all night. Everything on the menu (plus the wine) was included in our package here. Some fortunate travelers decided right when they chose the dulce de leche for dessert. Never a bad choice in Argentina!
Once dessert was finished, the lights went down and we enjoyed a 90-minute tango show experience. The dancers appeared on the small stage in front of us, but also performed around the dining hall, including right next to our table. A small orchestra band near the back of the room played the music that the other performers danced to.
It was a mesmerizing experience! When the show was complete and we walked out of the Faena Hotel, everyone in our group was in a complete state of “WOW!”
This is one experience that will never be forgotten and will never come off the itinerary of future Fearless Journeys group trips to Buenos Aires – not as long as these performances (plus the food!) continue to deliver like this!
Our shuttle from the Faena Hotel took us back to our homes at the end of the night. Our bellies were full and our hearts were captivated.
Dance for us Argentina!
Let’s Learn to Play Polo!
On Friday morning, we had another Argentine experience waiting for us – it was time to learn how to play polo!
We visited the Nuestra Tierra Polo estancia out in the Argentine countryside. It’s about a 90-minute drive from where we were staying in Buenos Aires. When we arrived, there were some light breakfast items waiting for us.
Then, we went out into a field and were taught how to play polo. We were given polo sticks and hit the ball around on the grounds, while standing on the ground. But that’s not how you play polo. You need to do it on a horse!
Ride for us Argentina!
The next part of the day was getting us up on the horse. 9 of our 13 travelers got out of our comfort zone and got up on a horse. We split into two groups, with 5 being instructed at a time – by two former professional polo players. One of them was on the ground walking around and the other was on a horse, riding alongside us.
They taught us how to move (and steer) the horse in different directions. Once we each had the hang of that, they put polo sticks in our hand and balls on the ground for us to strike. This proved to be the toughest part!
At any point, if you looked around, there were huge smiles on everyone’s faces. Who would have ever thought we would be learning how to play polo – in Argentina! These are the kinds of unique experiences Fearless Journeys provides our travelers. It not only helps you try something new, but also to take part in those activities together. No one should have to journey alone!
After the polo lesson, we returned to the big covered patio area for a very large and enjoyable asado BBQ lunch. The meat was grilled right in front of us and we could eat as much as we wanted. During lunch, the wine also poured, for nearly as much as we wanted. We then lounged around the pool area for a bit.
This estancia was a great place to just chill. It was so big and beautiful and out in the country. It really gave you a sense of experiencing “the real Argentina.”
Polo is huge in Argentina, which is known for being one of the most competitive areas of the world for this sport. And this is where nearly all of our travelers got to experience learning how to play it – from on top of a horse.
The final part of the day here involved watching professional polo players play a game of polo, while we watched from the sidelines. This was almost as mesmerizing to watch as Rojo Tango! These guys were so good.
By learning how to play polo from a horse just a bit earlier and experiencing how much of a struggle it was to do the very minimal tasks required to play, we were now able to see the masters at work. It gave all of us a new appreciation for the sport of polo and put us in awe of the professionals we were watching. It also helped us learn how the game itself is played, including the rules and the scoring.
After enjoying our last bit of time here at this beautiful estancia, we then boarded the shuttle and headed back into Buenos Aires.
We took everyone to Casa Bulnes, the private home where half of our group stayed. Once there, empanadas were delivered by Mi Gusto and some of our local Argentine friends joined us. The empanadas in Argentina are on another level and there are so many types to choose from.
The weather had cooled considerably in Buenos Aires, as we were now experiencing the first days of autumn – on the last day of March! It was a beautiful night on the rooftop of our private home. Some chose to sit outside, while others were kept warm by the interior living room on the rooftop.
Exploring the Recoleta, Charting Our Course
The next morning began our last full day together in Buenos Aires. Our private shuttle picked us up at our homes and transported us to Croque Madame, where we enjoyed a beautiful brunch in the outdoor garden of the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo. The weather was even more beautiful than our surroundings. We also had several local entrepreneurs join us at the invitation of one of our travelers, Alexander McCobin. Yes - we have very well-connected travelers who always add so much dynamism to our group trips, including local connections we bring together.
After brunch, we walked along the beautiful parks and pathways of the Recoleta, a leisurely 25-minute stroll to enjoy the day and see locals enjoying their huge, local public spaces.
Once we made it to the grounds on the back end of the Recoleta Cemetery, there was a market of a lot of pop-up vendors. We gave the group about a half hour to browse and then meet up near the entrance of the Recoleta Cemetery.
That’s when we took a tour of this cemetery, one of the most unique and ornate in the world. Many presidents, poets, and other luminaries are buried here, including one of the most famous Argentines, Eva “Evita” Peron. It is certainly possible to browse this cemetery for hours, should you desire to take in every detail. However, a half hour or so served the group well. It’s an experience that must be had at least one time when you’re in Buenos Aires.
After that visit, we continued on, walking the streets of the Recoleta. About 20 minutes later, we made it to the Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore, dubbed by National Geographic magazine “the world’s most beautiful bookstore.”
It is located inside an old theater. When you enter, it certainly is impressive. You can walk onto various floors to get different vantage points. And, you can go sit “on stage” in the back of the bookstore, where there is a nice cafe. Most of our group camped out here at the the cafe on stage for a half hour or so to get some coffee and light bites and share some conversation with each other.
From there, we gave our travelers some free time to go shopping in the Recoleta area. One of our travelers, Roland Hicks, even picked up some new shoes at one of the best shoe stores around, Posco.
On this final full day in Buenos Aires, we were traveling at different paces and with different intentions, but we agreed to a time to all meet up at Lucciano’s for some of the best ice cream on this earth – at a price that can’t be beat.
After the group enjoyed ice cream, our private shuttle took us back to our homes, where we once again had a few extra hours of open time. Some continued to stay out shopping and exploring Buenos Aires. Others rested while some used their time to catch up on work.
Later that evening, we all met up at La Malbequeria in Palermo Soho, a fantastic and perfect location to have our final dinner together as a full group before our trip in Buenos Aires ended the next day. The steaks here were amazing. We also had a private table in the back of the restaurant. The wine flowed. It is hard to find better steaks and better wine anywhere in the world than Argentina … especially for the price, especially for those with U.S. Dollars, and especially in these troubled economic times for the Argentine Peso.
Our local Argentine friends Ale and Lucho joined us as well. Everyone shared some of their best moments on the trip continued to enjoy the fellowship that this Fearless Journeys group trip brought together.
One thing we do on Fearless Journeys group trips is start WhatsApp groups for our travelers to communicate with each other throughout the trip. However, the conversations in those group texts continue long after, among old and new friends!
Departures and Destinations
On our final morning, we all got checked out of our rooms and we had two different shuttles waiting to take our travelers to different locations. About five of our travelers were departing Buenos Aires, but their flights were later at night. So, we had our local partner Ale hold their bags at his apartment in the Recoleta. They each came back to retrieve them and they were privately transported to the airport. One member of our group, Izabela Patriota, was meeting some friends who had just arrived in Buenos Aires, so she was now able to enjoy the city with them as well.
Five members of our group who started with Part A in Uruguay and Part B in Buenos Aires, took a shuttle to the Aeroparque Internacional airport here in Buenos Aires (the one for more domestic / regional flights) as we were ready to continue on to Part C of this 3-part itinerary – for three nights in the Mendoza wine country of Argentina. We were also joined by two new arrivals – Maureen Blum and Brian Graham. They were not able to make it down for Parts A or B, but neither wanted to miss what was in store for them in Argentina’s wine country.
Stay tuned for a future post outlining our Part C experience in Mendoza!
If you are interested in coming with us on a future Fearless Journeys group trip, check out our upcoming trips to Medellin, Colombia in October and to Guatemala in November. We also plan to return to Argentina in 2024. Please send an email to fearlessjourneysLLC@gmail.com if you would like more information on our future plans for Argentina.