We arrived midday after a seemingly endless flight from Dallas. It was encouraging to arrive during good weather that in spite of the sunshine surprisingly cool. Buenos Aires is far enough south of the equator to have weather reminiscent of Washington D.C., hot and humid in winter, cool and rainy in summer. Its proximity to the ocean insures a certain degree of protection against extremes of temperature but tropical it is not.
Our ride in from the airport took about half an hour during which we got our first glimpses of the suburbs and finally the downtown where our hotel was located within walking distance of the Plaza de Mayo in the Monserrat district. This is the heart of Buenos Aires, and where we spent all of our two day touring time. Many of our photos were taken around the plaza and the surrounding streets.
Our hotel, the Moreno, had been selected based on price of course but also for its location near the plaza. Without a car we needed to have access by foot of the primary touristic attractions. No frills in this accommodation but it was reasonably clean, functional and the staff accommodating. Our suite consisted of one large room and two spacious balconies. Views from the room of the downtown were impressive although the immediate scene included several dingy high-rise towers that had seen better days. Apparently built before the current wiring was installed they dangled untidy bundles of wires from building to building like droopy spider webs. An ancient church sat just to the side of our hotel. It looked like it might have been there since the city was founded in 1580.
On the street we found Buenos Aires to be almost European, reminding us of locales in Spain or Italy. The infrastructure including the partially cobbled side streets, fractured sidewalks, and open air markets all harked back to Europe. The Plaza de Mayo, considered the city center, was about five blocks from the hotel. From the plaza streets radiated like spokes reminiscent of European cities with similar layouts. The most famous, of the collection of buildings surrounding the plaza, is the Casa Rosada, the residence of Argentina’s president. Rather than bore you with words here is a link that will provide a plethora of information about this famous building: Casa Rosada
Our first objective on arriving was to exchange currency, and with that in mind we set off to find a bank. The time was already past 4 pm so our window of opportunity was quickly closing. Banks close at 4:30 or earlier in most countries as they did not so long ago in the US. We managed to find one currency exchange office open but were only successful in exchanging our cash. Our ATM cards would not work in the local machines. Never spent time to find out why but suspect it has something to do with Argentina’s currency inflation which has been a long term problem. So we had a temporary liquidity situation that was solved the next day by using our credit cards to take cash advances. That evening we managed to find a nice café just next to our hotel that accepted credit cards as do many of the restaurants and stores in Buenos Aires.
Another challenge that should be expected when visiting S. America is the mobile phone connections. Sasch’s smart phone with his European provider, T-Mobile, had no problems. My cell phone with
Verizon would not connect. Lana had same issue with her Verizon smart phone. I was paying Verizon for what they called a World Phone contract. Apparently Argentina is not part of same world as far as Verizon is concerned. I found the same to be true in Panama. My World Phone did work well in Europe but not in Thailand or Singapore, so I’m suggesting that Verizon rename their World Phone to North America/Euro Phone. Not quite as impressive as World Phone but a lot more accurate.
On returning to our hotel we inquired about city tours. The clerk told us that they were available from any of the specially marked bus stops along the main streets near the city center. Armed with that knowledge the next day we set out to find one of the designated bus stops and after a few minutes located one. Near the bus stop we found a ticket office. The city tour lasted about two hours if one stayed on the bus from beginning to end. Along the route it was possible to get off and investigate points of interest then catch another bus. The flexibility of on/off bus touring has become the norm in most cities we visited through out the world. We stayed on the bus most of the way as it wound thru the streets and boulevards passing by the main points of interest. Here is the itinerary:
* STOPS OF THE BUENOS AIRES TOURIST BUS:
FLORIDA | Av. Pres. Roque Saenz Peña and Florida
1: AVENIDA DE MAYO | Av. De Mayo and Piedras 2: CONGRESO
| Av. Rivadavia and Rincón 3: CENTRO COMERICAL
| San José between México and Venezuela
| Av. Belgrano and Defensa 5. SAN TELMO | Av. Paseo
between Pasaje Giuffra and Av. Independencia 6. USINA DE LAS
IDEAS | Caffarena 50 7. ESTADIO BOCA JRS | Brandsen
BAR EL ESTAÑO 1880 | Hernandarias and Aristóbulo
Valle 9: CAMINITO | Av. Pedro de Mendoza between Palos and
Martín Rodríguez 10: MADERO ESTE |
and Rosario Vera Peñaloza 11: PUERTO MADERO |
and Macacha Güemes 12. PUERTO | Juana Manso and
Grierson 13: GALERÍAS | Av. Córdoba
Reconquista and San Martín 14: PLAZA SAN
Florida 1000 between Pasaje Kavanagh and Ricardo Rojas 15.
FLORALIS GENERICA | Av. Figueroa Alcorta 2263 16: ALCORTA /
| Salguaro and Martín Coronado 17. PLANETARIO |
Roldan and Av. Sarmiento 18: PALERMO ROSEDAL | Av. Del
and Av. Infanta Isabel 19: BARRIO CHINO (China Town) |
and 11 de Septiembre 20: MUSEO LARRETA | Av. Juramento
Vuelta de Obligado and Cuba 21: LAS CAÑITAS | Av.
Lacroze and Migueletes 22: JARDÍN
ZOOLÓGICO | Av.
Del Libertador and Av. Sarmiento 23. BELLAS ARTES | Av. Del Libertador
and Av. Pueyrredon 24: RECOLETA | Av. Del Libertador and Av.
25: TEATRO COLÓN | Cerrito Viamonte 0: FINAL STOP | Av. Pres Roque Saenz Peña and Florida
Along the way we passed by numerous famous spots including the Boca Junior football stadium where the likes of Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona to mention only a few of Argentina’s star players began their careers. Trying to list the famous restaurants and night spots in this city would be even more of a challenge than doing same for New York, London or Paris so I won’t. Just Google your way in that direction if you want to see some of the most mouthwatering displays of beef focused culinary art ever assembled online. Needless to say we didn’t even scratch the surface of the eating and night life possibilities there. In fact we didn’t even attend a Tango Bar which is one of the default must sees for most tourists. We left a lot to see on our next tour to this interesting city.
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