I confess I had little expectations about Buenos Aires. Maybe that’s because Argentina is “just around the corner” from Brazil and we usually do not value things that come easy. I’ve considered visiting it, but that’s something I kept pushing for later and later (almost) never came.
Then out of the blue, I had my ticket to spend 4 days there. When I arrived in Buenos Aires I still didn’t think much of the city. I thought that eating a good alfajor and drinking red wine would be good enough. Oh, so naive…
I feel my judgement was completely unfair. Buenos Aires had me at hello! The city is pretty, clean, safe and packed with amazing things to do and see. I’m not overreacting when I say: Buenos Aires just made into my very-favorite-cities-ever ranking!
You know that kind of passion that takes your breath away? That’s what happened. I couldn’t say enough: this city rocks! Now yeah, the traditional touristic attractions are beautiful and cool, but what really got me was the city soul, its identity. That’s the only way I can define it. So I’ve been thinking about the special moments I’ve spent there that left me so in love like this.
1. A city made for people
Buenos Aires has such a strong European influence that its nickname is South American Paris. Where could I see this influence? The sidewalks. With wide and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, plain streets and many crosswalks, the streets of Buenos Aires are constantly inviting you to walk around the whole day long – one of my favorite things anywhere in the globe!
The city had also many squares that people actually use. Lovely!
2. Roofless galery
The architecture of Buenos Aires is really impressive even if you’re not a master in the subject – my case. You get the feeling that almost every building is governamental, for they’re all so beautiful! Another precious detail I enjoyed there: lovely doors!
I arrived in Buenos Aires scared as hell after hearing the weirdest stories about pickpockets in metros, mean-spirited taxi drivers and many others. Maybe I was lucky, but I cannot tell even one time I felt unsafe in the city. On my first day, I actually walked around the whole afternoon with my camera hanging on my neck and I was completely comfortable. One person actually stopped me during my walk, but just to compliment my picture, which reminds me…
4. The sympathy
I don’t know if that’s just a brawl between Brazilian and Argentinians, but I expected some hostility from the hermanos, and everybody was so nice to me. The waiters made an effort to explain the menu, spelled the wi-fi password and even tried to speak Portuguese when found out I was Brazilian. The service was excellent in most places I’ve been to. Lovely!
5. The bread
OMG, is there a law or anything that forces the bread to be so good? I can’t explain the magic behind them. I could easily live out of bread there. That would be a obese but very happy existence.
I found many porteños completely passionate about their city and its history. All the Uber drivers (which just started there April’16) I talked to talked with me about politics, economy and education in the country with such passionate mastery that I was amazed. And the best I could do was to nod and talk about the weather.
7. The (many) book stores
I just love a good book store! I’ll confess I’ve lost the habit of visiting them after I bought my Kindle. Just an important note: buying the Kindle was my best decision ever!, but I miss the process of discovering books through their covers, walk around great selections taking notes for my next reading, reading the first page as soon as you leave the store just to see if you connect with the story…
Book stores are so amazing that they’ve turned into a tourist attraction in Buenos Aires: the wonderful El Ateneo Grand Splendid. But there are many others around the city – so many, in fact, that it was recognized as “Book World Capital” by UNESCO in 2011.
8. Flower Stands
There is just something special about being able to buy flowers in the middle of the street. In Buenos Aires you can get your flowers the same way you buy your newspaper: in a sidewalk stand. By the way, flowers and newspaper is not a rare combination there.
I saw many charming newsstands in Buenos Aires. Some were so filled with every possible kind of newspaper and magazines that was impossible see if there was someone inside. And many porteños go around the one of the city’s many cafés with a newspaper under their arm. I might have never bought a newspaper in my entire life, but that scene just put a smile in my face. And if that’s not the soul of the city right there, I don’t know what is!
10. Neighborhood Identity
I would visit a neighborhood and soon it turned into my favorite one. Buenos Aires has lovely neighborhoods, each one with its own lifestyle and identity, and I could easily dedicate an entire stay in each one of them.
The Centro (downtown) is huge, packed with classical buildings and flower beds, besides classic attractions as Teatro Colón, Obelisco, Casa Rosada and Galerias Pacífico.
San Telmo has charming features, streets in paving stones – almost a travel in time. On Sundays, the famous Feira de San Telmo happens here.
At Recoleta you’ll find little bars with chairs along the sidewalks, a movie-like cemetery and an amazing cultural center with art exhibitions, the Fuerza Bruta show and food truck area.
Puerto Madero is the sweetheart for many Brazilians, with many good restaurants and the most amazing view to Darcena river.
And Palermo is the biggest neighborhood – so big that it has subdivisions, like Palermo Soho, the coolest corner in Buenos Aires, with galleries, indie stores with local artwork, many restaurants and pubs.
I left Buenos Aires already thinking about my next chance to come back. And that’s exactly the thing about “South American Paris”: go as many times as you can and get to know a different corner of the city each time, discover new attractions and eat different breads – seriously, they SO good!
Buenos Aires, hasta pronto!