We woke up early to our second day in Buenos Aires and our last morning on the ship. It had been an exhilarating and adventurous cruise for 14 days on Celebrity Eclipse from Santiago in Chile, along the Pacific coast of South America, then rounding Cape Horn and sailing north along the Atlantic Coast of Argentina and finally making port in Buenos Aires. We had our final breakfast in the Oceanview Cafe then waited in the Martini Bar until 9:50am when our disembarkation number was called and we were able to leave the ship. When we left the Eclipse for the last time, we only had a short wait for the shuttle to take us to the terminal building. After going through the terminal, we walked out to get a taxi. We were surprised to find that port taxis are not metered and drivers can seemingly charge whatever the like. One driver asked for $30 dollars US to drive us to our hotel in Palermo which was about 8 kilometres away. We settled with another driver at $20 US dollars.
Our hotel was in the Palermo area, a trendy barrio (neighbourhood) located in the north of the city that is known for its restaurants, cocktail bars and fashion stores. It is also known as the Polo capital of the World and hosts the annual Argentine Polo Open, also called the Palermo Open. Our home for the next two nights was the Duque Hotel, a lovely boutique property with only 12 rooms and a small but serene courtyard at the back of the hotel that has a garden area with a pool. It also has a cafe and sitting room where a breakfast (included in the rate) is available. As we had arrived around 10:30am, we dropped off our luggage and ventured out to the trendy Palermo Soho area where we would spend the rest of the morning.
Palermo Soho, along with Palermo Hollywood, is one of the trendiest and most visited places in Buenos Aires. While many tourists and locals alike come here for the exclusive boutiques and chic restaurants, we came for something totally different. Palermo Soho is one of the best places to appreciate the incredible murals and street art that cover many of the stores, cafes and restaurants that line both sides of the narrow, mostly cobblestone streets in and around Calle Santa Rosa. It is like walking through a vast outdoor art gallery. Usually this area is teeming with people, especially on the weekends. Because it was Sunday and we had arrived before noon, the streets were still relatively quiet, which allowed us to roam the neighbourhood at our leisure and take our time to admire the more detailed and elaborate works. To make the experience even more enjoyable, the temperature was quite comfortable at 25 degrees Celcius under bright blue skies.
After spending a couple of hours exploring the different alleys and side streets, we found a local outdoor cafe to rest for a bit and enjoy some of the local food. Because Kim had arranged for us to have dinner at a private wine tasting and pairing club later that evening, we decided on a light lunch consisting of a local pizza dish that came with a mixture of fresh greens. Mine was accompanied by an Argentinean beer while Kim opted for a glass of local Sauvignon Blanc. Considering the amount of food that we would be consuming over the next 2 days, we couldn’t have made a better choice for our lunch selection today.
After leaving the cafe, we went back to the hotel, which was about a 20 minute walk. We gathered our bags which we had checked at reception when we first arrived and went up to our room to change into our bathing suits. We took the stairs down to the main lobby and walked through the sitting room to the back of the hotel and the outdoor garden. We had the garden and pool to ourselves. Kim got into the very refreshing pool which was heated by the sun shining down into the courtyard. I got us each a gin and tonic, then settled into a very comfortable lounger in a shady spot at the side of the pool where I faded into a gentle and relaxing nap.
At least once on every trip, we try and find a unique eatery that features cuisine from the local region. Kim has a knack for finding the most exclusive venues that offer a sampling of food and wine and that captures the essence of the places we explore. One such venue is the Casa Coupage, a private wine tasting and pairing club run by Sommelier, Santiago Mymicopulo.
The closed-door, private restaurant which requires an advance reservation was a quick 10 minute walk from our hotel and is located in a narrow converted home on a quiet residential street. We rang the doorbell, and were greeted at the door by the hostess who presented us with a glass of chilled sparkling wine, then escorted us up a flight of stairs to the main dining area which is situated in a bright, narrow rectangular room with a long dining table that seats 12, taking up most of the space. As we were the first to arrive, Kim and I sat across from each other at one end of the table. We sipped our wine and snacked on an appetizer as the rest of the guests joined us - a couple from the UK and a group of 5 women from different parts of the US who frequently travel together.
Santiago introduced himself and gave us a bit of background on himself and the restaurant. He went over the menu and wines that we would be enjoying and emphasized the importance that both taste and smell have in the overall dining experience as well as how the wines express themselves in different ways when paired with various dishes. During the course of the evening he invited us to try several different scent exercises to test the abilities of our nose. It was loads of fun. He spent time exploring the regions of Argentina and explaining why a certain wine was paired with each course. We love to understand the consideration that goes into the pairing and the selection of the menu as it relates to the wine so this was amazing for us.
Our tasting consisted of 7 different wines (including the sparkling wine we had when we arrived) paired with a 7 course menu. While most of the wines that were served were reds, including a couple of different Malbecs from Mendoza, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Pinot Noir, one of the wines was a very aromatic and flowery Torrontés, the most famous white wine from Argentina. Kim was able to substitute her reds for additional Torrontés and Sauvignon Blanc. The food choices were fantastic. The chef was extremely creative and we enjoyed every course that was beautifully presented.
The Casa Coupage was a wonderful way to spend an evening, and is particularly enjoyable in a small group setting where there is always lively conversation with people from different places. The wine tasting and food pairing is a great way to discover, in just a couple of hours, the best wines and foods that an area has to offer.
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Sharing Our Travel Dreams
Sharing our personal experiences onboard and on the road, along with tips and insight for creating memorable vacations.