Virtual Vacation: Indulge in the Passion and Energy of Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Buenos Aires, Argentina, is one of the most vibrant, cosmopolitan places in Latin America. The city's food, music, history, 24-hour lifestyle and acceptance of the English language are a major draw for American visitors, but you don’t have to travel all the way to South America to enjoy the rich culture of Buenos Aires. You can embark on a virtual tour to experience the city's culture, history, food, music and more with just a bit of help from the internet.

Taking a virtual tour has a lot of advantages, especially during challenging times when something like a global pandemic entirely derails so many people’s travel plans. Even when you have to stay home more, you can still indulge in the perks offered by a lively city like Buenos Aires — from the safety of your living room.

Exploring the City

There are plenty of online resources to give yourself an introduction to everything Buenos Aires has to offer. To start, we'll look at the aptly named Welcome Argentina website. It contains information on just about everything you'd want to know about both the city of Buenos Aires and the surrounding area.

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Once you have an overview of the city, it's time to start walking — virtually. The Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), or Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires, has a wealth of 20th century Latin American art that you can enjoy via video tour, You can also take to the streets directly and experience what it’s like to wander Buenos Aires and even listen to a virtual tour guide explain the history of important landmarks like the Casa Rosada, the home of Argentina’s president.

Dining in Argentina: Flame, Wine, Meat

The parrillas of Buenos specialize in fine meats grilled over open-fire hearths and grates. From world-class beef raised on the pampas to delicious sausages, Buenos Aires is a meat lover's paradise. While you may or may not be able to buy authentic Argentinian meats where you live, you can learn some of the secrets used by cooks in Buenos Aires.

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One of the most well-known chefs to come out of the region, Francis Mallmann, talks about cooking in Buenos Aires in the third episode of the Netflix show Chef’s Table. If you’d like a more hands-on experience, consider enrolling in an online cooking class, or you can make an authentic Argentinian accompaniment for a meat-heavy meal, like, like chimichurri.

Argentina's Mendoza valley is also a famed wine-growing region, and you can probably buy a bottle at your local wine store. If a cocktail sounds more interesting, try a Pisco Sour. You can even make it from your kitchen if you're in the mood and have a cocktail shaker.

Films and Shows for Everyone

Buenos Aires' history and culture have been captured in both movies and television. While it’s an American-made film, one of the most well-known portrayals of the city is featured in the 1996 Hollywood film Evita. It starred Madonna as Evita Duarte, an actress who married dictator Juan Peron and became one of the most controversial figures in the country's history.

Photo Courtesy: Madonna/YouTube

For a more authentic take on Buenos Aires and Argentina, there are many excellent films and shows from Latin American directors. For a more serious take on Argentina’s dictatorship, try The Official Story, an award-winning film from Luis Penzo. For something more humorous, Wild Tales is a black comedy available on Prime Video about people who go mad after experiencing injustice, with some of it shot in Buenos Aires. And if you like dark and gritty crime dramas, El Marginal is a Netflix television show set in a Buenos Aires prison that you won’t want to miss.

Music to Get You on Your Feet

Tango is a central component of the music and culture of Buenos Aires. Impromptu performances sometimes happen throughout the city each day in restaurants, parks and even hotel lobbies. Late-night tango clubs are also a popular attraction and are active until the early morning hours. You can try and get into the swing of things yourself with an online tutorial, like this one.

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There's more to the country's music than tango, however. Buenos Aires is also a great place to be for West African-influenced candombe, danceable cumbia, proudly Spanish-language rock nacional, classical and folk music. There’s no shortage of places on the internet where you can listen to authentic Argentinian music, so get to it.

Enjoy Some Seriously Good Local Reads

Argentina has made important contributions to world literature, with the most well-known of the country's literary giants probably being Jorge Luis Borges, who is often credited with creating the genre of magical realism. Short story writer and novelist Julio Cortazar as well as power siblings Victoria Ocampo and Silvina Ocampo also left their marks on the Latin American literary boom of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

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Buenos Aires is a city that loves its books and is proud of its country's literary heritage. Visitors walking the city streets are likely to pass multiple book stores. In fact, the city has more than 700 in total — 25 shops per 100,000 residents, making it the city with the most bookstores per capita in the world.

How to Support Buenos Aires From Home

Although you may not be able to contribute to the local economy by visiting in person, there are plenty of ways to offer support to the city and to Argentina from the comfort of your armchair. One choice is El Desafío, which strives to help poor urban young people through sports programs, classes on coding and other skills and more. The organization notes that 52 percent of all young people in Argentina live in poverty, so the organization’s work helps both Buenos Aires and the rest of the country.

Photo Courtesy: @Pilares_Org/Twitter

Similarly, Sumando Manos Foundation is a Miami-based organization that helps to provide Argentinian children with medical and dental care, nutritional supplements, education and more. If you’ve enjoyed experiencing the culture of Buenos Aires and Argentina, donating to either of these organizations — or others — is a great way to give back and help contribute to the next wave of Argentinian culture.