Nobody visited me when I studied in London, England. That was completely fine and I could more than understand my friends' hesitation to fly across the Atlantic and visit me in a place where everything costs literally twice as much. With that being said, I feel like it is double as rare for a friend to visit in South America! Sure, the exchange rate is much less painful, but the 15 hour flight in itself is probably enough to deter anyone. So, imagine Nicole's surprise to discover that not only was I going to visit her for my spring break, but her friend Sunny from UC Berkeley was going to visit as well, that very same week! Because he was flying stand-by, Sunny waited until the day of to tell us that he was indeed, on his way to Buenos Aires and would land Wednesday morning. Surprise! It's comforting to know someone else in this vast city.
We met up with Sunny on the streets of Buenos Aires and immediately helped him get situated in the friend's apartment he is staying in for the week. Not wanting to waste any time, we quickly decided to check out a top tourist spot, the Cementerio De La Recoleta. According to our handy dandy Lonely Planet book on Buenos Aires, "It's cheaper to live extravagantly your entire life than to be buried in Recoleta." As one of the world's greatest necropolises, it is pretty close to impossible to be buried here, among famous artists, writers, and Argentinian political figures. As we were wandering through, it felt the the maze of tombs was never-ending, each one more elaborate than the next. Personally, grave sites tend to creep me out, but seeing the history and beauty of el cementerio, I can understand why this is one of Buenos Aires' top tourist destinations. Cementerio De La Recoleta is open from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm and admission is free.
After paying our respect to the dead, Nicole, Sunny and I headed back to Universidad de Belgrano, and waited until after Nicole's Spanish class to resume exploring the city. We stopped in El Ateneo, which is supposedly the second greatest book store in the world. Due to the fact that it was constructed within a gorgeous converted theater, I am not inclined to argue. We also checked out El Gato Negro, a small cafe famous since 1669 for its wide array of spices, coffees and teas available, and Bombonella, a tiny chocolate shop founded in 1941 with everything from dark chocolate dulce de leche truffles to your name spelled out on a chocolate bar. Being the gelato addict that I am, we of course stopped in one of the many Freddo shops and got cones of delicious dulce de leche (I swear I am in love with this stuff) ice cream to hold us over until dinner.
For dinner, Nicole planned something special for Sunny and me. She had heard of a really great Peruvian place in Buenos Aires and of course wanted to try it for herself, so she took us to Chan Chan. After an excruciatingly long wait, we finally were seated and Nicole, being the Peru expert she is, took charge of ordering. To drink, we had chicha morada, a sweet wine-esque nonalcoholic beverage made strangely enough from purple corn. As an appetizer, Nicole ordered ceviche, which was so flavorful, with a slight tangy acidity, that we were practically licking the plate when it was all gone. Our main dishes were lomo saltado, some kind of fish stuffed with cheese and seafood, and my personal favorite, a cooked fish topped with a bright yellow lobster sauce and shrimp. I had never had Peruvian food before this but I would absolutely recommend it to everyone now. I always thought that Peruvians only ate guinea pig, but thankfully, I couldn't have been more wrong. I wonder if there are any Peruvian restaurants in Boston......