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The Many Faces of Argentina

Explore the many personalities and cultures in beautiful Buenos Aires, Argentina. Lisa Loeffler, a Senior Purchasing Manager at MotivAction, was lucky enough to experience the magical country of Argentina recently. This is her story.

You could say Argentina is a country of multiple personalities, which is an enlightening characteristic to many travel enthusiasts. Argentina truly has it all, from the driest deserts and salt flats to mighty glaciers that layer the south. Travelers fall in love with the snow topped Andes mountains, unending grasslands, untouched lakes, rivers and waterfalls that flow towards the Atlantic Ocean. It is a destination that can capture the heart of all.

Buenos Aires is known for its many faces and is recognized as a melting pot with 48 official districts all with their own personality. Our tour started in the Recoleta neighborhood checking in to the Alvear Palace Hotel. This neighborhood is the traditional and elegant area of the city. Much of the architecture is reminiscent of the Beaux Arts, Belle Époque and Neo Classical styles. Many of the palace homes are now embassies.

One of the most famous sites of this neighborhood is the Recoleta Cemetery. However, it is much more than just a cemetery with headstones. It is a veritable city with ornate mausoleums, many of which are larger than a NYC apartment. The area also has wonderful parks with weekend markets and sidewalk cafes.

As we toured through the city, each neighborhood revealed its own unique and distinct personality. La Boca, where immigrants first arrived, is known for its colorful houses, art, tango and above all else, soccer. The colorful houses and shops fill narrow lanes where one finds gifted local artisans, tango dancers on street corners and mouthwatering food at cantinas. The Microcentro is the heart of the city – where people flock to the square and imagine Evita singing from the balcony of the Presidential Palace. The first settlements were here, which eventually gave way to the modern financial, corporate and cultural hub of the city.

A short walk leads to vibrant Puerto Madero. What was once the city’s port in the late 1800’s is now the newest and most trendy, expensive neighborhood in the city with true international flair. World renowned architects have turned the old decrepit warehouses in to stylish hotels and restaurants. The hip 87-room Faena Hotel took a turn-of-the-the century grain warehouse and turned it into the hottest hotel in the city. The hotel also hosts one of the finest tango shows—Rojo Tango—which sends you back to the cabaret of 1920’s Buenos Aires.

I learned that Buenos Aires is not on the Atlantic Ocean, but rather on a large river delta, the Rio de la Plata. In the delta, there are hundreds of islands, many of which people live on. Canals snake through the delta and islands. The people that live on these islands use the “grocery boat” and kids also take the “school boat.” For many others – this is where they spend the weekend.

We took a private boat ride through the delta to Isla El Descanso – the island is privately owned with a beautiful home and landscaped gardens with custom art and sculptures. The island is a perfect place to spend the day for team building, corporate retreats, and just relaxing by the pool. The biggest surprise was when a helicopter came and took us touring over the delta—what an amazing site! 

A short drive out of the city, you feel like you entered another world—the grassland plains known as the Pampas. The fertile grasslands spread across the plains of Argentina until reaching the mighty Andes. This area is ruled by the Gauchos (cowboys), ranches, farms and polos. We spent the day at Estancia La Republica. The ranch has over 1500 native horses. Here you can learn and see the history of the Gaucho through their amazing rodeoesque show.

There is so much to see and do in and around Buenos Aires. In my opinion, the best way to describe this city – Buenos Aires has the heart of Europe with Latin passion and pride.