I can’t believe it has only been one week since we got here! First of all, Buenos Aires is a GIGANTIC city. I am living in the neighborhood of Belgrano, where you can find good shopping and a few movie theaters. The park across the street has an adorable Fería on weekends (like an outdoors crafts fair). I also love our location because we are very close to lots of public transportation options!
Here they call the subway “el Subte.” It runs pretty efficiently, and compared to the MBTA Green Line in Boston, this is luxurious. Every morning my roommate and I hop on the Subte and head downtown, or to el centro, for our classes at Bridge Argentina. To get to el centro, the Subte is usually the best but there are over 100 bus routes as well that will help you get around to some of the other neighborhoods. If you ever travel to Buenos Aires, grab a booklet guide for the bus system and hang onto any spare change—you will get lost without the guide, and you won’t be able to ride the bus without coins.
The first stop that anyone should make in Buenos Aires is the Plaza de Mayo. (Pronounced MY-JO, because here they pronounce Y and LL like J.) It is named after the date that Argentina declared its independence from Spain, 25 May 1810, which was followed by a six-year war that resulted in them finally becoming their own country. The plaza is the Argentine equivalent of Trafalgar Square; there is always some sort of political demonstration, protest or rally that is going on.
Surrounding the Plaza de Mayo are a number of interesting buildings, including the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral, which is home to the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires where Pope Francis is from.
Things I’ve learned so far:
- Watch your belongings at all times. Tourists are easy targets for pickpockets and even robberies.
- DON’T travel alone. Use the buddy system at all times.
- Do your research before you travel! (This advice carries over to any country you visit!) Even simply reading the Wiki page for Argentina or Buenos Aires will help you ease through culture shock and you will also be better prepared when faced with a challenge during your first few days here. Personally, I bought two guidebooks to go through. I would highly recommend the Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guide for Buenos Aires—it comes with a map and great suggestions for day-planning.
We’ve got much more planned for this upcoming week, including Tango lessons, an opera at the Teatro Colón, and a day with the Gauchos!