My best friend moved to a town just outside Buenos Aires about 4 or 5 years ago and I promised that one day I would visit her to see what her life was like. She runs a Polo Estancia in Cañuelas called Puesto Viejo (which means the old post) about an hour’s drive from the city. The best time to go is around Christmas time when it’s hot but not unbearbly so, so we decided to spend Christmas and new year 2014/15 there. It was so unexpected how much I loved it there.
You’re probably reading this because you’re interested in visiting Argentina, so I’ll fill you in on what it’s like and what I recommend if you decide to visit.
- You have to visit an estancia | I would choose visiting an estancia over visiting the city of Buenos Aires. You will see real gauchos, ride the best horses, see amazing polo games and get a real taste of what Argentine life is really like (unless you go somewhere super luxury as that would not paint a true picture).
- Try the red wine even if you don’t usually drink it | There isn’t a huge amount Argentina is famous for, but when they do something, they do it well.
- You HAVE to try steak | Another cliché but they really know what they’re doing here. If you’re veggie then try an empanada instead. They’re everywhere.
- Head to the beach | Pinamar beach is around 4 hours drive from BA and is a great beach town with very nice cafes lining the promenade, excellent restaurants in the town centre and you can even go quadbiking in the sand dunes which is AWESOME
- Helados is everywhere | Argentinos are loco for ice cream. Parlours are everywhere and are usually quite upmarket. The best flavour hands down has to be dulce de leche which is based on a sweet caramel (that’s another thing you have to try). I have seen Argentines just eating a pot of the stuff. They can’t get enough. It’s like the caramel you get in banoffee pie but somehow better.
- Visit Iguazu Falls | It’s totally breath-taking. You don’t need to see both sides though and you can do it in a day. Visit the Argentine side as it’s much bigger. You can’t pay by card here so make sure you have plenty of pesos!
- Spend some time with the locals | They’re possibly the kindest, friendliest and most relaxed people I have met. Speaking a little Spanish goes a long way too.
- Christmas is lovely there | Like the old days, Christmas is all about the family in Argentina. There is no planning months in advance or running around spending all of your money on presents and stressing about what you’re cooking for Christmas lunch. It’s completely chilled and the kids are grateful with one or two small presents. Santa comes at midnight on Christmas Eve and the kids open their presents then before heading to bed.
- Choice is limited | The only real down side was that there’s a lot of repetition in what’s on offer, particularly when it comes to food and drink. You’ll see plenty of Quilmes beer, Ferma Branca liquor, steak, empanadas, steak, sushi, steak, ice cream and, er more steak. Imports are very restricted so they rely heavily on their own produce.
- You can go days without seeing a shop | Don’t expect to nip into the local supermarket or corner shop when you’re in the country. It’s not a consumer-obsessed country like the UK. Even the city was closed on NYE and new year’s day. It’s refreshing but you need to be prepared for it.
- If you go to the city head to Palermo Viejo | it’s a really cool area in the city with amazing bars and shops plus nice places to stay such as Nina Suites
Do your research as it can be a tricky place to navigate particularly as there are often no transport links to the countryside. It’s so beautiful. I’m jealous that you’ve yet to experience it. Have fun.