“OMG, we are going to live in Buenos Aires. I’m gonna learn Tango, eat the best stake on the earth and hit the beach everyday”- this is what I thought when my husband was appointed to Buenos Aires.
But, this is the case when your expectations don’t meet the reality and you get disappointed. We have been living in Buenos Aires for 3 months now and I have lots of disappointments about this city. I wouldn’t say I don’t like this place, I just had very high expectations. Everything is a bit different from what we are used to. There are many positive things about Buenos Aires that you can still enjoy.
One of the things that I like here is mild winter. The winter months are June, July and August and the average temperature is around +15. The coldest month is July, we had even 0 degree for one day. We are very happy to have such a mild winter after surviving two coldest Canadian winters. But it’s very humid and +22 might feel like +30 here. If you happen to travel to Buenos Aires in winter pack some jackets too.
I also love the architecture of the city. While walking in the city I can’t help taking photos of neoclassical and art nouveau style buildings. The streets of Buenos Aires remind me mix of Paris, Madrid and Rome. They are full of history and you can find lots of historical buildings. Especially Recoleta district of Buenos Aires is called Paris. It’s so true! I love just strolling around in that area. It makes me feel in Europe :-D)
Now, about shopping. Since we arrived, we have been checking or I would say making a market research to find best deals. And we succeeded in some cases :). Life is very expensive and prices keep going up with rocket speed. You have to keep an eye for the prices as you can find the same thing for different prices in different sales points. We were also disappointed with fashion industry of Buenos Aires. You can’t find most of the global fashion brands here. There are lots of local brands and they are super expensive. I thought if it was a local product it should be cheaper than the imported one. But not in Argentina. All the local products are expensive due to high taxes, production costs and high salary of workers. Workers demand the salary increase every year and you can easily run into a manifesto in downtown either for salary increase or demanding something else from the government. The Obelisk Square is one of the favorite places of protestors. Watch out while taking a stroll in downtown :).
Ok, let’s talk about the myths that we are used to hear about Buenos Aires. I think, this city is over-advertised and over promised to tourists.
- Everybody dances Tango and you can see street Tango everywhere. No, unfortunately NO! I love Tango, but I saw a street tango only once which was not in traditional tango costume thou. And almost nobody can dance Tango. People used to dance Tango a lot in the middle of XX century, but it’s not so popular any more. It’s like a heritage now and you can see Tango dance only in special shows or on the street in certain places of Buenos Aires like Boca, where mostly tourists go. But you should be careful with Boca, it’s not pretty safe to walk in the darkness. You better take a tour in the daytime and go back to the downtown. Be careful with the bikers, they can grab your phone or bag easily and ride away. I heard couple of cases happened recently and I use only my cross-body bags :).
- The fileteado porteno typography is the style of Buenos Aires and handmade crafts are sold everywhere. Ahh, I can’t find anything in the fileteado style which would show me the real spirit of Buenos Aires. Only Boca has that spirit and you can find lots of handmade souvenirs in that region. The rest of Buenos Aires is like another European city. If you have ever been to Istanbul, you probably have seen the Ottoman style calligraphy and Ottoman patterned tiles everywhere. I thought I would find the fileteado porteno everywhere here, alas I’m still looking for.
- People live with football. Nah, I wouldn’t say everybody loves football here. Most of the men are crazy about football, but I have seen more sport bars where people used to watch hockey in Ottawa than crowded sport bars to watch football in Buenos Aires. I was expecting to see every pub or sport bar filled with crazy football fans watching football. It’s not like that, believe me. They are also ordinary people watching and playing football sometimes :). And one more thing related to football that made my husband crazy is that, you can’t buy a ticket without the travel agencies or annual membership. The membership fee is around $1000 per year and you have to pay for every ticket extra. Whaaaat?!! He is struggling to get a ticket to Boco and River match, but no luck yet. Hopefully, he will get one soon!
- And there’s no beach in Buenos Aires! This city doesn’t have any access to ocean. There’s a boulevard in Puerto Madera at the bank of La Plata gulf, but the water is so polluted that nobody can swim there. There is a nice beach in Mar del Plata in 3 hours of driving to south from Buenos Aires, though the water is usually chilly you still can enjoy the beach itself.
Despite our disappointments we enjoy our stay and I will share more about the places to visit in Buenos Aires. I’m still exploring this new world. To be continued…