Elegant tango dancing, stunning landscapes, superior cuts of beef smothered in chimichurri sauce, juicy empanadas and wine tasting are many of the highlights of this massive land in South America. Please check out my 30 facts and tips, Argentinian edition.
1) Withdrawing cash from bank ATM's comes at a high cost. Exactly 88 pesos or approximately an $8 Canadian transaction fee. Insane!
2) Credit card fraud is a serious problem in Argentina. It is why most places will require you to show a photo ID to ensure it is your credit card. But, please don't let them take off with both cards as I did in a grocery store of all places. A few months later, I caught a $50 charge for an online purchase I did not make. I immediately had my visa terminated to prevent any further fraudulent purchases. DO NOT EVER let someone take and leave out of sight with your ID and credit card. All they need is your credit card info. and home address to go shop online on your behalf!
3) In many cafes you can order a glass of wine (187cc or 375cc) for the same price as a cup of cappuccino (50 pesos). Pretty awesome, eh?
4) Buenos Aires has been dubbed the "Paris of the South". We agree, as it becomes visibly obvious in the Parisian inspired cafes, restaurants and some of the cities architecture.
5) There is a huge elderly population of retired seniors in Buenos Aires. Enough for us to notice and mention it here.
6) A fair percentage of cafes double as bookstores in the hip neighbourhood of Palermo, Buenos Aires.
7) There are several street money changers yelling out "cambio" (change) all over Argentinian cities and busy areas. There rates are never as good as what you will get at the bank, and some have been accused of handing out counterfeit money. Nevertheless, locals and tourists still use them to exchange cash.
8) Poodles are the number one breed of dog in the capital city of Buenos Aires. Another huge influence from France.
9) A sad truth is we witnessed poor "families" going through waste bins outside of restaurants to find something to eat.
10) Don't have Whatsapp? Consider getting it. All of the hosts, locals and anyone Argentinian we met almost always asked what our Whatsapp was to keep in contact with us.
11) It didn't matter which apartment, hostel or homestay we rented out, they all used these antique style keys. They were heavy and almost impossible to open and lock the doors.
12) Downtown Mendoza is a dump! They are trying to bring tourism there by building squares and plaza's but it still reminded us of a grimy town. A majority of the cities infrastructure was not so pleasing to the eyes, dark, unlit streets at night and a fair number of sketchy people roaming around.
13) The true gold of Mendoza can be found in the neighbouring countryside. With that said, if you are planning a trip to the Mendoza wine region like many tourists, do consider staying in the countryside like Lujan de Cuyo or Uco valley.
14) Staying at a pousada (homestay) which owns a bodega (vineyard) can be more beneficial. Some provide you with complimentary and unlimited wine, food, bikes and more.
15) Mendoza is the world's number one producer of Malbec wines.
16) Salta, and more specifically the wine producing region of Cafayate produces Torrontes, a white wine, unique to Argentina.
17) Many tourists rent out bikes to go on a self-guided wine and bike tour. This is very common in the wine region of Mendoza called Maipu. Peddling a bike while buzzed just got more fun!
18) Free wine tours at vineyards and wine tastings are available in Maipu and Lujan de Cuyo. Ensure you call to book an appointment for a tour as many vineyards in these regions, especially Lujan de Cuyo and most definitely Uco Valley do not accept walk-ins.
19) Did you know many Argentinians know how to speak Italian fluently? The same can't be said for them speaking English.
20) Argentine meat empanadas are so delicious we were guilty of making them into a meal when they are meant to be only appetizers. Go where the locals go to eat them at lunch.
21) A typical Argentinian breakfast includes: cheese, ham, bread/croissants, a spread called dulce de leche and a coffee.
22) Argentinian farmers cultivate their own type of olive. The olive oil can be described as spicy and flavourful. I enjoy my Malbec wines, but I do miss dipping some fresh bread in the Argentinian olive oil.
23) Bus travel is the cheapest method of getting around the country. Flights can be quite pricey. If you are preparing to bus Argentina you will need a lot of time due to the size of the country. I only recommend using a bus entirely for long stays (at least one month of travel).
24) Argentina is the 8th largest country in the world and more populated than Canada.
25) If your looking into buying bus tickets, do so at the bus stations as you will save a little. A great tip would be to check this site, http://www.omnilineas.com for availability and book your tickets in person. The website charges a small service fee if you buy online.
26) The taxi's in Argentina are metered and there is currently no UBER service.
27) The current currency ratio is 11 Argentine pesos to 1 CAD. But don't let this fool you. The big cities especially are not cheap and quite expensive. The cost of eating at a restaurant is comparable to a similar restaurant in Canada.
28) 7 years ago to this date, the Argentine peso was at a ratio of 3 to 1 CAD; four more times more expensive! The Argentinian government adjusted the peso to open the countries tourism.
29) Many Argentinians businesses close up shop in the mid afternoon for a break or siesta.
30) The south of Argentina with it's stunning landscape is suppose to be the highlight of Argentina, according to many tourists and locals we met in our journey. Patagonia, Argentina more specifically!