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Too Tired to Tango

 

 

 

Known as nocturnal city, Buenos Aires could be a bit daunting for a bamer family with a brood of young children. With a bit of flexibility and a sprinkle of serendipity, however, BA’s charms are accessible even for family travelers.

 

 

To tired for late night tangos? If you and your family are usually tucked into bed before most porteños sit down for dinner—at 10 p.m. no less—look for daytime versions of late night traditions.

 

 

While evening tango shows might not be an option for the wee-ones, the café culture—a signature of Buenos Aires—is enough to captivate even the youngest travelers. The ultimate tea-party is available for all at Café Tortoni. As a traveling family, we found this cafe delightful for all. My daughters, Sarah and Claire, then four and seven, enjoyed submarinos—hot chocolate made with steamed milk and a chocolate bar—while the grown-ups sipped coffee and savored the ambience of the centuries old café. Señor Tortoni, known for his sumptuous ice cream, is no longer around, but his cafe remains as traditional as ever, and permeates old time Argentine flair with an accent of Italian and French culture. For a fee, Café Tortoni also puts on professional tango shows, however, the earliest show is at 8 p.m. Delicious petit fours and other tea time treats, from alfajors to cucumber sandwiches are all served in the same locale on Avenida de Mayo 825, where the Café opened its doors in the late 1800s. (It originally opened from the other side on Rivadavia.)

 

 

Step outside the cafĂ© and go for a wander along one of Buenos Aires’ many rambling streets, each seeped in history as rich as the Porteño culture itself.  Kids and adults alike will love the scandalously and brightly painted colorful houses and parents can easily be swallowed up by one of the many flea and art markets. A city of spontaneity, Buenos Aires hosts many sidewalk shows and street performances, including a number of free tango shows. Kids and adults can become mesmerized by the eccentric dance, but it is also a chance for everyone to enjoy the music while swaying or dancing in the open-air.  

 

 

Next, take a stroll through La Recoleta, a large well-kept grassy knoll park where kids can run and burn some energy. While in the area, pop into the famous La Recoleta Cemetery to visit the site of 1940s and 50s political diva, Eva “Evita” Peron’s grave and afterwards liven things up with an excursion to the new modern art museum, the “monster” museum, also known as the MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires). The MALBA is a sure winner among both the young and old. The kids love the permanent exhibits of monsters made of recycled materials such as typewriter erasers, tooth brushes, steel wool and auto parts. Along the way, adults can take in the modern art exhibits. Be certain to head to the Sound Sculptures on the outdoor balcony where visitors can not only touch the art, but also pluck it, bang it, and stand in the middle of it—a sure kid-pleaser.

 

 

Another late-night delight that can also be enjoyed during is an elaborate meal. In many Latin American countries lunch is a major meal, and in Buenos Aires, this is no different. In fact, since dinner is late, lunch tends to be anywhere between 2 and 4 p.m. In fact, adults can indulge in local specialties without waiting for the 10 o’clock dinner bell. While adults sink their teeth into a gourmet tender cut of barbequed steak, (a staple and traditional Argentine dish) the young ones have an array of kid-friendly fare to choose from, including hamburgers, pasta and hot dogs.

 

 

The Buenos Aires Zoo is another good excursion. The animals, which appear to be well-treated, represent a cross section of species native to Argentina and from around the world. Botanical gardens across the street, with their flora and fauna, and smattering of 19th century architecture, make a great playground for adults.

 

 

For wildlife of another era, the Museum of Nature History has world class exhibits of dinosaurs and marine reptile fossils. The Nature Reserve, Reserva Ecologica, along the Rio Plata gives the whole family a break from the urban hustle and bustle and a chance to view the river environs in a more natural state.

 

 

Despite its reputation for early morning tangos and all-night parties, Buenos Aires boasts many family friendly alternatives. Towards the end of our first visit to Buenos Aires, my youngest, Sarah and I tucked into a café in the center of Buenos Aires to share a huge slice of lemon sponge cake and watch the people go by. Between bites, Sarah recounted our many adventures. After pausing to sip her submarino, she made my day saying, “This is the life. Where are we going next?”



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