Buenos Aires was the start of my journey through South America in 2015. It’s a vibrant city where you won’t get bored easely. The inhabitants called “Porteños” are very friendly, especially when you have an open attitude towards them. I arrived on the day of New Year’s Eve, so I had a party planned immediately. I was invited by two girls whom I met online through couchsurfing.com before my journey had even begun. The tradition in Argentina is to have a New Year’s Eve dinner with family and friends. So, I was lucky to be welcomed into this lovely family. I got to taste many local dishes on my first night and even was included in the gift exchanging at end of the night. I could not have wished for a warmer welcome.
Where to stay… How about the artistic and lively neighborhood called “Palermo”
My hostel was situated in one of the better neighborhoods of Buenos Aires called “Palermo”. You can find a bed in a dorm for about €9, -. Especially if you are planning to stay for a longer period of time, ask for a discount. Each street in Palermo is filled with restaurants, terraces, bars and exclusive boutiques. I felt very safe in this neighborhood.
Though Buenos Aires is one of the safer cities to visit in South America you still have to be conscious of your surroundings as in any other big city around the world. During my first week, I met 2 backpackers who had been robbed. One of which of they just stole money but the other one lost his entire backpack on his first day of his backpack adventure. Not a great start of your journey of course, but I travelled through South America for 11 months and have not been robbed once as well as most other long term travellers I met along the way.
Where to study… Or how to find a local organization who offers affordable Spanish classes
I stayed in Buenos Aires for about six weeks. In the mornings, I went to school where I had Spanish classes. I had an advanced class with 3 other students and learned a combination of south American Spanish and Argentinian Spanish. If you book your classes at a local organization you will pay less than €400,- to study Spanish for a month. Which is a lot cheaper than what you would pay if you chose one of the bigger international organizations. I took my classes at www.verbum.biz.
What to do… Adaption to the Argentinian lifestyle
In the afternoons when I did not have Spanish classes, I studied, got to know the city and slept a siesta every once in a while. With temperatures in January rising up to 36 degrees Celsius and a high humidity, siestas were necessary sometimes and of course I also had to be fit again for the evenings because those are long in Buenos Aires. At night, I would usually meet up with my Argentinian friends.
Dinnertime doesn’t start until 22:00 o’clock and around that time all the terraces of the restaurant are filling up and the city really starts getting alive. For about €20,- you will get a main course with an Argentinian steak, fries, a salad and a bottle of wine. You can already get a good bottle of wine in a restaurant for just €5. Argentinian steak is pretty much the best steak in the world! I met backpackers who came to Argentina just for the steak and I can understand why.
Every night you can find a nice party and the locals know exactly where to go. While you are in Buenos Aires you have to visit at least once La Bomba de Tiempo, which is a percussion ensemble that gives live concerts at the Konex venue every Monday night. You can find more info on their website: http://www.labombadetiempo.com/en
Where to go next… there are so many beautiful national parks in the south of Argentina
From Buenos Aires I booked several bus tickets in southern direction. My journey continued to Bariloche, which is in the center of Argentina and well known for its beautiful lakes, mountains and nature. A must-go if you like hiking. It’s a bus ride of 22 hours, which is why I made sure to get a cama-seat, it means your chair goes all the way back so you can get some rest while enjoying unending views of pretty much nothing. After Bariloche I traveled to many other places on the Argentinian as well as the Chilean site of Patagonia. About which I will write more in my Patagonian blog.