04-27-2013, 12:35 PM
Joined: May 2010
Location: Interior BC, Canada
March 28 – Apr 5 Buenos Aires (Part 1)
Planed to stay in Buenos Aires for 9 days for the Easter interrupted bike shipping process. Supposed to be a pretty nice city so, could be a lot worse place to cool my heals for 9 days.
Didn't want to do a lot of traveling with the bike as it was way over due for an oil change, change of air filter and the front tire has the wear bars worn off. I have a new one waiting for me in Sacramento where I plan to pick up the maintenance supplies also.
In my enthusiasm to secure this plan I booked a room for 9 days (some hotels were fully booked for a couple of days on the Easter weekend) and agreed to leave my bike at Dakar as their storage was a lot cheaper than the hotels.
Here is what I regretted:
1) The city was a little quieter than I expected. Argentina’s 6 day holiday for Easter is a full blown holiday. All government, banks and most business’ are closed. With the exception of a few tourists wandering around, the downtown is pretty quiet. Most restaurants and the odd corner store were open so fortunately, coffee, food and booze were not a problem. Walking around, a bit of people watching and reading some books pretty well filled my day. Would have been ok with a bit of travel and some new sights in the middle.
2) This money exchange thing is more serious than I anticipated. Not having US$ when I came into Argentina cost me something in excess of $1000 extra. Yup, you read that right. I needed $1800 to ship my bike and probably spent $1200 while in BsAs . . . most of my Pesos were obtained from my bank through bank machines. After all the fees and the huge spread resulted in roughly 4.7 pesos per $ (official rate 5.3). With the few US$ I had, I was getting 8 to the $ from the black market money changers for smaller amounts and would likely get a bit more with a big wad of cash.
What was my option? Some of the other travelers headed up to Uruguay for a few days. Could have had Javier at Dakar throw a used tire on the front and would have been able to enjoy a different country, maybe some different scenery and get all the US$ I wanted. Grrrr!
Having said that, it wasn't that bad and Buenos Aires is a beautiful city. The European influence is obvious with European names being more prevalent and above all, a healthy contribution to the local gene pool. Generally, taller, slimer, more blond and red hair, light colored eyes. In most areas of Latin America, I felt like a giant but as soon as I came out of the mountains in Argentina, it started to feel like I'm back to my average sized self
Staying at the Gran Hotel Buenos Aires located just a block off the main park in the MicroCentro area of BsAs. My room looks through the Military Museum to the park.
The downtown area is going through a major renovation with most of the one way streets being reduced to one lane for traffic and adding very wide sidewalks for pedestrian. A couple of major streets are designated pedestrian only and have the street mall atmosphere. In the meantime, it seemed everywhere you turned the streets are like this in front of my hotel
Sunday night I woke an number of times with some very loud thunder, wind and heavy rain. It was loud and frequent. Lots of radio towers on surrounding tall buildings which I assume were attracting the lightning. Went down to breakfast the next morning and eventually realized everybody in the dining room is watching the news. Something about some flooding. Hmmm . . . seems that parts of Buenos Aires are flooded. Wow! Apparently 6" of rain last night.
Get back to my room to find some detail on the internet and it looks like the flooding is in the north west part of the city. Uh oh . . . Dakar is in the north west part of the city. Call Sandra on her cell phone and she tells me they have a foot of water in their house. Almost hated to ask how the shop fared. Javier is going over to check it out. Hmmm, shall I start drinking now?
Turns out the shop and by extension my bike were fine.
Here is some of the city I saw walking around and from a tour around the city on this decapitated double decker.
Casa Rosada – The Pink House. The President doesn’t live here anymore but does have her offices here. The building is on the site of the original fort built by the Spanish in 1536. The buildings have been added to and replaced a few times in the ensuing years and the current building was constructed in the latter part of the 19th century. There are a couple of stories behind the pink color. One is that building was painted pink to placate two warring parties, one represented by red and the other by white so the Prez ordered equal amounts of red and white paint mixed. The other is that cows blood was mixed in the paint to protect against the humidity . . . maybe both are true.
Behind the Casa Rosada is the Liberatador Building, originally built as the military headquarters in the 1920s. Connected to Casa Rosada by tunnels, at least one President escaped a coup by sneaking to safety in the Liberatador Building.
The National Congress Building (the Capitol)
No Latin American city is complete without a lot of staues and monuments
As periodically seen in many Spanish speaking cities, a memorial to a fictitious character . . . Don Quixote
The Obelisk at the center of the city (Notice the picture on the side of the building in the background)
A Memorial to the 650 Argentinians who died in the Malvinas War or the more familiar name for us - the Falklands War. Still a real sore point with Argentinians
To be continued