Welcome to Buenos AiresIf you are thinking of heading to Buenos Aires, stop thinking about it and just do it already. A wine and beef lovers paradise. With mind blowing Malbec’s and world-renowned beef. Sure Alberta Canada, Japanese Kobe and lesser known Orlando, USA and Prince Edward Island, Canada’s beef is great, but until you’ve had Argentina’s beef, your opinion is to this point, invalid. But I’ll get back to that in a minute.
First let’s talk about which area of the city you will want to search for a hotel. My suggestion to you is to stay in the Palermo area. It is very central with a lot of great gardens, shopping, cafes and bars within walking distance. And of course, you will find a wide variety of lodging available in this area as well.Secondly, one thing you must be informed of before travelling to Argentina is the kiss on the cheek for greetings or also known as a beso. In Argentinian culture, it is the norm when greeting somebody, even a stranger, to give a kiss on the right cheek. Yes, even for two guys. However, Argentinians don’t make the kiss noise, but rather just a quick lean in and a slight and quick cheek graze instead of a formal North American Handshake. So, remember when leaning in, go left. Therefor grazing right side cheeks. If you go the wrong way that will lead to a very awkward situation for you for sure!
Now let’s talk Taxi’s and driving in the city. Your first time stepping into an Argentinian taxi, you will have no idea, unless you have read my blog, that at some point during your taxi ride, you will fear for your life! No, not because the taxi drivers are thugs. But because in general, driving in Buenos Aires is a Ludacris adventure. A real-life thrill ride where, yes, your life may be in danger, due to stop signs and even red traffic lights, mean absolutely nothing to every driver on the road. A circus show of cars weaving in and out of each other at four way stops, while every vehicle on the road is honking their horn in anger at the others. You will, want to wear your seat belt and keep all extremity’s inside the vehicle, at all times. I don’t want to scare you away from going but it is part of the adventure and just understand that these people have been driving this way their entire lives. It is completely normal to them and they are good at it. A coordinated mess of high-speed excitement.
The entire city of Buenos Aires will shut down from 2pm-4pm. This is their afternoon siesta time. I’m dead serious, you will even have a hard time finding a gas station open between these times. Its their culture and in my opinion, the fact that we don’t do this is a prime example of everything that is wrong with North America. Down in South America, they really have it figured out, with construction workers all sleeping in their trucks, stores locked up with people napping behind the counters, banks closed. I mean everything is closed.
Now of course you’ve heard in my other blogs, that one of my favorite things to do upon arriving in a new city is hit up the best pub-crawl that they have to offer. Thus, insuring making new and great international friends and even to get ideas of other things the city has to offer that you hadn’t discovered through your own research. I have found that more often than not, that I will change my plans drastically because some other foreign travelers new about something amazing that I didn’t, and I will quickly research it and determine that it is probably better than my previous plans. Buenos Aires has an amazing pub crawl, not surprisingly called the Buenos Aires Pub-crawl! It starts and I cant guarantee you that it stays in the Palermo area because the night will absolutely get hazy. So add your new found friends to social media sooner than later.I highly recommend you go get yourself certified in Tango dance while you are in Buenos Aires! Yes you read that right! And no, it won’t take any longer than about 3 hours. And yes, you are definitely allowed to drink and its actually encouraged. Just look up and pick one of many Tango Cabaret Dinner theater shows and make sure it has the before part where you and your partner learn to dance Tango style from an actual instructor. At the end of this lesson you will be awarded with an actual certification in the Art of Tango Dance! And you can be like me and list it at the top of your resume. So in short, you learn to dance a few basic and one slightly more exotic steps for about an hour with an open bar, and then leads into a social drinking atmosphere where you’ll be awarded with your certificates and then you’ll be sat at tables for a stunning tango dinner theater performance. Well worth every penny.Next, if you do not go to at least one wine tasting event while you are in Argentina, then honestly, why did you even go there? Argentina has, hands down the best wines on the planet. In my semi expert opinion. They keep all the good ones for themselves and export very little from the small authentic family vineyards which sometimes only bottle about 2000 bottles per batch of very specific Malbec’s. And once those 2000 bottles are gone, you will never have that particular wine again. There are many tastings available with in the city from Sommeliers who personally live their lives sipping and tasting wines from the region and bringing the best bottles to you. A wide varietal array of velvety, leathery, smoky, berry, smooth, full bodied, dry, whatever your pallet desires, you shall find. Your host will take you through the proper way of tasting and ask you to describe what you taste. A perfect test because in this case there are no wrong answers. You’ll find everyone is pretty quite at first until about 3 glasses in. I had never experienced a contradictory wine before an Argentinian Malbec from a small family vineyard before. That is, a wine that smells of rich cherry and apricot to the nose but then on the taste buds thick cigar smoke and leather and left a velvety finish on the tongue. Most of these places will ship any bottle you’d like back home for you, and you can even be put on a list for 6 different bottles per month, personally picked by a professional sommelier that definitely knows what they are talking about. But unfortunately for Canadians our liquor law prohibits citizens from being able to import liquor. So, we must just live with taking home the standard 1 liter of alcohol duty free every trip home.
Argentina is world renowned for their beef. It is a fact not well known to North Americans. But spread the word, because I can personally vouch for it. There are many extraordinary Spanish BBQ restaurants about the city. All with only Spanish menus, and most of the time I was there I didn’t even know what I was ordering but I new Carne de Vaca was Spanish for Beef so id just point at this word and they would bring me whatever. On one occasion I ordered an entire roast which was served raw and sliced into one-inch pieces. They brought hot coals in a metal tray with a grilling grate on top and plopped it down on the table in front of me. I said wonderful and ordered an entire bottle of Malbec. I was in my glory, cooking and drinking and having great convo with friends.
Be aware that there are two types of restaurants in Argentina service wise. On the one hand, will be more so of your lunch places and pubs. In those restaurants, the server will only come to your table once. That is it. It seems a strange concept for us North Americans to accept, but when your server comes, have your drink order and also your food order ready to go. Because they are not coming back. And if you track them down and ask for something else, they will consider that to be rude on your part. Since tipping is not customary in Argentina and at some places considered rude, this is just the way it is. They sell extra big beers, even up to 2 liters in size. So, if you plan on sticking around for a while in one restaurant, order the biggest beer they have, and they will bring it in a bucket of ice for you to keep it cool and you will just poor it yourself.
The next type of restaurant is what you will find at a fancy place for supper. Or simply a more touristy place or somewhere your hotel recommended to you to go eat, where they are used to serving foreigners like us. These will be normal for us where the servers will come around very often to check on you.
One more suggestion for Buenos Aires, is to take a day trip out of the city to Iguazu Falls. On the border between Argentina and Brazil, they make up the largest waterfall system on the planet. A truly impressive sight.Argentina
Alcohol price $$
Locals- Are friendly for the most part. They can be a little stand offish to foreigners if you don’t speak Spanish. Everyone in the tourist industry is fantastic though. Overall, they are great.