Home > Argentina > Crossing the Equator – Buenos Aires

Crossing the Equator – Buenos Aires

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

After surviving a thirteen and a half hour flight with 3 young children to what felt like the other side of the world, I don’t know what we were expecting – people with two heads maybe. So we were a bit “oh” that everything was pretty normal.

 

 

 

We did not consciously search out things that were different, but certainly a few things stood out. Most striking are the busses, both the new and old busses all look old, with a kind of Jamaican, painted slightly hippy look, with big bold numbers, fairy lights and tassles and these odd little attachments to the wheels.

traffic is pretty chaotic - driving is bonkers

the buses come in all sorts of shapes and colours

the contrast is shocking

The Argentinians, as well as being very friendly, also appear to love cake. There are cake shops everywhere, and whilst they are pretty expensive (everywhere seems expensive compared to the UK with the rubbish exchange rates, I can’t believe we can’t export stuff! – rant), the cakes look amazing.
Architecturally, BA is a mix of very different quarters, some grand, some run down, some French, others immigrant, some business and others just posh, but the one striking thing that is consistent, is the mix of really old run down crumbling, with ultra new and modern – and this really strange earthy sweet ammonia smell. It is everywhere. It took us 2 days to realise, and only after seeing packs of dog walkers, that it is the smell of warm dog urine. Why people have dogs in cities is beyond me, but here they are real lovers of dogs – lots and lots of dogs in all shapes and sizes.

just loads and loads of dogs

In the few days that we had here, we have checked out the main attractions, the old Recoletta Cemetery, which is frankly spooky with all the exposed coffins, crumbling mausoleums, steps leading to underground chambers, the downtown, the modern avenues and the public parks. We also succumbed to the open top tourist bus – which was brilliant. You did feel a bit like a visitor to a museum, look but don’t touch, but it suited us just fine. It also showed us areas that we probably would not have ventured into, giving us all a gentle introduction into the harsher sides of life.

spooky - the coffins are all on show

trip through "la boca" - not for the faint hearted

 

sad - but brilliant

 

I have heard BA described as Paris, and in some parts it may be, but that is doing Paris a pretty big injustice. Given the jarring mix, I would say BA is like Paris meets Liverpool.
Tiredness is definitely another consistent factor for us, the flight took it out of us a bit, so today we are off to Uruguay for a few days chilling out in Colonia del Sacramento, and after that we are not sure. And that is both one of the pleasures and stresses about travelling like this without fixed plans, it is both fun and exciting, and you do pinch yourself sometimes that it is really happening, but with a young family to be responsible for, it is stressful when we have no accommodation booked, no real idea of what we are doing, and the flights to the destinations we wanted cost too much. I am sure we will adapt, but the open ended uncertainty, does give a degree of sleepless nights – I will chill, but as long as I know it won’t go pear shaped.

there is no doubt here who it belongs to!

super sized moving sculptures

portakabins are just hung off the adjacent buildings

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Categories: Argentina Tags: , , , , ,
  1. fatclive
    October 3, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Is that a buggy?
    Glad to see you’ve arrived safely given the Greeks best efforts to keep you, and that are now all enjoying the real adventure.

  2. niall
    October 3, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Hi Alan – good to hear good things about BA. We are heading across with our kids in less then 2 weeks so I will be watching your blogs closely for any top tips. We are doing a whistle stop tour of argentina heading down to Valdez then El Calefate, Barraloche and then Iguazu. I’m just trying to sort out accomodation and car hire now so starting to sweat a bit! Glad to hear the trip is going well. Niall

    • October 9, 2011 at 3:12 pm

      Great to hear from you, sorry not to have responded earlier, but we were struggling with an internet connection and the time to get online.
      I bet you are excited about coming to Argentina. It is a great place and a real eye opener. The highlight for us so far is definitely Iguazu, the place is literally unbelievable, especially at the moment as the water is higher than normal so it is really impressive. You will love it. Make sure you do both the Argentinian side AND the Brazilian side – they are very different. Another must if you can afford it is the jet boat up into the waterfalls themselves. (Make sure you have plastic bags for passports and wallets because you get thoroughly soaked!)
      Buenos Aires has been quite hard work for us as a young family, it really does not cater for the very young, and is very buggy unfriendly and they all eat at 11pm at night. Saying that, the Argentinian people are the friendliest people we have met. Always helpful and open. As a place it must have been amazing in the 1920’s, but the last 50 years has left it pretty ravaged with an odd mix of amazing old buildings and horrid new ones.
      I don’t know if you have realised yet, but prices are a bit of a nightmare. Inflation here over the last 2 years combined with rubbish exchange rates makes it very pricey – especially the flights! We have now resorted to long distance buses!
      Accommodation in BA is very varied, especially on our budget. In terms of where we have stayed, Recolletta is the most posh, San Telmo the most preserved historically if a little edgy at night, and Palermo the most residential (with an odd mix of bars and uber-posh shops). I would avoid Retiro near the train station (many pick-pockets and immigrants). It was at Retiro that they tried to rob us by spraying us with smelly goo and then offering to clean us up (whilst trying to empty our pockets) Luckily we were aware of the scam so we ignored them and kept walking to a safe area to clean up. BEWARE – it is not Europe!
      As far as guide books, the best ones we have found are the Fodor’s guide and Insight Guide. These are both better than the lonely planet which is very factual. Booking stuff online is better with booking.com, venere.com, hostelworld.com etc. anyway.
      Good luck, if you want any more detailed advice let me know I will tell you what we have gleaned so far.

  3. Sue
    October 4, 2011 at 7:57 am

    Glad you made it……………now the fun can begin!
    Can’t remember your itinary but if you need a contact in Lima to arrange cheap accommodation, airport pick up etc. let me know (met a man on a boat!)
    Enjoy, Sue x

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