Buenos Aires is elegant and sophisticated, yet parts of the city still show signs of poverty too. Here, Amy Huang shares some insights into this lovely and cosmopolitan South American city.
Think Evita, elegantly perched over a balcony beckoning her people not to cry for her. It was a scene that was tragic yet beautiful, and sums up what Buenos Aires is like today. The city is elegant and sophisticated, yet parts of the city still show signs of poverty that Argentina still faces in the modern world; a city that is beckoning you not to feel sorry for it, but to visit it, embrace it and discover it.
Why we love it: Forget the South American cliché of bowler hat and llama wool jumpers or the glittery feathered costumes of carnival parties – Buenos Aires is different. Perhaps too different to be considered South American. The Italian heritage brings European chic, and the entire city oozes suave. With the fabulous shopping accompanied by excellent coffee, pastry, and street tango dancers’ sultry steps, it is easy to fall in love with Buenos Aires.
What to do: Explore the antique market and stores at San Telmo and join a street performer for a swirl of tango; emerge yourself in the colors of La Boca and experience some of the best shopping in South America in the city centre. To rest your legs, park yourself in one of the excellent street cafes and simply watch the city and its people.
Who to go with:Buenos Aires is perfect for a girls’ getaway. This modern, stylish city has good coffee, good shopping, history and culture galleries and some very handsome men that can dance!
How long to go for: Go for a weekend to taste the atmosphere of the city, or a week to really enjoy the lifestyle. Buenos Aires is also a good base to visit other parts of South America and it is not uncommon for visitors to rent long-term apartments to call home.
How to get around: Buenos Aires is served by the Subte, an underground transport system that links you to all parts of the city. It is the most economical way to get around, although it can get hot and crowded during peak hours. Taxis are metered, reasonably priced and mostly honest. The alternative is the Remise, used by most hotels and restaurants as they are considered more secure.
5 must dos:
1. Visit the suburb of La Boca and stroll down the El Caminito, where the buildings are decorated with colorful figures and streets are lined with craft stores, cafes, restaurants and pairs of basking tango dancers.
2. Emerse yourself in the national culture movement and learn to tango in one of the Milongas. Confiteria Ideal (www.confiteriaideal.unlugar.com) offer classes six days a week from US$5.
3. Drop in to the Recoleta Cemetery and walk among the rich and famous dead – look for Evita’s grave. On the weekend, the streets outside the cemetery are lined with markets and street performers adding a lively ambiance to this city of the dead.
4. Browse the antique markets of San Telmo. This is a must-do Sunday activity and even if you are not into antiques, come enjoy the day with dancers, artists, mimes and musicians all competing for a bit of your attention. There are plenty of cafes at which to rest your feet and enjoy the bustling atmosphere of San Telmo.
5. Shop! Buenos Aires is a shopper’s paradise and there are plenty of boutique stores offering the finest locally designed fashion that would rival the wares at New York Fashion Week. Leather wear and goods are especially good value here and you are able to find independent stores offering to tailor make jackets and shoes for you at a reasonable price.
Shopping: There are plenty of shopping areas inBuenos Aires, mainly in areas around Av. Santa Fe between Araoz and Libertad; the pedestrian only Calle Florida; the up market Av. Alvear or bargain hunt on Av. Pueyrredon between Av. Corrientes and Rivadavia.
Make sure you are wearing a pair of good solid walking shoes!
What’s it like to be a woman there: Women here are confident and well dressed, and while traditional gender values still apply in many country areas, women can still succeed in a city as diverse as Buenos Aires.
Points of concern for women: Buenos Aires is a relatively safe city, however general precautions apply. Men here get a little flirty, and women traveling alone will attract unwanted but extremely charming attention. Say ‘No’ assertively and walk away. However the up side to this is that expect to have doors held for you and letting you enter a building first, which can be a pleasant novelty.
When to go: There is some kind of festival happening every month so whenever you visit, you’ll find yourself immersed in a party. If you love to dance, visit between late February and early March, catch the Buenos Aires Tango Festival and watch the best dancers strut their stuff. Another festival you are unlikely to find anywhere else is the Día de la Tradición (Day of Tradition) held annually in November, where you can witness traditional gaucho culture with folk music, foods and drinks and excellent display of horsemanship.
Prices: It is easy to find cheap decent meals in Buenos Aires for around US$3 for a simple pasta dish, or around US$10-US$15 for a steak with sides and a glass of wine. A room at the beautiful Four Seasons Buenos Aires, located in the city’s most desired suburb cost around US$360.
Have you ever been to Buenos Aires? Did you get to Tango in the streets or try some of the typical cuisine? Tell us about your trip and any tips you have for other Worldettes that are must-dos or must-sees!