More on Buenos Aires

In 2008, I’ll have spent more time in Buenos Aires than in any other city. It has the laid-back European vibes of Montreal, but with a South American flavor.

Ryan and I are living in a barrio called Palermo Hollywood, a part of town where there are many cafes, restaurants, and “cute little shops” (as my woman friends would say) that would be at home in SF, NY, or Montreal. While it’s populated with uber-stylish porteños and porteñas (men from Buenos Aires are called porteños; women, porteñas), our unstylish selves manage to blend in without getting pummeled by Fendi bags and bad attitudes all that often. There are new condos going up all over the place, and all of them have clean lines that would look at home in Scandinavia. Palermo isn’t all slick and polished, though – the sidewalks are often torn up and many buildings are in a state of disrepair and have barred windows and doors, and the contrast makes the barrio fun to wander.

puerto madero

There is a strong cafe culture here in Buenos Aires. Many are housed in beautiful old-school buildings, but have clean, Scandinavian interiors, which makes for a rad contrast. Cafes are packed all day, and almost all of them have WiFi. There’s also no concept of “turning tables” here, so you can buy a coffee and linger for several hours without feeling pressured to leave. In fact, this is common at restaurants too – the bill (cuenta) isn’t brought until you ask for it. I love working in cafes (or rather, not in office buildings), so this working setup is heaven for me. All this makes for a very chill, low-key vibe (onda).

El Ateneo Bookstore

Although there are people out and about early in the morning, Buenos Aires is a late-night city. Dinnertime starts around 1030p, which means there’s a lot of time to kill between the end of the work day and dinner. Luckily I’ve found some buddies down here who do Crossfit in the evenings in the huge parks in Palermo, so I’ve been able to fill up the time. Instead of Crossfitting, Ryan takes pre-dinner siestas to recover from the many miles he spends wandering the city.

kiss

Late dinners means late start times at the bar. I’m not sure how porteños do it, but they seem to be out at the bars until all hours, and are at work early the next day. This almost killed Ryan and I – we had four nights out until 6a in the past week, and are relieved to currently be in El Calafate, Patagonia, where there’s nothing to do except hike glaciers and relax in the fresh air with cool hostel friends.

puerto madero at night

The people in Buenos Aires are amazing and friendly, with a real zest for life. While my Spanish is poor (but approaching fair), most people are approachable with a big smile. Many younger porteños speak at least some English, though as with all traveling, wild gesticulations and smiles will get you an answer to almost any question.

sleepy dog

The food here is good, though there’s not a ton of variety. The staple is the delicious steak you’ve probably heard about. It’s often served with no sauce but sometimes with chimichurri. Steak is well done here even if you ask for it to be muy jugoso (very juicy). There is a big Italian population here, and the pizzas and pastas are quite good. The Italian influence has also made the ice cream in Buenos Aires better than anywhere else I’ve had it (including Italy!) Freddo is the Baskin-Robbins of BsAs but there’s really no other comparing the two – Freddo’s ice cream benefits from loved cows and Italian recipes.

noah

All in all, it’s a very livable city and I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m back again soon.

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