Buenos-Aires

Buenos Aires, Argentina, South America

Buenos Aires is one of Latin America’s most important ports and most populous cities. Buenos Aires is usually the first point of entry into Argentina, its capital and largest City. This grandiose city with wide avenues and a vibrant cosmopolitan flair is more generally European than Latin American in character. Having little colonial architecture and few landmark buildings, Buenos Aires is chiefly a city of distinctive neighbourhoods that have their own meeting places, generally coffeehouses or bars.

History

Early in the twentieth century, Buenos Aires, the city of fair winds, became one of the world’s great cities. Fuelled by the great agricultural wealth that came from the heart-land of the nation, great new buildings and monuments. The city’s residents, known as Porteños, or people of the port, were confident and brash. To the people of neighbouring countries, the Porteños were arrogant and aloof. Economists and historians are still trying to figure out what went wrong in Argentina. Once the seventh-wealthiest country in the world, it quickly dropped to seventy-seventh by the 1960s. Yet, despite all its problems, Buenos Aires retains much of its old charm. Some of its neighbourhoods have not changed at all in the past 100 years and remain a living example of the city’s golden age. Millions of people visit Buenos Aires each year.

People

Most Porteños are the descendants of immigrants from Spain and Italy who came to Argentina in large numbers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Many other Europeans have settled in Buenos Aires, including Germans, British, and Jews from central and Eastern Europe. Virtually no descendants of Africans or of mixed European and African ancestry remain in the city. In the early 19th century about one-third of the population was black, mainly living in San Telmo. By the end of the century, black residents accounted for only a tiny percentage of Buenos Aires’s population. Researchers suggest that many blacks were killed fighting in the War of the Triple Alliance in the 1860s or perished in the yellow fever epidemic of 1871 that devastated much of the population in San Telmo. Others believe that the population intermixed with the already mixed-ethnic porteños and was no longer distinguishable.

Language

The national language is Spanish, but many other languages are spoken in the city, including Italian, German, and English. One of the oldest English-language newspapers in the Americas, The Buenos Aires Herald, has been in circulation since 1876. A colorful slang known as Lunfardo is spoken in the city’s slums and waterfront neighborhoods. Argentineans and neighboring Chileans often refer to the Spanish language as Castellano (Castilian).

Climate

The temperate climate of  Buenos Aires is characteristic of the Río de la Plata’s coastal plain. The city is hot and humid during the summer months of December to March, with temperatures in the low to mid-80s (about 28 °C). The autumn and spring are characterized by fluctuating temperatures and quickly changing weather. The winter months of June to September are mild but humid, with mean temperatures in the low 50s F (about 11 °C).

Airports

Ezeiza International Airport, 30 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of downtown Buenos Aires, has national and international service, Aerolineas Argentinas, with 150 international and 350 domestic flights per week, is the largest carrier at Ezeiza. Aeroparque Jorge Newbery, five minutes north of the downtown area, serves as a regional airport, with some international departures.

Shopping

Buenos Aires is famous for its leather and woollen goods. Leather jackets, saddles, boots, and many other items are sold at many expensive shops in the northern barrios of the city. Buenos Aires is a well-read city, and hundreds of bookstores offer books in many languages.

BUENOS AIRES IN SUMMARY

  • Buenos Aires is a huge city of 15 million people and an excellent destination for Spanish immersion, if you like big cities. Here are a few quick tips if you plan to go.
  • Must see: The Recoleta Cemetary is an absolute must see. That’s number one.
  • Tango: We highly recommend going to La Viruta one night when they have either a tango or salsa lesson. This is a great Buenos Aires Tango experience. Check the schedule at http://www.lavirutatango.com
  • Best restaurants: The best/trendiest restaurants are in an area called Las Cañitas. It’s a part of Palermo. The best steak restaurant is called Las Lilas https://buenos-aires.restorando.com.ar/ It’s in Puerto Madero.
  • Where to stay? We recommend staying in Recoleta, Palermo or Barrio Norte.
  • Fun: There are of course lots of nightclubs which start late and go till dawn.
  • Means of Transportation: Ride the subte.
  • Be careful! The city is generally safe but use common sense and don’t walk around with expensive jewelry or a Rolex.
  • What to eat? Be sure to eat medialunas for breakfast and empanadas for lunch.

Education

Porteños are among the best-educated people in the world, with high literacy rates and school completion rates. The world-renowned University of Buenos Aires (1821) had more than 180,000 students enrolled in 1997. The Roman Catholic Church also operates many private institutions, including two universities: Salvador University and Roman Catholic University.

Parks and Recreation

The city has many parks and plazas, and they are quite busy on weekends when Porteños traditionally go out for a stroll. One of the city’s largest parks is in Palermo. Within its grounds you can find a horse racing arena, polo fields, tennis courts, and bicycle and pedestrian paths.

Tourism

Buenos Aires is a popular tourist destination, with more than ten million visitors annually. Most visitors are from Argentina and neighbouring countries, but large numbers of visitors come from the United States and Europe.

Neighbourhoods

Buenos Aires neighbourhoods are small and highly individualized, each with its own characteristic colors and forms. In the San Telmo district, the city’s multinational heritage is embodied in a Buenos Aires – La Boca varied and cosmopolitan architecture – Spanish Colonial design couples with Italian detailing and graceful French Classicism. La Boca’s pressed tin houses are painted a rainbow of colors, and muralists have turned the district’s side-streets into avenues of color. Other distinctive neighbourhoods in Buenos Aires include Montserrat and Puerto Madero.

Holidays and Festivals

·         January
Año Nuevo (New Year’s Day, January 1)
·         March-April
Viernes Santo (Good Friday)
·         May
Día del Trabajador (Labor Day, May 1)
Revolución de Mayo (May Revolution, May 25)
·         June
·         Día de las Malvinas (Day of the Falkland Islands, June 10)
Día de la Bandera (Flag Day, June 20)
·         July
Independence Day (July 9)
·         August
Día de San Martín (commemoration of San Martín’s death)
·         October
Día de la Raza (Columbus Day, Oct. 12)
Famous Citizens
·         Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986), one of the most important writers in Latin American and world literature.
·         Manuel Puig (1932–90), novelist, internationally known for his novel Kiss of the Spider Woman (1976).
·         Former President Juan Domingo Perón (1895–1974), and his first wife, Eva Perón (1919–1952), both considered to be political and cultural icons of the nation.
Tango singer and actor Carlos Gardel (1890–1935).