Buenos Aires

Argentina is a fascinating place, and while many customs here bare at least some resemblance to Europe, there are at least a few that certainly help to spice up life!

For starters, you will find their eating habits quite different from those of any English-speaking nation. Breakfast would be considered almost non-existent ―often consisting of just a coffee and croissant (or medialuna as they call them here!). Lunch doesn't differ too much, but it is followed by a late afternoon tea (merienda) and then the most bizarre part of all −dinner can be anywhere between 9pm and midnight. That's probably been the most difficult thing for me to adjust to, I can't get used to eating so close to my bedtime!

The next point may also connect with the late dinners, to the point you have to seriously reconsider whether you want to arrive anywhere on time! If you're meeting an Argentine friend −or even heading to an event−,  don't be surprised if there's no-one there when you arrive on time. I once arrived 40 minutes late to a birthday party, only to find myself the first one there!

One final custom that might take you by surprise, but grows on you quite quickly, is the Argentine kiss to say hello and goodbye. Instead of just a handshake, most Argentines will greet each other with a kiss to the right cheek −both men and women! For the more conservative English cultures this can come as quite a shock, but fear not: it's perfectly normal here.

By Aaron Hodges 

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 

How to get to your Spanish school and other places

As in many other cities, Buenos Aires has a very broad transport system. Public transport includes buses called colectivos, an underground metro system called subte, some trains, and taxis painted in black and yellow. 

These are some things you need to know to move around Buenos Aires easily: 

1. Except for taxis, on colectivos (buses), subtes (underground metro) and local trains you will need a SUBE card. This is sold at subte stations and in many kiosks in the city. Also, you can get the SUBE card at the Tourist Information Offices. Once you have it, you will need to pre charge it. Need more info?

2. Buenos Aires map. Buenos Aires is a large city and to have a map in print might be a good option. Yet, you can also use an interactive map to get from where you are to where you want to go. The other option is that you download the App "BA Cómo llego" (how do I get to) from your Google Play Store.

As you have seen, there are many alternatives as regards traveling Buenos Aires. In my opinion, the subte is the fastest way to get around, especially if you are heading downtown. Colectivos are colorful and run through avenues and main streets. Taxis are the most expensive option although you get to the exact place. And about trains, this option is limited; yet, it is a good option to go, for example, to Tigre.

 

On November 30th, Argentina celebrates the National Day of the Yerba Mate. 

More than 500 years ago, native guaraníes were already using these leaves to prepare an energetic beverage. Nowadays, both Argentina and Uruguay love "mate", not only in the countryside but in the cities too. 

But what can we expect when we are offered a "mate"?

Its 50th anniversary, and The British travel magazine decided to find the 50 best neigborhoods in the world for travelers as well as for locals. With its various art galleries, boutique hotels and a broad variety of restaurants and nightlife, Palermo Soho in Buenos Aires was ranked as one of these neighborhoods. The photo above shows you a street in this quiet and yet vibrant neighborhood.

Talking about steakhouses, Don Julio Buenos Aires is one of my favorite, rated 6 among the 50 best restaurantes in Latin America. The address: Guatemala with Gurruchaga, quite close to IW Languages Spanish school.

Our Spanish vocab tips as regards ordering a steak:

Puede traerme un bife de chorizo o un ojo de bife con ensalada? / Can I have a strip steak or a ribeye steak and a salad?

Quisiera mi bife a punto/jugoso/cocido. / I'd like my steak rare/medium/well-done.