They call Buenos Aires (B.A.) the Big Apple with good cause. It's the largest city in Argentina with a population of 13 million bustling, friendly Porteños. The architecture is very European and so is the lifestyle with small, corner fruit and vegetable kiosks and lots of public transportation. Their excellent subway system costs about thirty cents a ride and the rail train to the outskirts is less.
To acclimatise ourselves to the city, we hopped on the HopOn-HopOff bus for a two hour tour of the down town, harbour front, historic and general points of interest. The first thing that stuck us was the number of beautiful parks spread around the city, each one dedicated to some military campaign or important personage and at the centre-a grand statue. One park, where we later had a picnic lunch, was dedicated to literature and contained statues of poets, writers and their subjects. The must-see attractions were:
Casa Rosada, the pink presidential palace where Evita spoke from the balcony.
Avenida Florida, a pedestrian street full of tourists and schlock sellers.
Puerto Madero, beautiful docklands where we boarded an 1899 three masted schooner .
Plaza de Mayo, where the “Mothers of the Missing” have demonstrated weekly for the past 30 years.
Recoleta Cemetary, final resting place of Evita and other famous Argentinians in their huge, marble mausoleums ornamented with unbelievably beautiful European statuary.
While the people and places look well cared for, there is an undercurrent of poverty and we were constantly warned about pick-pockets. On our first ride on the subway, Steve found out first hand when he had his wallet lifted but fortunately he noticed it immediately and made a dive for the thief as he was about to get off. Panicked, the thief threw the wallet onto the floor and ran up the stairs. On our rail train ride back from Dakar Motos, we saw a large shanty town beside the tracks-further proof of their on-going economic challenges. One of the fun parts of riding the rails was subway shopping. A pedlar would come through the cars and leave whatever he was selling on each person's lap. Then he would make his way back collecting either the unsold product or the money. Or we would be entertained by musicians playing beautiful Latin music or perhaps lectured by a preacher, politico or pauper in Spanish, of course. They too would make their way back through gathering their centavos from generous passengers.
We've been staying in a two bedroom, fully furnished and equipped apartment in the Palermo area which is close to shopping and subways. Its been a nice break to eat what and when we want and get a way from the steady diet of ham and cheese and bread. We've also been able to find a great Indian restaurant where we met Shawn and Crista, from the Polar Star, for a nice evening of travel talk.
We have been advised that Buenos Aires is the best place for shipping the bikes so we are working with Dakar Motos to that end. Ross and I will be flying the KLRs to Heidelberg, Germany and Steve and RuthAnn's Beemers are going to Miami, Florida. The shipping cost is not much different between air and sea but the preparation and paperwork is easier by air so RA and I are all for that!
The current plan is to ride up to Iguazu Falls for the week then return to B.A. where we and the bikes will ship out. We have decided to cut out Brazil due to the heavy rains and flooding and save it and the Amazon for another trip.
And to answer that burning question: No we haven't tangoed yet. But we're not out of here yet either!