Buenos Aires is a
thrilling, multifaceted megacity that pulses with life. I’ve
visited almost all the big cities in South America, and I can say
that from a tourist perspective, only Rio outclasses the Argentinian
capital. In Rio, though, the main attractions are the beaches and the
natural setting, whereas Buenos Aires has much more beautiful
buildings and more interesting neighborhoods. To begin to get a feel
for Buenos Aires, you’ll need three days at a bare minimum.
Strange to say, the
most popular tourist attractions weren’t the ones we liked best.
The district of La Boca, for instance, famous for its colorful
houses, seemed a bit artificial, as though ‘tailored’ for
tourists, though we heard that European visitors generally love the
place and spend hours there. One of my most vivid memories from a
visit to Buenos Aires fifteen years ago was the Recoletta cemetery,
but this time we barely spent an hour there because we found the
crowds of tourists so uncomfortable. On the other hand, we loved the
San Telmo district, and the fashionable young neighborhood of Palermo
Soho, both by day and in the evening.
We stayed on one of
the broadest boulevards in the world, the Avenida 9 de Julio, not far
from the Obelisco monument. This turned out to be a great choice,
because such a central location made it much easier to orient
ourselves. The downtown, or Centro, is fantastic, with lots of little
streets like Calle Reconquista which are full of atmosphere. We also
liked Puerto Madero at night – it’s a modern district, and the
locals and extremely proud of it. Among the museums and exhibitions,
our favorite was the super-modern bicentenary complex next to the
Museo Evita and the Casa Rosada.
What struck us most
was seeing the architectural legacy of Buenos Aires’ glorious
golden age (roughly 1860-1920). The city is full of grand old
buildings which have seen better days. Being from Hungary, this made
us feel right at home. In front of the buildings, the sidewalks are
generally in very bad condition, but the roads in public ownership
are well maintained. The metro stations are, I think, ugly and
cramped, but the trains are modern.
Buenos Aires is a
city built on a grand scale, which means a lot of time either walking
or travelling if you want to see the various districts. Anyone who
just sees the city’s main sights, like the Florida pedestrian
street and its surrounding neighborhood, may find it more difficult
to fall in love with Buenos Aires.
elsewhere in the country generally feel a strong antipathy towards
or inhabitants of Buenos Aires, but we liked them. Despite their many
problems you can see their love of life – they try to get as much
enjoyment out of their existence as possible – and they’re much
more casual and direct than Europeans.