Experience a whole new level of energy in the continent's greatest city...
Expect: mouth-watering steaks, fanatical football fervour and exceptionally late nights.
Pack: Julio Cortázar's Hopscotch, a taste for wine and an unhealthy amount of Pro Plus.
As I sit in El Federal, a fresh coffee and medialuna by my side, gazing out on to the cobbled streets of San Telmo, I can't help thinking that I've left Latin America. The waitress is grumpy and looks Italian. The menu boasts croque-monsieurs and home-brewed beer. This a city like no other on the continent. Buenos Aires oozes style and sophistication. Its 13 million inhabitants regard themselves, justifiably but unquestionably, as the region's cultural leaders. Referred to as “porteños”, residents of Argentina’s capital like to be set apart from the rest of the country, and indeed the rest of America.
On arrival Buenos Aires seems far more like a hidden European city, with grand arcades, classy clubs and stylish shop fronts; even the Spanish here has a unique Italian twang. But beneath this polished veneer lies a turbulent history, crackling inequality and unfulfilled opportunity. V.S Naipaul famously wrote of what he saw as the ‘porteño-delusion’, describing Buenos Aires as the grand reminder of a great nation that was sadly ‘still born’; a marvellous metropolis, imported whole, deserted, and then forgotten by all but its own inhabitants.
But today, Buenos Aires is far from forgotten. The 2002 financial crash made Argentina, over night, affordable. A city previously priced on a par with London or Barcelona was suddenly open to a diverse mix of travellers, now able to stay long enough to fall in love with the place. As travellers raved, hostels began to pop up across the city, and now, with over 300 hostels open for business, Buenos Aires has without doubt become one of the world’s great travel spots.
For many the busy, punctual aura surrounding the city reminds them of New York, for others the wide boulevards and trendy cafes are, “so Paris”, but arguably the most insightful comparison to be made is with Moscow. Buenos Aires is the beating heart of a vast, unruly country that stretches from the tropics in the north to the tip of Antarctica in the south. As a city it may look towards Europe, but as a capital it governs a distinctly Latin American country. Holding these in dramatic tension, Buenos Aires is shrouded in an entrancing mystique.
Whether sipping a fernet and coke whilst watching the fervid dual of tango at its best; raving well past dawn in the continent’s greatest clubs; or, nursing a hangover with a maté and a copy of Cortázar, the hardest thing to do in Buenos Aires is leave.
|PalermoPalermo is a social hub of Buenos Aires ...at weekends Plaza Serrano is packed out as local designe...||RecoletaThe city’s chic barrio. If you're looking for a bit of glitz and glamour look no further...||San TelmoCafés, galleries and independent fashion stores defines this rustic, arty hub.|
|La BocaThe home of tango, football and real hard work. Colour, grit and passion absorb Buenos Aires' most ...||MicrocentroA diverse hedonist’s playground. Go from thumping drum n bass to the finest café this side of Paris...|