Argentina - Buenos Aires
March 25 - 31, 2006
The trip to Argentina was prepared in a similar way as a previous one to Guatemala. I was however aware that fall starts in the Southern Hemisphere in March and the weather could be cold. This was supported by forecasts on Yahoo Weather, which sometimes showed single-digit Celsius temperatures (below 50 F). It turned out to be a mistake - after the arrival, but especially in the northern provinces, I missed shorts and sandals and had to buy them on the spot. On the other hand, a warm jacket and thick pants were useful on overnight buses, which were very cold due to strong airconditioning. Generally speaking, Argentina is warmer than Europe (the North is around the Tropic - similar to Tunesian beaches or Mazatlán in the Norhern Hemisphere - and the most southern city of Ushuaia is as far from the pole as e.g. Copenhagen (Denmark) or Edmonton (Canada)). However, the climate is very different by region and it is necessary to be prepared for both cold (fall) and warm (subtropical) temperatures.
Transport around Argentina is provided mainly by buses. Overnight ones have two types - "cama" (bed) are more luxurious, "semi-cama" (half-bed) have standard reclinable seats. They have two decks, are relatively expensive (around 1 USD per 25 km or 15 miles in semi-cama, about 20 % more in cama), but very comfortable, fast and popular with both locals and tourists. Most of them were made in Brasil and cannot be compared to discarded US buses of Central America. Tickets with seat reservation are issued on a computer in the offices of individual companies at bus terminals. Cashiers let passengers choose a seet - and whenever I could, I always picked the first row on the upper deck to have the best view. In a gallery, you can see several pictures obtained this way. A nuisance on the trip was a competition of bus operators, because there is no comprehensive timetable (such as IDos in Czechia). Who wants to leave "as soon as possible", that has to shop around at several ticket offices. Price differences between companies are negligible. Shortly before departure (or when the bus is sold out), the ticket office stops selling tickets. Then it is still usually possible to get on for a shorter distance and pay driver's assistant (sometimes with a ticket, sometimes without it). The biggest bus operators include Nueva Chevallier, Tigre Iguazú and in the North Horianski. Timetable of long-distance trains (unofficial?) is on Satelite Ferroviario, more railroad-related links are on a special page.
Transport within cities is similar to Central America - buses are older, prices lower, asking people is the only way to get information, but it is still not a problem to get anywhere you need. In Buenos Aires, however, there is also a reliable subway with historical stations and cars on the oldest line - A. We will get to it later.
Before departure, I also bought a Rough Guide with a wealth of practical information, which would be difficult to compile from web sources. I also checked travelogues of other tourists (mainly in the Czech language, such as one from 2004 or another one from 2003). If you do a similar research, bear in mind that prices have increased since the 2002 crisis and you cannot expect a hotel for 7 or 11 pesos (ARS; 1 USD = 3.06 ARS) as some people paid in 2003. Usual price starts at 15 ARS, a stay in Iguazú (yes, without much searching and in a hotel recommended by Rough Guides) cost me 40 ARS/night. But this is still relatively cheap. A traveler used to a less organized Central America will also appreciate that Argentina is relatively safe and walking around Buenos Aires after dark is common (of course not everywhere, but it is the same in all countries).
But now let's get back to the trip. I flew from Barcelona to Buenos Aires with Air Madrid (I had never heard about them before, but the flight was normal). I did not feel completely well after the arrival, so I did not overstretch during the first weekend and rather took a rest in a hotel. Anyway, I walked a little in the surrounding area and you can see some pictures in gallery. Then I worked for the next week. On Friday March 31 in the morning, my colleague helped me buy a ticket from Retiro bus terminal to the city of Posadas in the North of the country. In the evening, I left Buenos Aires with an overnight bus at 8 pm.
© Jan Peula, 2006