Buses of Buenos Aires

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Buenos Aires from the Air

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Jardín Japonés

Buenos Aires has a beautiful Japanese Garden, and the associated cultural center sponsors taiko concerts, bonsai workshops, ikebana classes, and sumo competitions.

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Commuter Rail in Buenos Aires

Greater Buenos Aires relies on one of the most extensive commuter rail networks in the Americas (map here). Four main rail terminals are located in the city: Retiro (San Martín, Mitre, and Belgrano Norte lines), Constitución (Roca line), Once (Sarmiento line), and Lacroze (Urquiza line). Privatization during the early 1990s led to chronic underinvestment in these lines and deteriorating service. The national government is now undertaking a multibillion dollar improvement project, adding rolling stock, constructing grade-separated crossings, and electrifying lines.

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La Casa Rosada

Argentina’s Pink House (the equivalent of the United States’ White House) was completed in 1886. I enjoyed a guided tour through the building (during which I successfully resisted the urge to hum any lyrics from Evita). The tour started in the Galería de Patriotas del Bicentenario, an atrium inaugurated in 2010 for Argentina’s Bicentennial Celebrations and which features portraits of leaders from throughout Latin America’s history. It was exciting to stand on the Casa Rosada’s balcony looking out towards the Plaza de Mayo, the same way some of the country’s famous leaders have done. It was also cool to stand in rooms which I later saw on the news during presidential addresses. The tour guide seemed most excited about showing off the Presidential Elevator, donated in 1910; while we could look inside it, only the president and honored guests are allowed to ride in it.

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Arriving in Buenos Aires

I flew directly from Cape Town to Buenos Aires in April. Riding the bus from Ezeiza Airport to the Manuel Tienda Leon bus station was a good introduction to the city. Usually the trip takes about half an hour, but we were sitting in traffic for twice that amount of time because of a corte, a street closure for a protest march. Realizing that walking to their destinations would be faster than staying on the bus, many of the passengers asked the bus driver to let them off before we reached the terminal. He refused until a number of the passengers started calling friends on their phones and complaining about being kidnapped. I found this exaggeration to be typically porteño; later during my stay, for example, I was warned about a massive hailstorm that turned out to be a light drizzle.

Along with the Ecuadorian passenger sitting next to me, I stayed on the bus until the terminal, since I wasn’t sure exactly how to walk to my home-stay. As we sat in the traffic jam, the bus driver enthusiastically told us about the four best assets of Argentina: women, beef, wine, and tango, in that order. For a culturally complete visit to Argentina, he said, we needed to experience all four. I laughed and resolved to sample the three appropriate items.

Some of the city’s sights:

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