Buenos Aires – 2/3 Europe mixed with 1/3 South America
One of the first things I noticed when we got to Buenos Aires was that it felt just like any big city in Europe. The influence of the settlers that started colonizing this land from the 15th century an onwards is felt in all aspects of the Porteno lifestyle. A Porteno is a native Buenos Aires citizen meaning something like “From the port”. The buildings reminded me of Madrid and Paris with wide avenues and exquisite architecture, largely a product of a productive 1920s. I am not really sure what I was expecting from a city like this, but Buenos Aires quickly felt like home and in the next few blogposts I am going to share a few of the experiences that we had together.
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city in Argentina and also the second largest city in South America after Sao Paolo. After an economic disaster of historic proportions, the good times of the 90s was over for the Portenos and the city was plunged into an economic crisis that they are still struggling to shake off. The crisis caused middle class families to suddenly find themselves out on the street with a seriously uncertain future. A side effect to this was that tourism came in as one of the saviours, as the Argentinian Peso was decoupled from the US dollar and went into a free fall that lured tens of thousands of tourists to the city that had suddenly gone from being one of the most expensive cities in the world, to overnight boasting rock bottom prices all around. This tourist boom helped turn things around to a certain degree, but it was not untill the last couple of years that portenos felt that they could once again walk with a their chin up and look towards a brighter future.
In my eyes BA is a safe city. We walked around freely at night and never felt anything or experienced anything out of the ordinary. From what I have read BA is safe, atleast when you restrict your movement to the inner part of the city know as the Capital Federale. And staying out late is really what BA is all about. This is one of the things that I found more than peculiar as most nightclubs do not even open untill 2am and you finishing a meal at 12 at night is considered normal! Going out in Buenos Aires was so out of our daily rythm that we never even managed to do it.. Pretty sad, but by the time that we were supposed to go out to the clubs at around 2-3 am we were dead tired. So although I have heard good things about the BA nightlife I sadly cannot recommend a single thing.
Other than their local football team Boca Junior, Buenos Aires is also famous for political revolts and uprising with the rise and fall of President Peron as the highlight. This historic drama was highlighted in the movie Evita based upon the life of the Presidents wife Evita and her relationship with the Portenos. I can easily imagine BA in the time of Evita, with splendid parades and dinner parties. BA has a decadent feel and it’s easy to see that the Portenos were used to a much more expensive lifestyle than most of them are living now.
For the duration of our stay we spent 8 nights at the Garden House and then two nights at a bit more fancier hotel to celebrate Elis birthday once more as the first celebration had been on an island on Lake Titicaca. It was really just an exuse to splurge some money on a fine hotel, some fine dining and tango lessons. And it was definently worth it!
If you are looking for something more exotic than Europe, but still don’t want to go all out on less developed countries Argentina and Buenos Aires is a safe bet. It feels European and looks mostly European, but it definently has a distinct feel of something different. Something tantalizing and alluring that will keep you coming back for more. It’s an understatement to say that Buenos Aires got under my skin and I will definently come back for a second serving 🙂
More about Buenos Aires coming up!