Buenos Aires is the kind of city that makes you want to sit down at a small, dark cafe and take hours to drink a tiny cup of cafe-con-leche. I’ve been in lots of amazing cities that make me feel a similar sense of relaxation, but no place does it quite the same way as Buenos Aires does.
One reason this city has had such an effect on me is because I was blessed with enough time to explore it. With a month to roam its boulevards, enjoying an afternoon coffee was one of the most important plans of the day, in addition to eating every empanada in sight. With a map, a local friend, and time on my side, exploring Buenos Aires was my only job. Quite different from the busy New York City life I gave up to experience Buenos Aires in this way.
I wanted to learn the neighborhood in which I rented an apartment (Palermo Viejo). I wanted to walk down Avenida Santa Fe and Avenida Scalabrini Ortiz and know exactly the direction of my favorite wine shop. I wanted to have a favorite wine shop. I wanted to try every type of pastry at the local bakery. I wanted to order an entire meal in perfect Spanish, a language I’ve been slowly (and by slowly I mean really really slowly) learned for almost two decades. Taking my time was the only way I managed to make this all a reality.
Interestingly though, if I had only a few days to spend here, the cafe culture of Buenos Aires still would have defined my experience.
It is the pulse of the city – to enjoy, to linger, and to taste.
There is enough time to do it all, even with an afternoon of sipping coffee and devouring medialunas. And it might just be possible since the city is vibrant and alive all night and into the early morning.
You are not missing out on Buenos Aires when sitting in its cafes – you are learning to love the Porteño lifestyle in a city that begs you to slow down.
This is evident to me as after living in Buenos Aires for a month and having seen only a fraction of its beautifully ornate buildings, tree-lined city parks, and bevvy of museums. I still feel that I know the city. Maybe I’m not versed on what artwork hangs in the MALBA museum (since it was closed every time we passed by), but that’s alright. I know which shop in Palermo Viejo makes my favorite ham and cheese tostada, and which parrilla cellars my most favorite Argentinian wine. I know how it felt to watch the cars go by while I sat in Piacere with my afternoon toast. And honestly, any city where afternoon toast is perfectly acceptable is fine by me.
Check it out: TravelShus’ Interactive Guide to Buenos Aires