The trip to Buenos Aires starts at the Brazilian – Argentinian border town of Puerto Iguazu where we caught the bus for the scheduled 17 hour trip to Buenos Aires. A little perspective, Rio is located at the same relative location as Havana Cuba, Iguazu Falls at Fort Lauderdale. and Buenos Aires at Charlotte. So although the roads were not great in the north of Argentina, the 17 hours is mostly because of the distance. We didn’t have any Argentinian Pesos so we looked for a ATM or change kiosk near the bus station and the only ATM didn’t work – so we have no local money. So we get on the bus and the seats are great and nearly fully recline. But no power or Wifi. After 3 hrs we stopped to pick up people – we tried to get off the bus to buy something to drink and a snack but they wouldn’t let us off. We assumed that they had to refuel at some point as it wasn’t looking like they were ever going to feed us or give us anything to drink beyond 3 ozs of pineapple Fanta. We stopped at 5 hours into the trip at 10pm and people were getting on/off and we went into a store – didn’t take credit cards and while we were trying to convince the guy to take $20 for a couple bottles of water and a ham and cheese sandwich, the bus pulled out. I ran and caught it (everything we had was on the bus except my wallet) and they let us on (without the water and sandwich, the $20 had handwriting on it so he wouldn’t take it). Then bus driver helper chastised us for getting off the bus – I said we need aqua. About 10 minutes later we stopped again to refuel at the bus depot and we could see boxes of bottled water but they wouldn’t let us off. Ultimately they fed us and gave us water at 11pm. Except for being 1.5 hours late, the rest of the trip was smooth.
Buenos Aires is a beautiful city – elegantly designed with wide boulevards, parks, monuments, and palaces/mansions and has a European feel. But it doesn’t have the one iconic tourist spot that gives the city more recognition (like the Eiffel Tower) which is maybe why it isn’t seen as a top tier destination when it really should be. Our first day it was sunny but cooler and the second day it was cold and rainy – then it truly reminded me of Europe. Over the course of our stay we did a bus tour and a walking tour, hitting the highlights of the city.
Central Buenos Aires
We received similar warnings on crime here as Rio – but never at anytime felt unsafe in the city center (which is a very large area). Our one taxi ride was a bit of a “tour” but he ultimately got us to where we wanted to go.
Our AirBNB host was great and I asked her for recommendations and we ended up meeting her and her boyfriend and her other friends out at a music club. It was a jazz-samba fusion jam session – very talented musicians improvising. Between sets we had interesting discussions as they were both young professionals and wanted clarity on “what is up with the kneeling?”, “how did Trump get elected?”, “is he crazy and going to start a nuclear war or does he have a grand plan?”. They were also disappointed that we had heard the warnings on crime – they never had an issue. Alexandra stayed up with the younger group and went out in Palermo while I headed back to the AirBNB.
In our walking tour, our guide provided the “unofficial” history of the timeframe from 1880 to 1983 – first fifty years was golden age with mass immigration and huge growth in exports of agricultural goods (becoming the 5th largest exporter) and much of the beauty of the city comes from 1880-1930. Then the great depression brought in 50 years of various dictators which regressed the nation. But since 1983, it has been a democracy and improved.
Link to Free Walks (tips expected)
Other sites around town
New area of town – redeveloping an old port.
Last stop of Recoleta Cemetery – highly recommended by many people. Very unique as it is really an outdoor church/mausoleum with the wealthy families of the city trying to out do each other one last time.
A travel tip – Uber does not officially operate in Buenos Aires BUT if your account is linked to a USA credit card – it works. Found out too late in the trip to use it.
Overall a great trip and looking forward to coming back to all the places we visited on this trip at sometime in the future.
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