Buenos Aires: tango, architecture and history

The Mexicans are descended from the Mayans, the Peruvians from the Incas, and the Argentines from the boats! Ha ha, this joke alone reflects the complex identity of Buenos Aires


Although we are here in South America, the people are blond, white and dressed in European style. Everything is modern and ancient at the same time, organised and chaotic. Buenos Aires, like its African twin sister, Cape Town, is a city teeming with paradoxes, multicultural and traditional at the same time.
What do these two cities at the antipodes of each other have in common? A colonisation from another world that wanted to affirm its identity, its culture, its rules to a land and its people. 
The result is striking, in Buenos Aires, it’s a bit like Paris or London, except that there is a beautiful beach and people speak Spanish with a strange accent.

Buenos Aires is a city where all cultures mix together

The Porteños boast of living in the most European of South American capitals. And it is true, this city has a thousand faces. Here you can see all the different forms of culture brought by the successive waves of settlers.
If the Frenchwoman that I am loves Buenos Aires, it is also because I feel a very Latin culture, a real elegance in the architecture, the cuisine and the people. The small neighbourhoods full of bistros, shops and boutiques mix with the Haussmannian avenues or ultramodern buildings.
In Buenos Aires all contrasts are possible: the small squares, the tiny streets where sidewalk cafés put up a terrace with two chairs, the gigantic Avenue 9 de Julio, the business district and the bohemian village of Boca.
Buenos has a very special feature, all its differences give a homogeneous whole. One doesn’t feel here the class struggle, the opposition between the abandoned suburbs and the rich city centre. Poverty, inflation and insecurity exist in Buenos Aires, but no more than in Paris. There is a lot of talk about crime in Buenos Aires, yet many travellers have had the same experience as me: if you don’t do anything stupid, everything goes well. The greatest risk is theft, in Buenos Aires like in all big cities, pickpockets reign supreme. 


The inhabitants of Buenos Aires are just as surprising: very very nice but really radical!

The kindness and openness of the Porteños contrasts with their radicalism, their incredible and sometimes disconcerting ardour when it comes to politics, religion or football… There is a not at all veiled violence which arises as soon as the parties, the points of view but also the origins are opposed. Argentines have a conquistador’s side, sure of their words, their ideas and of course, sure that they are right. 
But this is surely what makes Buenos Aires so charming. Excessive joy, sadness, comedy and tragedy are intimately intertwined.
There is here the drama of mothers mourning their children who have disappeared in inane wars, bloody putsches and murderous, liberticidal regimes. And yet the city still resounds with loud and lively music, joie de vivre and artistic expression. In Buenos Aires, museums, streets, galleries, street art and restaurants are much more lively and joyful than in my native country.

Buenos Aires is a cocktail, the elements that make it up often clash, but the result is an intense strength and joie de vivre 

Rich in its heritage, which leaves a perfume of nostalgia that is full of elegance, lost greatness and carelessness, Buenos Aires still often stumbles in its slippery tango, swayed by the horrors of the junta, the cascading economic crises, corruption and crime. But what a city!

Buenos Aires is mostly explored on foot, there is so much more to see


I almost only explored it on foot, a small average of 8 to 9 km per day. It’s really worth wearing your trainers on these uneven cobblestones and wide avenues. You just have to ask the inhabitants to let you enter the Belle Epoque buildings to admire the art nouveau or to sit on one, two or three terraces and watch the porteños live. 
In Buenos Aires you can spend a lot of time studying clothing styles. Ultra fashionable, blue hair, tattooed bodies rub shoulders with strict little black dresses, scarves tied on the head, fitted grey dancer’s suit, boy in livery, business man in black suit. And these beautiful blonde women with the classic elegance of a Grace Kelly or young girls with daring styles…
You have to spend some time there, there are many things to do here, but you will certainly read it in a good guide more in details which will tell you all about it in A: Rio del Plata, La Boca, Empanada, Maradonna, Recoleta, Milonga, Evita, and tralala!

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