Welcome to Buenos Aires
Have you ever heard of the widest avenue
“9 de Julio Avenue” in the world? No? – Me neither. But now I know that every porteño (people from Buenos Aires) is proud of their widest avenue in the world. Actually the widest avenue is in Brazil now, but Argentines always say the Brazilians are cheating. I don’t care at all, but it is by far the widest avenue I have ever seen.
The avenue has up to seven lanes in each direction!
If you are a porteña or porteño you probably know that.
Dulce de Leche is better in Brazil? No, not for Argentines. The best Dulce de Leche is of course from Argentina, if I would quote my friends:
“We have the original Dulce de Leche!”.
And like in Uruguay they LOVE football and are very supportive of their football teams.
From all the South American Cities I have been to so far, Buenos Aires was the only city that felt suspiciously similar to European cities.
If I wouldn’t know I’m in Buenos Aires, I might confound the city with Paris or Rome.
You know, Buenos Aires or Argentina in general is like one of these cool kids in school everyone wants to be friends with but actually it is disliked by many of his classmates called like Chile or Paraguay ?
Yeah, let’s say Argentina is a cool dude, but not a very popular one amongst his so-called “friends”.
My first impressions of Buenos Aires
So, I want to quote some of my Chilean friends:
“It is not that I don’t like Argentines but to be honest, they are famous for having an arrogant attitude and always want to be right.”
Therefore, my first impressions are based on other people’s opinions about Argentina.
I didn’t expect much kindness when I arrived in Buenos Aires.
Somehow I feel sorry for Argentina, but my following story will prove that the first impression was wrong.
Once I got off the bus, I went straight to the ticket counter in order to buy a ticket to Montevideo. Actually the ticket would cost me 830 Argentinian Pesos but I only had 800. The man was so nice and gave me the ticket for 800.
Then I had to withdraw money and I met someone who helped me to catch the right bus. In addition to that he gave me his Sube card.
To travel around Buenos Aire by bus or subway you need a Sube Card and charge some credits.
Whether at the kioskos or the subway stations.
The weather was cold and cloudy when I arrived. And the area around Retiro Bus Terminal made me feel uncomfortable and unwelcome to the city. I love comparisons, therefore may I compare again? That’s how I imagined the life in the Soviet Union back then looked like. Cold, gloomy, people running around with their big size fur coats and funny, weird hats.
I have to admit I am bubbling a theory that once you speak English to them they are nicer than to other Spanish speakers. But like I said, it’s just a theory. Who knows.
Buenos Aires By Day
If the weather is permitting, during daytime you can do a lot of stuff in Buenos Aires. It is just difficult to decide where to go and what to do.
As you know I am not notorious for being a shopping queen, I can’t recommend you a lot but we can start with that if you want.
So anyone who is interested in vintage or hipster style? I highly recommend the shops around San Telmo and Palermo. To be more precise, the Avenue Defensa has loads of shopping stores. And in Palermo Soho I recommend the streets around Costa Rica and Nicaragua with great dining and night outs options. In Palermo Hollywood you might check out the area around Humboldt Street. (Did you know that Alexander von Humboldt was a German genius and today one of the universities in Berlin carries his name).
Shopping in Buenos Aires is like Disneyland. You can find everything what your heart desires. Undoubtedly, it is a great and convenient city to live in – if you are a city person.
Because I plan to go to southern Argentina, one can’t avoid to buy a winter jacket.
So there are two options for me and of course for you: The first one are the outlet shops in Distrito Arcos in Palermo and the second option would be the shopping area between Av. Corrientes and Av. Rivadavia close to Pueyrredón and Corrientes subway stations.
The first is more like a plaza full with stores lining next to each other and cheaper than normal prizes. But the second option is cheaper, although I can’t guarantee any quality. It looks more like a bazar in South East Asia and you can bargain. It is not the cleanest and safest place in the city, so watch out for pickpockets. I bought my winter jacket there for 750 Pesos.
I went to one shopping mall called Alto Palermo which was quite nice, but I don’t know if I can highly recommend it. I am sure there are better ones. Plenty of boutiques can be found in Avenida Florida, which are expensive. Looking for creative clothes? The answer is Palermo Viejo.
Taking A Walk
I love walking, which means I could walk for hours until my feet ache. There are days when I walked more than 20 kilometres (12 miles) and I enjoyed it a lot. I walk a fast pace, that’s why one of my few pet peeves is, when people walking extremely slowly in front of me. Unfortunately, somehow I often get the same face expression like Mr. Bean when he is annoyed.
The parks in Palermo are terrific and smaller parks spreading around the whole city.
In the evenings Tomas and I always took some walks around Recoleta, I never felt unsafe in this area.
There is a huge park for walking, jogging and cycling in Palermo called Parque Tres de Febrero, close by you can visit the Japanese Garden for 95 Argentine Pesos.
Right now 1$ is 17,5 Argentine Pesos.
In this blog post you can exercise your brain a little bit and do some mental arithmetic, since I am too lazy to convert everything in Dollars at 1 am in the morning while writing this post.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce you one of my favourite places of the city? Its name is Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur. Birdwatching lovers will be delighted. Oh before I forget it, don’t be surprised if you would ever see the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip there and doing some birds photography.
Especially at weekend it is a wonderful place to take a walk and immerse yourself a bit into nature again. You can also learn about new plants, just saying for everyone who is into plants.
Puerto Madero is a very safe area but also an expensive one. I remember how I ate a mediocre overpriced Pizza at the port.
Great flea markets at the weekends as well.
Free Walking Tours
As you know, usually I start all the cities with a Free Walking Tour to get to know the city better, the history, insider tips and the most important thing – its people. I can only recommend you from the bottom of my heart to drop by if you are in Buenos Aires. I did two different tours and had a great walk plus I met nice people, whom I hang out with the next days.
By the way Buenos Aires has many dogsitters. Often I have seen people with ten or more dogs on their leashes.
Feria de San Telmo
The Feria de San Telmo is bustling with food, tango, antiques, handicrafts and trinkets. During Sunday from 10 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon, it is crowded with tourists walking on the cobblestone streets of San Telmo, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires.
The heart of San Telmo is Plaza Dorrego.
My secret tip and less touristy than San Telmo is the Mataderos Fair. It is kind of Gaucho weekly event that takes place from March to December on Sundays, about 11am until the early evening. This fair represents perfectly my cliché and imagination of South America. People dancing happily and smiling all the time. No worries about life and spreading their happiness and love. That is truly a South American experience you don’t want to miss. You can see the gauchos (Argentine cowboys) and their family and friends displaying handicrafts, live music and folk dancing. Cheap and delicious food is of course included.
Feria de Artesanos de Plaza Francia
Recoleta Market might be one of the best markets to find high quality artisans, pottery, woods, yerba mate gourds, jewelry and much more.
Food vendors, a bohemian spirit with some wannabe hippies and street artists while you wander around. Fair prices and opening on weekends as well as holidays, from midday till dusk. Perfect to go out with your lovely friends or family.
I lived in Recoleta when I was in Buenos Aires and it is by far my favourite location. A rich bohemian spirit, a safe area and the perfect location to get around the city. What do you want more?
I love architecture and Buenos Aires’ architecture is intriguing.
My favourite building in the city is Palacio Barolo, located at Avenida de Mayo.
When it was built it was the tallest building in South America. It has a twin brother called Palacio Salvo in Montevideo built by the same architect. The reason why I love the building so much is that the architecture was inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy.
The view from the top offers an aerial view of the city.
Neoclassical architecture is very common in Buenos Aires and most of the buildings were built in the boom years of the late 19th century until the beginning of the 20th century. The particular Italian and French style can’t be overlooked, since many immigrants from Italy swapped over to Argentina in the 19th century.
Around the microcentro there are heaps of neoclassical architecture.
The most famous ones might be The National Congress and Teatro Colón.
Also Art Deco buildings are representative in Buenos Aires.
The colourful quonset huts around the working class district of La Boca’s Caminito are one of the highlights of the city.
Moreover, San Telmo has its colonial houses and Puerto Madero its shimmering towers.
Art & Cultural Activities
I went to quite a few museums in Buenos Aires which I will list in the following and giving them ratings from one until five stars (five will be the best).
The former town hall Cabildo next to Plaza de Mayo is nowadays a museum and dedicated to the time of the British Invasion and has some colonial paintings. A great view over Plaza de Mayo can be taken on the balcony. Entrance is free. 2/5
Hidden behind Casa Rosada is Museo Casa Rosada (for free) which is reflecting the history of Argentina from the beginning of the 19th century. 4/5
In San Telmo is Museo de Arte Moderno, displaying Argentine’s contemporary art.
When I was there, they had an exhibition from Liliana Maresca. 3/5
For students the entrance fee is free. If not, you have to pay 30 Pesos.
Nearby in San Telmo is the National Historical Museum, exhibiting objects related to the Independence War and May Revolution. Ask at the front desk for an English guidebook. Entrance is free. 4/5
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes aka MNBA, one of the most important museums in Buenos Aires displays works of Benito Martin, Degas, Picasso or Rembrandt and many more. Entrance fee is free. 4/5
Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires aka MALBA is promoting the diversity of Latin American Art from the onset of the 20th century until today. 5/5
Everyone who is anyone in Argentine’s history has its own museum. Eva Peron, also called as Evita was one of them. Museo Evita is devoted to one of the most famous persons in the history of Argentina. 3/5
Talking about Eva Peron, her tomb is at
La Recoleta Cemetery. Every notable person in Argentina like the Argentine presidents or Nobel Prize winners have their tombs at Recoleta. It is one of the most beautiful cemeteries I have ever visited. I am not a big fan of cemeteries at all, but this one is truly impressive.
You definitely shouldn’t miss the Kirchner Cultural Center, the largest one in South America.
The center includes a concert hall, auditoriums for theaters and concerts, different halls for events,
40 rooms of art and history galleries and rehearsal rooms.
If you can, you have to drop by at Teatro Colón, the main opera house in Buenos Aires. It is considered to be one of the five best acoustically concert venues in the world.
The theatre was opened in 1908 with Giuseppe Verdi’s Aïda. There are English guided tours behind the scenes which I propose you to join.
Being a vegetarian in Argentina is very difficult, because most of the dishes are unsurprisingly with meat.
But Argentines claim their Asado, Helado (ice-cream) and Pizzas to be one of the best in the world.
What I love is Mate like in Uruguay, and Dulce de Leche. The Dulce de Leche in Argentina is seductively delicious. And Alfajores.
Alfajores are made with two round cookies and a Dulce de Leche filling in between. There are different sort of fillings, but Dulce de Leche is the traditional flavour. Good news for wine lovers.
The areas around Mendoza and Cafayate are well-known for their wines.
Buenos Aires at Night
Buenos Aires is turning night into day.
And every night there are different events in Buenos Aires, you just need to check the website of the city.
I can only give you some recommendations what I did.
I absolutely wanted to join tango classes in BA.
One of them was at La Viruta, 10.30 pm for 150 Pesos. And at La Catedral Club Tango in San Telmo you can try one hour of Tango class for free.
Tomas and I enjoyed very much our Tango class at La Viruta, sometimes they hold dance competitions which are worth to visit.
Free Language Exchanges from Mundo Lingo are on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays at different places in the town. It is a great venue to meet new people and to learn Spanish.
Every Monday at Ciudad Cutural Konex, locals and foreigners are coming together to a drum and music event called “La Bomba de Tiempo“. It lasts for 2 hours and is one of the most popular events in the week. Don’t miss it guys.
Thank you Hernan for showing me this amazing show!
To grab some beers you can consider to go out in Palermo. At Plaza Serrano, the bars and pubs are lining up the streets. I can recommend the Temple Bar with a great ambience.
For live music, go to La Trastienda Club with local or international musicians on the stage.
Usually at night I was walking around Recoleta with Tomas and had some fantastic helado, just to enjoy the night of Buenos Aires.
Brief History of Argentina
I know many people are not interested in history. But I would like to introduce you briefly to the history of Argentina. And for everyone who doesn’t care, of course you can skip this part.
Argentina was thinly populated, before Europeans came. Several times the Spanish conquerors were pushed back by natives defending their home country, while looking for gold and silver. Nevertheless, later Buenos Aires was founded in the 16th century.
For about 300 years, Argentina was part of the Spanish colonies. At the beginning of the 19th century British people tried to capture Buenos Aires but were repelled.
In the following Argentina gained its independence in the early 19th century and finally established its constitution in 1853.
In the early 1900’s, Argentina became one of the wealthiest nations in the world and exported mainly meat and wool. Meanwhile the country received many immigrants from Spain and Italy.
Since 1930 Argentina was taken over by military dictators for most of the time.
During this time, one of the most controversial leaders in the history of Argentina emerged.
His name was Juan Peron, he introduced some welfare measures and got elected twice before he was forced to flee abroad.
During the late 70’s, Argentina suffered from the military dictatorship and thousands of people ‘disappeared’. Meanwhile the inflation continued and later the junta invaded Falkland Islands but it ended with a result of British victory.
Since then the economy in Argentina has experienced a roller coaster ride and it remains to be seen how the economic and political situation will develop in the near future.
But I have big hopes for Argentina’s future.
At least I want to stay optimistic.
See You Next Time, Buenos Aires
Despite some untrue judgements against Argentina and its people, the country has breath-taking nature and landscapes.
In my eyes, many Argentines are very friendly to me. In virtue of different experiences, I have some friends who told me Argentines are not friendly at all.
I had a wonderful time with my friend Tomas and his friends in Buenos Aires. Especially the weekend at a farm in Baradero are moments in life I don’t want to miss. Thank you for everything Tomas, I wish to see you next time in Germany, Argentina or somewhere else in Asia!