Before getting to BA, I want to say something that I've learned in my months of semi-solitude. Disappointments are the result of unfulfilled expectations. When a person disappoints us, it is the same thing - our expectations for the person are unfulfilled. BUT, it is unfair to be disappointed with a person when you never told that person what your expectations were to begin with. You cannot assume people know what you expect from them. Communication is key. Even if it is uncomfortable.
So I arrived to BA and took a taxi because it was after 10pm and the Airbnb host was waiting for me. Nice apartment in the center by the corner of Lavalle and Esmeralda. I'd been battling a runny nose and cough and when I woke up Thursday morning I felt horrible. Terribly congested. I got some drugs at the farmacia and felt a little better. Just when I thought I'd encountered every type of bus system ever I arrived in BA. You need a Sube card which my host gave me. I went to the convenience store and loaded it. Then I found the right bus and got on and tried to tap my card but the bus driver wanted to know where I was going. I said oh I need to tell you that? Si. So I said "recoleta" and he said ok and I tapped my card. I'm still not sure if I'm supposed to say a general area or a specific street or what. Apparently the prices are different for where you're going because he punched a button on his end before I tapped my card. Went and checked out the Recoleta neighborhood and cemetery which is pretty ornate. People spend a small fortune to be buried there. BA is broken down into "barrios" kind of like Paris has arrondisements. Recoleta and Palermo, for example, are barrios is BA.
The bus stops. On the primary street in the center, the entire center lanes are devoted to busses and bus stops. It's easy to find a stop by the number clearly written. Finding bus stops in other places around the city isn't so simple. Sometimes there is a sign post with the bus stop number on it. At other times the number is on the side of a building or the eave of a roof. You have to know what you're looking for.
I rested all Thursday afternoon and felt much better Friday morning. One of the things I love about Buenos Aires is that all of the trees are perfectly pruned and manicured. Most all of the streets are tree lined with trees that are the height of the roof tops but they too are carefully pruned away from the buildings and thinned to give maximum beauty and light to the buildings while shading the streets. There are lots and lots of green areas for people to lounge.
One of the things I forgot to write about from Chile was using a credit card in the gas stations and grocery stores. I am not sure if it's the same here in Argentina but my guess is that it is in that there are signs on stores that talk about cuotas. On the electronic device when you confirm the amount of the purchase, you are given two options: sin cuotas or con cuotas. I knew that sin means without and con means with but I didn't understand the context of the cuotas. I finally asked a local who was able to explain that it means that if you elect con cuotas it means you can pay the bill in monthly installments so it means like payments. The cuota basically means you will elect over how many months you pay it. I believe that this option is available for credit card use for essentials such as gas and groceries in Chile. I didn't get this question on the device at restaurants or for miscellaneous items. Then I started noticing advertisements in windows for large purchases that said things like "cuotas 3 meses" which means the payments are spread over three months.
On my second day, since I was still recovering from my cold I decided on the hop on hop off bus which here in BA is operated by the city so there's only one. It was 490 Ar or about $28 and it took about 4 hours. Great tour. It went all over the city so it was a great overview.
The third day I was to take bus no 39 to Palermo which is a fun barrio with lots of shops and restaurants. Three bus 39s came at once so I got on one and said "Palermo soho" but he said no you need to get on the number 3 bus no 39. Huh? Why not just give it a different number? Geesh. I had to get off and get on a different bus 39. Then I got off too early (there are no announcements of any sort of upcoming stops or where the bus is and when you use the website to find which bus to take it doesn't tell you which stop to get off at. You just have to know by looking out the window) and had to walk about half a mile to where I was going. I walked around for a while and found a nice outdoor cafe where I had a sandwich. Just to throw in my face how SAT ish I am, the no 3 bus 39 passed by my table about 15 times as I ate my lunch and every time I laughed since I had to walk a considerable distance to get there from where I'd gotten off the bus. I also walked over to the Arcos outlet mall but it was pretty much just the same as one of ours so I took a different bus to Recoleta near the cemetery where there was an outdoor artisan fair as it was Saturday. I looked around and bought a few things and headed back. Later, I walked down to Florida street just a few blocks away from my apartment which is bustling with shoppers. Lots of stores and there is also the Gallerias Pacificas which is a very upscale shopping mall. Beautiful inside and includes frescoes painted on the cupola ceiling. But I didn't think much of their stores. No stores with professional clothing for women and the stores with handbags were all the same kind of stuff you'd get in a mall store in the US. Nothing unique about anything.
Sunday most stores are closed but there are two fantastic things to do. I first took a bus to La Feria de Matadores, a place recommended by my Airbnb hosts but not even mentioned in the Fodor's travel guide for the city. It's about an hour bus ride but well worth it (vale la pena). Here is an artisan festival every Sunday complete with food and craft vendors. In the center is a stage where local gauchos give the historia of the gaucho tradition in Argentina. This is followed by traditional dancers. I was only there for a few hours but apparently there are different things on stage all day. The crafts were local and unique. This was well worth the ride out. Then, I went to San Telmo, where there is a huge antiquities fair at the Plaza Dorrego and then artisanal fair stretching down Calle Defensa at least a mile. I thought it would never end but I loved the unique crafts and things for sale and the throngs of people out for the day browsing. There were also a lot of shops open with both antiques and other things. There were also both organized and unorganized street musicians along the way. At the end, at Plaza de Mayo, there was a huge stage set up with a musical group performing and hundreds of people were gathered listening. There was a regional fair, with booths with regional wines, olives, other food and drinks and other items along the streets. I think this latter fair is not every Sunday but happened to be this particular Sunday because it's a three day weekend here.