¡Hola! This time I am writing from Buenos Aires (BA), at the start of a month-long trip around Argentina that I invite you to follow on my blog. I have an ambitious schedule aiming to cover most of this huge country and part of Chile, with the aid of seven internal flights. I am little worried that if anything goes wrong – like a single cancelled flight – my whole plan will fall apart. I arrived on the overnight flight from London via Madrid, and to my relief my bags arrived with me, and I got through immigration and customs very quickly. One less thing to worry about. My plan for today is simple – chill out to recover from my flight and prepare for the next stages of my trip.
During the long taxi ride in from the airport was struck by the mix of architecture in the city. There are many skyscrapers, but also grand old buildings like the Congress…
And crumbling but pretty older buildings like this…..
My hotel room was not ready yet, so I spent some time chilling in the Botanical Gardens. The part of Buenos Aires where I am staying is called Palermo and has lots of parks and gardens.
I got my Argentine Sim-Card, and then some local currency – Pesos. There are two exchange rates in Argentina. The official rate is what you get if change money in a bank or bureau de change, or if you use your credit card. It is about 160 peso to the US$. The unofficial rate is 290 – almost twice as good. This great deal is available from shady and risky money changes in parts of Buenos Aires…….and with Western Union money transfers. WU is very popular here, and there are offices all over town. I found the one closest to my hotel, but they only had enough money for one of my two transfers…….- and in small denomination notes. Still it was enough for the next few days, and I enjoyed a reviving coffee with my newly purchase pesos.
I checked back into my hotel at one, and after a short rest, set off to explore the city. First I found the 3rd of February park, a favourite haunt for Portenos (residents of Buenos Aires). It has rose gardens, lawns where people play football, and a lake where you can rent boats.
After the public park I visited the Japanese Garden. I was not sure quite what it was doing in the centre of BA, but it was a nice place to explore.
From there I headed to the Museum of Latin American Arts to see some really good displays of contemporary art.
My last stop was an early dinner at a wine bar with a pavement terrace – of which there are lot, because both the weather and the wine are very good in Argentina.
I enjoyed tasting some fantastic Argentine wine and food before heading back to the hotel for an early night. The time difference between BA and London is only 3 hours, but even so my body was telling me it was past midnight.
I was happy with my first day in Argentina. The sights I had seen had been pleasant rather than memorable, but I had really liked the atmosphere of BA. The people are very friendly and seem relaxed and happy. They spend a lot of their time in the excellent open air cafes and restaurants – and so would I, with food and wine this good. My carefully-planned route takes me around the country without returning to BA before the very end, but I am looking forward to reporting back in more detail on this pleasant city.