spanish immersion

  • Eating out: Spanish immersion in Buenos Aires

    By Aaron Hodges

    If you're looking for a good spot to learn Spanish in 2019, then look no further than Buenos Aires! Not only does this city have some amazing architecture and crazy nightlife, it also boasts a budding food scene that will satisfy even the fussiest of foodies. And not just with their world-famous barbeque.

    Dining out in Buenos Aires is an experience you don't want to miss, and an evening walk through the neighborhood of Palermo will reveal a host of tasty restaurants. Unlike many parts of South America, Buenos Aires offers a real variety on the cuisine you can experience -from Chinese to Spanish and much more. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a steak as much as the next guy, but there's only so much meat you can eat in one week. 

    Fortunately, Buenos Aires does not let you down, and after a month there's plenty of places for me to try. So far, my favorite has probably been the variety of a night out wandering the tapas bars of Palermo, where the Spanish tradition has grown in popularity in recent years. Of course, the three meal special in a cocktail bar (which included a free cocktail) was also great, with the highlight being a main of roast lamb that impressed even this kiwi.

    Of course though, you probably aren't going to visit Buenos Aires just for its sushi and dumplings. Let's face it. If you're making the trip all the way to Argentina, it's the steak you can't wait to try. Fortunately, the international food is just the cheery on top of the cake. This city is plenty of barbeque restaurants or parrillas as they are known here. If you're looking for the best asadoon the market, then look no further than the restaurant "Don Julio". Located in central Palermo, this place offers a truly magnificent (and enormous) steak. And while you will be paying a little more than your average restaurant in the city, you might be lucky enough to be offered free bubbly at the door while you're waiting for a table.

    Fortunately, if Don Julio is a bit expensive for your tastes, Buenos Aires also hosts a ton of other parrillas, offering options for all budgets. Though, of course, the cheaper a place is the less likely they are going to speak any English! But then, that's the same for for everything in any of the countries down in this amazing continent. If there's one thing that surprised me on my first trip to Latin America way back in 2015, it's how difficult it is to get by without the local language. Unlike South East Asia and Europe, English is not particularly common and even a week's worth of Spanish lessons could mean the difference between a good trip and a bad one.

    Or in the case of your first eating out experience, just knowing the difference between carne and pescado!

     

     

  • Spanish immersion: exploring Buenos Aires

    Buenos Aires is a wild and wonderful place with plenty to see and do, whether you live here for a long time or you are just visiting! One of my favourite ways to explore the city when I first arrived was the multitude of walking tours available all around the place. These are a great way of getting your feet on the ground and exploring all the monuments, grand palaces and amazing architecture this city has to offer ―while also hearing about the diverse history of Buenos Aires.

    These tours are often free (with a tip given to the guide at the end) and run each day. You'll probably want to start with the free walking tour of Microcentro, which usually starts at the Congress building and heads on through to Plaza de Mayo ―with a dozen or more stops along the way to hear all about the people who built the amazing buildings in downtown Buenos Aires. 

    From there you cannot miss the free walking tour of Recoleta. Starting from Teatro Colón, this tour can take up to four hours, as the guides take you through the history of how this barrio came to become one of the richest parts of Buenos Aires. There are literal palaces all through this part of town and the tour ends in the famous Recoleta cemetery, where there are a ton of walking tours available! I haven't taken this trip yet, but I've heard it's the best way to learn all about the generations of wealthy porteños buried in the ground!

    Finally, the last main walking tour you'll find is the free tour of La Boca ―the original port area of Buenos Aires. With a slightly less savoury reputation, this is definitely the best way to safely explore the rich history of La Boca and the neighbourhood's connection to the tango! Football fans will also get a taste of the porteño passion for the world sport, with the tour finishing at the famous La Boca  stadium.

    Those are just a few of the tours on offer around Buenos Aires, but there are a ton of others for the savvy explorer. These three free options don't even touch of Palermo, another fantastic barrio you will no doubt want to explore as well. But of course, if you want to get the stories direct from the locals while walking in the streets, you'll need to knuckle down with your Spanish lessons so you can keep up with the conversation!

    By Aaron Hodges