In the last few weeks, I have relatively cycled a big amount of kilometers before I arrived into the beautiful city center of Salta. Next year in March, I will fly from Ushuaia to Europe, probably via Buenos Aires. However, it’s unlikely that I’ll visit the city of Buenos Aires in this transit. I really wanted to know Buenos Aires, so I decided to do that now. I could leave my bicycle and luggage in the hotel where I was staying and took a plane on an early Tuesday morning. I flew with Flybondi, which is Argentinian low-cost airline, and arrived around 10:00 AM.
The family that I met in Jujuy told me that they have family in Buenos Aires who are willing to receive me there. That’s how I got into contact with this family and we agreed upon meeting each other this Tuesday.
The life and the pace of this life in Buenos Aires was really something I had to get used to, it’s not comparable with cities like La Paz or Cuzco. Buenos Aires is a highly modern metropolis and that’s something I hadn’t seen for a long time. I took a train from the airport to the city center and checked on Google Maps how I could reach the apartment of the family I was about to meet. I felt kind of lost in this massive city and was searching the streets for bus ‘D’, the one that Google Maps told me I should take. I couldn’t find it and didn’t understand why there weren’t any bus stations. It turned out to be a metro, instead of a bus 😊. That possibility didn’t even cross my mind. I wanted to buy a ticket but that was impossible, they only work with cards. Modern society, jezus…. I even needed help to pass the entry gates, I felt incredibly stupid. You get used to it really quickly, though. In the days that followed, I was using the metro quasi-casual as if I’d lived in the city for years.
At the end of this morning, I reached the centrally located apartment of the family, consisting of mother Marcela, father Alberto and two daughters Aby and Victoria. I received a very warm welcome and immediately felt at home. I stayed here for a couple of days and have seen a lot of the city. I’ve been walking for hours and hours through the immensely big city center and visited several squares, parks and museums. I also visited the football stadium of Boca Juniors, located in the middle of the residential area of Bocas.
In my opinion, this is a funny combination between New-York's Times Square and the Washington monument in D.C.
A picture from a stadium tour of Boca Juniors
Buenos Aires is one of the most beautiful cities that I’ve ever seen, the architecture is really impressive and there is just so much to see and do. I liked the ambiance of the city, in general. The urban life is clearly more individual, people are staring at their phones while walking through the streets, look weird at you if you greet them and everybody seems to be in a hurry, always. People are running to the metro as if their lives depend on it, while the next one will arrive 4 minutes later. Despite this price that you apparently have to pay for living in a big buzzing city, I could see myself living here for a year or two. I feel like I’ve only seen a fraction of what the city actually has to offer.
A couple of days later, I took a boat from Buenos Aires to Uruguay, because I wanted to see Montevideo. Just because. Buenos Aires is so close to Montevideo, it would be stupid not to go there. The boat left Buenos Aires at the beginning of the evening and reached Colonia del Sacramento an hour later. I stayed here for one night and met Laura, a Colombian girl that also just arrived here. She only has one week to travel and is returning to Buenos Aires tomorrow in the afternoon already. It happened to be her birthday, so I felt responsible to make it stick! We had a couple of beers at night and had a very luxurious lunch with many varieties of meat. Uruguay is supposedly known for its high quality of meat, and I can agree with that after this lunch!
Buquebus, one of the two companies that offer connection between Argentina and Uruguay
Birthday girl Laura
Around 4 PM, we said goodbye and she took the boat back to Buenos Aires, while I took the bus to Nueva helvecia. About three weeks ago, I met a guy from Uruguay in northern Argentina and he told me that I could stay at the house of his family. So I reached out to his family and we agreed to meet in the village where they live, Nueva helvecia, in English that would mean New Switserland. Many Swiss, German and Austrian people immigrated here a long time ago and that’s why the village is called like that. These roots are still visible today, as the village is known for its dairy production. They even sell apfelstrüdels, traditional pastries from these European countries. Daughter Melani was waiting for me at the bus terminal and we walked to their house just outside the village, basically in the campsite. That’s how I met the family, consisting of mother Paola and three kids. The father doesn’t live with them anymore, but lives a few blocks away. This family gave me another very warm welcome and I could spend two nights with them to see how a typical Uruguayan family lives. An amazing experience.
Flags on the square of Nueva Helvecia show the immigration history (UHD picture...)
After two nights, I took the first bus of the day to Montevideo and reached it at 10:00 AM on a Sunday morning. Apperently, shops do not open in Montevideo on Sunday since everything was closed. Montevideo is really a village in comparison with a city like Buenos Aires, it seems like there is not much to see or do. Groups of friends gathered along the ramblas, some kind of boulevard around the old city, to fish and drink some mate together. Mate is some kind of tea without using a teabag, they just fill a cup with herbs and pour water in this cup out of there thermo bottle. They drink it with a metal straw. The importance of mate in the Uruguayan culture may not be underestimated, at least half of the population is always walking on the street with a thermo bottle under their arms. It’s really funny to see.
After about two days in Montevideo, I took the bus+boat back to Buenos Aires, which took me about 4/5 hours. I stayed another night in Buenos Aires before I took the plane back to Salta. I have been very lucky again with the families that were willing to receive me for a couple of nights and this has made my side-trip unforgettable. I have not been cycling for about 10 days so I was really pumped to get going again. It’s like a mental addiction that I have, I just have to have exercise. It’s not the worst addiction to have, though!
Fishing on Montevideo's Ramblas on a sunny Sunday
A random Sunday afternoon in the city center
A random Monday afternoon
Montevideo's independence square
The rising sun on the day that I left Buenos Aires
One last view on Buenos Aires
This was my fortieth (!) blog. Let’s make it to number fifty, at least! In the meantime, I have left Salta already but I will save those experiences for the next blog. If you have made it all the way to this last sentence, I would like to congratulate you and thank you for taking the time to read about my travels.