Argentina was the country where it all began.
Our travel story started with Mr K buying random tickets to Argentina without consulting me at all. The year was 2011 and it was the end of a hot summer. I was sitting at a kitchen table when my significant other came up from a basement and pronounced to me and his parents that on May 14th, 2012 we were leaving for Argentina for at least six months. At that moment several emotions rushed through my spine: surprise, relief, excitement, and fear.
At that point we knew next to nothing about the first country on our list so we began our research. Boy, we were in for a surprise! Researching useful information can become troublesome especially when going to Latin America. Different reviews told inconsistent stories which only suggested to trust my gut. However, after living there I came up to a few unbiased facts/tips that would help and prepare any new comer.
Are you following me on Instagram? #ArgentinaFunFact is bound to put South America on your travel list.
What to expect and do when visiting Buenos Aires:
- Read the book by Alfredo Candal “Buenos Aires Made Easy!” (Kindle Edition). Alfredo was our local agent and host when we rented apartments in Buenos Aires. His book is a quick fill in on local culture, transportation, and know-hows around the city. It is a fast and very helpful read. It made me feel prepared and I felt calmer by knowing what to expect.
- Bring USA dollars and as many as you can. With dollars you will be free to do more things: everything becomes cheaper by 25 % and you get an additional discount at the stores! At the time of our stay it was next to impossible to get money. It turned out to be one of the reasons we had to leave.
- There is very limited and bad supply of fresh fish or seafood in general. However, there is a market where you could buy some. It smells like chlorine and the choice is limited but you can get your seafood fix. Unfortunately for us and every Argentinian or Porteno at the time conflict with neighboring countries stopped all imports of many grocery items including seafood.
- Buenos Aires is considered the safest city in South America. Many people prejudice before coming to Argentina or Latin America in general. Everyone heard those horror stories about tourists being robbed. After spending there two and a half months there was no problem for us. We heard stories but never witnessed anything out of the ordinary.
If you are wearing an expensive watch, jewelry, clothes, or glasses in the LA BOCA neighborhood then you should probably brace yourself. Otherwise there is nothing to worry about. As a new comer to South American continent here are some useful know-hows: stay away from the empty streets on weekends, dress like locals, and do not look at the maps in the middle of the street.
- Not every meat is amazing in Argentina
Before coming to Buenos Aires I heard that the meat is just spectacular. Sorry to disappoint your taste buds but you can find a better quality in U.S. or Canada. It remains a mystery if it is because of the oppressed farmers or overall expectations; good meat was a rear find.
6. Want to see the whole city and best spots of Buenos Aires in three hours? Then take the hop on and off bus. Mr K and I have taken it and were completely blown away. I know, nobody likes to be “the tourist” on the stupid bus, but it was so worth it! And I mean it! It blew our minds with exceptional details, lots of information and an easy- breezy service. We have seen everything in just a bit under three hours.
The bus takes you to see the city and explores all the important neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires. From the famouse La Boca (ghetto neighbourhood) to Belgrano it was informative and exceptional. You can really appreciate the city for itself. What I loved about it the most is that the three hours really energised me to do and explore more. Moreover, it did not feel touristy at all, more like an “observer”. I was watching people and getting to know their ways of life while listening to interesting stories about different neighborhoods and personalities playing in my ear.
Second floor of the tour bus offers spectacular views and a cheerful atmosphere on a sunny day. I highly recommend it!
Later, our visit turned out to be two and a half months due to civil unrest and dollar shortage but it was a good stay regardless.
I was again lucky to interview a friend who visited Argentina many times and ended up marrying one. Stay tuned for the next post where we are going to discover even more places on places to see and things to avoid!
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