In the interests of balance, now that Argentina has been graced with a Spice of Life Travels Top 10, it would only be fair to have a grumble and spell out the 10 worst things about Argentina according to us! Argentina, please take note, here are our gripes!
- Most expensive country in South America
Argentina, travellers would love to explore you, but they don’t take kindly to your comparatively expensive prices! Coming from the cheaper countries like Peru and Bolivia, backpackers are going to wince immediately as Argentina is expensive, and when we say expensive, we mean almost European prices. Sadly this meant that we had to rush ourselves along in order to respect our budget.
- Extortionate buses
We were particularly upset by high transport costs. In Peru it costs £1 an hour to travel by bus, in Argentina it was five times as much and the buses were of comparable quality.
- Ridiculous distances
Argentina you are so huge that we were forced to fly a lot. Budget says “ouch!”
- Tourist trap
Argentina, your attractions are far too touristy. Instead of rocking up and paying a farmer 50p to have a look at some remote ruins, we found ourselves on crowded tourist busses and paying extortionate prices for entrance fees. An example would be the Perito Moreno glacier (which is fantastic and should be visited); whilst the site is very well-developed and accessible, it is also rammed with people, an overpriced cafe and gift shops and in the end cost us £120 for a half day visit.
- Peculiar accent
Argentinians have the most noticeably different accent on the continent. For our shaky Spanish this was just too much and we ended up confused all over again with even the simplest instructions!
- The Malvinas (The Falkland Islands)
This is going to be a controversial one, but war is always a bad thing! Not pointing any fingers here, just trying to explain an important part of Argentine history.
Argentina and the UK have long been embroiled in a heated territorial dispute over this very famous group of islands, and even went to war in 1982. For us and many other readers, this was quite a long time ago, and we probably don’t give these remote islands very much thought. Well, there’s certainly no forgetting about it in Argentina. As soon as we crossed the border near El Calafate, we were greeted by huge signs declaring that The Malvinas always were, currently are, and always will be part of Argentina. Jess is from the UK and understandably became quite nervous about getting her passport out at the border!
The signs continued to a crescendo in the Southern most town of Ushuaia where there are also memorial and commemorative spaces for those who died during the conflict. Of course educating people (not least ourselves) about the conflict and keeping the memory of those who perished alive is important, we only wanted to highlight how surprised we were about the prominent way in which sovereignty over the islands is displayed.
- Stop eating so much meat
As much as we enjoyed joining in with the national obsession of eating meat (especially beef) whilst we were there, Argentina can you please make sure that you protect your natural habitats from the expansion of cattle farming and soy bean production.
- One of the scariest aerial approaches
Flying into the end of the world was never going to be easy, right? Absolutely right! The aerial approach to the town of Ushuaia was certainly a brown trouser moment.
Our plane cruised above impressive snowy mountain tops and then ever so quickly made a tight descent over the bay before landing from the sea onto a very very short runway. Add some strong winds to that for good measure and you are going to be kissing the ground as soon as you exit the plane!
- Wet knickers
Argentina gets to claim the one and only time whilst we were travelling that we got well and truly soaked (to the knickers!). It was in Ushuaia (of scary aerial approach fame) where the weather is incredibly changeable. We went out in what seemed like a manageable rain shower, and ended up battling miserably against horizontal rain in near freezing conditions. Hence the wet knick-knocks!
- Reverse culture shock
During the preceding months we were travelling in Peru and Bolivia, and so it was quite a culture shock to go back to a nation where everyone was European in appearance and dressed in modern fashionable clothes. We must say that we missed the presence of a colourful and traditionally dressed indigenous population. But well done Argentina, you do have gaucho cowboys so we will have to let you off!
OK, grumble over, Argentina, we’ll be back to check up on your progress soon!