28 September 2015

Argentina - Buenos Aires on the Open Top Bus

Buenos Aires
Today we braved the cold and rain to explore the city via the Hop on Hop off bus.
This tour gives one an overview of the city and takes about 3 hours if you stay on board for the duration.
Buenos Aires is a melting pot of old Colonial architecture, high rise apartments, horrid, decrepit areas that look very unsavoury plus the better, more expensive areas where one can spot the professional "dog walkers". Handling at least 6 dogs, all on individual leads must take some doing in the traffic of Buenos Aires!
This city has many statues and memorials plus very many museums. The dramatic change in the centre today, from Sunday, was the sheer volume of people scurrying about as if they are all late for a very important meeting. One has to wonder where all these locals are dashing to in their sombre outfits?
Traffic is also manic with everybody in a hurry to be somewhere important. For me, a slower pace of life is much better! Who wants to be chasing the rainbow either on foot or in a vehicle? It's no wonder that the city is deserted over week-ends as the locals take to Palermo parks or the long walk in Puerto Madera  where the vendors do such a roaring trade. Apartment living? Even upmarket?

With just a balcony pot plant as your garden? Nope, not for me.
Seeing some elderly folk walking gingerly along in the more down trodden areas of Buenos Aires makes one realise the great divide in the income and social brackets of this immense city.
However,  there are extremely beautiful areas further out of the city with palatial homes that even feature GARDENS!!!
This is where I would feel happier rather than in the concrete jungle, even the upmarket one in Puerto Madera!
Pope Francis hails from Buenos Aires and has recently visited Cuba and USA to promote peace and goodwill. Let's hope the message reaches worldwide!
Soccer is alive and well in the city with the Boca Juniors who play in blue and yellow plus the River Plate who play in red and white. Both stadiums can be toured.

The river Plate is the widest river on the world being 220 km at some point. It looks like a sea as one cannot see land on the other side! Only problem is that's it's brown. The river water is purified in Buenos Aires and makes up their water supply. The brown colour is due to clay from the upper regions of the river plus minerals. No swimming is allowed in this river although apparently some folk do ignore this rule during the heat of summer.
Argentina is made up of 24 provinces and each has their own government. So laws are different!

The main fuel stations in the country are YPF. Apparently, the government sold all the national assets in the 1990's but have now bought them all back again! 
Schooling in compulsory in Argentina and English is taught at all Government schools. It must be fairly rudimentary as not many citizens speak English.
Private schools are expensive but offer certificates from different countries for languages which assists those persons  looking to deal with tourists in Argentina.
Many of the private schools are Roman Catholic.
Subsides do exist in certain areas of the city on electricity and gas. But if you live in the more upmarket areas there are no subsides!

Taxes are also targeted at the rich with Property and Income Tax. Sales tax is currently 21% and affects all. Tax on higher end cars such as Audi and Mercedes Benz are also higher! 
A Presidential election is coming up soon - there are 6 candidates and the winner must have at least 45% with the next in line at about 35%. If there is no clear winner then there is a second round of voting featuring only the top 2. Seems a fair way to elect a president.
Motor bike riders are supposed to have their number plate numbers either on the helmet or jacket - however, not everybody abides by this rule!
A melting pot of many people and many things, this city!

© Judelle Drake

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