Welcome to Argentina
From the would-be Paris of South America across the pampas to the deserts of the west or the glaciers of the south, Argentina is a country of contrasts. People have strong opinions here and even if they are vocal in their support for or opposition to the powerful Kirchner dynasty, Argentinians are proud of their culture, their food, their beautiful country and above all else, their football. In many ways, Argentina is a Spanish speaking South American country with an Italian accent. The pronunciation of words may surprise you at first, but eventually you will be seduced. Above all, this is a country to be visited and experienced in its diversity. Take note, however, you will need time to give it justice. Distances here are vast and getting from one place to another may take twenty hours or a shorter but more expensive plane trip. The cults of Evita and El Che live on here and it is interesting to hear the local take on these icons of world history. Welcome to Argentina, folks!
The first thing that struck me about Buenos Aires as I gazed out of the airplane window was its size. Also, whereas New York had a clearly defined centre in Manhattan, Buenos Aires seemed to have big clusters of high rise buildings in different places. Also, I could not but notice the disparity of wealth between different areas of the city. Some areas were clearly somewhat in the style of Manhattan as noted above, but others closer to the airport were shanty towns with mud roads and houses with corrugated iron roofs. Welcome to South America, I guess.
On my arrival, having cleared customs and immigration, I quickly found the official taxi service who already had my reservation with all the details of my destination in Palermo. Leaving the terminal building at Ezeiza, I immediately noted the cold, which was a bit of a shock after the heat and humidity of the previous day in New York City. Given the distance of Ezeiza Airport from the centre and the early Monday morning traffic, it took quite a while for us to get to the address where I was staying in Palermo. When I finally arrived I was greeted by the family that my Spanish school had arranged for me to stay with and Barbara, my host, showed me everything I needed to know. She also offered me coffee, but by this stage I had been travelling for thirty-seven hours and I had also been wearing the same socks and shoes for the same length of time. I needed to shower and change quickly in order to reclaim my lost humanity. Exploring the city would definitely have to wait for another day.
Neither the city nor the country would disappoint and it was with a heavy heart that I would depart some weeks later.
Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls surely come top of any ‘To Do’ list in Argentina. Both destinations will often figure on high on any South American itinerary. Visit the capital and its ‘barrios’ here at Unlatinoverde, not to mention the mighty Iguazu Falls, which must be one of the greatest spectacles on our planet. For many travellers, Argentina is the first port of call on a South American odyssey and it delivers in style.
Make sure to visit
- The back streets of Palermo (Buenos Aires), a great place to wander and find arty coffee shops and cool bars
- Recoleta Cemetery (Buenos Aires), the final resting place of the great and the good in this South American nation
- Iguazu Falls in Argentina (up close and personal) and in Brazil (the dramatic panoramas)
- San Telmo market (Buenos Aires) on Sunday, a taste of the vibrant essence of the country and the continent
Iguazu is a once in a lifetime experience…
An Alternative To Travel
Many travellers start their South American trip in Buenos Aires before going on to explore the rest of the continent. As a result, the Argentine capital is a good place to learn Spanish and there are plenty of schools to meet that need.
Follow this link to find out more about my experiences studying Spanish in Buenos Aires and Sucre, Bolivia.
Interested in staying in the capital?
Buenos Aires is a world city and often appears on many a South American bucket list. The city is vast and offers a variety of activities and neighbourhoods to explore.
Follow this link to the article ‘5 Great Things to do in Buenos Aires’ to get a quick rundown on some of the highlights of the city.