Argentina

A date at la Casa Rosada – things to do in Buenos Aires

La Casa Rosada is on the must see-list of most people visiting Buenos Aires. The iconic pink-painted mansion facing Plaza de Mayo is one of the best-known building in the city. However, most people tend to just drop by Plaza de Mayo, take their pictures with the giant pink house in the background, and then move on.

But did you know that you can actually also get to see la Casa Rosada from within?

Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!
Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!
Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!

You only need a little bit of planning to get an inside view of the iconic building since la Casa Rosada is only open to the public on weekends and public holidays. The visit is only available through a guided tour which visits the main parts of the house. And well, in some way have your own little date with the president of Argentina… by visiting his office.

But hey, the tour is for free! So, what are you waiting for? Book your visit here.

Tours in English is Saturday, Sunday and public holidays at 12.30 or 2.30 pm, so it should be manageable to fit in during your visit in Buenos Aires.

Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!
Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!
Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!

The majestic pink house is the seat of the National Executive Branch of Argentina and the president’s office. However, the building is properly best known for the famous pictures of Juan and Evita Peron’s performance on the balcony facing Plaza de Mayo.

And yes, during the tour you get to stand on that very same balcony overlooking the square, and with a little bit of imagination you might be able to see the crowds howling for Evita in front of you.

Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!
The tour forgets the stories

La Casa Rosada is filled with juicy stories not only of Evita but also of presidents escaping riots at Plaza de Mayo in helicopters from the roof of the mansion, and many different conspiracy theories on why the color of the house ended up being baby pink. Nevertheless, when I went on the guided tour none of these stories were included.

Even though, the house in itself is impressive, it is a pity that the tour focus more on the historical details of the construction and development of the house than on some of these juicy stories are the ones we remember afterwards because they fascinate us.

Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!
Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!
Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!

Actually, the guide hardly touches on the stories about Evita which… let’s face it, are the stories that most visitors come to hear. The fact is, of course, that Evita is still a tense topic in Argentine politics. However, a little be official history on the controversial presidential couple and other interesting facts from modern Argentine history could have cheered the tour up a bit.

Nevertheless, for an exclusive look inside la Casa Rosada, the tour is still worth it. And even more, because it will not cost your a penny... Or, a peso! 😉

Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!
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Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!

Why I fell in love with Buenos Aires

It's official! I have moved to Buenos Aires for good! … Or at least with no current plan of leaving. And well, there you also have the reason why the blog has been abandoned for the last two months!

Apart from planning the final moving overseas (from Europe to the Americas, of course!), I have also been finishing my undergraduate thesis (writing about Argentina, of course!). The bottom line became a great thesis which I'm overly proud of, and me enrolling to a Master program in Buenos Aires… but no blog posts in a long time 🙁

Why does Buenos Aires fascinates me so much? Keep on reading, and I will try to explain you why I fell in love with the Argentine capital!

So, what is it that fascinates me so much about Buenos Aires that I want to keep on living here? Keep on reading, and I will try to explain you why I fell in love with the Argentine capital…

… And maybe this will make you want to visit as well?

Why does Buenos Aires fascinates me so much? Keep on reading, and I will try to explain you why I fell in love with the Argentine capital!
On the surface, it looks like something you know – underneath it isn't!

To the bare eye, Buenos Aires looks like bits and pieces taken out of different European cities. A mix of Germany, France, Italy, the UK, and Spain all in one; the architecture, the food, the way people dress and their customs.

However, the longer I stay, the more I realize that, even though, the customs and artifacts in Buenos Aires look like something I know. Underneath the surface of these visible things in the values and assumptions that the people carry around there are huge differences.

What have caused me the most surprises are how people are generally more distrusting towards one another. And especially, toward state institutions such as the police. One part is without doubt because of the great level of corruption in Argentina… but it also made me question my own culture; are Danes maybe just overly naïve compared to the rest of the world?

Nevertheless, I find this duality of being in a city where I think I understand, and then realizing that I don’t quite charming, puzzling and challenging – and challenges I like!

Why does Buenos Aires fascinates me so much? Keep on reading, and I will try to explain you why I fell in love with the Argentine capital!
The architecture reflects how mixed the nationalities of the city is

Buenos Aires is a city composed of many different – especially European – nationalities. Most arrived during the huge migration flows in the 1880s and 1950s. The heritage of these migrations still plays a significant role in the Argentine self-understanding, and it is very common to hear people ask each other where their families originates from.

And when walking around residential neighborhoods like Belgrano, you can clearly see how houses are built in a Germanic, English or Spanish style. How I love to wander around looking at these different houses, and being puzzled about how a house looking like something taken out of a German village has ended up right next to a huge building block.

Puzzling and fascinating! I’m in love!

Why does Buenos Aires fascinates me so much? Keep on reading, and I will try to explain you why I fell in love with the Argentine capital!
A relaxed approach to the concept of time

I never thought that I would end up saying this but… Actually, I quite like a relaxed approach to the concept of time, and whether being on time or not.

It is not quite how life works in Denmark. But, I have finally (to some extent) learned to take some things a little bit more easy. Some things, not all.

Porteños (the slang for the citizens of Buenos Aires) can be late – like REALLY late – while others are quite punctual. Maybe it is the mixed European heritage but this mix sort of weights up for each other. Where the Cuban way of time management drove me crazy. It is kind of a middle way. 

However, I hardly ever experience anybody stressing about being late, the way that people do in Denmark. Which is good for a person like me who are so easy to stress.

Why does Buenos Aires fascinates me so much? Keep on reading, and I will try to explain you why I fell in love with the Argentine capital!
Chatty café culture

I adore how the porteños use the cafés for all kind of things; elderly people meet up at the local café for a chat or for reading the newspaper, fancy-dressed business men to do their important meetings, and then there are all of us in between just stopping by for a cup of coffee.

People meet to chat, and it doesn’t matter if the chat takes a little bit longer than planned. You are there, and that is the important in that moment. Maybe you meet an acquaintance, and stop for an extra chat. People meet, and take their time to chat.

Why does Buenos Aires fascinates me so much? Keep on reading, and I will try to explain you why I fell in love with the Argentine capital!
Big green avenidas

Walking down wide avenues where the tree tops meet on the top… Seriously, what is not to like?

If you are visiting Buenos Aires, hit streets such as La Pampa or Juramiento after Avenida Cabildo, and you will see what I mean! (Actually, there are many more places, so just try to explore further the city centre).

Why does Buenos Aires fascinates me so much? Keep on reading, and I will try to explain you why I fell in love with the Argentine capital!
It is a highly-politicalized society

Since I was teenager I have always loved to discuss politics – and later economics – but few people in Denmark seem that interested in discussing such sort of things. It is almost seen as a code of conduct that you should not raise any political sensitive issues at a dinner party – and less with people you don't know that well!

Porteños are the complete opposite. Almost everybody has an opinion about everything, and are happy to discuss whatever issue. Most also seem quite well-informed about the current state of affairs. For example, once I used the drive to the airport (40 minutes drive!) discussing Argentine politics and history with a taxi driver.

Even though, there are still so many things that I don't understand about Argentina, I'm feeling in my element in a city where political discussions are more the norm than the exception.

My Argentine friends and acquaintances tend to say: “mix all of Europe in one country, and you have Argentina”, maybe that’s why I ended up liking it so much here?

Have you ever visit Buenos Aires? What did you like about the city? Or maybe dislike? Is it a place would like to visit one day? Share your thoughts and experiences below! I would love to hear what you think!
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Why does Buenos Aires fascinates me so much? Keep on reading, and I will try to explain you why I fell in love with the Argentine capital!
What do you know about Argentina? It is something with wine, soccer, big steaks and tango, right? Here you get 20 things nobody tells you about Argentina

20 things nobody tells you about Argentina

So, Argentina? What do you actually know about Argentina?

You will properly start think about wine, soccer, big steaks and tango, right? Or maybe  you also re-call one or two of the world heritage sights on Argentine territory; Iguazu Waterfalls, the Perito Moreno Glacier, or maybe Peninsula Valdés?

However, there are so much more to Argentina! And there are things that are less told about the massive country in the very South of the American continent. That is the aim of this blog post; to get to know some of the things that nobody else tells you about Argentina.

As I have already written about there are plenty of things that you don’t normally get to know about the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires. So, today let's take a closer look at things nobody tells you about Argentina!

So you know all the classic stuff about Argentina but do you know these 20 facts about the South American country?
Basics about Argentina and the Argentines

1) Most Argentines have a better understanding of the concept of inflation than the majority European Business School students because they have lived with it under their skin for decades. And it seems like speculating in getting things cheaper if you can pay them in the future have become a national sport.

2) The Argentina is a mix of Italian, Spanish, British and German immigrants whom primarily arrived in the country's huge immigration flows of 1880s…

3) … For that reason, many Argentines holds a European passport.

4) Around 30% of the Argentine population lives in poverty – even though the former government of los Kirchners (more about them further down) said it to be 12% (well, they anyway also liked to play around with the numbers at the statistic office).

5) The possibly most used word in Argentina is Che meaning something like mate - oye, che! (e.g. hey, mate!)

So you know all the classic stuff about Argentina but do you know these 20 facts about the South American country?
Shopping and money in Argentina

6) Before you swing your credit card remember to ask whether there is a discount for paying in cash. In some places, you can get around 10% in discount if you pay en efectivo (e.g. in cash). Rumors go that this makes it easier for the shops or restaurants to reduce their tax bills.

7) In most shops, you will see the price of paying everything now or the price of paying in cuotas. Cuotas mean that the shop let you pay your purchase over the course of 3, 6, 12, 18 or whatever amount of cuotas you choose. In times of crazy inflation movements these cuotas made good sense for Argentines because inflation would reduce the debt over time. You can try it out but until now my international credit card hasn’t worked with cuotas (e.g. my bank doesn't accept it).

8) In some shops, you will get assistance at one counter but pay your purchase at another… In my world, not the highest efficiency seen but at least it must help to keep unemployment down?

So you know all the classic stuff about Argentina but do you know these 20 facts about the South American country?

9) If you are staying for longer in Argentina, your favorite app and website for purchasing will most likely become Mercado Libre. Here you can find close to anything from new and second hand merchandise to house rental and fast good. For example, I found a decent second-hand espresso coffee machine on Mercado Libre.

10) There are two different 100 pesos notes; one with the iconic Evita Peron (more about her later on), and one with Julio Argentino Roca a politician and military man and twice Argentina's president in the 1880s.

11) In 2016 a 500 pesos note was introduced, however the cash machines from where people pay their bills still only accepts up to 100 pesos notes… Kind of (very) annoying getting 500 pesos notes out of the ATM but having to find a place to exchange to 100 pesos notes to be able to pay ones bill.

12) There are both a 2 peso bill and a 2 peso coin… For what reason still reminds a mystery for me…

So you know all the classic stuff about Argentina but do you know these 20 facts about the South American country?
Food habits in Argentina

13) The milky caramel cream dulce de leche is a proud part of Argentine cuisine, and can be added to basically any kind of dessert… Trust me, when I say ANY kind. You will be surprised how many desserts the Argentines can add dulce de leche. 

14) … One of things to which dulce de leche is added are the popular alfajores, a small piece of cake with for example chocolate or dulce de leche between dough of chocolate cake.

15) A popular way to sweeten up life a bit in Argentina is to buy facturas, small pieces of pastry (where dulce de leche, of course, also can be added!). However, do not confuse them with getting an invoice for the items you purchased in a shop, which in Spanish also is called factura.

 

So you know all the classic stuff about Argentina but do you know these 20 facts about the South American country?

16) Even though Argentines love their good big steak, they are also big consumers of milanesa; a dish of fried meat. It can also be found in the version milanesa napoliana which is added tomato sause and cheese on top of the fried meat.

17) No doubt in the fact that the Yerba Mate drink is a popular drink in Argentina. You will see everywhere from gas stations to hotel receptions offering hot water for their clients and their mate –  yes, even on the beach some smart guys made a business out of selling people hot water for their mate.

So you know all the classic stuff about Argentina but do you know these 20 facts about the South American country?
A bit about Peronism and politics in Argentina

18) Even though Perón died in 1974 and his iconic first wife, Evita, in 1952, they are still a present part of Argentine political self-understanding. Especially, the symbol of Evita can be found many different places around the country – among others as mentioned on the 100 peso note.

19) The Peronist movement is not some antique social movement even though its founder Juan Domingo Perón. It is a ever changing movement who is still present and active today. However, today it is divided into Peronism Kirchnerista (after the former President couple Nestor and Cristina Kirchner who govern Argentina for a total of 12 years), Traditional Peronism, and Peronism anti-K (anti-Kirchnerista)… Confused?

20) The current Argentine government under Mauricio Macri is the first non-Peronism government for almost 30 years. Quiet impressive, and widely discussed topics among Argentines.

 

What do you know about Argentina? It is something with wine, soccer, big steaks and tango, right? Here you get 20 things nobody tells you about Argentina

Now it is up to you; did you learn something new about Argentina? Are there something you would like to add to the list? Please feel free to share it in the comments below!

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What do you know about Argentina? It is something with wine, soccer, big steaks and tango, right? Here you get 20 things nobody tells you about Argentina

Things I wish I had known before studying abroad in Argentina

A semester has ended, the final transcript has been received, all my courses have been passed with a decent mark, and a little winter break is more than needed. Because this has not been an usually semester. This has been my exchange semester on Universidad Torcuato di Tella in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

 

Things went pretty well. The classes have generally been of high quality and with interesting content. My head has been filled up with lots of information about politics in Latin America, and Argentina in particular.

 

However, looking back here a semester later, there has been some curious things about studying in Argentina. So, in case you are considering the same move as me, here are a few things to take into account that I wish I had known before studying abroad in Argentina:

 

Please mind that this is based on personal experiences at Universidad Torcuato di Tella. Things might change from university to university in Argentina - feel free to share your own experiences as an exchange student in any Argentine university in the comments below or ask if you have any questions.

Planning your semester studying abroad, and thinking about Argentina? Check out my insider tips on been an exchange student in Argentina
Your hands will burn during exam times

The exams are old fashion written by hand… ALL of them! This mean that "computerized" people as myself will have a hard time with their hands and hand writing during exam periods.

I don't think I have ever written a whole exam essay by hand… I mean in like EVER. The last time I wrote an exam by hand was my math exam in high school which… well, are quiet a couple of years ago.

Ever since I started university in Denmark all my exams have been written on computer, and close to all my notes are taken on computer as well… Soo, ah! My hands were burning by the end of the final exams. The good thing is though that exams are only of two hours duration. Apart from that…

… Exams were super informal done inside the class room

For me exams are normally a whole little official ritual of going to the big exam hall far away from the rest of the campus, getting your student ID inspected, having a whole group of elderly people guard you for the 4 hours’ duration of your exam to be sure you don't do anything you are not supposed to… And they are hard on you; show me the inside of your pencil case, don't leave your jacket on your chair, and (for God stake) DO NOT have your bag close to you at all. And then of course, we start EXACTLY on time! Not one minute before, not one minute after. 9 o'clock means 9 o'clock, end of story!

The atmosphere around exams at Universidad Torcuato di Tella was quiet different. You could enter the assigned class room for the exam without anybody checking you. There would be two or three guards, and some time before the exam start you would causally hand them  your student ID, no big check or anything.  And maybe-maybe not your teacher would be there. Maybe-maybe not he or she would arrive a bit late, and you would therefore start the exam late. Maybe-maybe not they would give you a couple of advises on the answers or help you understand the questions…  It is a lot more relaxed than what I'm used to.

Planning your semester studying abroad, and thinking about Argentina? Check out my insider tips on been an exchange student in Argentina
Classes are small and the teacher quickly learns your name – or at least knows who you are...

Normally, I study at what is considered a smaller program at Copenhagen Business School with around 100 students per year. Sometimes the teacher remembers who you are but mostly you will pass by as one in the mass of students going to class.

In Universidad Torcuato di Tella the classes were smaller with approximately 30 students per class, and most teachers made an effort on getting to know you are little bit more, remember your name or at least have an idea about who you are. Even a teacher I was sure had no idea about who I was started greetting me in the hallways.

The students are generally more active in class discussions than back home

 I don't know if it is something with my program back home but generally most students are not that keen on saying things or are starting debates in class. Some teachers have been better than others in kick-starting class debates but it has not been that impressive.

However, in Argentina, the students in general seem to be more active and eager to discuss in class, and the teachers also try to push toward discussions. Surely, it also has something to do with the class size. In the classes with more students, the lesser people seemed to get involved in discussions.

Planning your semester studying abroad, and thinking about Argentina? Check out my insider tips on been an exchange student in Argentina
There are no breaks during the classes... So if you wants to go to the bathroom you just stand up and walk out

This sounds very strange, and it sort of is. Thus, it took me a very long time to get used to the fact that you can just stand up in the middle of a class and walk out if you need to go to the toilet. I'm used to teachers who get pretty annoyed if you do so during classes but in Argentina they didn't seem to mind at all.

You will need your student ID every time you enter or leave the university

It might just be that this control of everybody entering and leaving the university hasn't arrived to little trusting Denmark. So, for me it was something have had to get used to at first. Everytime I entered or exited the university I had to scan my student ID, and if I forgot it at home I had to ask the reception permission to enter, and they would check my name in the student database. At Copenhagen Business School you just enter, and only use your student ID for exams, printing stuff or the library.

You will be confused about their grading scale

Basically, the grading scale is pretty easy, and goes from 1 to 10 where 10 is the best. At least that was what we were told on the introduction day.

Then suddenly some teachers start giving your grades according to the percentage of correct answers (okay, that's easy to convert to the 1-to-10 scale). Until you receive the grade from another teacher in another course, and he is using a A-B-C etc. grading scale... And then finally, on the final transcript the grades are according to the latter. A bit confused? Maybe it is just me who a used to the fact that only one system is applied for all.

Now you are a little bit better prepared for what to expect of studying abroad in Argentina. All in all it has been an enjoyable experience to study in Argentina, and highly recommendable if you would like to improve your Spanish and want a high academic level. 

 
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Planning your semester studying abroad, and thinking about Argentina? Check out my insider tips on been an exchange student in Argentina

What to do on Peninsula Valdes when the whales have left

How does Christmas with sea lions, penguins and with a sea front view sound to you? Not bad, right? Well, the great thing about having an as travelling-loving mum as one self, is that this was my Christmas present of 2016! Our Christmas days were spent in Puerto Pirámides on Peninsula Valdés in Argentine Patagonia.

Peninsula Valdés is filled with incredible wild life; everything from penguins over sea lions, elephant seals, dolphins to whales – depending on the season you visit.

However, the whales seem to be the big star of the show. Everything on in Puerto Pirámides circulates around them – also when they are not there! Because the whale season only runs from June to mid-December, and on Christmas they were all gone.

 

What to do on Peninsula Valdes when the whales have left

Then what to do when you didn’t take this into consideration when planning your trip, and you ended up visiting when the whales have left? Don’t worry! There are still stuff to do on Peninsula Valdés.

Here are some ideas on to what to do on Peninsula Valdés when the whales have left:

(... Of course, this can also be added to your do-to list in the whale season)

What to do on Peninsula Valdes when the whales have left
1) Swimming with sea lions

By far my high light of the trip! Swimming with sea lions was GREAT… like can’t get my arms down great! So of course, it ends on top of the list.

We went for about 15-20 minutes in a small boat from the beach of Puerto Pirámides with a small group of other visitors. All the gear was ready; wetsuit, snorkel mask and flippers. For a long time, it was just the crystal clear blue water against the sides of the boat.

Until then suddenly behind a curve in the cost on top of two rocks the colony of sea lions was taken a nap. The big male sea lion was lying in the middle of his crowd of girls keeping an eye on everything. When the boat stopped, we were only a couple of meter from the rocks. The sea lions looked puzzled at us. What was this for kind of animals on that strange nosy thing, they seem to think.

After getting the flippers and masks on, we were sent out in the water. After a while the sea lions got used to us being around, and started to swim closer and closer.

Actually, they got quicker used to us than I got to them. A couple of times they scared the hell out of me popping up just by my side. Otherwise, they were swimming around underneath us or looking curiously at us from their rock.

The guide said that we could touch them if they left close enough but honestly, I was a bit afraid to interrupt these huge animals. What if they got annoyed with me touching them? Maybe you dare more than me? 

What to do on Peninsula Valdes when the whales have left
Good to know… 

In Puerto Pirámides there are at least three operators that offer the snorkeling with sea lions (in Spanish: busceo con lobos marinos). The price they seem to have agreed pretty much on. All of them charges 2.000 pesos if you pay in cash and 2.300 pesos if you pay by credit card.

We went with Goos ballenas which we found fitted our needs the best. The guide spoke a very decent English, was very professional, and the tours run all year. Goos ballenas was the only one of the operators that we spoke to whom offered the tour in boat. The others do the transportation over land. Apart from the fact that there was strong wind the day we went, I liked the fact of arriving to the colony of the sea lions by boat.

Goos ballenas are located on the street 2da bajada al mar (the last street in town if you enter from Puerto Madryn) or you can contact them on www.goosballenas.com.ar

What to do on Peninsula Valdes when the whales have left
2) Trek to Punta Pirámides and spy on the sea lions

Most points of interests on Peninsula Valdés are located kilometers apart. However, if you are staying in Puerto Pirámides a good place to discover on your own is Punta PirámidesIt is a view point above a Lobería. In Spanish Lobería means a part of the cost inhabited by sea lions. It is easy to get there by foot with a light trek of around an hour through the landscapes of Peninsula Valdés.

The trek offers great views over the majestic landscapes of the peninsula, and if you are lucky you will also be able to see some wild life of the area. The vegetation is a mix of dry grass and low bushes that never get higher than your legs and makes it easy to orientate.

What to do on Peninsula Valdes when the whales have left
How to get to Puenta Pirámides:

From Puerto Pirámides hit to the main road – Avenida de la Ballenas – and walk out of the city in direction of Puerto Madryn. Shortly after the main road crosses the street Primera Bajada al Mar (e.g. the first street down to the sea), on your left hand you will see a hotel, and by the side of the hotel a small house. By the side of the house there is a path leading up the hill.

Follow the path a little bit until you meet a sign saying Lobería pointing upwards, follow the smaller natural path leading further up the hill. Follow this path for around 20 minutes until you meet a bigger road.

If you zoom in on the map below, you can see that this road is called Acceso a Loberáa (e.g. access to the Lobería). The road is connected to the main road towards Puerto Pirámides and can be used to access the Loberia by car if you are not up for walking.

Follow the road for the remaining approximately 40 minutes until you first get to an area with a small house, a light house and a public toilet. A little bit further down the road ends, and you have the entrance to the Lobería.

The Lobería at Punta Pirámides seems like a less touristic place. While we visited, only a few others passed by, and the guardafauna (e.g. ranger) had plenty of time to drink his mate and chat with his chica.

What to do on Peninsula Valdes when the whales have left
Zoom and move around the map to get an idea about what is where
3) Minivan trip to visit the elephant seals at Punta Cantor, the penguins at Caleta Valdés, and elephant seals and sea lions at Punta Norte

Even though Peninsula Valdes is just a little part of Argentine Patagonia – for not to speak of Argentina itself – the distances are big, and it takes a good amount of time to get around.

You can rent a car, and go around on your own. Or you can go on an excursion in minivan. We went for the minivan tour. Due to the big distances, it is hard to cover the whole peninsula in one day but the most points of interests are in the northern part of the peninsula.

We drove from Puerto Pirámides to Punta Cantor where are is a colony of elephant seals. Around 5 km north from Punta Cantor by the beginning of Caleta Valdés there is a small colony of penguins. Caleta Valdés is the long geographic formation which looks like a river. Check out the map above to get a better idea about where each point is located.

Finally, we went to Punta Norte which is about 85 km from Puerto Piramides. At Punta Norte there are colonies of sea lions and elephant seals living side by side.

Most of the places we visited on the tour the sea lions and elephant seals were far down on the beach away from the viewpoints but the penguins were “hanging out” just around the view point, and there are plenty of possibilities for getting a great picture if you are patient.

What to do on Peninsula Valdes when the whales have left
What to do on Peninsula Valdes when the whales have left
What to do on Peninsula Valdes when the whales have left
What to do on Peninsula Valdes when the whales have left
A note about visitors and animals…

I was shock when our guide told us stories about how some visitors have not only tried to touch and pet the animals but also hiting and kicking them just for the fun of it. Please accept the animals when you visit. 

Leave them alone, do not feed them, take only pictures – and do not disturb them to get the right and perfect picture. Remember that you are visiting their home, not the other way around.

What to do on Peninsula Valdes when the whales have left
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What to do on Peninsula Valdés when the whales have left
 

Along the way around the peninsula you can also be lucky to see other of the peninsula’s wild life such as the guanaco which is a llama-looking animal, a Patagonian cavy, all kind of different birds… or maybe one of those: a larger hair armadillo. This little fellow was suddenly running around the parking lot of Punta Norte.

What to do on Peninsula Valdes when the whales have left
4) Relax on the beach in Puerto Pirámides

And then lastly the obvious thing to do when visiting a town by the cost: grab for towel and swimsuit, and take a relaxing day at the beach.

The beach at Puerto Pirámides is pretty clean, and it has lifeguards most of the time during the day.

What to do on Peninsula Valdes when the whales have left
Basics about Peninsula Valdés

Peninsula Valdés is located on the Atlantic coast of Argentina. The area is a desert and a natural park which is declared UNESCO World Heritage. Throughout the natural part there are only a few estancias (e.g. farms) and then the village of Puerto Pirámides which count around 500 inhabitants. Most of these seem to be working with and for the tourists (kind of a minus in my point of view).

Most visitors and tourists to Peninsula Valdés seem to stay outside the natural park in the larger city of Puerto Madryn which is around 1.5 hours’ drive from Puerto Pirámides. However, it is possible to stay in Puerto Pirámides, and then safe the transportation back and forth from Puerto Madryn.

One should always remember that Argentina is massive, and what looks like just "around the corner" is most properly not. Peninsula Valdés is no exception! So even though accommodation might be a bit more expensive out in Puerto Pirámides than in Puerto Madryn, it might be worth saving some of the back and forth travelling to Puerto Madryn - at least for a night or two.

What to do on Peninsula Valdes when the whales have left
How to get to Peninsula Valdes and Puerto Piramides

The bus company Mar y Valle runs busses from the bus station in Puerto Madryn to Puerto Pirámides three times a day during week days and once in weekends. The ticket costs $114 Argentina pesos – inflation might change that soon.

There is an entrance fee of $330 Argentine pesos per person to enter the natural park of Peninsula Valdés. If you are staying inside the park and want to leave and re-enter you must show a receipt of accommodation together which your ticket.

 

Have you ever visit Peninsula Valdés? What did you think about it? Or are you maybe planning to visit? Please let me know in the comments below what you think, and if the information here was useful to you.

What to do on Peninsula Valdes when the whales have left
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What to do on Peninsula Valdes when the whales have left

32 things nobody tells you about Buenos Aires

After more than 5 months in Buenos Aires, and lately a lot of silence here on the blog due to final exams and a visit from my mum, I have created a funny list for you guys of things you don't usually hear about Buenos Aires.

By just doing a little bit of researh about Buenos Aires, you will find the usual stuff about how the Argentines are fanatics of soccer and love their big steaks, and when in Buenos Aires you have to visit the pink government building Casa Rosada and the vibrant working class neighborhood La Boca...

Casa rosada Buenos Aires

 

... But here you get my 32 informative, crazy, funny and at most time completely random things that nobody tells you about Buenos Aires:

First things first:

1) Do not confuse the province of Buenos Aires with the autonomous city of Buenos Aires. There is a huge difference – especially, if you ask the porteños (e.g. the citizens of Buenos Aires) themselves.

Capital Federal, Capital or simply CABA (e.g. Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires) as the autonomous city of Buenos Aires also is called is "small" spot of approximately 3 million people who lives in the neighborhoods around most of the touristic spots such as La Boca, Palmero, Belgrano etc. The province of Buenos Aires is the massive surroundings of the capital with approximately 12.000 inhabitants.

2) Close to half of the public opinion of all Argentina is placed in the autonomous city of Buenos Aires and Province of Buenos Aires – leaving Argentina as quiet a badly distributed political system.

Belgrano, Buenos Aires

 

3) Security is of high concern of many porteños, and you should watch out as well. The city feels pretty safe but stories of robberies, drug trafficking and gender connected violence (also to towards foreigners) pop up in the media on a recent basis. Take care of yourself.

4) The river running by the side of Buenos Aires is called Rio de la Plata (the river of silver/money) because during the colonial time of the Spanish empire it was used as the principal route of transporting gold and other minerals from Bolivia to Spain.

5) In 1855 Buenos Aires declared itself a separated autonomous country which should not belong to the rest of Argentina – however, they changed their mind and are today "only" an autonomous city.

6) There are around 1.050 green spots around the city including parks, squares, trees along the road side, ect... When you visit the city you will for sure notice this.

Bus La Boca Buenos Aires
Neighborhoods of Buenos Aires

7) The houses in the popular La Boca neighborhood are painted different colors because the immigrants who arrived and settled there they didn't have money for painting so they stole the leftovers from the ships' workshops.

8) The neighborhood Once is known as the Jewish quarter. Argentina should have the second largest Jewish community after New York.

9) The city's architecture is as its inhabitants highly influenced by the European flows of immigration making some parts of Buenos Aires look like a mix of London, Paris and Madrid.

Ice cream and other food tips for Buenos Aires

10) The Porteños are fanatics of homemade ice cream (in Spanish: helado artesanal)… And properly for that reason there are more ice cream shops in Buenos Aires than in any other city I have ever visited…

11) Adding on the Porteñean ice cream fanaticism: it is completely common to buy 1/4 kilo of ice cream. Your first reaction might properly be: "oh no, I can eat THAT much ice cream..." but trust me, you will most properly be! (Been there myself).

12) Most of the verdulerías (e.g. green groceries) in the city are runned by Bolivian immigrants

13) There are small chino supermarkets (tiny supermarkets runned by Chinese) almost every second block throughout the capital - no kidding! Here you can find the most necessary groceries…

Ice cream in Buenos Aires
The Porteños and their Habits

14) If you are a woman and visit Buenos Aires, you will have to get use to the fact the Porteñean men open the door for you or will wait your to go through an open door before they do - it goes for everywhere; the metro, the supermarket, the bank etc.

15) Porteños are huge fans of sending each other voice messages through WhatsApp. It is not unusual to see people in the bus or underground speaking quietly to their mobiles holding them in a weird position in front of their face. This normally just means that they are in the middle of sending a voice message.

16) The word negro or negro cabeza (e.g. black or black head) is by Porteños not used to refer to the color of somebodies skin but instead whether they act as badly educated or not.

17) Watering the concrete is just the most natural part of house cleaning in Buenos Aires… And properly helps cool down a bit as well. But seriously guys, is it really necessary?

Buenos Aires

 

18) You will always be served a little glass for water when ordering coffee in Buenos Aires. I was told that it is to prevent that people dehydrate.

19) The word Che can be used for anybody ALL THE TIME"Ay, che, que te pasa?!"

20) Porteños tend to highly criticize the large amount of immigrants from Paraguay in the city.

21) Porteños love to discuss politics with anyone at any time! A common phrase to hear is something like "yeah, after all those years of Peronism see where we are today" (add a negative or positive understanding of this after your preferences)

Getting around in Buenos Aires
Getting around Buenos Aires and other transportation tips

22) Buenos Aires is generally an expensive city but the public transportation is super cheap – not because they found some super-efficient way to run it but because the government heavily subsidize it.

23) When it rains too heavily the underground sometimes stops running because there is water on the tracks.

24) The slang word for bus is bondi. However, the Porteños also call the busses colectivos… Confused? Me too!

25) People always makes a line for the bus. Even when there are more than one bus line running from the same stop, sometimes there is still just one line… Or at least it seems like this for me.

26) Even though there are signs in the busses not to tell the driver the price of your ticket but your destination, almost everybody does the former.

Biking in Buenos Aires

 

27) When the red light on the pedestrian cross is blinking it means that it is the last minutes for crossing. Some pedestrian cross even has a numerical count downs! So basically it is just for you to hurry up!

28) ... However, not all pedestrian crosses have lightning. So sometimes it is just to take a chance and hope there isn't coming cars (or take a look at the opposite pointing lights)…

29) … Maybe for that reason the Porteños cross the streets as crazy no matter if it is green light or red light or if there are coming cars.

30) Most streets are only one direction… Okay, might just be my Northern European heritage who isn't used to this! But it is quiet confused when I try to bike around the city and I suddenly can't go down a road because it is only one direction.

31) Garages crossing the pedestrian paths have small annoying blinking lamps and alarms that turn on when a car exits and enters

32) Biking is a fine act between suicide and transportation… Even though the city's government is establishing bike lanes around the city, the cars are still not used to looking for us who bikes.

What is your experience in Buenos Aires? Anything you would like to add or something important that I forgot? Please feel free to leave a comment below!

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32 things nobody tells you about Buenos Aires

Learn to speak like a porteño: 5 phrases you will hear all the time in Buenos Aires

When you first move to another country everything seems so new and different: the streets, the houses, the people… and the language! However, if you start paying attention, it is incredible how people repeat the same expressions over and over again.

At least, this is what happened to me after a couple of months in Buenos Aires. Truth is that I'm a bit of a language nerd when it comes to Spanish.  By so far Argentina has fulfilled my eager to learn new words and phrases, however, it has also drawn my attention to a different use of words I already knew.

The porteños, e.g. the citizens of Buenos Aires, keep on saying the same expressions without even noticing. As if it was the most normal thing in the world because… Well, everyone else says it!

So here is my little guide to how you learn to speak like a porteños with 5 phrases you will hear all the time in Buenos Aires:

5 phrases you will hear all the time in Buenos Aires
1. Mira vos

Literally translated it means “look at you” but the meaning is not that you should take a look at yourself. It is better understood in the context where it is used.

Mira vos it used when a person is introduced to new and surprising piece of information but basically don’t really know how to respond to it. Sometimes it is also just used as a way of showing that you are paying attention to what the other person is saying.

It is a phrase of exclamation, and would properly be best translated to English as something like “no shit” or “you don’t say so”. Usually it is said with a good amount of surprise to add a little more attention or drama to the conversation.

Of course, the use of vos is a particular and common Argentine thing which just makes this one so much more porteño!

 

5 phrases you will hear all the time in Buenos Aires
2. Qué sé yo

This phrase has to be pronounced in a slightly sprawling way with a strong emphasis on the last part: Qúe sé yooo. The English translation is “what do I know”, which also is its porteño meaning.

Generally, it is used when a person is not be too comfortable in his or her argument or wants to leave the conservation open for other to comment on.

At my classes at the university I hear it a lot when a student has tried to make a statement but aren't sure they got it right, then they add a qué sé yo to sort of soften up their discourse. Equally some of the teachers use it to make an opening for more debate.

 

5 phrases you will hear all the time in Buenos Aires
3. Qué buena onda

The word onda can best be translated as “vibe”. However, even when knowing that, qué buena onda (e.g. how good vibe) does not make a lot of sense…

So better forget a bit about the literal translations. The expression is used when something is done with good intentions or in a good way. It can be anything: how your boss acted to the teacher giving you a good grade to the way the taxi driver drove.

Whereas, on the other hand qué mala onda is used when something is done in a negative way.

Well, you can decide whether this blog post is buena onda or mala onda?

 

5 phrases you will hear all the time in Buenos Aires
4. ¿Viste?

¿Viste? the guy in the bike shop says to me as he fixs my bike. Es facil (e.g. it is easy), he adds.

¿Viste? is used as a way of underlining your point of view, and translated directly means “do you see?”. It is commonly used to end a phrase as a way of saying "do you see I was right".

It is a completely overused word in Argentina, so you can be more than sure to hear it at least a couple of times.

 

5 phrases you will hear all the time in Buenos Aires
5. La puta que te parió

Let's finish off with a bad one! In general, Spanish – no matter country or region – is filled with all kinds of phrases for swearing, and Argentine Spanish is no exception!

A favorite in the streets of Buenos Aires seems to be la puta que te parió. Literally translated "the hore who gave birth to you". Truely, not a very nice phrase. And then it is just used for all kinds of swearing…

 

Now it is your turn; what is your favorite phrase from Buenos Aires? Which ones do I miss? Leave a comment below 🙂

5 phrases you will hear all the time in Buenos Aires
 
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The hidden chic gems in the city of Tigre, Buenos Aires

The hidden chic gems in the city of Tigre

Most people visiting Tigre in the province of Buenos Aires go there for the boat rides on the delta but the city of Tigre has so much more to offer. If you take a scroll through the city you will be able to find incredible hidden chic gems.  

Street art in Tigre

Street art

When you least expect it; on the corner of a street, on an abandoned building or just on an empty wall, the street art pops up. These amazing pieces of art adds extra color and life to an otherwise grey and boring urban space.

As much as I dislike common graffiti, as much I’m completely in love with cities that allows for this kind of amazing works in the public space. And the street art in Tigre is no exception. I captured some of the pieces I saw on my scroll around the city but I believe that if you spend a bit more time wandering around the city you will be able to find more pieces.

Street art in Tigre, Buenos Aires
Street art in Tigre, Buenos Aires
Street art in Tigre, Buenos Aires

Bohemian Boulevard de Tigre

The largest concentration of art in Tigre seems to be centered on Boulevard de Tigre, or Boulevard Saenz Peña as the correct name is. This bohemian oasis of art is definitely not to be missed on your visit to Tigre! Here you will find small chic vintage shops to cute cafés.

Remember to enter in the side walk on the corner of Café Almacen de Flores! I’m sure you will be amazed by the pieces of arts that reveal in front of your eyes. Take a break and breathe in this bohemian atmosphere.

Café Almacen de Flores

Located just in the middle of the art heaven of Boulevard de Tigre you will find Almacen de Flores, a small restaurant and café with a relaxed atmosphere. And then they just serve some super delicious food. Make a stop here for a cup of coffee or a lunch break after touring the delta.

Hand craft shops

Along the way from Boulevard Sanez Peña toward the old port area of Tigre, Puerto de Frutos, you will find a great variety of shops selling all kind of chic handcraft.

Even though you might not have more space in your luggage for more souvenirs after visiting the San Telmo market, make sure to enter some of these hidden gems around the city. Take time to admire and get inspired by the crafts.

Hand craft shops in Tigre, Buenos Aires
Hand craft shops in Tigre, Buenos Aires
Hand craft shops in Tigre, Buenos Aires

Have you ever visit Tigre? What did you like about the city? Or maybe dislike?

 

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Tigre, Buenos Aires
Sunset in Tigre, Buenos Aires

Day trip from Buenos Aires to Tigre

I love the vibrant cosmopolitan life of Buenos Aires. There is so much stuff to do and see. However, sometimes it just gets too much, and I need to get away. Get away from the hustle and bustle of traffic and people everywhere at any time. You know that feeling, right?

Sometimes it is just nice to get out and to get away. Why not slow down and to enjoy the quietness of a smaller village? A day trip to Tigre Delta is a great way to slow down and enjoy something completely different from the stressful atmosphere in Buenos Aires city.

Day Trip from Buenos Aires to Tigre

The city of Tigre is located by a huge delta area just 35 km up north from the city center in the province of Buenos Aires. And the really great thing is that it only takes around an hour with public transportation from the center. The luxury of having things nearby is really rare in South America so rather enjoy this one!

Day Trip from Buenos Aires to Tigre

The most popular – and completely anti-stress – activity is to take a boat ride on the rivers of the delta. Apart from the peaceful speed of the boat through the water and the nature of the area, on the ride you will be able to enjoy some of the amazing buildings along the river.

Day Trip from Buenos Aires to Tigre

On the dock located just a few meters from the train station, several different tour companies offer tours on the delta of a different amount of time. We just chose a 1 hours ride in a small boat with around 10 others. The cost was 100 pesos per person.

Day Trip from Buenos Aires to Tigre

How to get to Tigre

With public transportation it only takes around an hour and it is more than easy to get there. You will just need to catch one of one of the provincial blue trains running between the city center and the provincial areas. You can catch the train to Tigre either from Retiro station or Belgrano C (just by barrio Chino).

Day Trip from Buenos Aires to Tigre

 

One of the incredible houses placed by the river side of Tigre Delta...

Day Trip from Buenos Aires to Tigre

 

... and then suddenly a church in the middle of nothing...

Day Trip from Buenos Aires to Tigre

 

... by the end of our boat ride the sun began to go down, and created amazing light with the clouds...

Day Trip from Buenos Aires to Tigre

Do you have any good idea to other day trips from Buenos Aires? Please feel free to share your thoughts below - or, of course, Pin it 🙂

 

Boat ride in Tigre, Buenos Aires
San Telmo market Buenos Aires

What to do in Buenos Aires: San Telmo antique and handcraft market

No matter if you are looking for a new pair of shoes, a souvenir to take with you home or a piece of chic antique you will be able to find it at San Telmo market. The Sunday market in the old neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, San Telmo, is packed with handcrafts, antiques… and well, everything in between.

 

The market which in Spanish called Feria de San Telmo, and it is a great place to search for alternative and difference souvenirs. Check out my photos below and get inspired by some of the amazing handcrafted works and incredible ideas from the sellers:

 

When, where and how to get there

The San Telmo market takes place every Sunday from around 9 am until approximately 6 pm. It is located in the street Defensa starting from Plaza de Mayo towards Plaza Dorrego

 

If you are staying in other neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires the easiest way is to take the subway (el subte) to the stations: Catedral (the green line D), Bolívar (the purple line E) and Plaza de Mayo (the blue line A). A part from that – and depending on where you are staying – different buses go to Plaza de Mayo as well.

Try using Google maps or the web site Como llego (link) by the municipality of Buenos Aires. 

Other points of interest nearby

Casa Rosada, Plaza de Mayo and Avenida de Mayo: Most people visiting the city have heard of the pink government building, Casa Rosada, and want to see it with their own eyes. Well, there you go! It is located at the end of Plaza de Mayo before entering the market. At the opposite end of Plaza de Mayo from Casa Rosada yo'll find Avenida de Mayo. This avenue connects Casa Rosada in a direct line with the parliament building, el Congreso. Certainly worth a walk if you are not too tried after the market visit.

Puerto Madero and Puente de la Mujer: Behind Casa Rosada is another sight of interest in Buenos Aires. Puerto Madero with the bridge Puente de la Mujer is the only place where the city beautifully shows its proximity to the sea. Take a walk through this exclusive area of Buenos Aires. Some of the best (and most expensive) restaurants of the city is located here. If you go at lunch time you might be able to find a good lunch offer.

 

Interested in other tips about Argentina and Buenos Aires? Check out my other articles here.

What is your favourite place in Buenos Aires?

 

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