Capital business, Buenos Aires

Trip Start Nov 15, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Saturday, May 19, 2007

OK, so what do we think of Buenos Aires after 10 days, a city whose reputation has preceded it everywhere we have travelled in Argentina!?
1. Very friendly people - they stand up for you in the subte (metro/tube) if you look the least bit old, pregnant, incapacitated or fat!? Hard to go anywhere without having a conversation with a stranger initially in Spanish and then in English when they discover how bad your Spanish is. However, note, that BA has highest percentage of psychologists per person for any city in the world.

2. Cute dogs (see entry under negatives also)

3. Great cafes, bars and nightlife, not that we would classify ourselves as party-animals, but the city has a certain energy coupled with warmth and soul. As our Dutch friends say, places here have "Gezellig" which roughly translates as a warm, cosy atmosphere. Because population density is so high here and every area is residential as well as commercial, you can't walk 10 steps without tripping over somewhere to buy food or have a coffee.

4. Fantastic food - and as our friends know, this is of supreme importance in our scale of most important things. The freshly made pasta here is second to none in the world, and the characteristic empanadas and parillas (grilled-meat frenzy) unbeatable, and the wine generally from Mendoza is very ¨quaffable".

5. Great culture. World-class museums. The tango (amazing where musicians have taken this form). Fresh looking pop-art in the streets of La Boca and San Telmo.

6. Great Spanish teachers (Cecilia and Ivan) - spent an unforgettable afternoon making empañadas, drinking red wine, and jamming on guitars, while stumbling over recently learned conjugations!

7. Ed´s first job interview half in English and half in Spanish. When asked whether he minded being interviewed in Spanish his response was "I think that´s a question for the interviewer not me, given the current level of my Spanish"!

8. Meeting up with our Dutch friends Wim and Ria
1. Noisy, noisy, noisy. Can´t escape the noise of trucks, scooters, cars without mufflers, the occasional dog, and the frequent demonstrations complete with megaphones. Well, maybe you can escape in a 20th floor apartment wth no windows.

2. Mountains of dog turd - requires immense skill to dodge the steamy piles while simultaneously attempting to navigate the streets (at least for me who can only do one thing at a time). Maybe if you´ve grown up here it´s easier.

3. Two-tier pricing system - tourists pay over the odds for many things especially acommodation. Note however, that this is a criticism of Argentina as a whole not just Buenos Aires. We would also like to have a personal dig at Aerolineas Argentina the national (foreign-owned) airline that charges tourists triple what it charges locals. Regarding acommodation, we scoured the streets of Palermo for a place and were lucky to find Hotel San Jorge, 50 pesos / night, with odd, but friendly owners. The son resplendant in blue tracksuit with small red silk scarf neatly around his neck, was very anxious to offer us the deluxe suite complete with faded pink fittings in the bathroom. Fantastic flush on the toilet though.

4. Cost of living - low (conservatively 1500-2000 pesos per month for two (US$600)), but so is the remuneration. It would be a trap to work here on local wages for an extended period if you intend to eventually live in another country.

5. Lots of smokers, more than anywhere else we´ve been in Argentina.

Well, we have really enjoyed BA, but are ready to move on to the rural and "meaty"delights of Uruguay!
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