Buenos Aires, Argentina
May 12, 2024

Buenos Aires - a place where I had the most productive months, a place where I enjoyed the summer sun, a place where I savored great food, a place where I was reminded of home, and most importantly, a place where I would love to come back.

View of walk in Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur.
For me, the beauty and nostalgia I carry from Buenos Aires weren't just in the historic architecture, great food, productive moments, or vibrant streets. It was also in simple things like the smell of grass that reminded me of home

Visiting Buenos Aires, Argentina, was a decision guided by feelings and heart. At the time, I only had a vague awareness of the hyperinflation issues. I didn't realize it was a top destination for nomads, and I certainly didn't know what to expect from living in a busy metropolis.

So, why did I choose Buenos Aires? The answer is surprisingly simple and somewhat random. During my travels, I met several Argentinians who left an impression on me. Without resorting to stereotypes, they seemed like cool, fun, outgoing, attractive and weirdly rock/goth (sorry I'm out of words) type of people. Yes, these random and very weird impressions, do not represent the whole of Argentina or even a small part of it but that was what I experienced. More importantly, I was looking for a place that offered good working conditions to put the finishing touches on my side project.

Having decided to visit Argentina while still in Costa Rica, I felt the pressure build up. I knew I wanted to be there during the summer, which meant I had to act quickly. Which is the reason why I had jumped from Ecuador straight to Argentina, skipping other places I had been interested in.

Leaving Ecuador, where curfews were in place, I felt prepared for anything. So prepared, in fact, that I even purchased exit row tickets from Panama to Buenos Aires. The tickets were subject to Copa Airlines' regulations, which required me to speak Spanish. While my Spanish comprehension had improved over the last six months, the thought of being quizzed on the evacuation procedures made me nervous. So nervous, that a week before the flight, I felt as prepared as a pilot, having browsed random websites for airplane safety manuals.

The most funny thing about all this is that after I reviewed the safety briefing in Spanish and confirmed that I could save the plane in an emergency situation, the person sitting in front of me received their safety briefing in English because they didn't speak Spanish. Nevertheless, I hope that my analysis on how to operate Boeing 739 emergency door will be useful in the future (now that I think, hopefully it won't).

After an overnight flight during which, unsurprisingly, I slept a total of zero hours, I was greeted by the rising sun. Although it seemed that the pilot was intentionally turning at a specific angle so I wouldn't see its beauty.

While quite a bit of time has passed since the day I arrived and the day I'm writing this, there's one thing I won't forget - the smell. I can vividly recall driving from the airport, the sun shining, and someone cutting grass nearby. That smell of freshly cut grass, like nothing else, reminded me of a beautiful sunny day back home. Paradoxically, I was the furthest I had ever been from home, but at that moment, I felt the closest.

Since Buenos Aires is huge, I'm not going to attempt to be your guide or tell you what you should and shouldn't do there. There are plenty of articles and guides that already do that. Instead, I will try to summarize my experiences and feelings in two different neighborhoods, then provide my overall thoughts and feelings on Buenos Aires as a whole, concluding with some surprising, interesting, or overlooked aspects that didn't fit into the main narrative.

Heading linkPalermo

View of Nuevo Palermo neighborhood in Buenos Aires.
Sometimes you find something and wonder, what if I never find anything as remarkable as this, only to discover that something even more magnificent was waiting for you all along

Yes, for half of my trip, I lived in a fancy, upscale, and touristy neighborhood. This is one of the reasons why you shouldn't assume that my vivid memories of Buenos Aires accurately represent the entire city.

I stayed in Palermo Nuevo, a sub-barrio close to several green spaces like Parque Tres de Febrero and Jardín Japonés, which is why I have such wonderful memories of the sun, wind, and greenery. Apart from that, I remember upscale bars and cafes filled with beautifully dressed individuals waiting outside for their coffee.

Actually, I was somewhat surprised by the number of people sitting in cafes during lunchtime, but then again, I had just come from a town with a population of about a thousand people. Speaking of which, visiting a supermarket, I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of products available. While I knew that Argentina is renowned for its meat, I was still taken aback by the variety. The abundance of cheese, pasta, and tomato puree also reminded me of the majority of immigrants' origins.

Returning to the neighborhood where I lived, there were at least two negative things that stood out. One was the smell of urine and poopie poo left by dogs. I hadn’t thought much about it before, but I guess the narrow streets, made from square concrete pavers and lacking grassy edges, combined with pet-owning residents, inevitably lead to such problems.

The other issue that revealed a bit of Buenos Aires that tourists rarely see was the presence of homeless people searching for scraps and food in garbage bins near those same fancy cafes that cater to the upper class during the day. Moments like these remind you that every big city has many faces, and sometimes you only see the attractive ones.

Aside from the gym, which changed its layout probably four times in several weeks, I had perfect living conditions and access to everything I needed.

While I spent the majority of my time working on my side project, I really enjoyed my time in Palermo. It's filled with people, cafes, restaurants, shops, and you will feel safe there. I had such a good and productive time there that I was actually quite hesitant to leave, feeling that I might not find such a perfect place to put the final touches on my side project that I had been working on for the last two years. Which brings me to the next neighbourhood I stayed in.

Heading linkBalvanera

View from my workspace in Balvanera, Buenos Aires
It would be a shame not to share my shrine of productivity, a place where my productive days were fueled by the Argentine sun, Coca-Cola Zero and the vibrant street life outside

As mentioned previously, I felt so comfortable in Palermo that I actually changed my plan to visit Chile and decided to stay in Buenos Aires for as long as possible. This decision was another example of me learning to listen to my heart and feelings instead of following other logical thoughts and ideas I had. As a result, at 00:35, I booked my next place in Balvanera.

I didn’t know anything about Abasto - the sub-barrio where I was about to spend my next month. However, when I saw the place, I fell in love with it and was already excited to start my new chapter there.

The Abasto neighborhood felt different from Palermo. It was less polished, more casual, and urban, with a more distinct local vibe. I don't know why, but I felt less like an outsider walking in Balvanera than in Palermo. There, in my casual, travel-worn clothes, I felt as though I could blend seamlessly into the crowd of locals going about their daily lives.

Most importantly, I also had one of the biggest selections of gyms throughout my entire journey. In fact, everything felt closer than when I was in Nuevo Palermo. And while most of the cafes and buildings weren't as fancy or upscale as in Palermo, I actually preferred that vibe.

Despite the fact that I lived above a nightclub, which had a fascinating tradition of people marching with drums from another club to this one every Monday at around 22:50, I had one of the most productive months there. I understand that a major factor was the exact space where I lived as it offered me a bright and inviting environment with sunlight shining through, a view, and a cozy work space. However, I still feel that the neighborhood and its atmosphere contributed significantly to my thoughts, feelings, and overall mental state.

Heading linkMy Take

Makeshift bed on a graffiti-covered city sidewalk.
Every city has many faces, but sometimes you only notice the attractive ones

How can you capture a massive, diverse city like Buenos Aires in a single blog post? Well, you can't. For me, writing has never been about creating a comprehensive guide to a city. It's about the small encounters, feelings, and random things that stick with you. Plus, it's always fascinating to provide some insights and thoughts that I've learned from locals.

That said, let's start with the feelings. I felt great in Buenos Aires, well, in the places I stayed, walked, and explored. As I mentioned previously, while being the furthest I have been from home, I also felt close. I was reminded of hot summer days and green spaces. I was pleasantly surprised by how, after walking for a few hours, you can reach places like Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur, where you suddenly forget you're in a multi-million person city.

I loved the fact that you can easily wander for several hours through the streets, knowing there’s a very high chance you’ll discover something interesting and eat food that is exceptionally good.

Yes, I can't skip the fact that if you earn a salary in a strong currency, the city will feel very affordable. However, I'll explore that in more detail soon, as there are nuances that you might not initially consider.

Given all this, it's no surprise that during summer, Buenos Aires becomes one of the top destinations for digital nomads. I honestly didn't care much about this throughout my travels, but this time it was so compelling that I had to see for myself. So, I went to a digital nomad meetup and can confirm that the majority of people, especially first-timers like me, talked about Buenos Aires in a very enthusiastic and positive way.

Once again, I will repeat that I had one of the most productive times in Buenos Aires and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay here. That being said, it's important not to be oblivious to the fact that the country is experiencing tough times with hyperinflation and economic instability. So, the next time you purchase something with money you've just exchanged from a stronger currency, remember that most locals don't experience the city the same way as you do.

Try to imagine living in a place where the money you receive is constantly devaluing. Imagine a place where you can't plan for the future in your own currency. A place where, to save money, you have to jump through hoops just to exchange it. A place where the government imposes controls on your foreign exchange transactions.

Given this uncertainty, it's not surprising that quite a few of the younger people I spoke with are considering leaving Argentina for a better and more stable future. And these are people who are doing relatively well. They can still afford to travel, but whereas it used to be simple and casual, it now requires much more planning and saving.

I've never lived in a huge multi-million city, so I'm not sure how much it connects to that, but I'm certain that all this economic instability contributes to an increased crime rate and homelessness. While there are prestigious parts like Recoleta or Palermo, you can witness a very different view in other parts of Buenos Aires.

That being said, I think Argentina has a ton of potential. It's a massive, diverse, and beautiful country offering everything from glaciers and lush vineyards to great food and a history-rich culture. I truly hope that the economy and people in the country will see brighter times.

While writing this post, I observed the moments that I captured, and they took me back down memory lane. Although I saw only a tiny glimpse of Argentina, I can say with confidence that I would love to come back. The slightly embarrassing part is that even though Argentina offers vast landscapes with stunning scenery in the north and rugged mountains in the south, I would be okay just coming back to Buenos Aires. Don't get me wrong, I love nature, intriguing wildlife, and historic sites. However, I felt so good in Buenos Aires that I wouldn't be surprised if, during the winter season back home, I came to Buenos Aires just to smell the freshly cut grass in the sunny warmth once again.

Heading linkStatement Rain

View of a narrow street in Buenos Aires
Celebrating my dad's birthday and my country’s independence by getting lost in a 19km walk through Buenos Aires, enjoying nature, rivers, narrow streets, historic sites, and most importantly, tasty chorizos


— Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur is an awesome way to disconnect from the city. When you are there it's hard to believe you're close to a busy metropolis.

— I'm not usually a fan of modern and upscale spots, but I surprisingly enjoyed Puerto Madero. Maybe it was the sunny solo walk or the peaceful vibes from my earlier visit to Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur, but there’s something memorable about it.

— It's probably very subjective, but the food was amazing.

— Since I'm on my Spanish learning journey, I found these Duolingo podcast episodes to be particularly fascinating during my stay in Argentina: La voz de la calle, La testigo, and Los niños de los desaparecidos.

— I love the fact that you can just wander for hours through the city center.


— Do your research about money and the best ways to pay before coming to Buenos Aires.

— While living in Palermo, I disliked every second of the walks to the gym when I had to smell the urine left by dogs, dried on the square concrete pavers.

— I wasn't a fan of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, and I think if you have limited time, I would suggest visiting El Museo de Arte Latinoamericano. Although it's very small, it has beautiful art presented in a very clean and aesthetically pleasing manner. At the time of my visit, it also featured works by Frida Kahlo.

— While it’s already sad to see people sifting through trash bins, it’s even more disheartening that they often leave a total mess behind.


— I was a bit surprised to see huge tables outside the apartment buildings with large groups of people chatting and eating in their yard late at night.

— I found it fascinating that every milk package I bought had a recommended vaccination schedule.

— If you like antique stuff and are planning to travel to Buenos Aires, don't forget to bring your luggage and have a blast in San Telmo.

— If you are into books, El Ateneo Grand Splendid is a must-visit.

— If you come to Pizzería Güerrín and see a massive queue, don't panic. It actually moves very quickly, and while the pizza is definitely not my type, I'm glad that I wasn’t deterred by the long line.

— I was pleasantly surprised by how much younger Argentinians are into rock music.

— I might describe the weather as idyllic, but in fact, it can be too hot for some people during the summer. Also, during the second half of my stay, there were quite a few nighttime storms, which I absolutely loved.

© 2024 Edvinas Byla

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