After traveling for nearly 24 hours, we finally made it to Buenos Aires! There was a torrential downpour, but we didn’t care. So, did Buenos Aires live up to our expectations?
We had no problems entering the country. Everyone was polite and we got a taxi into town to our hostel. At first glance, Buenos Aires seems like parts of any major city in Europe. But that is where the similarity ends.
Because of the weather, and because we were tired, we chilled out at our hostel for the afternoon and had an early evening. The next day was overcast, but dry and we pretty much walked around most of the city.
We were staying in the city centre (Microcentro/Montserrat) and were within walking distance from some major tourist attractions.
We walked around from our hostel to the Casa Rosada, the Obelisco to Recoletta. Recoletta is meant to be the poshest part of town. You can tell because all of the brass is polished on the buildings. Even the brass rails around the trees are polished. There are very smart cafés, shops and apartment buildings. From there we went to Palermo. Although very nice, it is a bit down-market from Recoletta. You can tell because the buildings look a little run down and you need to be aware of the dog mess on the pavement. It is still considered a smart part of town.
We met up with some lovely friends for dinner in Palermo.
This is one very happy man! Meat for one, shared by two! I have heard the portions were huge, but I really couldn’t believe it until I saw it myself! It was delicious! We had helado (ice cream) for dessert from the heladeria. There was no way that we could have purchased the amount of ice cream we had for the same price in the UK. So far, Buenos Aires is proving to be very good value.
The next day we went to San Telmo. There was one very long street market. I can only cope with a market for so long before I get bored. I am not a very big fan of crowds. We did see some Tango on the street. Some of it made me cringe and some made me smile. San Telmo is the oldest part of town.
On the third day, we went to Puerto Madero. Puerto Madero is behind the Casa Rosado.
Puerto Madero is very modern and upmarket compared to the rest of the city. There are a few tall ships that are also museums. There are many restaurants, shops and cafés. We enjoyed walking around here very much.
After a few days of wandering around Buenos Aires (and we didn’t even do all of it), we agreed that the place didn’t live up to our expectations. I, especially, had very high hopes for the place. After all, it is the birth place of the Tango.
Let’s put things into perspective. Buenos Aires does have some very old and lovely buildings. That is one of the first things you are told about the place. However, they do not compare to the amazing buildings in other capital cities in Europe. If you are hoping to be amazed by architecture, it isn’t going to happen here. There isn’t enough of it for the wow factor to kick in. The city is quite shabby and litter strewn. I had heard about the sidewalks needing attention, but I didn’t expect to see sections caving in or dug up, even in the smarter parts of the town. If you don’t pay attention, you could really do yourself an injury. That was something that I expect to see in Sharm or any other Third World country. After hearing so much about Buenos Aires, I was almost intimidated about coming here, but now that I have arrived, I am totally underwhelmed. I really thought it would be ‘more’.
We hadn’t been on the underground yet, so really can’t comment on that. However, you can buy a SUBE card for the buses and trains. In theory, this is a great idea as many buses still take coins and coins are in extremely short supply. There are some places where you can buy a SUBE card. You are meant to get them from the post office, but we got them from a shop nearby that sold records and other obscure items. You would think you could get them at the underground stations, but no. You can top up the card from many Kioskos, but many Kioskos don’t sell the card. Go figure that!
The steaks are huge! That totally lived up to my expectations, even though I had to see it to believe it. Bob is very happy about this aspect of the city.
The people. Well, so far everyone has been great. We haven’t encountered any rudeness and people have been very helpful when we needed to ask questions. Our Spanish is not great and we try, but we have managed.
Value for money. Although inflation has nearly doubled in the last few years, Buenos Aires is still good value for visitors. Where else can you get a massive steak for about £8 that will feed two people? Although goods are not expensive for tourists, they are still expensive for locals and should be taken into consideration when buying things in markets.
We didn’t go into any museums or art galleries or any other tourist attraction. The weather was too nice. I will only go into things if the weather is bad or it is overwhelmingly hot. We will be back, so it wasn’t an issue.
Safety. Although we haven’t felt unsafe so far, we are aware that there are some dodgy places and have so far managed to avoid them. We haven’t been here long enough to really form an opinion.
So, those are our first impressions of Buenos Aires. I love cities and architecture. We are not that enamoured with the place, but we don’t dislike it either. We will have to spend more time here before we come home and make a final decision. Although first impressions count, I am still keeping an open mind and trying not to judge this book by its cover.