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17 Myths About Argentina – We Uncover the Truth!
Think you know what to expect when you visit Argentina? Think again. Here we unravel the prevailing stereotypes about this fair land.
#1 – It’s not safe!
Argentina, like much of South America, unfortunately suffers from this lazy and outdated stereotype. While the worry is fueled by fear of the unknown and a lack of awareness, it’s also easy to see where it comes from.
The thing is, the widespread concern about safety in South America creates a self-perpetuating myth. Because people are worried about safety, when something happens it’s widely talked about among travel circles and attributed to the climate of the place it happened.
Compare that to, say, pickpockets in Paris. No-one tells you France is unsafe because someone got their bag snatched, yet if the same happened in Buenos Aires you’d have everyone telling you to be extremely careful.
Common sense, as always, should prevail. Argentina is a very safe place for those who take care and respect the risks inherent in all travel, so don’t let fear define your experience.
#2 – It’s just like Europe!
It’s true that Buenos Aires is perhaps the most “European” of South America’s cities, but it’s also lazy to simply disregard it as “The Paris of South America” as travel writers are wont to do.
Indeed, to do so strips Buenos Aires of its own, singular personality and suggests it is indebted to Europe for its identity. The truth is spectacularly different, and visitors will find a city that blends a multitude of cultures to produce something entirely unique.
Nice buildings, a love for culture and a penchant for good food might be common points between the two cities, but we never call New York “The Paris of the US”, so why do the same with Buenos Aires?
#3 – The food is the best in the world!
Ok, there’s certainly some truth in this because as anyone that’s enjoyed an authentic parrilla in Argentina knows, there’s no better place on earth for steak. Wash that down with a glass (or 5) of Malbec and you’ll swiftly be proclaiming Argentina’s cuisine to be the best on the planet.
But (and it’s a big but) once you move away from the inexplicably delicious barbecues and into the day to day meals the story becomes quite different. Because of the Italian influence inherent in society you’ll find a lot of “Italian” dishes, but if you’re expecting Italian quality think again, because, frankly, the pizza and pasta is not up to scratch.
Despite what locals might tell you (repeatedly). The pizza here is little more than cheesy bread, while the pasta is said to have caused Italian visitors to try to come up with a new name for their own pasta so the two will never be associated again…
VERDICT: FALSE! (But the steak is the best in the world)
#4 – Pizza in Argentina is terrible!
…That said, if you separate your idea of what pizza should be from the reality of what you find in Argentina (i.e., cheese and bread) and just appreciate the pizza for what it is, you’ll find yourself enjoying a delicious drunk snack. This is not fine dining and it’s not Italian, but it is a definite guilty pleasure for visitors (at least after 3am).
Still, the fact that locals often speak about how great the pizza is in Argentina builds your expectations up to such an extent that when you try it you can’t help but be disappointed. I was once told by a table full of Argentinians that their efforts at making this dish surpassed their Italian cousins’.
VERDICT: TRUE! (Though it can definitely be ok)
#5 – Argentinians are arrogant!
I’m yet to meet one Argentinian that’s arrogant, and I’m always slightly confused as to where this stereotype comes from. Without exception, I’ve found locals warm, inviting and incredibly funny.
Not just that, but also self-deprecating and passionate. Perhaps its the extremely lazy interactions with each other that bring this stereotype about (locals don’t often say please and thank you to each other, which can be jarring at first), or their patriotism (show me a South American that isn’t patriotic!), but either way this stereotype is the most confusing I’ve found.
#6 – There’s not much to do other than Patagonia and Buenos Aires!
Are you serious? At one end it looks like this:
In the middle it looks like this:
And up north it looks like this:
Whatever you’re looking for in a vacation, it’s pretty certain that a tour of Argentina can provide it.
VERDICT: SO FALSE I THINK I MAY HAVE JUST MADE THIS STEREOTYPE UP MYSELF IN ORDER TO PROVE IT WRONG!
See all this and more on an unforgettable Argentina tour!
#7 – Argentinians love Maradona!
We British have a pretty passionate relationship with this diminutive anti-hero, and we often make the mistake of assuming the extent of our love/hate feelings are matched by Argentinians. This may be true in some cases, but many locals regard him as excessive, egotistical and generally a little bit boorish – even if he is phenomenally talented. Which is to say, unlike the Brits, they have a pretty balanced and fair opinion of him. Huh, who knew?
Still, it’s hard to deny when you walk around the streets of La Boca and San Telmo that he’s adored with a passion that goes beyond simple celebrity. This is idol worship for many Argentinians; just look at the reaction when he was appointed coach.
#8 – Argentinians love football!
Again, there’s a large amount of truth to this stereotype because many Argentinians love football more than anything else in the world, but the mistake is to think that all Argentinians are like that, or that there’s little else in the way of local passions. In my time in Buenos Aires I found more people indifferent to the world of football than people who would die for their team.
The locals I met would light up when discussing theater, or art, or economics. Football? Less so.
Of course, anyone that went to the Brazil World Cup will know just how loud and passionate Argentina’s football fans can be…
#9 – Argentinians are like Brazilians/Colombians/Mexicans/Chileans etc etc.
No, no, no and no. Latin America is a vast, complicated and varied area of the world. Moreover, whereas most other countries in the region contain obvious traces of indigenous culture, Argentina’s indigenous population was more or less wiped out by bloodthirsty Europeans, meaning their lineage is almost entirely European.
#10 – Argentinians hate the English!
If hating the English means being able to recite all the words to every Beatles, Smiths, New Order and David Bowie song then yes, it’s true that Argentinians hate the English.
Of course, don’t go to Argentina and spark up a conversation about the Falklands/Malvinas with people you barely know as it’s a sensitive, complicated topic. But if you go expecting some antagonism towards the English you’re going to proven very wrong.
#11 – Argentina = Sun, Sun, Sun!
People tend to associate South America with the sun, and certainly if you look at Argentina’s flag you might be forgiven for thinking that the sunshine never really stops shining on Argentina’s shores.
Even in Buenos Aires, however, it has been known to snow, and of course the icy climes of Patagonia speak for themselves. If you’re packing for a tour of Argentina, you’ll need to prepare a whole range of clothing.
#12 – Argentinians love tango!
There’s certainly a section of Argentine society that loves tango, but my expectations were blown into smithereens when I discovered this section is somewhat confined to specialists and older generations. Indeed, like many of the things I expected to be Argentine passions I found the reality was that people were largely indifferent, if not appreciative of it as a particular part of the local character and culture.
Still, it’s nice to pretend, and visiting Cafe Tortoni in Buenos Aires is a great experience for anyone visiting.
#13 – Argentinians hate the other South American countries!
There’s a rivalry between most South American countries, but the myth that Argentinians hate the rest of the continent is often repeated among travelers.
You just have to carry on exploring, however, to realise that the Argentinians are perhaps the most eager travelers in the continent. While other South Americans are drawn to the US and Europe, a surprising amount of Argentinans backpack around their neighboring countries.
Relations may not always be perfect, but show me one continent that doesn’t have a wealth of rivalries in its borders.
#14 – Buenos Aires is full of expats!
Of course Buenos Aires has a fair share of expats – it’s a great place to live! Still, if what you’re looking for when going to Buenos Aires is a slice of authentic porteno life then you shouldn’t worry about bumping into tourists and expats all the time – it’s very easy to be taken under the wing of a local who’ll be more than happy to show you all their favourite haunts.
VERDICT: TRUE! (But that’s no bad thing…)
#15 – Argentina has no decent beaches!
Ok, I’ll admit that Argentina isn’t exactly Brazil or Colombia when it comes to pristine beaches, but to disregard the beaches here is a mistake – especially if you’re staying for a while! Try Mar del Plata or Pinamar for size, or for spectacular views (if not swimming), you’ll find the south coast stunning.
Plus (cheating a little bit) you can take a ferry from Buenos Aires to neighbouring Uruguay and there you’ll find plenty of stunning beaches to enjoy.
If it is beaches you’e after, however, you’ll be best of heading to other areas in South America.
#16 – Argentinians are just like Italians!
Che! Argentina is a meld of different cultures and backgrounds, with people of Italian, German, French, English, Spanish and Chinese descent being just the tip of the iceberg. Italian influence is the most obvious and perhaps pervasive of these, but the Argentines undoubtedly bring their own flair to the gestures, the passionate outcries and the food.
The link is, however, undeniable, and makes for some pretty engrossing people watching.
VERDICT: FALSE! (But a little bit true)
#17 – Argentinians love wine!
Well, ok. Some stereotypes are simply true… And why wouldn’t they, with such an affordable, delicious selection? Ah, take me back to Mendoza…
VERDICT: TRUE! SO TRUE!
So what do you make of the stereotypes and myths about Argentina we’ve looked at here? What are the most outrageous myths you’ve heard spouted about Argentina? Let us know in the comments below…