Six Months After: Ba Vs. Madrid

#91
As a Londoner I find your statement confusing. What does BA lack? Arts scene? Music scene? Personally I think it is much more lively here. And, other than a few dreadful clubs, London closes at about 11.00pm, which is when (even at the age of 46) I am just warming up.

Are you really from London, England???
The Art scene is much bigger in London, perhaps with the exception of street art here. Things like first Thursdays is great. Hackney wick has a fantastic community of artists and designers, not sure BA has an equivalent. Plus the wealth of independent art galleries not to mention the amount of independent creative studios. Top that off with the ones we know about like the Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Portrait gallery...

Music scene is fantastic in London. Any night of the week you can go out and see a lot of different types of music from hipster type stuff in Dalston / Shoreditch / Hackney, to massive stuff at the O2, Wembly, Brixton. Not sure how BA can rival this.

Ok things do close in London early but then we go out earlier and I'd rather take that than waiting until 1am to see a band. There is a dead time here between end of work, 6pm and 12 midnight, thats 6 hours! There are a couple of clubs here like Niceto vega that are decent.

The 11pm is a thing of the past as a lot (not all) of pubs are open until 1am now.

Perhaps your just out of touch with modern London...
 
#92
Being originally from Madrid, my feedback on this might have an obvious bias, but I will try to be as objective in general as possible and back everything up with fact, especially since (aside from the armed home invasion robbery I had which caused me to leave) I do also love BA as a city. I will comment on the areas that I personally have experienced:

NIGHT LIFE

Both have an excellent night life, however Madrid's nightlife is far more extended than BA. You can find a wider variety of places in Madrid open and popping on a Monday (for example) and places open till 6 AM even on a Monday. Madrilenos, even when broke, find SOME way to be social butterflies, often justifying going to the bars because of the free tapas (dinner) they are served with drinks (Non existant for the most part in Argentina) or the plethora of bars offering 2 for the price of 1 drinks and sharing the cost with a friend.

SAFETY

Madrid wins hands down. One positive thing that Spain retained post Franco was its strict gun control laws. A shooting/murder/being held up at gunpoint in Madrid or anywhere in Spain, makes national news and is something people talk about for literally years. This factor alone makes Spain far safer than Argentina will ever be. The worst thing you ever have to worry about in Madrid are pickpockets (quite rampant unfortunately) and if you ARE held up which is extremely rare, its with a switchblade. But honestly, in my younger, wilder days, I have been blind drunk walking the streets of "controversial" barrios like Chueca and not a thing ever happened to me.


SHOPPING

Again, especially with all the strict import controls and poor quality of clothing made in Argentina, Madrid wins hands down. You can buy just about anything in any brand. And unlike in Buenos Aires, it is not stuff you would already find in the US at the outlets marked up 4 times over. Also, you can find fashionable, high-quality clothing that is affordable made in Spain and Portugal from local labels like Zara, Cortefiel, Massimo Dutti, etc.

FOOD/DINING

Fine dining is a lot more expensive in Madrid. I could never get a Puerto Madero style dinner in Madrid at BA prices, for example. Regular, everyday type, cafe-style dining is a lot more affordable however, because Spaniards generally eat out more often (often daily) and prices are set to encourage this. Grocery store shopping is cheaper in Madrid and anyone on here who is complaining about lack of variety/brands has never done their grocery shopping at Corte Ingles. They have everything and anything you could want, even ethnic foods.

PEOPLE

Spaniards, like the Argentines, are a proud people. I would say they are less materialistic, but this is also because (pre crisis) they have been accustomed to live a high consuming lifestyle and have had less crisis than Argentines so have never been as salivating and hungry of things they have not had and probably never will have as in the case of Argentines. In Spain, when the first Iphone came out, lines and lines of teens and pre-teens were seen in front of the Movistar Flagship on Gran Via, ready to buy the 250 Euro phone. Even with the crisis, people line up outside of Corte Ingles anxious for the sales. In Spain, there is less emphasis on going to MIami to go shopping (most prefer vacationing within Spain or other parts of Europe), plastic surgery, trying to play off that you are well off and look sophisticated by ordering a bottle of (cheap) champagne at the clubs, etc. Sadly, the Spaniards, like the Argentines, many times see themselves as superior to their other Latin/Hispanic counterparts and finding "the right" work in Spain can be challenging for immigrants.


TRAVEL

Hands down Madrid wins again. You can get to just about anywhere in Europe in 2 hours or less and often do so for dirt cheap thanks to all the heavy competition between the low cost carriers, and even Iberia has lowered their fares to compete with these low costs. Also, the AVE/Renfe train system is great and convenient.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Not up to par with the US in either of the two cities. However, in Madrid I have found that in the higher-end places (restaurants/stores), you can get pretty good customer service. At Corte Ingles for example, you are able to return anything no matter when for a full refund if you aren't satisfied with your purchase, no questions asked.
 
#93
This is a great post. I have spent the last three year on and off in BA and spent 3 months in MAdrid this Spring. Ironically enough I ended up living with a bunch of Argentines. For me Madrid didn't have the same onda as BA. Its very clean, safe, and organized but it was missing something. Somehow I missed all the chaos. Whatever you think of the coffee I missed the cafe life in BA. I missed the trees that line the streets in many of the neighborhoods. The people were nice enough but not quite as friendly as the portenos. I think the food was a little better in MAdrid. I got addicted to doner kebap. The ability to travel all of Spain was fantastic. If I go to Spain again I think I would prefer Barcelona. I fell in love with San Sebastian. Two beautiful countries. Not bad places to be.
 
#95
Jajaja, they have doner everywhere. I'm sure its better elsewhere but for fast food it beats McDonalds any day. And pintxos in Barcelona and Basque country. Good god! I ate some of the beef cheek, pig ear, and duck ham amongst other things. Soooo gooood.
 
#97
I loved your analysis. I am a virologist (mainly bovine disease research) and spent some time in Spain last year for work and one month in Madrid before going back to Lima. I have not felt unsafe in Buenos Aires - yet. But I think your analysis is right on the money. The coffee in Buenos Aires in most cafes is horrible and I had not noticed that 20% was in fact sugar with most brands at the supermarket. I might add that I prefer Buenos Aires to Madrid. My one problem with living here is the filth and pollution - I have to shower after a short walk and my apartment is covered in black dust every time I open my patio doors. I actually had my bag snatched in Madrid when meeting some friends outside Teatro Gran Via and felt unsafe thereafter.
 
#98
You know the sad thing is that it's a great place BA with great people but..and this is purely an outsiders view..you just keep on double guessing people. We were out for paddys day last night & these really nice local guys befriended us but we were just discussing the fact that we were wondering what their angle was?? Are they trying to steal from us?? Is everything zipped up?? Is my money right down on the inside of my front pocket?? This is all the crap things that run through our head rather than embracing locals for what they are. It is in fact a very sad indictment on what BA has become & time the authorities get serious with these thieving little turds. We have spent so far in 1 month 80k pesos..we are the people this country needs to get back on its feet yet our comments to friends back home will be about what we had stolen & what we COULDN'T WEAR in public. I love your writing in this article starlucia.
 
#99
The behavior by the medic was not normal. Doctors here do NOT cross those bounds, and that sounds so weird. Most doctors do not look at their patients' bodies, while they are working, as sexually attractive, but usually are thinking in terms of the medical part, or at least that's the impression my doctor friends have given me. Also, getting groped in Argentina is not acceptable or normal behavior, although it's pretty common for guys to leer or say something inappropriate. Argentina is a place where the culture has sexually objectified women, though, so it doesn't surprise me that this could have happened. It's truly saddening that this kind of behavior exists, and I wish things could be changed. I have actually gotten hit on by prostitutes as I was walking hand in hand with my wife (I know, not nearly as bad as what you experienced). And most of those prostitutes are probably women tricked into coming to Argentina for a job, and when they got there, they basically became prostitution slaves with no way out (or they kill you). These kind of things are the some of the most despicable aspects of Argentine culture.

However, it can be much much worse. Of all the Latin American countries, Argentina is by far the least macho one. Women stand up for themselves often and will not allow themselves to be abused in many scenarios. Also, there are quite a few respectful men who do not have three wives at once (normal basically in a lot of Latin American countries). If you want machismo, just go to Venezuela. So one of the things that I do enjoy about Argentina, is at least they are a little bit better off than other places in Central and South America (actually much better in a lot of ways. Hopefully, over time, things will continue to change for the better.
Oh man, I said a while back that I wouldn't write more about this but in a fit of grad school procrastination I came over to good old BAExpats and stumbled upon your post, so here goes:

First of all, don't compare being solicited by prostitutes while taking a walk with your wife to anything I have written. Nada. que. ver.

Second of all, this sentence. "Argentina is a place where the culture has sexually objectified women." Replace "Argentina" with "the world since the beginning of human kind through present day" and change "has sexually objectified" to "sexually objectifies women to varying degrees" and we're all good. I'm not going to talk about your second paragraph with its "many scenarios"...

You seem like you're coming from a good place with your comment, or at least trying to, but oh my God do I have some problems with what you wrote. Do you realize how ridiculous it is that you, as a man (according to your profile), are trying to explain to me, a woman, what it's like to experience machismo directed at women in Latin America? That it's worse in other countries? That my experience was "not normal" based on "the impression [your] doctor friends have given you"? That's like me as a white person trying to explain to a black person what things will be like for them in BA. I have an idea, but that's about it, because it's not something I've lived. I'd certainly never question their experience. It seems like you do just that when you state this as fact: "Doctors here do NOT cross those bounds"--Do you have a camera in every room of every clinic, hospital and consultorio in Buenos Aires? How much medical treatment have you received in BA? It wouldn't matter anyway, since again, you're a man and it is impossible for you to experience sexism the way women experience it.

I went to a variety of clinics, guardias, farmacias, surgical consultations, you name it, multiple times a week for a good three month period there during a hellish period of diagnosis. I also spent the night in a hospital when my boyfriend had surgery, and went with him to his follow-up appointments. I posted a long time ago what it was like to get a routine STD screening when my boyfriend and I became official and wanted to start using hormonal birth control. I was given long disapproving looks by both the gynecologist who wrote out the lab order and the tech, and was asked by both if my partner was already in treatment for the STD(s) they assumed he had. My boyfriend was questioned multiple times why he was doing it because surely he didn't have anything if there were no visible symptoms. I've since had several female friends experience the same with their boyfriends. The medical realm is not free of machismo. (And porteños desperately need to catch up on STD education, it would seem). But gee, I'm glad your doctor friends have given you a different "impression" when it comes to unprofessional behavior. How reassuring. Oh, here's one for the guys: When my boyfriend got his ACL surgery and couldn't take any pain medication because he was allergic to it, and mentioned to the surgeon during a follow-up that the pain was still pretty bad, the surgeon called him a marica to his face. I didn't accompany him to any other follow-ups because I was afraid I'd rip the doc a new one. Fortunately by then he could get around on his own pretty well. Great surgeon, complete dick...

I had some great doctors whose kindness I greatly appreciated during what was a very difficult time. I don't want to freak anyone out. It was mainly the lab techs or anyone who's with you alone, not the actual doctors (with that one exception), who were inappropriate with me. It did wear me out after a while, not feeling like I could relax anywhere, as a woman. This long-ass post is why I began to think that this type of behavior must be considered acceptable in medical settings Argentina, despite the people on this forum who insist that it is not.
 
Oh man, I said a while back that I wouldn't write more about this but in a fit of grad school procrastination I came over to good old BAExpats and stumbled upon your post, so here goes:

First of all, don't compare being solicited by prostitutes while taking a walk with your wife to anything I have written. Nada. que. ver.

Second of all, this sentence. "Argentina is a place where the culture has sexually objectified women." Replace "Argentina" with "the world since the beginning of human kind through present day" and change "has sexually objectified" to "sexually objectifies women to varying degrees" and we're all good. I'm not going to talk about your second paragraph with its "many scenarios"...

You seem like you're coming from a good place with your comment, or at least trying to, but oh my God do I have some problems with what you wrote. Do you realize how ridiculous it is that you, as a man (according to your profile), are trying to explain to me, a woman, what it's like to experience machismo directed at women in Latin America? That it's worse in other countries? That my experience was "not normal" based on "the impression [your] doctor friends have given you"? That's like me as a white person trying to explain to a black person what things will be like for them in BA. I have an idea, but that's about it, because it's not something I've lived. I'd certainly never question their experience. It seems like you do just that when you state this as fact: "Doctors here do NOT cross those bounds"--Do you have a camera in every room of every clinic, hospital and consultorio in Buenos Aires? How much medical treatment have you received in BA? It wouldn't matter anyway, since again, you're a man and it is impossible for you to experience sexism the way women experience it.

I went to a variety of clinics, guardias, farmacias, surgical consultations, you name it, multiple times a week for a good three month period there during a hellish period of diagnosis. I also spent the night in a hospital when my boyfriend had surgery, and went with him to his follow-up appointments. I posted a long time ago what it was like to get a routine STD screening when my boyfriend and I became official and wanted to start using hormonal birth control. I was given long disapproving looks by both the gynecologist who wrote out the lab order and the tech, and was asked by both if my partner was already in treatment for the STD(s) they assumed he had. My boyfriend was questioned multiple times why he was doing it because surely he didn't have anything if there were no visible symptoms. I've since had several female friends experience the same with their boyfriends. The medical realm is not free of machismo. (And porteños desperately need to catch up on STD education, it would seem). But gee, I'm glad your doctor friends have given you a different "impression" when it comes to unprofessional behavior. How reassuring. Oh, here's one for the guys: When my boyfriend got his ACL surgery and couldn't take any pain medication because he was allergic to it, and mentioned to the surgeon during a follow-up that the pain was still pretty bad, the surgeon called him a marica to his face. I didn't accompany him to any other follow-ups because I was afraid I'd rip the doc a new one. Fortunately by then he could get around on his own pretty well. Great surgeon, complete dick...

I had some great doctors whose kindness I greatly appreciated during what was a very difficult time. I don't want to freak anyone out. It was mainly the lab techs or anyone who's with you alone, not the actual doctors (with that one exception), who were inappropriate with me. It did wear me out after a while, not feeling like I could relax anywhere, as a woman. This long-ass post is why I began to think that this type of behavior must be considered acceptable in medical settings Argentina, despite the people on this forum who insist that it is not.
Thank you for your comments, as I do appreciate them.

Your second post might have been a little harsh. I felt really bad and embarrassed that something like that could have happened to you, even though I am not Argentine. I was trying to empathize and encourage you, honestly.

I have several good friends of my family that are Argentine doctors, but all of them clearly have a different code of ethics than what you experienced. I am sure that none of the doctors I have used would ever pull something like that, but that is my range of experience.

I never claimed that getting solicited by prostitutes is anything like what you experienced. And of course, in nearly every culture to some degree, women get objectified as sexual objects in one degree or another. My point, though, is that Argentine culture has a much more serious problem with this than my own, and getting solicited by a prostitute is directly related to this problem in general (gross and blatant objectification of women). Where I come from, that sort of behavior you experienced with the doctors is not really tolerated (thankfully), and prostitution is illegal (thankfully). I put this comment on BAExpats so that the expats here will realize what kind of disgusting behavior is going on. Some of those on this site have been talking about prices for prostitution. I'm not sure if any of them are going to prostitutes, but if they are, I wanted them to be aware that their actions are likely directly leading to the enslavement of a human being who is not willingly in that situation. Your comment gave me an excellent moment to bring this issue up. If men are capable in a professional setting of treating you as they did, what else are they capable of doing? It's important that everyone stand up again this kind of evil (and I mean that in a general way, not to you). If you ever decide to live in Argentina, and if anything happens like that again, I would encourage you to stand up to those kinds of people. I understand you were a victim in that moment and more concerned about your health, but if you do come here again, and something along those lines happens again, feel free to send me a message. I know the perfect lawyer who will go for the jugular.