We’ve written quite extensively about our time in Buenos Aires, and looking back at this great city, there were several things about it that we got used to (took for granted, even) but which at first were quite surprising to us, and that we didn’t expect when we first planned to visit Buenos Aires.
Red Post Boxes
I’d never seen the typical red British postboxes anywhere outside the UK, but they’re all over the place in Buenos Aires.
The amount of dog shit on the streets (especially, but not exclusively, in San Telmo) was something we never really got used to. I’ll spare you pictures.
The architecture in neighbourhoods like Retiro and Recoleta was surprisingly European. Known as the Paris of the South, this perhaps shouldn’t have been a huge surprise, but it was interesting to learn that there are entire buildings constructed with materials brought exclusively from France to Buenos Aires during the 19th century.
Abundant Vegetarian Food
We’ve shared some of the great food we tried in Buenos Aires, most of which was vegetarian. For a country with a reputation for being the best place to eat steak, we weren’t expecting such an abundance of vegetarian food, but it really was everywhere. Visiting the city as a vegan wouldn’t be a problem at all, which is more we can say for the rest of the country.
Argentina is famous for having very high inflation. While we were there in April 2013, we saw prices rise from one day to another for small things such as coffee. I can’t imagine living there full-time, and always worrying about price increases.
Puerto Madero was just round the corner from our apartment in San Telmo, and its resemblance to London’s Docklands was striking. Even the contrast between the historically working class neighbourhood of San Telmo and the slick, modern tower blocks of Puerto Madero mirror the juxtaposition of the equivalent areas in my native East London.
For a reasonably cosmopolitan city (though not in the same league as say, London or New York), I was surprised to see how many Porteños were openly hostile towards immigrants to their city, especially economic migrants from poorer South American countries like Bolivia or Peru.
There is more street art in Buenos Aires than I’ve seen in almost any other city, except perhaps Berlin. For every piece of ugly tagging and straight-up graffiti, there are ten more pieces of amazing, beautiful, thought-provoking, disturbing or just plain weird street art. San Telmo and Palermo were particularly great areas of the city for spotting some of it.
We loved Buenos Aires, despite its flaws, and definitely plan to return at some point!
What has surprised you about Buenos Aires, or any other city you loved or hated?