Greetings! Please, ignore the blog's url, this is more than just Julia's abroad blog. Yes, she's been the primary contributor thus far, but here I am to make my presence known. Here are my initial thoughts pertaining to our daylong journey to and first 24 hours in Buenos Aires:
First and foremost, I was truly amazed at the ease with which we arrived in BA. As many of you know, my last international flight was a complete disaster - multiple delays in foggy Londontown, sprinting through Heathrow, barely escaping staying overnight in that hellhole, and permanently lost baggage from which I have yet to fully recover. In contrast, yesterday's flight was a breeze. Our plane from New York to Panama City, Panama left maybe 15 minutes late, no long line upon arriving in Panama, instant transfer to our flight to BA, a smooth flight into Argentina, no visa trouble at immigration or customs (which we walked right through), all our baggage intact, and a taxi straight to our hostel's door followed by a un lomo maravilloso (a marvelous steak, for non-Spanish speakers). In all, it was everything I could have asked for.
When reading up on Buenos Aires in preparation for our trip, I noticed that one of the principle avenues in BA, Avenida del 9 de julio, was one of the widest boulevards in the world. And sure enough, it's freaking huge! Six lanes of traffic on each side of the median. It was so wide that we failed to traverse the entire street before the lights changed, which is not uncommon. I feel like a country bumpkin by marveling at the breadth of a city street, but it was noticeably larger than Broadway, the Champs Élysées, La Castellana (insert any street in a large/foreign city that displays the fact that you're the least bit familiar with metropolises at home and abroad), or any other street I've ever been on.
As Julia mentioned, our guidebook misled us into believing lunch was going to be both delicious and cheap, when it only ended up being the former. Don't get me wrong, it was not outrageously expensive, just more than we expected (I will get back to the price of goods in a moment). However, it did bring us to a tree with a huge trunk with what seemed like dozens of thick branches. I liken to a shorter version of Rafiki's home in The Lion King. I'm not sure of this picture does the tree justice, but it's the best I could do at the time. I would have been content to jump the fence and climb the fence and climb the tree for the rest of the afternoon, but instead we ventured over to the nearby cemetery, which was impressive. Still, I was creeped out by so many visible/deteriorating coffins and cheeky animals following us throughout a maze of monuments to the dead.Last but not least, I must remark on the relative cheapness of food down here. As I was told prior to coming, you can dine on incredible beef and wine for around twenty dollars a meal, when a steak this good might cost you twice that in the US depending on where you're eating. Granted, some goods (namely, those depending on heightened technology) are more expensive down here than back home, but otherwise, we will definitely be able save some money down here, especially on food. For example, the total cost of our dinner tonight, which includes fresh pasta, .5kg of sausage direct from the butcher, and a bottle of red wine cost us less than seven dollars. That's not seven dollars each, but seven dollars total! That wouldn't buy us an appetizer at a nice restaurant in the US, but here it gets us a high quality homemade dinner. And while we were in the supermarket, I noticed something quite amazing on the rack:
If you can't tell, those are large bottles (at least two pints) of Stella Artois, and at first glance, the sign underneath reading "$ 4,29" might seem appropriate, given what appears to be an American dollar symbol. But your eyes fool you, for the Argentinian peso uses the same symbol but is worth around a third of it's value, making this bottle of delicious beer (gasp) less than $1.50. Please, do not take this as any indication that I am or will become an alcoholic thanks to a favorable exchange rate, but seriously, $1.50 for two pints of Stella! It would cost you at least ten times that at most bars! And to top it off, Stella is cheaper than water! Truth be told, we bought no Stella and lots of water, but it remains a prominent example, amongst others, of how we will be able to eat and drink well for a small fraction of the American price in Buenos Aires. And you know how you can capitalize on these delectable deals? Come visit! If you do, chances are I'll still be in shock of how cheap it is.