Thursday, 20 November 2014

Buenos Aires, some advice

There were a million dragonflies outside of the window this morning, just buzzing around the treetops and darting across the park that lies outside. Buenos Aires mornings are gorgeous, bright and big, sunny and warm. This, combined with the cheap (and spectacular) food, the lively nightlife and pleasant streets means I'm really going to miss this city when I leave.

So, I'm aware I've not been writing very much recently. My hand is now better to the point where I can somewhat type again, and this is my attempt to get back into it. This past week I've been relaxing, taking long walks around the city and enjoying very pleasant company. I thought I would use this post as an opportunity to give some advice to others who are thinking of visiting the city, so here goes:

Places to visit




Boca has the very colourful Caminito street, which is definitely worth visiting. It is, however, a tourist trap, so be prepared to dodge tango touts and pricey parillas. If you enjoy the water, the new Puerto Madero area is renovated docklands, with trendy bars and cafes and very pleasant avenues to walk along. Palermo is good for restaurants and bars, and San Telmo has the Sunday market and the tango shows I've mentioned previously.

Finding the bus station

The bus station exists as part of the mammoth Estacion Retiro, a conglomeration of three rail stations, a local bus station and the enormous Omnibus terminal. From Ave Sante Fe, walk North in the direction of the crowd, across the 16 -lane Avenida Libertador, and past all three train stations until you reach the bus station. Confusingly, they all have the same name. Good luck. You'll need it.

Places to eat



Pena Parilla, a local restaurant tucked away on Calle Rodriguez Pena, is an 8th wonder of the world, serving up perfectly grilled steaks in generous portions and excellent wine for the same as it would cost you in the supermarkets (and if you're using blue dollars, that is ridiculously cheap). As an added bonus, some of the waiters speak a little English, and they'll sort you out with a hot delicious empanada while you're waiting. A hidden secret.

Alternatively, the amazing Calden del Soho in Palermo also has impeccable steaks, served with Chimchurri, baked garlic in Balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and salsa to provide a mouth watering sensation. Expect to pay a little more though!

Advice on walking around the city

Avoid the dog poo that is everywhere, and remember that the traffic lights are deceptive, and do not prevent all traffic from driving into you. Above all, never forget that the motorcycles and taxi drivers want to run you down. They do at times actively gun for you. They're clearly all escapees from a nearby mental institution - there can be no other explanation.

Advice on driving around the city

Don't.

Blue Dollar

More than anything, I wish I had known about this. In 2012, when the Argentinian economy started to crumble following the default on it's debt (and the global economy issues), the government put a limit on how much money that people could withdraw each day, and dictated the official exchange rate to other currencies. Inflation skyrocketed (this year it's pegged at 30%, though the government apparently posts a fake one)  and a second exchange rate popped up, nicknamed the 'Blue Dollar'. This allows Argentinians to get their hands on USD in return for a better exchange rate. For a tourist, this is fantastic, as you're looking at a rate of 13 pesos to the dollar, rather than 8.4 (the official rate). So, bring USD, in $50 or $100 notes. ATM's will use the official rate.

So, I've bought my bus ticket and I'm heading off to Mendoza on Sunday, with an aim to reach Chile next Wednesday. Hopefully, following that, I'll be posting interesting things again!

Thanks for reading,

Andy

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