Buenos Aires

3rd Oct 2016 - 14th Dec 2016. 10 weeks.
44,047km travelled. 10,922km travelled excluding flights.

Flew down from Rio.

The hostel was a bit noisy and the beds weren't great but I was only there for three nights.

I got an apartment for 750 USD/month. It was in Villa Crispo but just outside Palermo, about 100m away. I spent most of my time in Palermo. The apartment was okay but not great. I probably could have gotten a better, cheaper place if I could speak Spanish.

South America was colonised by Spain and Portugal starting in the late 15th century. The Argentinian War of Independence was fought between 1810-1818 after Napoleon invades Spain. There were various civil wars between the Buenos Aires province and others until 1861 over excessive centralism by Buenos Aires leaders. The country remained stable in the decades after this and absorbed huge numbers of European immigrants, mostly from Spain and Italy. It was the 7th wealthiest nation at the turn of the 20th century and the 5th biggest exporter (wheat and beef were the top exports). From Wikipedia:

In the 1930s, Argentina was affected by the Great Depression and the military took over power. A fraudulent election was held in 1931 but the military shortly took over again. They jailed the welfare minister, Juan Domingo Peron, who was popular with workers. He was later released after public outcry and later won the elections in 1946. He nationalised industries, improved wages and conditions, paid off external government debt and achieved near full employment. His opponents saw him as a populist and a national corporatist. The economy began to decline in the 1950s after over expenditure. His second wife, Eva Peron, pushed for universal sufferage and social programs to take care of the vulnerable. She passed away from cancer in 1952. The navy tried to kill him in 1955 and he was forced into exile after a military coup a few months later.

His political party (known as the Peronists) was banned but this was later relaxed. There was another coup, followed by another election, followed by another coup in 1966 which led to an indefinite military control. Between 1976 and 1983 there were various coups and governments with various guerrilla terrorists groups and political parties being banned. Around 15,000-30,000 people were killed. Peron returned from exile and won the 1973 elections but died in 1974 and was succeeded by his third wife, Isabel Peron. She was ousted by the military after a year. The military was forced from power in 1983 after losing the Falklands War.

After poor economic conditions and hyperinflation, democracy was restored in 1989 and Peronists took over again. They persued deregulation, privatisation and removed protectionist barriers. These policies were continued despite worsening conditions until 2001 when capital flight forced bank account freezes, leading to riots and the government to default on its debt. Nestor Kirchner was elected in 2002 and his policies help to end the economic crisis and led to steep GDP growth. His wife, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, succeeded him in 2007 and was relected in 2011. Currency controls were imposed again and the government fell into default again in 2014. She was replaced by the conservative Mauricio Macri in 2015, the first non-radical or Peronist to be elected since 1916. He removed currency controls as well as export tarrifs and quotas. He suspended and then resumed the publication of economic data tarnished by accusations of manipulation by his predecessor. He introduced austerity measures to tackle inflation and public deficits, although it is unclear whether they are working with inflation now at 40%.

Buenos Aires is the capital city and has a population of 12.7m, almost one third of the country's 43m. It has the second largest economy in South America and third largest in Latin America. It was spring while I was there and was generally quite pleasant, around 20-25°C during the day and 15-20°C at night.

The nearby Palermo area was more residential with low rise buildings compared to the city. There are a lot of clothes shops, furniture stores, cafes, restaurants and some galleries. A lot of the buildings had nice painted exteriors. There were some more run down streets. There were some tv production companies near my apartment that seemed to keep warehouses of props that were occassionally on the move. Palermo was more built up nearer the river.

The metro (known as the Subte) was the first in the southern hemisphere in 1913. The buses are quite good and cheap too. I saw one or two roads to nowhere.

I took some Spanish lessons (20 hours a week at 190 USD/week). I found Spanish easier to pick up than Vietnamese or Cantonese.

Jardín Japones (Japanese Gardens)

Jardín Botánico (Botanical Gardens)

Monumento de los Españoles, Plaza Holanda, Paseo del Rosedal (Rose Garden Walk)

National Congress, Congressional Plaza

Plaza de Mayo, Piramide de Mayo, Casa Rosada, Metropolitan Cathedral

Avenida 9 de Julio, Obelisco

Plaza San Martin, Torre Monumental

Teatro Colon. Buenos Aires has more theatres than any other city.

The Water Company Palace

El Ateneo Grand Splendid book store in an old theatre.

Palacio Barolo building

Puerto Madero area, Puente de la Mujer (Women's bridge)

Buque Museo Corbeta A.R.A. "Uruguay" (Corbeta Museum Ship)

Florida Street, Galerias Pacifico

Recoleta area, La Recoleta Cemetery, Floralis Generica, Iglesia Ntra. Sra. Del Pilar church

San Telmo market, Dorrego Plaza, Palermo markets, Recoleta market

MALBA art museum

Museo Histórico Nacional del Cabildo y la Revolución de Mayo

Museo Evita. Eva Peron was an actress and radio star and later social and women's rights activist who was married to the president (Peron). She helped women get the right to vote and set up a lot of schools and social programmes. She was very popular and was running to become the Vice President (a Peron-Peron ticket) but she became ill and died shortly afterwards.

Museo Histórico Nacional (National Historical Museum), Parque Lezama

I got to see a bit of protest by some left wing group.

Lunes Bomba en Konex percussion show

Fuerza Bruta, a sort of light, music and acrobatics "experience"

Tango show in Esquina Homero Manzi

Mate is a herb that you drink a bit like tea. It's more of a social thing where everyone shares the special cup and straw and it is common for people to have with friends at home, sitting out in a park, etc.

The local restaurants are mainly parillas (steakhouses) so there are lots of steaks (roughly €13 in a restaurant), wine (€10 for a bottle of Malbec in a restaurant). Pizza, pasta and empanadas (beef or cheese stuffed pastries) are also popular. There were lots of cafes and restaurants open. Dinner is usually not eaten until 9pm (or 10-11pm on weekends). There were are lot of American style burger places too, at least in Palermo. Asado refers to a barbeque, usually in the form of a family or friend orientated meal at the weekend.