Time to look back on my trip to Buenos Aires a few weeks ago and what I thought of the city, the title may spoil my overall thoughts on the trip, but let’s jump into the details.
From the moment I stepped off the Turkish Airlines flight, I’d have to say that this trip ranks somewhere in the bottom of all the destinations I’ve visited to date. After clearing customs, you walk through an area with a bunch of taxi companies who immediately badger you to come make use of their company over the guy next to them. This was a hint to how I would be treated for much of the trip. After passing through into the main part of the arrivals area, I quickly located my taxi company.
Hitting up the ATM, I took out some money to pay for the taxi. The taxi is all pre-paid and can only be done in cash. Right after this, I was led out to the taxi and jumped into a really crappy car, Taxi Ezezia, and the man stood with his hand out waiting for me to tip him… I’ve never experienced this any other place. It’s this odd situation of trying to make you feel awkward enough to pay him for his service of grabbing my luggage out of my hands and walking me 50ft to the taxi stand. The entire interchange was uncomfortable, but at least my driver was good. The same cannot be said about the insane driver I had on the return to the airport.
After and evening in the hotel, the next day was rainy and I limited my walking around for some time. When I did go out, it immediately struck me that sidewalks were poorly maintained, buildings were old and run down. The entire city had a feeling or uncomfort for me. I can’t place it since Seoul was similary run down in certain areas but I never felt uncomfortable in Seoul. The only conclusion I could come to was the difference in how people treat you.
As an example, while walking through a downtown shopping area, I stopped in a store to look at some post cards. As you may recall, I get a postcard in every city I visit for my niece. As I was looking, a woman approached me and said something to me in Spanish. I removed my headphones and she repeated it. At that time I tried to explain that I don’t speak Spanish. At the point she was really annoyed and repeated it again. At that point I just turned around and walked out feeling like I was no longer welcome there.
This exchange in a little shop, this exemplified how I felt the entire trip, just like people were not happy, they weren’t willing to work with me, and were just generally rude. I can’t say everyone is that way, hotel staff were fantastic, but outside of that I felt like everyone was annoyed with me everywhere I went. An odd feeling to have, and one that ruins the entire experience.
There are some nice areas of Buenos Aires, but I really must say that the city attempting to tout itself as the Paris of South America is roughly equivalent to me calling my apartment the Taj Mahal of North America, it’s a huge stretch. Buenos Aires does have the European feel, if you focus on really small sections of the city, a block or two here, but turn onto the huge main road through the center of the city and you run into 90% of the buildings being run down. Roads are lined by little convenience store, not the shopping you see in France. As much time as I spend in France, I can definitively say that Buenos Aires does not feel like France.
On my way back to the airport I was with a crazy driver in start of rush hour traffic and he was not a good driver. Fast driving, shoving into small spaces, and going really really fast. Once I arrived at the airport, that was a relief and finally it was time to leave the city. I’ve never before wanted to leave a place like I did with Buenos Aires. My suggestion to avoid the city, while I did find some minor gems, the overall experience was unappealing. Avoid if you can.