What a challenge! The bus system is very daunting here, and you can only ride buses when you have small change. A regular fare is AR $1.25. I asked the guy at the hotel if he could change me some money, he said no, and recommended the following: (1) Change money at the bank, (2) buy something, (3) go to a subway station and buy a ticket. The first option wasn’t feasible, because the banks were closed today (Saturday), the second one only yielded small amounts of change (which we ended up using for the bus, because we had no other choice), barely enough to ride the bus, and the third one was confusing, because the two boleterías (ticket windows) we tried, didn’t have bus tickets, and sent us somewhere else. We took bus #64 to La Boca, and walked to the Caminito.
But first some words about the bus system here. There is a guide (Guía T) you can buy for as little as AR $8 (thanks, Tim, for the hint!) at any kiosk. It looks confusing, but is actually not that hard to figure out. The city is divided into different grids, and all you have to do is (1) locate the street where you are, and then (2) find the place you want to go to by looking up both street names in the front of the book. Each will give you a grid plan number, and a cell, where you can find your bus number. You then compare both cells, and look which numbers match. This will be the bus number to take. We were supposed to take #86 to La Boca, but got lost along the way, so we ended up taking #64 from somewhere downtown. In the end, I was proud we made it.
The Caminito was nice, but we both had the feeling that it was overrated, because (a) it was too touristy and too short – when people try to speak English to you in Argentina, you know you’re in a tourist trap, (b) the rest of La Boca was really crappy and shady. We didn’t walk around anywhere else outside of that area, because it was too dangerous, but we went through some really scanty barrios with the bus. I did enjoy walking around the Caminito, but it was only a few streets, and it seemed like planted in the middle of a trashy neighborhood.
In the afternoon we walked to Recoleta, one of the fancier neighborhood. As we were approaching it, we saw the change in buildings towards better maintained edifices. The Cementerio de La Recoleta was worth the long walk. Established in 1822, the cemetery is the burial ground for many famous people, such as past Argentinian presidents, and Evita Perón. The whole place is beautiful, and gloomy at the same time. You can look inside most of the burial spaces, and see the sarcophagi. Definitely a must-go when you’re in Buenos Aires.
Pictures to follow…