Tuesday I took a ride on the Buenos Aires version of the “Hop on, Hop off” bus. It is cleverly called “Buenos Aires Bus”! Someone call in the marketers!
B.A. is huge, and has a population of about 13 million, which is second only to São Paulo in South America. The tour took 3 hours and 15 minutes, without hoping off!
It is funny, considering that I am a native New Yorker, that I am not really keen on big cities. After moving out of NYC, I have learned to appreciative smaller cities and really enjoy spending time in the more rural parts of a country where I feel you really get to see how the people live. To me, big cities are all starting to feel the same, what with traffic and more of the same shops going multi-national, etc. It also bothers me to see how parts of a city can be totally abandoned in favor of newer, more sparkle-y buildings being built slightly toward the outskirts, or on new landfill or such.
I like the Palermo Soho neighborhood in which I was staying as it is a little funky with many boutiques and eateries. During the bus ride, I was also intrigued by the Caminito neighborhood in the La Boca district as it is literally and figuratively very colorful and it is where the Italian immigrants from Genoa first lived.
I bought a 24 hour ticket for the bus (you can buy a 24 or 48 hour), so Tuesday was reconnaissance and yesterday I returned to Caminito to have a look around. I was told it was not very safe so I needed to stay within the very small tourist area and by no account was I to go there after dark.
It is a very entertaining neighborhood full of little bars with tango performers and such. It reminded me of a blend of Valparaiso, Chile (not far from Santiago) and New Orleans.
It is very touristy with guys encouraging you to eat/drink at their restaurants. When I shook my head at one of them he said “you make me cry….and my boss will fire me!!”. This reminded me of Cusco, Peru where the postcard pushers had lines like “Not now? OK, maybe later, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week? You remember me, my name George Washington!”