Buenos Aires is an enchantress of a city, filled with stately European architecture, the heady beat of a tango saloon, antiques markets staged in cobblestoned squares and the warmth and passion of the porteños. The winters are mild, the summers warm, and there is so much life in BA – I fell so much in love with this city that I intend to return and live there… one day. We can all dream.
Here are few of my favourite things about La Reina del Plata:
An Argentine grill house serves something called a parillada mixta – usually some combination of steak, chorizo, sausages, blood sausage, ribs, liver, kidneys, and sweetbreads, cooked by the chef then brought to the table on a portable grill, served with a lemon wedge, chimichurri sauce and sides. Parilladas are everywhere in Buenos Aires – the one I sampled (thrice!) was around the corner from Giorgio’s House, where I was based during my stay in the city, a local recommendation.
In general, I loved the food in Argentina… for the first three weeks. I spent my fourth week angling for a fresh salad, curry, sushi, noodles and vegetarian food – there really is so much steak and Malbec, empanadas and pasta one can take! Special mentions go to the Italian-style gelato, more-ish medialunas, dulce de leche con churros, and alfajores – a story for another day!
Tango started in La Boca, a poor, immigrant neighbourhood of Buenos Aires during the 1800s and is synonymous with Buenos Aires. There so many options to experience tango – at staged shows, at local milongas, taking private lessons. There is something primal about tango, with its blend of African and European influences, its sensual movements, and tense, almost-haughty emotion. Every time I watch tango in Buenos Aires, I was transported by the dance.
San Telmo Markets
I love markets – wandering around stalls selling vintage items for a few hours is my idea of a good time, so one of the best things about Buenos Aires for me was the market in Plaza Dorrego, San Telmo. There are a ton of small antiques, local souvenirs and arts and crafts. There’s also a party atmosphere – tango dancers, musicians, face painters, and food stalls offer entertainment and refreshment. San Telmo itself is a wonderful place for a wander – there are plenty of shops filled with character in the area.
Colour in the streets
La Boca is a whirlwind of primary colours – El Caminito, the main street, leading the way with blue, red and yellow buildings housing restaurants, shops and bars. The story here is that a local fisherman, having painted his boats, had some leftover paint left, which is used on his house. Soon, his neighbours followed and La Boca became a rainbow riot of colour. There is also a lot of graffiti in the streets of BA – in the side streets of La Boca itself, along Avenida de Mayo in the city centre, and in Palermo Soho. In Buenos Aires, there is colour everywhere. Graffiti Mundo run local tours, taking visitors off the beaten path and revealing the story behind the street art scene in Buenos Aires – I wish I’d known about this company when I was in BA, but when I go back, I will definitely take a tour with them!
There is so much life, movement, passion and colour in Buenos Aires. I have been twice, and hope to return one day, to put out semi-permanent roots, to learn the tango, speak castellano rioplatense, the local Spanish spoken with an Italian lilt, and become, even if for a little while, a fully fledged porteña. Buenos Aires is a queen amongst cities, and one of my favourite cities in the world.
What I have missed? Share some of your favourite things about Buenos Aires in the comments below!