December 5, 2006

Megalopolis
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Having only been in Buenos Aires for about 24 hours my opinions of the place are still forming, but one thing is for certain—this city is absolutely massive.

Regardless of how much European or colonial architectural flare urban cities have, the vast stretches of gray concrete still feel cold to me. I miss the vibrant pastel colors of homes and buildings found in the Caribbean—everything seemed so cheery. I'd love to see a lime-green skyscraper or a purple parking garage here, just for kicks.

I spent the afternoon spidering around a large section of the city around me. Walking around for hours on end, familiarizing myself with the immediate surroundings, has been a consistent habit of mine for the past year. I love to photograph the stencil graffiti found in South America, it's great. Today I wandered even further than normal, encouraged by the hostel hunting I was engaging in.

Hostels in this town remind me of the accommodations found in the capital of Costa Rica. They are priced about the same (AR$24–30 or US$8–10/night), are found in the heart of the city (some requiring an elevator or stairwell climb to reach), well worn, eclectically decorated, established, and party-centric. I've seen this scene many times before—most often in traveler entry/exit hub cities.

I'm going repeat myself in a few days, but if Bolivia is the equivalent of Guatemala in South America, Argentina's definitely going to be Costa Rica. CR is full of Americans, Argentina is full of Europeans (influencing the culture).

Tonight will be my second (and final) night staying at the Lime House. My upper-limit is about AR$20/night in Argentina (which is actually what I've been consistently spending on accommodations), and paying AR$24 (about US$8) isn't making me smile. When I can buy a large cut of quality steak for AR$3 or less, it puts that small US$1 difference in perspective.

Price of the bunk bed withstanding, Lime House also has a rule that really turns me off from living here—no outside alcohol. Some hostels function more like bars with beds for visitors to pass out drunk on, rather than a place to live. Lime House loves to make money off the binge-drinkers by supplying them with marked-up drinks. I, on the other hand, who wants to cook a steak and drink wine with my meal, cannot (unless I put up a fight). Not the environment I'm going to live in.

Some of the hostels visited today included:

  • Urbano Hostel—city street views atop this 6th floor hostel are nice, but the cramped, eight year old hostel is really showing its age. I wonder how many drunks have fallen down the antiquated, manual gate-door elevator shaft.
  • Hostel Nómade—the cheapest of the bunch at AR$20/night, but the place is visually stark and underwhelming. Plus I'm not sure I'm thrilled with the San Telmo part of town.
  • Carlos Gardel Hostel—also in San Telmo, has a nice living space with low quality bunks and cramped bathrooms. AR$22/night for the 10-person shared room.
  • Hostel Clan—my choice for tomorrow's relocation. More expensive than most others (AR$25/night), but week-long stays give you the seventh night free (bringing the price down to about US$7 per night). No bunk beds (all single beds stand alone), as well as providing the standard BsAs offerings (some type of free carbohydrate for breakfast and complimentary Internet access).

City streets are incredibly noisy here in Argentina—I'm told there are no muffler laws. Almost every room I've stayed at in this country has had terrible noise pollution pouring in from the street 24-hours a day. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for my new accommodations tomorrow.

Comments:

Tom Heimburger

December 7th, 2006

Regarding your photos of the "massive metal flower"…did you know that it closes at night and opens in the morning?

Argentina

Craig | travelvice.com

December 8th, 2006

Laura from Rosario says it's broken… :)

Esa flor gigante de metal que viste, es el Monumento a la Flor. Cuando la hicieron, supuestamente se cerraba al atardecer, cuando bajaba el sol, y volvía a abrirse al amanecer. Pero, al ser un invento argentino , dejo de funcionar hace un tiempo ya :P haha..

Did you see it closed when you were here?

Anonymous

December 8th, 2006

hey! i was taking a look at your writings from argentina and i saw my name and i said wow:| what am i doing there? ahahaha..
Yes..well.. the flower doesnt work anymore :P .. it's just there..looking nice :P
Keep on writing.. it's nice reading about your opinion about my country :)
Besos!

Argentina

Craig | travelvice.com

December 9th, 2006

I drove by the flower tonight and guess what, it's working! …kinda sorta. Most of the pedals closed inward, but some were stuck further out than others. A good laugh, given your comment. :D

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