Argentina is a big, bustling city and if you don’t want to explore it via taxi or bus, we suggest renting a bike and cruising around for a day or two. The tours are guided by several people so you’ll be shown all the coolest spots around the city in a timely, productive and relatively safe manner. Oh, and don’t forget the fitness aspect! You’re biking around a city for a day! You’re getting fresh air and exercise while learning! It’s really a win-win. The guides are obviously knowledgeable and have lots of information to share with you along the way, so don’t hesitate to ask questions. Bring a camera. Just keep it close by, Buenos Aires isn’t exactly a safe city. Luckily, we didn’t have any issues with safety and security, but our friend was almost robbed there not long after we were there. We must stress the importance of keeping your belongings close by and/or hidden from view.
We had just spent a couple weeks traveling around Peru, so when we arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, we were surprised to see it more closely ressembled Vancouver than any city in Peru. Which was odd to us seeing that Argentina is closer to Peru, yet even further south. As it turns out, Argentina has a very mixed culture and many of the people are of European descent, primarily Spanish and Italian. Much of the architecture is unique to South America and is clearly European influenced too. Churches, galleries and museums are great examples of how European architecture has influenced Argentina. That, and the fact that the country is more developed than many other countries around South America.
The tango is a beautiful, romantic dance between a man and woman. Origins of this dance are unclear but it’s thought to have originated around Buenos Aires. Naturally, we got involved and took a tango lesson while we were there. This dance is not for the shy and timid. It requires very close contact and embracing with the opposite sex. The mens outfits are handsome and sharp, and the womens outfits are usually sexy dresses. It’s incredibly fun to take part in it, but watching the professionals is a truly inspiring and impressive experience.
*Take a look at this video for a taste of Argentine Tango
Fun fact: Argentina drinks about 90% of its wine, and only 10% makes it out of the country. It’s a very popular beverage. Funny enough, we drank wine for most of our activities in Argentina, and not because we brought it, because so many activities offered it. We had wine while learning about the city/country, we had wine when we took our cooking class, and we even had wine before riding horses and playing polo. It’s part of the culture… how could we not partake… all the time. Oh, by the way, their wines are good too. Get a bottle of malbec, you’ll see.
Argentina is the world’s second largest consumer of beef. You know what that means? It means they eat a lot of steak. Therefore they know how to make it taste veerrryyyy good. Therefore we ate a lot of it and loved all of it. Try it blue rare, it’s so amazingly delicate and juicy and tender you can practically cut it with a fork! You can’t say you’ve truly experienced Argentina without indulging in their asado (barbecue) which generally consists in an abundance of grilled meats and sausages. We weren’t in the country long enough to become food gurus, so for a solid list of top 10 foods to eat, check out this guide: Top 1o Foods to try in Argentina
What better way to immerse yourself in the culture than to get down and dirty with their food. Not only eating it, but making it, learning about it, becoming one with it. Plus you get to wear those cool chef’s hats! Our class consisted of cooking steaks, hand-crafting our own empanadas (and then eating them), and of course, drinking red wine. We basically had a bunch of ingredients laid out in front of us on the table, and a bunch of pastries to place the ingredients in. Everything was delicious but I’d say it was the malbec-reduced caramelized onions that really made the empanadas unforgettable. After the empanada crafting contest, we finished off our night with some cups of yerba mate (yerba mate is a South American plant, and they make tea out of it).
Soooo we had the extremely fortunate opportunity to learn about and experience first-hand the game of polo. Not before several glasses of red wine, I might add. Seriously, we love this country. So none of us had much experience riding a horse, and most of us had never done it at all, but that certainly didn’t matter! You figure it out pretty quickly. You only have one hand on the reins because your other hand is on the stick. You click your heels into the horse’s sides to go, and that’s pretty much it. Just because it’s simple, though, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Our stick to ball accuracy while riding a horse was terrible. And I learned the hard way that if somebody smacks your horse on the ass, your horse will run, really, really fast. And that was the first time I fell off a horse… Yeah, it was totally worth it.
After drinking our wine, and playing a couple hours of polo, we were led to a watery marshland that we just refer to as ‘The Lagoon’. It was right behind the property we were playing on and it was just an extra hour of play time for everybody. Basically the guy who brought us out would slap the horses butts and we would take off. Horses can pick up speed ridiculously fast, it was impressive. This very well may have been the most fun we had on our entire trip to South America. That’s a big statement. Even the horses were having fun! They had already worked up a sweat playing polo, now they got the chance to run around through massive puddles, splish-splashing as we went. I’m not sure how you coordinate this when traveling to Argentina, but if you get the chance to make friends with a guy with horses… do it!
This was an expensive activity, I’m not going to lie. But it was obviously pretty damn cool. You’re riding in a helicopter over the largest expanse of waterfalls in the world. The entire flight is probably only 20 minutes, but from that high up in the sky, you can see EVERYTHING. The area itself contains roughly 300 waterfalls, most of which fall into a large chasm known as the Devil’s Throat. Some of the waterfalls are massive and the helicopter tour gives you some amazing photo opportunities. Unless you’re sitting in the middle of the helicopter, then you’ll have to reach over the person beside you, and it’s annoying. But it happens. The worst part was when it ended. We didn’t want to leave the helicopter.
Naturally, being in a massive national park with hundreds of tourists daily, there are several different things to see and several different ways to see them. Now these waterfalls can be seen either from the Argentinian side, or the Brazilian side, and they have walkways along the perimeter of the water. But that’s just not enough you see? For an extra $30 USD you can hop on a boat that takes you around the different falls from the bottom level. This was really cool because not only do you get to see the falls from a completely new angle, but the boats will take you close enough that you actually get drenched by the relentless spray of the falls. You won’t actually go under the falls, that would probably kill you, but you get close enough to be mega exciting!
Watch the 5 minute video: