Photo: Kevin Raub
It seems like only yesterday that Brazil defeated Croatia to kick off the world’s biggest football tournament and greatest month of nationalistic sport way back on June 12. Where did the time go? Brazil has proved itself a worthy host over the course of the last four weeks, putting to bed all of the pre-tournament panic that dominated news headlines for the two years leading up to this moment: The stadiums were gorgeous, the travel infrastructure didn’t collapse (in fact, it was efficiently glorious!) and the protests drifted off with a whimper after the tournament’s first week.
Photo: Bridget Gleeson
So what if they’re finely trained millionaire superstars bathing in the flattering glow of an international spotlight? These guys are Argentine – and they like all the same things you like about Argentina. Steak on the parrilla, the Pope, a relaxing gourd of yerba mate at the end of a hard day’s work: La Selección Argentina, they’re just like us.
Photo: Denis Isbister
Photo: Eduardo Zárate
Set in the eastern foothills of the Andes, with the tallest peak on the continent, Mount Aconcagua, looming on the horizon, the vineyards surrounding Mendoza are a spectacular sight, even for those who don’t care for wine.
The wine-growing regions around Mendoza city are clumped into three areas, the Uco Valley, the Luján region, and the Maipú region. Both the Uco and Luján areas are gorgeous and filled with wonderful vineyards, but since they are closest to the Andes and farthest away from Mendoza city, the best way to tour each of them is to hire a car service or take a bus tour.
What coffee is to the U.S. and tea is to Britain, mate is to Argentina. Throughout southern South America—but especially in Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay—the bitter beverage is consumed around the clock. It’s prepared by steeping the dried leaves of the yerba mate plant in a cup, usually made from a hollowed calabash gourd. Then the strong tea-like drink is sipped through a silver straw, which in Argentina is called a bombilla. Sugar or honey is sometimes added to cut down on the bitterness.
Visitors to Argentina may notice that the country has something of a sweet tooth: Heladerías (ice cream shops) can be found on nearly every street corner in Buenos Aires, and most of the coffee for sale in supermarkets comes with sugar already added to the grounds. But no sweet treat is as popular or ubiquitous as dulce de leche, a caramelly concoction used as a spread for bread, as a filler for cookies and cakes, and as a flavor and add-on for ice cream.
Photo: Juan Luis Aizpuru
In a country famous for its steak, it’s no surprise that barbecues are a heralded event in Argentina. These “asados,” as barbecues here are called, are traditionally a family event and take place each week on Sundays. Generations gather in the afternoon and cook large amounts of different kinds of meat— everything from steaks, chicken, beef ribs, chorizo sausages, morcilla sausages, and, in Patagonia, lamb— over a large grill, which is usually set up outside, like a campfire pit or a stand-alone chimney. While the meat cooks throughout the afternoon, people nibble on charcuterie plates of cheese and sausage (in Argentina they are called “picadas”) and sip on red wine or cocktails of Coca-Cola and Fernet Branca, a bitter spirit made of herbs and spices. When the meat is ready, it’s often served with bread and simple salads; the classic Argentine salad is lettuce, tomato, and white onion, with a bit of olive oil and salt as dressing.
Photo: Jorge Gobbi
Travelers might be surprised to discover that U.S. dollars are widely accepted as payment in Argentina. In fact, many hotels and tour companies offer slight discounts—sometimes up to 15%—if payment is made in the equivalent amount of U.S. dollars. If you plan on booking tours or accommodations ahead of time, be sure to check first to see if you can get a discount by paying in U.S. dollars. It’s also worth asking at restaurants, with cabdrivers and at markets. Lesson learned: Bring a generous amount of hard cash, in the form of U.S. dollars, and you may be able to bargain for discounts. What you don’t need that day you can keep in your hotel safe.
Photo: J. Aaron Farr
For U.S. travelers planning a trip to Argentina, one topic seems to cause more confusion than any other: entry fees and visas.
There’s a lot of confusing information to be found online, so it’s best to get answers straight from the official source, the U.S. Department of State.
Photo: Beatrice Murch
Holiday season in Argentina officially begins with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception—or Inmaculada Concepción de María—a national holiday that’s celebrated each year on December 8.
Most Argentines have the day off of work and spend it with family and friends, decorating Christmas trees and adorning their homes and apartments with holiday lights and red, white, and green wreaths.
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