It’s been so great to have friends visiting…BsAs is such a lovely city to share.
Not as old as Istanbul or car centric as Miami or Seattle, BsAs manages to be an easy and small city to navigate in, whether walking or taking a bus or taxi.
BsAs has 48 different barrios, [neighborhoods].
Some that have gotten to know as Palermo, Boeda Recoleta, Puerto Madero, Belgrano, Flores, San Telmo, La Boca, Caballito Monserrat, Vella Crespo, Almargo and Balvanera. But a lot are unknown to me. All barrios are connected with the transportation system called the Sube. There are trains, buses and a subway.
I live in Recoleta and love it. This barrio is centrally located with wide boulevards, lots of trees and beautiful old buildings and very safe to walk around at night. As we usually get home from a Milonga at 2AM.
I take either the 102 or 17 colectivo (bus) anywhere I need to go in the city.
Yes, it took time to figure out where to get a card (any Şube train station)
how to reload (any store with a Şube sign in window, providing the system or machine is working)
and then figuring out how to use Google maps transit to identify your route as where you board the bus, and you must tell driver your exit stop.
Then he figures out the fare, you place your card on the little blue machine located either by the side of driver or behind the driver. The machine creaks out a beep as an acknowledgement that you have paid the fare.
Whew!!! The process is exhausting to learn and then understand and use.
Once you do the work and understand the system you can ride anywhere in the city for 38 pesos (approximately .11 cents US). It’s a marvelous working system.
We went on a train trip to Tigre, another city about an hour north of BsAs. The cost of the roundtrip was 76 pesos (. 24 cents US).
It’s very safe and usually pretty clean. Some lines have different vendors selling food, drink or wearables. These vendors have voices that are unique and harmonious or loud and bellicose adding another layer of sound to the train. But no vendors are on the bus! Usually.
So imagine my surprise, when my visiting Kiwi friends mentioned casually they used taxis to get around everywhere in the city.
I thought hmmm. Why?
One of the important things about living in a city is to be local. That is my quirk.
What is more local than using a bus or train?
With my help, my friends learned to use the bus and I think they enjoyed the experience. In their homeland, bus service has shrunk after covid, as there are not enough drivers.
In BsAs, I noticed this odd phenomenon…not only does one bus arrives, but usually it’s 3 in a row. Why? Who knows!
So the chance to get a bus is pretty much guaranteed. If you miss one, just wait a few minutes and one will arrive.
We take buses to shop, we take buses to meet other friends for dinner and we take buses to Milongas.
But late at night, service is not very frequent. We are usually unwilling to wait 20 or 30 minutes at the bus stop, so we then take a taxi.
Getting back to living in the city, I like my experiences to be as a local. Finding my neighborhood coffee place, my small fruit and vegetable vendor. A charcuterie. A couple of local restaurants, maybe even a book store.
Getting to know the vendors, and being able to greet them and engage in a bit of chatter is important as it creates a sense of belonging in a place.
And we all need to feel as if we belong in a place, as it breaks down the barriers of isolation.
So when I travel to new, different places that I will live in, the initial places I discover are a place for coffee. Then the small market, a gluten free bakery, the butcher, the fruit stand etc. Once done, I feel home in whatever city I am in. Then I am local.
And when I am local, I feel as I am living my best life.