Porteños

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!

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