Buenos Aires: first-hand tips for visiting Argentina's capital.Insights and advice from Francisco J. Cerezo, partner and chairman of the Latin America Practice at Foley & Lardner LLP; Nigel L. Page, senior vice president of the Americas at Emirates; and Paulo Piovano, president of Techint Inc., an Argentine who lives in New York.
Latin Trade: What do you like most about traveling to Buenos Aires?
Francisco Cerezo: The warm people and the great food and restaurants.
Nigel Page: Buenos Aires is a nice, relaxed city. Great architecture, a mix of Italian and French. Broad avenues, the tin houses of La Boca, the tango schools, great restaurants in Puerto Madero, which is an amazing renovation project.
Paulo Piovano: What's not to like about Buenos Aires! After you've been there, it leaves that feeling of, 'Wow, that was just great.'
LT: What do you like the least?
Cerezo: The traffic and the long lines you sometimes have at security and immigration when departing.
Page: Sadly, incidents of pickpocketing--like many cities--do occur in crowded areas, like Florida Street.
Piovano: As an Argentine native, what I don't like is the feeling of gradual deterioration of various aspects of life--politics, economy, culture, education, etc. Without politicizing here, I characterize it using a famous quote from Carlos Menem, who presided (over) the country from 1989 to 1999: "Estainos real pero vamos bien."("We are not doing OK, but we are on the right path.") For decades now, my sense is that Argentina is experiencing the exact opposite: "Estamos bien, pero vamos mal." ("We are doing OK, but we are on a wrong path.")
LT: What are your preferred hotels when visiting Buenos Aires on business?
Cerezo: Sofitel Arroyo, Four Seasons and Alvear Palace.
Page: The Park Hyatt, which is really a converted palace with stylish, modern bedrooms, great food, nice service. Marriott is the old 'Grand Dame' hotel, conveniently situated in the center of the city.
Piovano: Hotel Madero and Sofitel are my favorites.
LT: What restaurants do you recommend?
Cerezo: In no particular order: Club Vasco Frances (near San Telmo)--Basque restaurant, excellent fish and old school atmosphere; El Mirasol (Recoleta)--outstanding Argentine meat; Gardiner (Costanera)--very trendy, international cuisine; Bengal (Recoleta-Retiro)--an exclusive Indian restaurant combined with international cuisine; Osaka (Palermo) --Peruvian/Japanese cuisine, excellent atmosphere, trendy; Happening (Puerto Madero)--outstanding Argentine meat; Piegari (Recoleta)--good Italian and lively atmosphere.
Page: My favorite restaurant in BA is Cabana Las Lilas, in Puerto Madero.
Piovano: El Mercado at the Faena Hotel is simply superb. Cabana Las Lilas in Puerto Madero, as well as Sotto Voce, are other favorites. And when you feel like heading to the Palermo crowd, the restaurant of Bodegas del Fin del Mundo is very recommendable.
LT: What practical advice would you give to someone who is visiting Buenos Aires for the first time on business?
Cerezo: Take at least a few hours to simply stroll around certain parts of the city. Take a leisurely walk around the Recoleta district, have a cafecito at one or two of the beautiful cafes, pop into the art galleries and antique shops in Arroyo Street, and simply enjoy the city and its many characters.
Page: Be aware that English is not widely spoken, so it helps to have someone with you who can speak Spanish. Only get radio taxis from the hotel, rather than hailing one in the street. Taxi drivers have been known to take advantage of foreigners. That said, fares are relatively inexpensive.
Piovano: 1) Have a taxi ride--you'll simply meet the best chef, or futbol coach, or brain surgeon; it simply doesn't matter what subject or topic it is--they know it all! 2) Don't feel bad if lunch takes two to three hours, and forget about having dinner before 8 p.m.