I admit I had a slow acclimation to Buenos Aires. It was not love at first sight, sort of grew on me slowly. Surprisingly, at the end, I felt sad and reluctant to leave. One month was not enough. There was still so much I did not see or do, so much yet to explore. My take-aways — the things that will stay with me, what I enjoyed the most — were the friendly people and the continual visual experience.
People were generally welcoming and helpful. Most made an effort to communicate despite our lack of a common language. The women in the dance scene were especially supportive.
Socially, everyone greets each other with a hug and and kiss (on one cheek). I mean EVERYONE, even the people you’ve just met on your first introduction. Enter any party and it takes several minutes to make the rounds — “Buen día. Que tal?” Hug. Kiss. Repeat. I offered to shake hands but after a few awkward encounters, I fell in. I kissed my Spanish teachers, my tango instructor, the staff in our hotel, and their family, and friends. Give it a chance and it opens your heart.
Art is everywhere
No matter where I walked, I passed some form of artistic expression. The city is filled with statues and sculptures, street art and murals (commissioned or not), and landscaped public parks.
The promise of discovery lured me, encouraged me to take a different routes and risk getting lost just to see what was painted on the walls of the next street, what monument might be standing in the next square.
The hop-on-hop-off bus, corny and touristy as it is, gave the best overview of the distinct neighborhoods, each with its own character. Sitting on the top deck and not having to worry about where I was walking (most sidewalks had uneven pavement or giant potholes) made sightseeing easier and I got a better view of the interesting, eclectic architecture.
They have an English clock tower, a Greek Revival obelisk, and a Neo-classical National Congress building that resembles the Capitol in Washington, D.C. One of the most surprising structures is the Palacio de las Aguas Corrientes. It looks like the Palace of Versailles and serves as a water pumping station. You can also find Spanish Colonial, Art Deco, Italian, French, and 21st Century Modern buildings. It’s all here.
Don’t cry for me (for sadly leaving) Argentina. Valparaíso, Chile is next!