Friday, June 26, 2009

Buenos Aires - Day 1

Our first day in Buenos Aires had the typical ups and downs that come with visiting a new country and city. We started our day, by making our way to the presidental office and then, per the Fodor's guide's recommendation, took the subway to Congresso.

The guide rates the subway here the maxiumum 3 stars, as it's supposed to be a good approximation of what riding one of the first subways in the world must have felt like. Perhaps the subway has been upgraded since the author was last there - but this turned out to be pretty much a normal ride on the metro (except you have to manually pull the doors open and closed). I'd have to mark this attraction as vastly overrated.

At congresso, the plan was to take a tour of the main building there. Alas, the tours in English have been canceled, and you're not able to go in and look around on your own. I don't think Shira was particularly disappointed by this.

We then made our way down the main road, from Congresso back to the presidental offices - which turned out to be an excellent walk. There were plenty of interesting shops to dip into, architecture to gawk at, and interesting people to oggle. This was also the first place we encountered Tango, specifically in the form of an adhoc street show. Not having anything to compare it to, it was quite impressive - both a joy to watch and listen to.

At the presidental offices, the plan was to see if a tour was available and at the very least, go into the recommended museum. Of course, there were no tours running that day and the musuem was closed. Oddly, Shira wasn't dissapointed with this one either.

One thing I will say about these Argentines - they do like their protests. Back at the presidential building, the main road was cut off as people prepared to protest who-knows-what. Using my best guess, they were either angry about the transporation system, or perhaps interested in a transformation of some kind. Who knows? We also got to see the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo do their weekly protest - which was surreal.

With some of the city seen, it was time to go play - and so we headed to the casino in town (really, did you think we'd visit a place sans-casino?). The setup was quite remarkable in many ways: they had both auto-shuffling and hand-shuffled tables to choose from (one type on each boat), the table prices went as low as $5 pesos (that's $1.33 a bet) and we were able to find an empty table without any problems, though within a few minutes, it filled up with other people. Most remarkably, nobody, I mean nobody, we played with followed the standard Blackjack strategy. They played by gut - which is a foolish way to play, as the only way to improve your odds to a reasonable level is to played the statistically optimalized strategy. Very strange.

All in all, our first day was actually quite good. It didn't go as planned, but these things rarely do.


  1. now I get to join you on your travels... have lots of fun and take lots of pictures.

  2. Anonymous5:03 PM

    You mean you took the "subte" and it wasn't insanely overheated, smelly, and dirty? If not, then you really missed out on the true experience. When I was there, it was approximately 126 degrees down in the tunnels, and half the trains had some kind of diesel engines, and everyone was sweaty and stinky and crammed in like sardines.

    Watch out for pickpockets, btw. They are seriously talented.

    Have fun you crazy kids!!

  3. Drop the Froder's guide and use the local online Buenos Aires City Guide

    It came in handy for us and was much more up to date and real. No overrated subway rides suggested.

  4. ssssnake - thanks for the tip. We'll have to keep it in mind if we go back.

    Heck, next time we go anywhere we should see if there's a local guide online like that.

    Though, I should mention - in general, we were happy with the Fodors guide. When you've got no internet connectivity and can't speak the local language, it's actually remarkably useful.