As we continue to immerse ourselves in all that Buenos Aires has to offer, each day we give considerable thought to navigating our route to a new destination. The easy way out is to take one of the more than 40,000 taxis – they’re inexpensive and probably the faster option. The thing is, we have nothing but time. And it’s easy to miss some of the sights as you’re whizzing through the city at a break-neck speed. Other times, we don’t have a destination in mind. Each day, we lace up our shoes and head out in a new direction. In fact, our most common mode of transportation is under our own steam.
There are many things to take into account when you are walking in the city. Sidewalks are in a constant state of construction. Great swathes of paving stones are heaving from the roots of giant trees planted long ago. Because you need to constantly look down to avoid a nasty trip, you’re also likely to avoid what dogs (actually, dog owners) may have left behind.
Crossing the street requires that you look to see if there are any cars coming. Sure, they have signals for pedestrians at most intersections, but you stand out as a tourist if you don’t just cross with everyone else when the coast is clear. Most streets are one-way, so it’s easy to venture across, weaving between the oncoming cars. That said, it’s not nearly as tricky to cross a street as it was during our trip to Vietnam.
Each time I cross the street against the light, it eases the frustration I felt in Calgary for getting a jaywalking ticket downtown crossing a small, two-lane street.
I mentioned in a earlier post that we have made extensive use of the subway system (Subte). Clean and frequent, but at times, EXTREMELY crowded. Public transit is heavily subsidized by the government. Each journey is about four pesos (~ CAD$0.40).
From our balcony we can see (and hear) a commuter train shuttling locals from the burbs to various stops into and out of the city. Earlier this week, one of our morning adventure involved hopping on the train at the station about 10 minutes from our apartment to see where it would take us. It turns out, the debit card we use for the subway system also works for the commuter trains. The train cars are new and air-conditioned. We chose the line heading into the city. It took us to the main terminal at Retiro station, which is very close to the regentrified port area, called Puerto Madero. Remarkably, the train is cheaper than the subway.
A few days later, so intrigued with our initial commuter train experience, we hopped the outbound train to the end of the line at Tigre – about 40 minutes away on the Paraná Delta. Tigre is a very cool little city with a large amusement park and a beautiful art museum, both of which we will explore more with visiting friends and family over the coming months.
Thus far we haven’t used any taxis. There will be a time when we need to take one, likely when we’re out late and walking isn’t advisable or the subways and trains have stopped running. But until then, we’re more than content to continue traveling as we have been.