Buenos Aires, Argentina: An IntroductionJanuary 26th, 2014 | Posted by in Argentina | The Places We've Been
I’m fairly positive any “introduction” to Buenos Aires is destined to fall woefully short. Argentina’s buzzing capital of 13 million (making it the second largest metro area in South America after São Paulo and, by most measures, one of the twenty largest cities in the world) is one of the most culturally rich and complex places I have personally ever seen. As such, it is also South America’s most visited city, ahead of even Rio de Janeiro. Residents of the city proper, called porteños after BA’s important position at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata, live in forty eight different barrios (neighborhoods). Often called “The Paris of South America,” the nickname does seem deserving; the city’s rich European style architecture is a varied mix of many different styles.
Below are some expected highlights. We’ll report more thoroughly later on the things we actually encountered.
- Wine. Western Argentina’s abundance of wine production means you can get a decent bottle here for less than the equivalent of $2. Malbec is one of the most popular grapes.
- Tango. This undeniably sexy dance was born in Buenos Aires.
- Beef. Argentina is famous for its beef production and for its beef consumption. Per person, they eat more beef per year than any other country on earth.
- Distinctive neighborhoods. Palermo is hip, Recoleta is posh and polished, San Telmo is like living history, La Boca is colorful, Puerto Madero is undergoing a renaissance…the list goes on and on.
- Walking. There is a great and reliable subway (called the “Subte” for subterráneo), and taxis are plentiful and cheap, but if you’re going less than a mile walking is probably going to be the fastest mode of transport. Not complaining.
- Mate. The national hot drink of Argentina (and Uruguay and Paraguay and parts of southern Brazil).
- Hot hot heat. Yeah, we are in BA in the hottest month of the year. A lot of porteños take vacations upriver to the town of Tigre or in cooler parts of the country in January.
- Pope stuff. Alright, I don’t really expect to see THAT much pope stuff, but Francis is from here, and I had to work that in somehow.