Argentina is perhaps best known for its tango, amazing steaks, gaucho culture and, of course, football. These will not disappoint, but there is also much more to this country. Argentina is full of beautiful changing landscapes as you travel across the country.
Argentina is a huge country bordering Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil in the south of South America. In the Northwest of the country, you’ll find blinding white salt flats, dry red rocky terrain and miles of cacti. Not to mention, the highest vineyards in the world. In the far northeast, bordering with Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil, you’ll encounter tropical rainforest and the spectacular Iguazú waterfalls. In the East, there is an amazing shoreline, with great opportunities to see whales and other wonderful wildlife. Down in the South is the region of Patagonia and the Lake District, where the climate is harsh, but striking, with glaciers and clear azul waters. To the West, the Andes mountain range travels half the length of the country. From here, Argentina gets its Andean spirit, rich culture and historical traditions.
In the Argentina section of the website, I’ll be posting information and photos of the places we visit as we travel around Argentina.
Getting around the country is very easy due its great network of coaches. However, Argentina is certainly more expensive than Bolivia or Peru or Ecuador, so make sure you budget for it. (More on living costs can be found here.)Due to the size of Argentina, coach journeys can be long, lasting 25-35 hours at a time, and so it can get expensive. Get the top front seat of the coach though, and you’ll have the impressive panoramic views to distract you during your journey.
Personally, I would recommend travelling to Argentina just for the food. Argentinians are huge meat eaters and it’s no surprise. The meat here is tasty and fantastic quality, and always served in huge cuts. It’s typical here for the family to get together on Sundays and have an asado, or barbecue. For this reason, Sundays are a quiet day and you’ll see very few people out and about in the streets. They’re probably eating meat or having a siesta after eating meat.
Another typical food that is eaten here in Argentina is empanadas. They are like mini pasties that traditionally come in four fillings: ham, cheese, chicken or meat. They are delicious and particularly great to warm you up in the cooler mountain climates. They are sold everywhere, but also are super easy to make yourself. You will find ‘empanadas’ sold in other countries of South America, but they can vary a lot. For example, Ecuadorian empanadas are like bread rolls filled with cheese with sugar sprinkled on top.
Another warming food to eat in the winter is Locro, a stew made with various cuts and entrails of beef and pork, with corn and pumpkin. Not sure if I’ve given the best description of it, but it really is delicious.
Milanesa is also a very popular dish. The thin cut of meat, usually beef or chicken, is breaded and fried and then topped with ham, mozzarella and tomato, and usually served with potatoes. It’s tasty, but usually pretty greasy and filling.
With regards to drink, Argentina is most famous for it’s wine. In the North of the country, you’ll find the highest vineyards in the world, which gives the wine it’s unique taste. It’s white fruity Torontés wine is perhaps most characteristic of the northern region of Argentina. Most of the country’s wines are made in the region of Mendoza, in the central west of Argentina. There are many varieties to choose from, so the best way to try them is to cycle around the vineyards on your own wine tasting tour.
Aside from wine, the most popular and most typical alcoholic drink of Argentina is Fernet Branca. It’s a herbal alcohol, served either neat with ice, or with coke, ideally Coca Cola. It’s certainly an acquired taste, due to its bitter flavour, but you very quickly become accustomed and grow to love it. It’s also supposedly good to settle the stomach, so a good excuse for a tipple when you’re travelling.
Argentinians are fantastic people. Or, at least, the ones we’ve been fortunate enough to meet. They have the kindness, generosity and openness that we have come to expect in all the South American countries we’ve visited. Added to that, they have a reputation for being outspoken, which gives them a certain attitude and confidence. They are also very sociable and love to chat. Perfect for us who want to learn Spanish and find out more about the country. Argentinians always have something to say about something. If in doubt, football is always a sure way to get someone talking.
Argentina is a country of immigrants. The makeup of the country is very diverse, with a mix of native Andean people and descendants from Europe and other parts of the world. Here, living in Argentina, we do not stand out as much and can often be mistaken for Argentinians. This was definitely not the case in other countries, such as Ecuador or Peru. With our paler skin, my lighter hair and my boyfriend’s slimmer build, we definitely stood out as gringos. Moreover, in Ecuador, I felt tall for the first time in my life. Being 5”4, this was a real novelty for me.
Certainly, our time in Argentina so far has been unforgettable. There is so much to see and do and experience is this vast country. It’s a country that is developing and modernising, but at the same time it maintains its rich culture and historic roots. For this, Argentina stands out from its neighbours and is a unique country to visit.
As we find out more and travel about Argentina, I will continue to post more information. Please keep checking back to read about our experiences.