Buenos Aires, Argentina.
By Edward Richards
After an uncomfortable and cramped long haul flight, Sunny and I arrived into Buenos Aires. We managed to grab a ride with a taxi service for around $240 Argentinean Pesos’ to our centrally located hostel. We later found out we should have paid closer to $160 Argentinean Pesos’, but then two fatigued gringo’s with barely any Spanish, will always be an easy scam.
Buenos Aires is steeped in history, architecture, nightlife and culture.
With a population of 13 million people, a sharp contrast is evident in Buenos Aires, as you enter the city. On the fringes stand tall, ugly, cramped flats dotted between rundown terraces. As you approach the Microcenter the architecture becomes increasingly neoclassic, originating from a strong French and Italian presence. Ave 9 Julio is the main road leading to the heart of the city and very much resembles the Champs De Aylss in Paris; it becomes apparent why Buenos Aires is known as the “Paris of South America”. With a charming atmosphere, teeming with magnificent buildings, people and advertisements for the latest aftershave, you realise why Buenos Aires is one of South America’s most buzzing cities.
History: Our hostel was located just three blocks to Ave 9 Julio and the historical centre of Buenos Aires. At the heart of the city stands the impressive Obelisco; built in 1936, it commemorates the fourth centenary of the first foundation of the city and stands at an impressive 67.5 metres. Right alongside is Plaza De Mayo - the site of the 1810 revolution that led to the independence from Spain and Casa Rosada - the office of the president and where Evita was renowned for delivering empowering speeches, in the 1940’s. Close by, the Metropolitan Cathedral, finished in 1827 contains the tomb of liberator Jose de San Martin, while Buenos Aires oldest church, Saint Ignatius Church is a must see. The city’s first foundations were erected in 1580 and it feels this way; you could spend days wandering the streets and immersing yourself in the rich history.
Argentineans are extremely patriotic. On our second day in the city we noticed the morning was unusually quiet. We found out that it was a public holiday for “Day of the Flag”. The city was draped in colours of white and blue. Every building or balcony had flags flying and families were enjoying the day off. National pride is similarly evident in the Argentinean character. Regardless of the job, they are always assiduous and well presented. They show compassion for their fellow citizens, whether it be donating money and food to the homeless or cheering on street performers.
Diversity: Buenos Aires is a living, breathing city and her suburbs are like different characters in a story. La Boca is filled with colourful buildings and is great for dinner and a tango show. It is also home to Buenos Aires favourite football team, the La Bocca Juniors. Palmero has great restaurants, bars and parks and is where you will find the hip, young adults hanging out. Recoleta is Buenos Aires most exclusive neighbourhood with beautiful architecture, flamboyant hotels and flashy shops. It is also home to Evita’s grave in the famous Recoleta cemetery – well worth a visit. San Telmo is like a trip back in time with its cobblestone streets and aging mansions. Puerto Madero contains the latest in architecture design, with its flashy apartment blocks and fashionable restaurants, where you can enjoy a Malbec with your Argentinian beefsteak. Buenos Aires is definitely a city of variety.
Culture and music: Music and Tango go hand in hand in this city. Everywhere you go there is live music, in the streets, restaurants and even on the subway. Buenos Aires is music and its people are singing and dancing to their city’s song. It is the birthplace of Tango and it is part of the quintessential Buenos Aires experience. The people of Buenos Aires like to wake up late and party late. Truly a city that never sleeps, people head out to dinner at 10pm, head to the bar at 1am and then the club by 3am. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see people sitting down for dinner at 2am. On our last night in Buenos Aires we decided to party like the locals. We signed up for a pub-crawl, organised by the hostel. The Quilmes and shots were flowing and our Spanish became better. We met people from Brazil, Colombia, Ireland, Chile and of course Argentina. We ended up at the city’s biggest nightclub, holding up to 1600 people with six different dance floors. As the sun began to rise, we knew it was time to call it a night. The Argentinians sure know how to party.
Buenos Aires is an extremely vibrant city. It has so much character and so much diversity. Steeped in history with beautiful architecture to accompany it, it is an essential visit for all travellers. The people are proud, the culture rich and the atmosphere convivial. It definitely won’t be my last visit there.