City of Buenos Aires
Officially named Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires (Autonomous City of Buenos Aires), the capital of Argentina. The name means fair winds, or literally good airs in Spanish.
Buenos Aires receives tourists from all over the world and offers a large choice of cultural events, nightlife, restaurants, and pubs. So you can expect good services and a wide range of options.
A trip to Buenos Aires is not complete without some sort of experience of the Tango, the national dance of Argentina.
Inhabitants are called porteños, “people from the port”, implying that many of the inhabitants are immigrants in some ways or another. In 1880, after decades of political infighting, Buenos Aires was federalised and removed from Buenos Aires Province. The city limits were enlarged to include the towns of Belgrano and Flores; both are now neighbourhoods of the city. The 1994 constitutional amendment granted the city autonomy, hence its formal name: Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires (Autonomous City of Buenos Aires).
Buenos Aires is a multicultural city, being home to multiple ethnic and religious groups. Several languages are spoken in the city in addition to Spanish, contributing to its culture and the dialect spoken in the city and in some other parts of the country, making it a melting pot where several ethnic groups live together and being considered as one of the most diverse cities of Latin America.
The Spanish in Buenos Aires is pronounced differently from elsewhere. The difference in pronunciation probably reflects the influence of Italian traders in the port in the 19th century, many of the words that Porteños pronounce differently from the rest of the Spanish-speaking world are pronounced identically to a Italian word for the same thing. Despite these differences, any person who is fluent in Spanish should have no difficulty navigating through conversations with Porteños or with any other Argentinians.
Buenos Aires also has one of the largest homosexual communities in Latin America and there is a receptive attitude towards gay society in the federal law, same sex marriages are legally performed and recognised, the first country in Latin America.
The City of Buenos Aires has 48 districts called barrios (neighbourhoods). The most important and visited are (just to name a few):
Microcentro – downtown, an ideal location for visitors to be near to the main historical spots of the Argentinean capital. Florida Street is located downtown and is a famous pedestrian street of the city, where visitors can do window shopping and buy clothes and other usual city goods.
San Telmo – this district preserves colonial-style houses along narrow cobblestone lanes, illuminated with pretty wrought iron lanterns. In San Telmo, one breathes the history of Buenos Aires. There is also a very exciting, underground nightlife scene. San Telmo is best visited on Sundays when tourists and locals alike flood in to attend the weekly street fair and flea market. Plaza Dorrego offers tango and antique products. Defensa street from Chile to San Juan comes to life with live performers and vendors.
La Boca – considered Buenos Aires’s most colourful neighbourhood with a very outgoing personality. Tourists favour this picturesque district for its rich history and vibrant colours: greens, yellows, reds, and purples highlight the urban scenery.
La Boca has the Caminito pedestrian street with arts and crafts. La Boca is famous for Tango and you can often catch glimpses of Tango dancers practicing in the streets. If you fancy having a picture taking with a tango dancer you can but expect to pay a small fee. In addition to tango, La Boca is famous for its football, and you can take a tour of the La Bombonera Stadium where the buildings are painted in bright colours.
La Boca is probably best to be enjoyed during the day when the streets are crowded and there are other tourists around, it is generally advised to be avoided at night.
Palermo – hip residential neighbourhood of tree-lined streets and intersections packed with restaurants, bars, and boutiques. There are several “sub neighbourhoods” such as Palermo-Viejo, Palermo-SoHo, Palermo-Hollywood.
If you are a fan of walking in green open spaces and parks in big cities like Buenos Aires, be sure not to miss a promenade in Palermo, a beautiful area in the northern part of the city. Here you will find not only open spaces to walk in but also a large lake where you can rent paddle boats and an huge flower garden that is free to enter! Although the Japanese and the botanical gardens and the surroundings are very nice, they are also very noisy as several major roads traverse the area.
The Palermo Viejo district: This is a trendy neighbourhood with charming cobblestone streets, bookstores, bars, and boutiques; definitely better than the touristic San Telmo area for a nighttime excursion.
Recoleta – one of the finest and most expensive areas of the city. It boasts many French style buildings, large green spaces, and first class restaurants. The famous Recoleta Cemetery is well worth a visit.
The Cementerio de la Recoleta: This is where all the rich families in Buenos Aires have their final resting places. Expect to see big ornate tombs. Be sure to visit the tomb of Eva Perón, the daughter of an aristocrat and beloved First Lady who, despite having the most visited tomb in the cemetery, is considered by many to be too close toward the people for eternal interment in Recoleta.
Congreso – a dense downtown area that houses the legislative branch of government, it resides at the opposite end of Avenida de Mayo from the Casa Rosada (Rosy House, or “pink house” as some would called it) seat of the executive branch.
Puerto Madero – just like the London docklands, the antique port of Buenos Aires has been renewed and now represents the latest architectural trends of the city. It has a mixture of restaurants, ranging from high end to U.S.A. chains. It also has apartment buildings and a few expensive hotels.
Retiro – hosting the main train station in the city, a busy area filled with commuters, but also home to some of the most luxurious restaurants, shopping, and partying, in the expat-friendly border of Microcentro. Retiro has attracted people from various kinds of lifestyles, without any strong attraction for any specific group of people.
Tribunales – this part of town has many theater shows, especially on Avenida Corrientes. On Libertad street there is the astounding huge Colon Theatre, one of the most prestigious in the world.
There really is so much to do and see in Buenos Aires, I could go on and on. The best way to enjoy it is by going.