Buenos Aires may be known for its tango, steakhouses and European vibe, but in my book there’s something else that embodies it more than any of these.
The people, simply put, are the best-looking on Earth.
This description applies to a disproportionate percentage of the local population – both male and female, leaving one to wonder if they’re visiting a city full of models or a modeling agency the size of a city. Spotting the tourists is embarrassingly easy – just look for the ugly ones.
I’m not quite sure why this is the case. It could be the relatively carefree Latin vibe that keeps everyone looking healthy. It could also be a favorable combination of Spanish, Italian and German heritage. Or maybe all that tangoing keeps a person in good shape. In any case, at one point I just wanted to shout out “Okay! You’re all sexy! We get it!!!” but I didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that I was clearly a tourist, even if I never opened my mouth.
Buenos Aires is a major city unlike any other I have visited. I say this because I really enjoyed it despite the fact that it doesn’t have any ‘real’ attractions. Most of my enjoyment I attribute to the intangible vibe that permeates the city, which somehow makes you feel cooler just by being there. This nicely counteracts the inevitable feelings of insecurity brought on by walking around with people right out of the set of a calendar shoot.
Located on the western shore of the muddy Rio de la Plata separating Argentina from Uruguay, Buenos Aires is among the largest and most-visited cities in South America. Considering its lack of world-renown monuments or dramatic setting, that’s quite an accomplishment. An even greater accomplishment is me pointing out what’s worth seeing in a city with nothing in particular to see.
The Obelisk & Plaza de la Republica
If anything could be considered the “icon” of Buenos Aires, I suppose that would be the Obelisco (obelisk) de Buenos Aires, situated in spacious Plaza de la Republica. Commemorating the first founding of the city, this area aspires to be the Argentine version of Times Square or Piccadilly Circus.
With no strong points of interest, you can say that Buenos Aires’ appeal is an ensemble performance. This is particularly evident in an area called the Barrio Norte, encompassing the leafy residential areas of Recoleta, Retiro and Palermo. There are gardens, sculptures, restaurants and clubs to be found throughout, but many visitors come to the area in pilgrimage to the grave of Eva Peron, located in the Recoleta Cemetery. If you’re now singing “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina”, I can assure you that you need not worry. Argentina didn’t seem the least bit upset when I left. They weren’t even misty-eyed. That’s what I get for not looking my best.
Stretching down from Plaza San Martin is popular and pedestrian-only Florida Street, known locally as Calle Florida. This is a bustling cluster of shopping arcades and restaurants and a great place to pick up some souvenirs. Come nightfall this is also a happening place to be, as it’s filled with those same shops and restaurants with the addition of street performers, many of whom will be dancing the tango (apparently it really does take two to do so). As an established tourist destination, you might have some slightly less good-looking people to deal with, but be ready for lots of eye candy all the same.
I should also mention that for architecture buffs, you could also spend many a day taking in the mishmash of European styles prominently displayed all over the city. I don’t know many of the finer points, but I will say that it kept my camera lens more than adequately occupied.
Getting around Buenos Aires is a cinch. Taxis are plentiful and many neighborhoods aren’t too long of a walk for someone with energy. There’s also a subway system call the Subte that connects all areas that would be of interest to visitors.
A visit to Buenos Aires is a must for anyone coming to Argentina – so long as you don’t suffer from a really poor self-image. You will be enchanted by the rhythms of the tango; your palate will be tantalized by tasty steaks and empanadas; and yes, you will be surrounded by some of the most attractive people to be found anywhere. So pack your dancing shoes, your appetite and above all, your best clothes. This is one city where you really don’t want to stand out as a tourist.