Make no mistake: the fantastic food scene (Argentina’s steakhouses are legendary but you’ll also, thanks to Italian immigration in the past, find excellent pizza and pasta all washed down with copious amounts of Malbec), passion for futbol (football is a religion), tango (arguably Argentina’s greatest contribution to the world) and proud Portenos (BA residents) will warm even the most jaded traveller’s heart.
Adventures abound all over Buenos Aires, but as a first port of call Plaza de Mayo in downtown is as good a place as any to start. On the east side of this excitable square (protests and demonstrations are as much a daily event as dinner), lies La Casa Rosada (www.casarosada.gob.ar) whose pretty pink facade illustrates what happens when pigs blood is mixed with white paint….
The Presidential palace is home to the balcony where Argentina’s most famous son, Diego Maradona (a footballing god who made an enormous amount of noise both on and off the pitch) greeted crowds from the balcony after winning the 1986 World Cup for Argentina. The pink palace is also where Evita - the country’s beloved First Lady - used to address her legion of fans often called the descamisados (shirtless ones) owing to their impoverished status.
The life of the charismatic, if controversial, second wife of Juan Domingo Perón was cut short (Evita died, aged 33, of cancer in 1952), but her presence continues to be felt - something the 100ft tall iron portrait of Evita, which looks down on the 14 lane Avenue 9 de Julio, bears testimony to.
You can read all about the former actress turned revered political figure in Eloy Martinez’s Santa Evita. And the perfect place to get stuck into this mesmerising novel while enjoying a Cortado coffee (essentially a shot of espresso, with an equal amount of steamed milk) and medialuna (small croissant) is Cafe Tortoni (www.cafetortoni.com.ar/en) - a historic cafe which, with its wooden walls, crystal chandeliers and elegant stained glass windows, is a million miles away from the Costas and Caffe Neros that plague the British high street.