Continuing with our travels across South America, this week we’re exploring one of the most well-known cities in the world.
Buenos Aires is the capital city of Argentina, and it’s a truly fantastic place bursting with culture.
Originally translating as ‘fair winds’, Buenos Aires was founded in 1536 by a Spanish expedition led by Pedro de Mendoza. The very first settlement that was created was south of what is now regarded as the city centre.
However, it wasn’t easy for these founders. Indigenous people drove most settlers away due to the danger of frequent attacks, and so the settlement was abandoned in 1542. After many years, a second, permanent settlement was founded in 1580.
Almost right from the beginning, Buenos Aires was very much dependent on trade. The city would trade with other South American settlements using ships that sailed the famous Río de la Plata. Due to a high risk of pirates, these ships were highly protected and the system worked on a very strict structure, which meant shipments took a long time. Many people were frustrated with this, and so a thriving contraband industry began to grow.
This didn’t go unnoticed, and Charles III of Spain began to ease the restrictions. He finally declared the port as an open port in the 18th century, which was a well-respected decision by many.
Fast-forward to today, and the city is larger than ever. The shipping trade thrived, allowing the city to expand and grow to its current size, with its population of 2.89 million people spread across 203 km².
Geography and climate
This expansive city lies mostly in the Pampa region. Because of this, Buenos Aires has a hot and humid summer, but has relatively cold winters, especially at night.
Summer temperatures average around 24 degrees (with January being the warmest month), but it’s known to reach up to a scorching 41 degrees. Short heatwaves are common, and often bring huge, intense thunderstorms that loom over the city for short periods.
In the winter, the weather is considerably colder. Temperatures can vary from 10 degrees to below zero, with the coldest month usually being July. Interestingly, the last recorded snowfall was back in 2007 – the first time in 89 years!
Things to do
Probably the most recognisable part of the city, the iconic streets of La Boca are brightly painted in wonderful, vibrant colours. The traditional streets are fantastic to walk down as you’re surrounded by bustle and genuine culture.
This area is also home to a big part of Buenos Aires’ history. La Bombonera, the stadium of the world-renowned Boca Juniors Football Club, resides here. This fantastic team is known all over the world not only for its players, but also its ‘crazy’ fans. If you get the chance to see a game, you shouldn’t hesitate, Fazendeiros.
It may sound quite morbid that a cemetery is considered a must-see sight of the city, but it’s for a good reason. This cemetery is where the most powerful and influential people of the city’s history now rest.
This huge cemetery is filled with ornate mausoleums that are crafted from some of the finest materials, spanning as far as the eye can see. It’s a chillingly intriguing experience.
Admission is free, but it’s recommended to take a map – it can be difficult to navigate!
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
The Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires is considered one of the best in the world. Not only does it hold works by South American artists, but also famous names such as Van Gogh, Monet and Picasso.
If you have even a remote interest in art, there is sure to be something here for you to gaze your eyes upon.
Food & Drink
It comes as no surprise that food and drink is deeply ingrained in the culture in Buenos Aires. There’s lots of traditional meals and treats in this city that you’re sure to love.
An asado is the Argentinian barbecue. Families and friends often – as in very often – gather and cook large cuts of meat, which range from chicken hearts to picanha to alcatra, without forgetting chicken, lamb and pork cuts. There are several different styles of asado, with one being ‘fuego lento a la cruz‘ whereby large pieces of meat are pierced on stakes of wood and cooked around an open flame. Another style is ‘a leña’ (wood), where wood is used to provide heat as opposed to the more modern use of charcoal. The final style is called ‘parilla de piso (floor grill)’, where the meat is placed on a grill on the floor over the heat of charcoal. Our Managing Director Tomás showcased this method on our blog with his very own asado, Fazendeiros.
Although this traditionally originated in Spain, it’s also very common across Argentina due to its Spanish and Italian roots, with many restaurants in Buenos Aires offering it on their menu. Consisting of various cold meats and cheeses, and often accompanied by other nibbles such as olives and bread, these platters are designed to share and are an absolute classic.
They’re often an excuse to gather as friends & family, and enjoy some time together. It’s also not unusual to have a picada as a starter if you visit a restaurant, and many places have several platter options.
These little parcels consist of a pastry that’s stuffed with various fillings, and are a delight to eat. They can be found all over South America, but certain fillings are traditionally found in Buenos Aires, such as beef (ground or diced), chicken and Caprese (tomato, mozzarella and basil). In fact, we have our very own Wagyu empanadas available on our Bar Food Menu and they are a must-try.
Also available on our bar food menu, these sandwiches are not to be overlooked. Usually consisting of a crusty bread filled with chorizo, they’re the perfect street food snack when topped with fresh chimichurri (or sautéed onions, mayonnaise, mustard, depending on likes and dislikes!).
This one is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth, Fazendeiros. Popular across all of South America, these confections can easily be found in Buenos Aires.
Two cookies sandwich up a thick layer of dulce de leche, and are often covered either with coconut shavings or dipped in chocolate. They’re the best way to finish off a meal after something savoury.
We finish off with a national drink of Argentina. Mate consists of dried yerba mate leaves that are infused in hot water, like tea. Traditionally, people drink this out of a special cup called a mate gourd, using a straw designed to filter out the leaves, called a bombilla. It’s unique in flavour, and is a must try if you get the chance while travelling the city.