Monday, 21 October 2013

Random Facts about Buenos Aires

Cab drivers are fantastic!  Even though almost none of them spoke any English they will bend over backwards to get you where you need to go.  When we arrived at Ezeiza airport we caught a cab to the hotel.  The cab driver went to the effort of getting out of the cab and asking the hotel whether they were in fact our hotel and when they said no he drove around until he found another hotel he suspected it was and went in and asked again.  When they said yes, he came back and asked for our name so he could check there was a reservation for us.  Another driver accidentally took us the long route to our destination so he charged us less than the meter.

Cabs start at 10 pesos and go up in <1 peso increments.  During off-peak hour you pay 120% of the usual rate and if you call a cab it's an additional 6 pesos.  All in all they're pretty cheap and a good way of getting around as their public transport network isn't great.  Available taxis have a red neon sign in the top left front window saying 'LIBRE' (free). It's common practice to round up the fare to the nearest dollar.

I found the fashion was quite different in Buenos Aires and I personally struggled to find things to buy.  I'd recommend the following if you want to shop: Alto Palermo shopping centre, Abasto shopping centre, Florida St (mall shopping), Santa Fe Ave (probs the best shopping in my opinion), Recoleta Mall, San Telmo markets (Sunday), Recoleta Fair (markets on Fri/Sat/Sun).  I strongly recommend San Telmo markets and the Recoleta Fair.

Dog poop
You'll find dog poop on the sidewalk everywhere.  It's especially bad in Recoleta.  There are no laws regarding the picking up of dog poop and Argentines love dogs and walk them often as most of them live in apartments.  It's super super annoying when you're a tourist and want to be looking UP but end up spending most of the time looking down.  Despite constantly looking down I did manage to step in a large fresh pile of doggie poo which oozed under my shoe and almost sent me stacking.  I think it's the Spanish influence but it's super frustrating.

Districts of Buenos Aires
BA is a bit of a sprawling city and despite having a city centre, there are many districts around the city centre that are of more value to the tourist.  Recoleta is a very tourist-y area which is considered a rich area to the locals.  Real estate here costs about 5x the city average.  It's home to the Recoleta Cemetary, el Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts) and Plaza Francia.

Palermo is a huge district that's further divided into sub-districts such as Soho Palermo, Soho Hollywood, Old Palermo, New Palermo, etc.  To be honest I couldn't wrap my head around it but it's right next to Palermo and boasts some beautiful huge parks.

San Telmo is the oldest district of Buenos Aires.  Today it's considered a working class area.  Tango was born here hundreds of years ago (Argentine Tango that is).  Make sure you get to San Telmo markets on every Sunday.

Madero Port (Puerto Madero) is the richest area in Buenos Aires by far.  Most apartments cost over USD$1M!

La Boca is the poorest district of BA and right next to Madero Port.  Its buildings are very colourful because sailors from the port would house their families in La Boca and bring home the extra paint.  There's only one square block which is considered safe for tourists so be careful.

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