”Hi Mum, yeah, I’m really starting to feel like a local” – The BA City Tourist Bus.
It was a Saturday morning in BA when Flora, my flat-mate and Palermo partner-in- crime, came into my room; eagerly demanding I arise from my slumber and seize the day with her. We have been in Buenos Aires nearly two weeks now, but having come to the realisation that our knowledge of the city’s geographics didn’t expand much further than knowing it was BIG, as well as our talent of always being able to locate Palermo Soho’s BEST happy hours – this, admittedly, was not perhaps something to write home about. And so, knowing only one path to becoming capable, knowledgeable Porteñas – we boarded the BA City Sightseeing Bus.
For a slightly steep 1,300 pesos, our portal to gaining Porteña status was opened. Stops are conveniently placed all around the city, including many around Palermo where we embarked. Buses run every day; rain, wind or shine, every 20 minutes from 9am-5pm. To be honest, we couldn’t have actually looked more English if we tried. ‘‘Yeah Mum, I’m really starting to feel like a local’’ I announce on the phone, as I hear the familiar dulcet tones of Inglesas and the slightly less dulcet American accents behind. Regardless, we cruise through the leafy Manhattan-esc streets of Palermo, entering the more upmarket Recoleta while paying strict attention to the audio-guide provided. I did attempt to listen in Spanish, but when realising I had ZERO idea as to which sight I was supposed to be seeing, I reverted to English – discúlpame Profesora Martinez! With 10 languages to choose from and wheelchair access provided, it is both an accessible and fun activity for all.
As we meandered through the tour, it soon became apparent that there was history on almost every corner of the city. Whether it be reminiscent of the tragic events that took place in Plaza del Mayo, or a city which still remembers Federico García Lorca’s presentation of Bodas de Sangre at el Teatro Avenida, it is impossible not to feel somewhat inspired and overwhelmed with the illustrious history that surrounds you here. The culture is almost as rich as a Dulche de Leche, perhaps a lot to take in at first – but forever making you seek more.
‘…it soon became apparent that there was history on almost every corner of the city.’
We decided to depart the Bus at San Telmo, regarded as the ‘birthplace of tango’ by our audioguide. The streets bled with the sultry passion of the couples dance, so intrinsic to Argentine culture. While San Telmo is often known for it’s Sunday Market which sprawls over 10 blocks, Saturday’s San Telmo did far from disappoint. We warmed ourself up in the indoor Mercado de San Telmo with a large heavenly glass of Malbec, 100 pesos each I may add. Flora and I were practically dribbling at the food offered in our surroundings, with anything from the Vietnamese Saigon to the classic Argentine Asado cooked freshly in front of you. We promised ourselves and each other to return to San Telmo try these alluring delicacies soon, but with heavy hearts and empty purses we agreed it was time to go home. Cobbled streets filled with vibrant street art lead us back to the bus stop where we could commence our journey back to Palermo.
‘The streets bled with the sultry passion of the couples dance, so intrinsic to Argentine culture.’
I’m not sure I would say I now know the city like the back of my hands, but I certainly fell in love with it a little bit more – as I do everyday. My hands were doubtlessly colder, but my inkling that Buenos Aires had so much more to give than a cheap happy-hour beer had been proven correct.