Living the Argentinean dream in Buenos Aires capital
January 1, 1970
by Elske Gravesteijn
Argentina has been my dream. Having perfect pictures in my mind of gauchos, vineyards and Latin life. I have to admit that this special liking is partly due to Julia’s tango, a Dutch TV series about four women starting a bed and breakfast in Buenos Aires. It gives you this nice summer vibe because of fluttering dresses, red wine and passionate tango. After dreaming about this country for years I finally had booked my ticket to Buenos Aires. I was excited but also a little bit nervous at the same time. My plan was to go travelling for four months in Argentina by myself. Could this travel fulfill my Argentinean dream?
Upon arrival at Ezeiza international airport I closed my eyes and took a deep breath to inhale the magical feel of Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, this did not happen to me. Maybe my expectations were too high after a full day of travelling and ending up with sticky weather after the snowy country that I had left. On top of that, my first hostel experience was quite interesting. When I reached the hostel in Microcentro there was no electricity, no water available, or any English speaking person present. After a while I could manage to find my mixed dorm that I had booked to have my first night in South America. As this was Buenos Aires there were people stumbling into the room at any time point and started talking unregarded of my attempt to close my eyes and get some sleep.
Dulce de leche savings
The next day all the hostel trouble had gone. Despite a night of little sleep I realised that I had woken up in Buenos Aires. For me a good breakfast session gives me the vibe of a fresh start, a new day. What cannot be missed at the breakfast table in Argentina is a big jar of dulce de leche. The taste of this caramel like creamy paste is smooth and delicate. It is one of the most favourite bread toppings but it combines even better with cookies, ice cream, banana or coco pie which makes this sweet addiction complete. Soon a different light had shed on my first impression.
An eclectic range of feel good vibes
Without a plan I dove into the elegant streets of Buenos Aires. The city is divided in different areas which each have a unique atmosphere. There is the fancy chic Palermo with loads of hipster bars, touristic Microcentro with Florida shopping street, posh Recoleta with classy boutiques and curly balconies, cozy San Telmo with cobbled streets, the refreshing new breeze in Puerto Madero, and colourful La Boca where both tango and soccer are most important. All these regions give a specific flavour to the vibrant city of Buenos Aires. Throughout the entire capital you will find peaceful parks with ancient trees and golden lampposts. Plaza San Martin is one of such places and perfect to enjoy the ice cream art of Vanshelato. This ice cream parlour will definitely exceed the expectations of the Italian people.
After visiting the places where the city is famous for it is time to discover the real Buenos Aires. Places as the triumphant obelisk, the Recoleta cemetery with Evita and the pink presidential palace at the Plaza de Mayo are famous for a reason and should definitely be included in your exploratory round. However, Buenos Aires has so much more to offer. That was why I came back four times during my travel around Argentina. Every time I returned to this metropolis it was a completely different adventure than the one before. I found out that I prefer a way of travelling that is not just about ticking the touristic highlights but discover what is beyond that.
The real Buenos Aires
After I enjoyed my time at the market in San Telmo I found out about the market in Mataderos. You can visit these street markets on Sundays where they sell all kind of handcrafts. Whereas in San Telmo you are surrounded by tourists and can buy the typical souvenirs, the Feria de Mataderos is in true Argentinean style. The sound of folklore music is mixed with the smell of the grilled cuts of beef. The locals are dancing on the streets in traditional clothes. The men shine with their wide pants, beautifully decorated belts and leather boots. The women to be seduced sparkle in flamboyant dresses and clip their fingers to tease the men. The goods that are stalled make you worry about the size of your backpack. It varies between handmade ceramics, leatherwork and fine jewelry with the typical Argentinean red coloured stone. This place just has the perfect balance between traditional food, provincial handicrafts and cheerful folk music to fall in love with Buenos Aires.
In order to take a moment and enjoy the beautiful city I took a bus to San Isidro. After driving one hour along one and the same street I reached the outskirts of the town. From the riverside you have a stunning view on the skyline of Buenos Aires. I could not believe that this was part of the vibrant capital of Argentina. It was so calm. The festival Folk Hasta Que Se Ponga El Sol benefits from this perfect location. Once per month they invite inspiring people who amuse the couple of porteños with their guitars and voices. Laying out a picnic rug with a bottle of fernet is the best way to encounter a feeling of bliss. There are no lights, just lighted candles.
Going home with farewell chills
I did not want to wake up from this dream so I was searching for something spectacular on my last night in Buenos Aires. With my bag full of pieces of Argentina to bring home I went to the cultural centre in Recoleta. There is a show called Fuerza Bruta which blows your mind. You get chills because you do not know what to expect, but that seems to be part of the whole experience. The best conclusion for this is to not ask questions, just buy tickets. For me it was a surprisingly good closure of my travelling adventure. Difficult though it was to leave Buenos Aires. You know this feeling to leave a place but you know it will not be the last time? This was definitely not a definite goodbye.
Hasta pronto Buenos Aires!