Run the equator: A last word about Buenos Aires

Friday, August 17, 2007

A last word about Buenos Aires

The Cabildo in Plaza de Mayo.
Click on pic to see slideshow
or here to access the set

A two-week stay in a city should give anybody a pretty good picture of what that city is. Although the tourist perspective of things can never equate the experience of living long term in a place, it can lead to some good guesses. Moreover, this perspective can be brought closer to the "real thing" by renting an apartment instead of staying at a hotel. Insofar, I guess our experience is close to what Argentines may do if they took some vacation days but were too lazy to travel anywhere: wake up late, have coffee and "medialunas" (delicious mini-croissants), wander the streets, do some unplanned shopping, go to the park, tell yourself you'll be going soon to that museum you always wanted to see (but procrastinate again), have lunch in a busy cafe, waste the afternoon on the Internet and have a gigantic steak with a bottle of wine for dinner... I'm not sure if they would take pictures of their own city though...

My steak!

Buenos Aires is not so much a city to visit, but one to live in. Except for a small section of the cabildo (the Spanish-era city hall) there is almost no colonial architecture left; the museums are of local interest; the streets have a very uniform look with their ranges of 10- to 15-story-high residential buildings with shops and restaurants on the ground floor. But Buenos Aires has that unmistakable feel of a place who lives and breathes and changes, comes over you and conquers you. It looks "Eurpean" some say, and it definitely doesn't look like any other city we've seen on this continent. If you're looking for an "authentic" South American experience, with colonial history and indigenous culture this is not your place. Is it good? Is it bad? The answer would depend on who you ask...

Lunch and entertainment in Palermo

Buenos Aires is safe for walking, even at night and even while parading a big SLR camera around your neck (by that I mean - using common sense; I didn't try my chances in the rough spots) although I got through a - luckily unsuccessful robbery attempt; transport is cheap and easily available, and the food is delicious - a two-week steak diet hasn't hurt anybody yet. For us Buenos Aires was just what we needed after the Andean and indigenous experience, after all that trekking and having to throw the used toilet paper in the bin instead of flushing it... no more llamas please, give me elephants instead!

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