I had never ever thought I would say this, but Buenos Aires is my new love, even above NYC! It is a kind of city that you fall in love with, then dream about it for days and then finally decide to pack your bags and move to it 😉 It’s a very special place, beautiful, resilient and creative. It’s an astonishing metropolis similar to Europe, but with an edgy Latin American twist to it. Porteños (the city’s residents) are passionate, opinionated and very friendly. However, to know them as well as the city better, knowing Spanish is a must ~ you don’t need to be fluent in it, but at least know the basic phrases and if that sounds too complicated to you, then Google Translate is your best friend.
The Eats: Argentina is known as the beef capital of the world and on an average, in a year Argentineans consume 154 pounds per person compared to 89.8 pounds in the US! So if you are in Argentina, get ready to loosen your belt, eat a steak the size of your head and fall straight into the carne coma heaven. Some restaurants to check out are: La Brigada – for an Argentina feast of liver and glands & the famous Beef de Chorizo – the server cuts the beef with a spoon in front of you! and El Litoral – for Parilla (grill). For breakfast and/or mid afternoon coffee and snacks – do visit Cafe Tortoni and Coma En Casa, to have the Argentina croissants known as medialunas and the dulce de leche (it’s said to be the national flavor of Argentina) coffee. In the sticky heat of the summer, lines can form out the door at Buenos Aires heladerias (ice-cream parlors). The most popular flavors are dulce de leche along with another Argentine classic, sambayón, which is made with egg yolks, milk, cream, sugar, Marsala wine and sometimes whisky. Cadore, in the city centre is my favorite! The Argentine cuisine also has an influence of Italian food on it, hence, the vegetarians need not worry, as you will find pastas and pizzas everywhere, and really good ones! – yes I’m talking about Guerrin Pizzeria 🙂
Tango: Buenos Aires is the birthplace of tango, and a visit to the city is incomplete without taking in dinner and a tango show. You’ll also find endless venues for perfecting your moves, from salons to milongas (dance events) to cafes to glamorized shows, on every single day of the week. The shows usually start at 11pm and go on till dawn. We visited a milonga in the San Telmo district area and it was mind blowing – right from watching the people grove to the music from late nigh to early morning, to the gestures that are exchanged between the men and women willing to dance together! Tango shows are also offered at most of the restaurants in San Telmo and La Boca areas during day as well as night time. Restaurants open at 9pm, bars at midnight and clubs at 2am – at the very earliest. So if you are in Bueno Aires, take a cat nap, down your coffee and be prepared to stay up all night – this is a city that never sleeps!
Argentina Tea Culture: Argentina is well known for the cultivation and consumption of mate, made with the leaves of the local yerba maté plant. It is known as the “national infusion” drink in Argentina and is rich in caffeine. It is usually served in a shallow, hollow, dried calabash gourd along with a straw known as bombilla made of silver, steel or stemmed cane. A warning to the germ-phobic: Mate is shared from the same cup, using the same straw, person to person. Why? Sharing mate with a buddy or a stranger is all about friendships (Ah!) Oh! and there are rules – When drinking mate, never say “thank you” and never stir the straw. Both are considered rude. When drinking mate, first a gourd is packed close to the brim with the dried leaves. The brewer adds near-to-boiling water and a few moments later, you take a slow, steady sip from the straw and enjoy!
Stopovers: Buenos Aires is the city known for its architecture and rich culture. Head over to their art-rich site La Recoleta Cemetery which is also the resting place of many notable political figures and elites from Argentine history. If you are an antique aficionado, then San Telmo is the place for you – especially the Sunday fair. Also, a great location to buy some Rhodochrosite, the famous Inca Rosa Gemstone of Argentina. For an evening stroll, head over to Puerto Madero, where dazzling city lights illuminate the port. La Boca is the perfect place to click some colorful pictures! When you are tired of meandering down the bustling Avenue Libertador, take respite at the city’s tranquil rose garden Paseo Del Rosadal. An architecture lover, would fall in love with Teatro Colon, the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral and El Ateneo Grand Splendid – just like I did 🙂 The city houses the executive mansion and office of the President of Argentina known as Casa Rosada – a beautiful pink stone structure. A gift to the city by the Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano, the Floralis Generica was designed to move, closing its petals in the evening and opening them in the morning. Last but not the least, try booking a hotel or airbnb close to Florida Street in Buenos Aires downtown. Its the most convenient location to be at plus you can enjoy a ton of street performances, do some street shopping and have some freshly squeezed orange juice – trust me you will never ever have the bottled ones again!
Overall, the city of Buenos Aires has made a great architectural and cultural impact on me and I would definitely recommend a visit to anyone and everyone! For a video tour for my trip, check out this video on Vimeo!