Buenos Aires, Day 1

Street Art Buenos Aires

Although the flight from New York to Buenos Aires is long, ten plus hours, there’s only a two hour time difference. I managed to sleep on the plane, not exactly great sleep, but sufficient.  Sue didn’t do as well, barely sleeping at all.

We got through immigration quickly, snagged our luggage and were on our way to locate an ATM machine.  On route we got snookered into buying a pre-paid taxi voucher “good for all official taxis.” Not exactly true, but after hanging out in the blazing heat—it is indeed 95 degrees here—the taxi arrived and we were swiftly taken into the city.

Suburban BA could be anywhere on the globe.  These days homogenization appears everywhere. There were car dealerships for every international brand, American fast-food places, suburban looking developments that would have been unremarkable in Kansas. But as soon as we entered the city, that changed.

Buenos Aires is more European looking than many actual European cities. It is called the name the Paris of South America for good reason. The boulevards are uber wide. In the old part of the city there are slews of striking buildings in Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Neo-Gothic, and French Bourbon style.  Well maintained parks are strewn around the city, though in today’s heat they weren’t crowded. The shopping, especially for leather goods, is renowned. The newest part of the city is ultra-modern, most of it having been built since my previous visit here in 2003.

After changing our clothes we headed out to find an ATM and a charger cable for Sue, who’d forgotten to bring one. We walked through an area reminiscent of 42nd Street and Times Square before they were spiffed up. There were dozens of movie theaters, empanada and pizza places, candy stores and book shops. The heat was oppressive, so we stopped for a light lunch and a lot of water before continuing.

In every city I visit or re-visit I like to take a hop-on, hop-off bus to orient myself.  This one was an epic 3-1/2 hours. Fortunately, the upstairs had enclosed air-conditioned seating. As we drove through the city memories came flooding back from my first visit here.  I instantly recognized the pink presidential palace, famous for speeches made there by Juan and Eva Peron.  Near the La Boca neighborhood the colorful buildings reminded me of seeing tango on the streets there and buying a painting that hangs in my living room.

I noticed street art everywhere but couldn’t recall if it is a new phenomenon, or if I’m simply more attuned to it now.  Much of it was wonderful.

Towards the end of the trip I began to nod off and was happy to return to our hotel (the NH Tango) for a real nap.  Then it was off to dinner. The location was lovely but I was less impressed with the food, which had far too much oil for my taste.  The steak (one must have steak when in Argentina) was very good.

Tomorrow we’ll explore a couple of neighborhoods before heading to board the ship.