They call Buenos Aires the ‘Paris of the South’. Just like Kerala is the ‘Venice of the East’. Why can’t Buenos Aires just be Buenos Aires? A few weeks ago I wrote about expectations. When something is called the Paris of the South – I expect Paris! Is it then uncool to admit that I didn’t think the city was all that? Probably. Reality did not live up to expectations; did I miss out? Definitely.
I’ve had several Tables for ONE during my visit to Argentina. I could have written from an asado, but steak didn’t inspire any words. I could have also written from the tango cafés of Caminito, but honestly, I did not want words to ruin that experience for me. But when I wander into the stunning Park Hyatt Palacio Duhau I feel the familiarity seep in. The terrace of Los Salones del Piano Nobile is crowded with strangers; the sun begs me to order a sparkling rosé; and I choose my first non-Argentine meal on my last day in the country.
Starbucks represents everything I hate (and grudgingly love) about globalisation. When I sit in a café in Palermo (the Soho of South America, I guess) I want a local brew with dulce de leche. I do not want to order a vente Mocha with one shot, iced, caramel sauce on the top and bottom, no whip, light on the ice, and 7 pumps of peppermint syrup and have them know how to make it! That said, I also find great comfort in global brands when I find myself in dodgy neighbourhoods in foreign cities. If Starbucks is here then someone knows about this place. This is familiar. I am safe.
There are some things you can rely on no matter where you go.
- Women will stop at their reflection. Even in the middle of a jungle in torrential rain.
- A Latino will compliment a woman, no matter what size she comes in.
- Tourist attractions will serve bad junk food.
- A Park Hyatt knows how to poach an egg.
My appetiser of lettuce hearts and poached eggs with mustard vinaigrette (ARG $55) was inspirational. The butternut squash soup (ARG $46) that followed, even better. I sat on the terrace for many hours thinking about how perfect this day turned out. I was meant to join a tour but instead started with breakfast at a real, local café; spent the morning watching tango dancers weave their way around the streets of Caminito; and then wandered through plush Recoleta until I found myself on this terrace.
We wait so long for perfection. The perfect rainbow. The perfect man. The perfect city. How often have you missed out on something as you wait for perfection? Or someone?