Why I Love Argentina
By Sandra Bao, Author
Argentina is my country – this is where I was born and raised, where I lived until my family emigrated to the USA. It's changed drastically since I was a little girl, but what I love most about Argentina is its people. They've nurtured their creativity, adaptability and perseverance, through good and very bad times, all while maintaining their traditions, humor and pride. I'm always happy to go back to this amazing place and its inhabitants – it's been a real privilege.
From mighty Iguazú Falls in the subtropical north to the thunderous, crackling advance of the Glaciar Perito Moreno in the south, Argentina is a vast natural wonderland. The country boasts some of the Andes’ highest peaks. It’s home to rich wetlands that rival Brazil’s famous Pantanal, mountains painted in rustic colors, deserts dotted with cacti, massive ice fields and arid steppes in Patagonia, cool lichen-clad Valdivian forests, Andean salt flats, a spectacular Lake District, penguins, flamingos, capybaras and more. All are stunning sights and adventures just waiting to be experienced.
Satisfying that carnal craving for juicy steaks isn’t hard to do in the land that has perfected grilling wonderfully flavorful sides of beef. Parrillas (steak restaurants) are everywhere and will offer up any cut you can imagine. And if you're a fan of pizza and pasta, these Italian staples are ubiquitous as well. But there's more – in Buenos Aires you can experience a huge variety of ethnic cuisine, from Southeast Asian to Middle Eastern to Scandinavian. Down it all with that famous Argentine wine, and you'll be struggling to maintain your waistline.
Tango is possibly Argentina’s greatest contribution to the outside world, a steamy dance that’s been described as ‘making love in the vertical position.’ And what about fútbol (soccer)? Argentines are passionately devoted to this sport and, if you're a fan, experiencing a live match should definitely be on your itinerary. Add a distinctive Argentine take on literature, cinema, music and arts, and you have a rich edgy culture – part Latin American and part European – that you can’t help but fall in love with.
Arriving in Buenos Aires is like jumping aboard a moving train. Outside the taxi window, a blurred mosaic of a modern metropolis whizzes by, and then the street life appears – the cafes, the purple jacaranda flowers draped over the sidewalks (in spring!) and porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) in stylish clothing purposefully walking past handsome early-20th-century stone facades. And it’s not just Buenos Aires that’s a stunner – Córdoba, Salta, Mendoza and Bariloche each have their unique personalities and unforgettable attractions, so don't miss them.
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Need to know
Iguazú Falls & the Northeast
Northeast Argentina is defined by water. Muscular rivers roll through flatlands that they flood at will, while fragile wetlands support myriad birdlife, snapping caimans and cuddly capybaras. The peaceful Río Iguazú, meandering through jungle between Brazil and Argentina, dissolves in fury and power in the planet’s most awe-inspiring waterfalls.