I have been trying to write this article about Argentina for a month in inspiring grey London.
Finally, I am sharing with you 5 good reasons to visit Northern Argentina.
Buenos Aires : bits of Europe in South America
One could easily mistake a day in Buenos Aires in August with autumn time in any European capital city: people, shops and boulevards are strangely similar.
Argentina’s main city has a lot to offer and it takes a few days to cover it all. You can feel the Italian immigration waves of the XXth century in the lovely small cafés on every street corner and the ice cream culture. In Buenos Aires, you can greet people with ‘Ciao’.
If you are visiting, I would advise you to have a guided tour. Argentina’s recent political and economic past is stormy and Buenos Aires has always been at the center of the turmoil. Our guide explained that Peronism, a political movement that was created in the 1940s, still tears families apart over ideas and ideals.
The Plaza de Mayo, visible from the presidential palace, crystallizes those tensions. There is more than one demonstration a day taking place on its shattered cobblestones. The two main causes represented are the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and the unrecognized veterans of the Falklands war.
– My doll is very smart, she says “Mummy” when I press her tummy
-She is foreign, isn’t she ?
-I don’t know, why ?
-Because if she was Argentinian and you pressed her tummy..
-..she would scream “Strike ! “
But Buenos Aires is not only a politicized and bruised city. It is also a city of improvised tangos, museums and markets, incredible street art and lazy afternoons drinking mate with friends in public parks.
Credit : Ann
If you want to become a true Porteño, a inhabitant of Buenos Aires, you need a hot water thermos, the proper glass and straw and mate herbs.
To observe the Iguazy Falls, we had to reach the edge of the country next to Brazil and Paraguay.
One side of the falls is in Argentina, the other one in Brazil. The powerful waterfall spreads over hundreds of meters and can be seen from afar. We walked for a few hours on easy paths with other tourists of all ages to arrive above the “Throat of the devil”. The rumble, the mist, the flow, everything is breathtaking.
Among the activities in the parc, a boat can take you under the falls. Do take rain ponchos with you but be warned, you will get soaked.
We were the victims of the cheeky coatis which steal the tourists’ lunch : one second of distraction and their paws were all over our sandwiches, the fight was lost before it even began and the only thing left to do was going back to the shop with our tails between our legs.
The region, birds and vegetation made me nostalgic of Costa Rica living my life barefoot in a 4×4 in a tropical climate.
And as a result to this expedition, we got a Brazilian stamp in our passports.
Credit : Ann
Fooooooood in Argentina
Credit : Ann
I have rarely eaten as well as during those two weeks. We explored different regions and the local cuisine was tasty everywhere we went. My travel buddies would also tell you all about Argentinian wines.
The food is rich, wholesome and non spicy. What we ate the most was empanadas : they are sold everywhere, they are cheap and you cannot go wrong with them. And you cannot leave Argentina without trying their milk jam or dulche de leche, if you feel your levels of sugars are low, it is the remede your are looking for.
Practice your Spanish
Most of the tourists we encountered were visiting their own country or came from the rest of South America. Spanish is the language of all communications, English is barely understood in Buenos Aires and not useful in the rest of the country. Argentina has a Spanish of its own with a particular pronunciation of some sounds and some words that only exist within its borders.
If you do not speak Spanish, you will have two options.
- You speak a Latin language and you will be able to decipher posters and menus and to book bus tickets if you provide a pen and some paper to the ticket seller.
- Languages are not your thing and then you are in for a little bit of adventure. You will have to be flexible about what ends up in your plate and learn how to pronounce what is to your taste (“una-em-pa-na-da-de-car-ne-por-fa-vor”).
In both cases, you will be just fine. The country and its inhabitants are among the friendliest I have seen. The weather is sweet even during the winter, the roads are smooth and the directions are clear.
We covered thousands of kilometers in public buses to visit the country. If I had had preconceived idea about buses in Argentina they would probably have been wrong. We traveled in very high comfort with fully reclining seats and food on board. In those conditions, 27 hours fly by and I spent most of the ride gazing at an unspoiled night sky.
Credit : Jolanda
Visiting the Far West without having to go through US customs
After the long bus rides, we opted for the car to discover the region of Jujuy, in the Andes. Although I have never been to the West Coast, it looks just like that in my head : cacti everywhere, dusty red canyons and smooth concrete roads, empty of other vehicles or phone network coverage.
However a few elements betray the fact that we are in South America. For example, houses have flat roofs and ocher and white facades.
During our excursions, we walked on a white desert at 4000m of altitude and we learned that the salt collected there is used to feed cattle, build houses, create artwork, whiten metal in manufacturing and finally to be sold for human consumption. We also explored the cities of Purmamarca et Humahuaca which promise tourists hills with seven, nine, twenty (!) colors. Well, I cannot say that we counted that many but we had a lovely time. And after all the wandering around, we relaxed in the wine country and spotted wild lamas along the road.
Overall, Salta and its region enchanted us with its panorama and its night life.
It was my absolute favorite part of the vacation.