Having just returned from Buenos Aires we can say it is a city that impressed us greatly. The infrastructure, architecture, neighborhoods, public parks and natural beauty make it unforgettable and epic. It has all the wow factors of a very cultured place with centuries of history, like a Paris, Rome or London without the price tag and pomp that goes along with one of these higher end cultural gems.
It is often a real buzzkill as a traveler when you are arriving to a place that you know is good like a world renowned city or a historic hotel or restaurant and you get the feeling you are paying just for the privilege to stand in awe of the place. The reality is most of us work hard, put in time and sacrifice to be able to get to travel and the last thing we want is that our destination tries to show off how much better it is than us, in the free time we’ve given it.
This is not the case with Buenos Aires at all, zero pretense. It all starts with the friendly people we encountered. From can do Uber drivers, to meeting some expat friends, to interacting with locals in the service industry and on the street. Argentinians are like a friend who loves long, deep conversations and has some strongly held beliefs about the way the world should be and what’s essential for life.
This is manifested in the relaxing and intentional layout of the city. Hotels are often small boutique suites with kitchenettes. Food of every sort is created like artistic displays, bookstores, wine shops and coffee stores are the hub around which life ebbs and flows, as well as neighborhood clubs where children play soccer and adults talk for hours. The feel is certainly Bohemian in nature (check out La Boca neighborhood) but there is a strong work ethic which is a central value too. The streets are clean, organized, and at least for what a tourist can expect to see, people enjoy their roles in being part of this productive society.
What is inspiring here is that as a tourist you really don’t feel like you have to break the bank to live well in Buenos Aires. Grab your wine, coffee, pastry and a great book or a friend and get ready to ponder the deeper things in life, to watch people along Puerto Madero, enjoy a performance at Teatro Colon, walk down the paved brick ways and historic cemeteries of La Recoleta, Take in the grand Plaza de Mayo with the cathedral and government buildings. Be sure and catch a world class Italian meal for a wonderful price at La Pecora Nera. All this in Buenos Aires allowed us to enjoy “high” culture at everyday travelers prices. Its a thrilling way to experience a city that is truly cosmopolitan.