I have been living in Buenos Aires for a year now, and this year I am trying to immerse myself fully in the Argentine culture. For me as an European sometimes it is very hard to understand why Argentines would do certain things, which seem completely normal to them but at the same time cause a lot of confusion or misunderstanding for the non-Argentines. Just to make one thing clear, I don´t mean to criticize or to be mean – I love Buenos Aires and her tics! ENJOY!!!
– The “dog walkers” can be spotted nearly everywhere in Buenos Aires. Sometimes they have 20 dogs around them to take them out for a walk.
– You will not find one day in Buenos Aires where there is no protest going on in the city. You can easily encounter one at anytime anywhere.
– Football is like a religion. Sometimes it seems that there are just 2 things people really care about. First, family which is the most important thing, but football is a very close second.
– Always look down while you walk on the streets – there are a lot of holes and uneven pavements in the sidewalk.
– Guys always stare and sometimes shout naughty comments when a girl walks past them.
– A lot of cashiers get really annoyed when you do not give them the exact change or if you try to pay a small amount with a 100 peso note. Also they do not give exact change back, so forget the pennies.
– Argentines are very passionate people. So discussions are held all the time and everywhere, which I think it is ok – but do they really have to shout that loud?
– Kisses everywhere: men and men, men and women, women and women. Everybody loves to kiss. One kiss on the right cheek (a must!) when you first meet someone and when you say goodbye. So when you meet friends especially when it is a large group, it can take a while until everyone has welcomed/kissed everyone, but hey, that’s the culture and I think it’s nice.
Eating and Drinking
– Argentines love to eat meat, meat and more meat (preferred beef). So for someone from Europe, like me, it was quite a surprise that when I went to a parrilla (steakhouse) for the first time and got my steak served bien cocido, which is well done (the beef was excellent though, even it was prepared well done). After having a chat with the waiter he told me that it is very unusual to eat raw or medium cooked meat here, but you are welcome to ask politely how you would like your steak; you could have your steak “a punto” (medium), “jugoso” (medium rare), “crudo” (raw) whatever you desire.
– Dinner is served very late, the restaurants usually get busy about 10 p.m. Nightlife starts not earlier than midnight. Everything starts even later on weekends, where clubs open at 2/3am and get packed at 4am-5am in the morning.
– You’ll not find any sweet stuff that hasn’t been refined with a little dulce de leche (sweet milk). If you are not a fan of this creamy caramel mass you may have a hard time finding desserts that suit your taste.
– Argentines love their galletitas (cookies). They start the day with cookies, eat cookies through the day combined with drinking mate and after dinner, they will find some more space for COOKIES.
– In general Argentines are very skeptical about “exotic” food. They love to eat things they are familiar with.
When it comes to the time to that they were given something different to try, you can be sure that in most of the cases they will find a polite way to tell you, why they do not want to try it.
–Yerba mate is THE drink of choice. It is some kind of “tea” (but never ever call it tea when you talk to an Argentine – it is MATE) that is drunk all day long. Especially in the morning when other people run through streets with their Starbucks coffees, Argentines run around with a big thermo filled with hot water and their mate with a bombilla (the straw used to drink the mate).
– Fernet with Cola: Oh my god I don’t know where to start. Personally it is the most terrible drink ever. Fernet was created in Italy as a digestif to be taken after meal and I still don’t know how this drink has made its long way to Argentina and became their alcoholic national drink. Nevertheless, you should try it when you get a chance, you may like it. It’s definitely an acquired taste.
– Argentine wine is sold really cheaply in supermarkets and they taste AMAZING.
– The subte (underground) is supposed to be a prominent way to move around town but the fact is that they close very early every night around 10:30pm. If that is not enough to limit the choice of public transportation when you needed most, they also close it without notice when it is not busy.
– Rules of the road do not always apply, which means going through the city can easily turn into an adventure no matter you are in a car, a taxi, a bus or on foot as a pedestrian!
– People always try to sell you stuff. It happens in the subte, in restaurants and even in buses. The sellers, who are mostly (and sadly) children, place different items on your lap, and after a few minutes, they come back to collect them if you do not show any interest to buy them.
– Taxi drivers always try to start a conversation with you if they notice that you are a foreigner. They are eager to share their opinions and like to talk about politics, football and their favourite topic – their president.