Day 1 - arrival in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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Casa Rosada

I landed at EZE airport, outside of town. It was pretty busy, but immigration went fairly quickly. I wandered the airport and found an ATM randomly in the middle of everything. I waited for several minutes to get some cash. It took a couple of tries because it seemed the max I could remove was 2000 pesos. I tried to remove more so I didn’t get charged the fee as much. I then went to the blue and white taxi stand to inquire about a taxi to the hostel. They quoted $45 USD (650 pesos). Yikes! So I went to the Tienda Leon bus stand – that was more reasonable, at 190 pesos. I had to wait a good 15 minutes for the bus, but it was a big coach bus. They put my luggage under the bus and I sat up in a bucket seat by the window. The bus ride was about 45-50 minutes to town.

Casa Rosada close up
It stopped at a station but I didn’t know where we were, as nothing was announced or clearly marked. Also, not everyone got off the bus, so it clearly went somewhere else. I asked someone if this stop was Retiro – it was. But where the heck was I? We were sort of behind a building. No idea where the subway was. I asked a young backpacker who spoke English and Spanish. He was able to ask a local for directions for me and together they pointed me towards the Retiro subway station, which was a block or 2 from the Retiro bus station.

I was dragging a large rolling duffel bag, which was not great for the Subte (subway). I bought a card for 25 pesos, but couldn’t get it to work. Someone had to help me scan the card, then I went through the turnstyle, but had to lift my heavy bag up and over.

Casa Rosada selfie
Did I mention it was really warm there? I was sweating and I only went 2 blocks plus down a couple flights of stairs. I managed to get on the Subte, but was in for yet another surprise! My hostel posted directions online of which stop to get off…only the Subte abruptly ended 1 stop before that! The train stopped, all the lights went out and everyone got off. Someone tried to explain that it was the last stop, I think. I just followed the crowd. I had to carry my heavy bag up a couple more flights of stairs to get back to street level. I was quite tired, so I sat on a nearby wall and tried to get my bearings. For some reason, I always get incredibly turned around when leaving the subsurface. I looked at my map and tried to figure out how to get to the hostel because my directions were not from this subway stop.
Monumento al General Manuel Belgrano
I thought I figured it out, so I set off confidently. That is my strategy. Always walk with a purpose and like I know where I’m going. By the time I was 2 blocks away, the road I was expecting to turn on was not there…so are these roads not shown on my map or did I go the wrong way? I walked to the wide median, which was a several block long bus stop, sort of. The main reason was because it was shaded. I found a map and decided that yes indeed, I went the wrong way. So back the 2 blocks, then on another 2 blocks. I thought long and hard and turned left and went another 3 blocks or so. This was not easy going. The sidewalk was extremely rough with broken or missing paving stones in many locations and a very narrow sidewalk that made walking 2 across quite difficult.
National Bank
It was a hot, slow, bumpy walk.  I really wished that I had brought my backpack instead.  I was cursing myself for trying to be cheap and thrifty. It would have cost more, but it would have been quicker and less sweaty had I taken the taxi. I think the reason I was mad at the taxi was because a guidebook and recent blogs suggested the taxi ride would be about $20. I thought I was getting ripped off. 

Anyway, I finally made it to the hostel, checked in and found my room. I knew I’d be sharing a room for the next 2 weeks, so I had booked a single room. I plugged in the air conditioner (by standing on the bed to reach the plug!) and took a shower. I was planning to drop my stuff and explore, but I was so sweaty already that all I really wanted was a cool shower.

chicken and pumpkin
So I did just that. After freshening up, I left the room and bumped into the one person I knew on this trip in the lobby. There I was introduced to 4 others on the trip. Everyone seemed to have plans for the rest of the afternoon, so I set off on my own. I wanted to visit Uruguay tomorrow and needed to go buy a ferry ticket.

I found my way back to the Subte and rode to within a few blocks of the ticket office. I was quite pleased that I went in the right direction on the first try! I found the office and bought a ticket for the 1 hour boat ride. Nice! Now what? It was still hot, even more so riding the Subte, but I didn’t know the streets at all, so I got back on and rode a couple more stops, switching lines, and ending at the Plaza de Mayo.

girls
I walked over to the Casa Rosado, which is the pink palace. The pink color reportedly comes from painting it with ox blood. My first geocache find in Argentina was here. I thought about doing the palace tour, but I couldn’t remember when it was, how long it was, or how much it cost. We were doing a group dinner tonight, so I had to be back to the hostel by a certain time. I also thought about touring the church, but it was so hot I wasn’t thinking clearly and couldn’t figure out which building it was. Nothing there looked like a church, even though the Subte stop was called Catedral. I looked around a little bit but decided that I should probably head back to make sure I didn’t miss the dinner group. I figured I’d be back (turns out I never came back here).
boys

Most of our group was staying at the same hostel, so we all walked several blocks over to the dinner place. We went early (for the locals), but we had a group of 13 or so. This was the first time most of our group was all together, and my first meeting of most of these people. We went to a steakhouse, but I’m not a fan of steak so I got chicken. It was okay, but not great. The slabs of meat were huge. Dinners here are late and long. We finally left after 9 pm, but families with little kids were just showing up for dinner!

A few of us decided to try to find a tango “show”. Actual tango shows are expensive, but these were more informal and cheaper. After walking several blocks around the neighborhood and asking a few people, we were directed to several different locations, but all were quiet.

Shylla, Keila and me
Turns out Wednesday is a slow night and all the tango places we tried were closed today. In defeat, we walked back to the hotel, stopping at “Beer Life” for a beer first. Both of them were interested in joining me for Uruguay tomorrow, but Shylla needed a visa so she couldn’t go. Keila and I made plans to meet in the morning.

It is really warm and humid here. I was feeling gross, so I took another shower when I got back to the room and tested out my quick dry undies by washing them and hanging them in the shower. I was pretty tired and fell asleep quickly, even though it was pretty loud here (noisy neighbors in a multi-bed room next door and traffic outside).

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Casa Rosada
Casa Rosada
Casa Rosada close up
Casa Rosada close up
Casa Rosada selfie
Casa Rosada selfie
Monumento al General Manuel Belgra…
Monumento al General Manuel Belgr…
National Bank
National Bank
chicken and pumpkin
chicken and pumpkin
girls
girls
boys
boys
Shylla, Keila and me
Shylla, Keila and me