Take in the fair winds

Scratch be­neath the beau­ti­ful Sur­face of buenos aires, and you dis­cover a des­ti­na­tion with an edgy, latin flair

Virtuozity - - Travel -

Buenos Aires, the cap­i­tal of Ar­gentina, is a sin­gu­lar, open, and in­te­grat­ing des­ti­na­tion that al­lows visi­tors not only to take in as­ton­ish­ing sights, but to also em­bark on ex­cep­tional urban ad­ven­tures. With ar­chi­tec­ture that nods to­wards europe, the city is a marvel just to look at. But scratch be­neath the sur­face and you dis­cover a des­ti­na­tion with an edgy, latin flair. A walk along the back­streets of Buenos Aires can be just as re­ward­ing as a stay in one of the city’s many op­u­lent ho­tels.

the name means ‘fair winds’, or lit­er­ally ‘good airs’, in span­ish. it is one of the largest cities in latin Amer­ica, with plenty of cul­tural of­fer­ings, and is the point of de­par­ture for trav­el­ling to the rest of the coun­try. in­hab­i­tants of Buenos Aires are called porteños—peo­ple from the port— im­ply­ing that many of the in­hab­i­tants are im­mi­grants in some ways or an­other.

in­deed, even the di­alect of span­ish that porteños speak has its own ring to it. “calle” and “pollo”, for ex­am­ple, are pro­nounced

dif­fer­ently in Buenos Aires—with the ‘ll’ tak­ing the form of an English ‘sh’ in­stead of Span­ish ‘y’ or ‘h’. The dif­fer­ence in pro­nun­ci­a­tion prob­a­bly re­flects the in­flu­ence of Ital­ian traders in the port in the 19th cen­tury— many of the words that porteños pro­nounce dif­fer­ently from the rest of the Span­ish­s­peak­ing world are pro­nounced the same as the Ital­ian word for the same thing. If you con­sider your­self a stu­dent of Span­ish—and have per­haps had some prac­tice in coun­tries such as Cuba—you’ll find the Ar­gen­tinian di­alect dif­fi­cult to mas­ter, so it’s worth brush­ing up on how porteños speak.

Re­gard­less, porteños have a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing friendly once you’ve but­tered them up with at least an at­tempt to speak in their own di­alect, so you’ll have lit­tle trou­ble when it comes to ask­ing for di­rec­tions. If you have to re­vert to English, just try to speak with your best Amer­i­can ac­cent, as anti-bri­tish sen­ti­ment runs high across all of Ar­gentina. This is use­ful in­for­ma­tion, not only be­cause to not com­mu­ni­cate with lo­cals would be to miss out on some of the magic of Buenos Aires, but also be­cause there is so much to ex­plore in Buenos Aires that it’s likely you’ll ask­ing for a lot of di­rec­tions.

One of the first ports of call for any tourist is the La Boca dis­trict, famed for its brightly coloured build­ings and arts and crafts. In par­tic­u­lar, the Caminito pedes­trian street has plenty of lo­cal crafts­peo­ple sell­ing their wares, the likes of which you won’t find any­where else in Latin Amer­ica.

There is also a charm­ing river cruise that can be taken from La Boca. It’s rec­om­mended you take this ad­ven­ture on as the day comes to an end, when the huge, pic­turesque metal struc­ture across the river shim­mer against the sun­set.

La Boca is also fa­mous for its tango scene, mean­ing you can of­ten catch glimpses of tango dancers prac­tic­ing in the streets. In ad­di­tion to tango, La Boca is a fa­mous foot­baller haunt. Sell­ers all across the dis­trict will en­cour­age you to take a tour of the La Bom­bon­era Sta­dium, which is sur­rounded by build­ings painted in those fa­mous La Boca bright colours.

Else­where, the Palermo Viejo dis­trict is well worth a visit. A trendy neigh­bor­hood with charm­ing cobblestone streets, book­stores, bars, and bou­tiques, it’s cer­tainly a more au­then­tic ex­pe­ri­ence than that of­fered by the touris­tic San Telmo area.

That said, San Telmo does have its draws. It’s best vis­ited on Sun­days, when tourists and lo­cals alike flood in to at­tend the weekly street fair and flea mar­ket, at which there are any num­ber of great deals to be had on South Amer­i­can an­tiques. And on Sun­day nights, there’s a weekly a tango per­for­mance in the cen­tral plaza, specif­i­cally for tourists. For a deeper dive into the world of tango, or if you want to get in­volved your­self, you can visit one of the many un­der­ground tango clubs around the area.

In­deed, Buenos Aires has plenty of rough-and-ready op­tions for cul­ture vul­tures, even if danc­ing isn’t your thing. For ex­am­ple, the city has a rep­u­ta­tion as one of the street art cap­i­tals of the world, with huge mu­rals cov­er­ing tall build­ings. The best street artists in the world come

to Buenos Aires to paint due to the free­dom the city of­fers. Tours are avail­able to see the big­gest mu­rals in the city in some of its lesser-known neigh­bor­hoods, and they’re of­ten made up of small groups with ex­pert guides.

Or, if you’re more ad­ven­tur­ous, it’s worth tak­ing a day to ex­plore a lit­tle out­side the city by em­bark­ing on a gau­cho party. These themed events al­low visi­tors to spend a night see­ing what it is like to be a real gau­cho. Guests live the life of an Ar­gen­tine cow­boy, rid­ing horses, eat­ing tra­di­tional gau­cho foods, drink­ing tra­di­tional gau­cho wines, and danc­ing into the night. These field trips make for a great way to get out of the city and see an­other side of Ar­gen­tine cul­ture.

Of course, any travel guide to Buenos Aires would be flawed if it did not in­clude some­thing about the city’s gas­tron­omy. Book one of the many food tours around dif­fer­ent neigh­bor­hoods, which take place sev­eral times a week. Dur­ing the tours, par­tic­i­pants visit and taste tra­di­tional foods at four restau­rants, as well as learn about the his­tory and cul­ture around Ar­gen­tine cui­sine. Tours are made up of small groups and very so­cial. And the best thing about them is that you’ll end up eat­ing at es­tab­lish­ments that won’t be in the guide­books.

Fi­nally, spare a lit­tle time to lap up some of Ar­gentina’s fab­u­lous wine scene. Af­ter all, the coun­try is home to the Men­doza re­gion, which is among the world’s most pop­u­lar wine-pro­duc­ing re­gions due to its high al­ti­tude, vol­canic soils and prox­im­ity to the An­des Moun­tains. The ter­rain seems to com­ple­ment the Euro­pean grape va­ri­etals with in­ter­est­ing notes not present when pro­duced in other cli­mates. The best way to ex­pe­ri­ence and un­der­stand the se­lec­tion of Ar­gen­tine va­ri­etals is through a lo­cal wine tast­ing ses­sion, of­fered by any num­ber of com­pa­nies and bars around Buenos Aires.

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