Although I only managed to see a small portion of Buenos Aires, I was delighted with what I witnessed. I stayed in Puerto Madero, one of the newest neighborhoods and becoming the trendiest place in Buenos Aires. The streets were clean, well lit and safe, the people very friendly, helpful and well manicured, the food was plentiful and affordable and some buildings were new but not obnoxiously modern. There were docks to stroll along, wide paths to ride bikes and riverfront cafes to linger over coffee and pastries.
I was ambling around at 11pm after dinner while most locals and tourists were just starting their evening meal in the elegant restaurants on the waterfront. The long evening meal is a very important part of the Argentine culture. This is something I believe we sacrifice living in such a time and money orientated culture. I felt humbled by the fact that people were experiencing an event while enjoying their meal. It was more than just feeding their stomachs- it was quality time together. From the 30 or so restaurants I passed I did not see one person dining alone- further supporting the social nature of the meal in Argentina. The menus were exciting and tempting, the wines varied and world class and the prices were so reasonable that you could really afford to splash out.
I decided to opt for a local favorite – Café Tostina. Many of the restaurants, including this one have a back room for tango shows. Unfortunately the tango show which I hoped to see after the meal was fully booked and it was too late to find another. Just gives me an excuse to visit Buenos Aires again! The food at Café Tostina was simple and like many others, had some Italian influence. Again, very affordable- large pizza, beer and a delectable pie for $10USD.
An interesting observation was that the job position of employees seems to be clearly defined by gender. All the waiters in the restaurants were male and 99% of the hotel staff and clothing or “mall” assistants were female. Although I was warned of the “macho” nature evident in the Argentine society, I can say I did not experience any sexist attitudes.
Overall I found the Argentine people fun, proud and gregarious and the city safe, interesting and pleasing to the eye. One night was not enough. I left the following morning regretful of not experiencing more.