Wandering Alone in a Huge City

On monday Asa had some work that he wanted to do so I decided that I would go ahead and explore more of Buenos Aires on my own.

I spent a while reading reviews of tourist attractions and figuring out when things were open. I decided to head out walking toward the botanical gardens. It sounded like a nice quiet spot where I might be able to do some drawing. Monday was an Argentinian national holiday so everything was closed, but that didn’t stop the still numerous people on the streets from window shopping.

It took me almost an hour to walk from the downtown area to the botanical gardens, but the weather was nice and the walk was pleasant.

The botanical gardens are free, which I found can have its ups and downs. An up is that it’s free! A down is that anyone and everyone can get in. When I got there almost every bench was full and only the ones in front of mud puddles or in the sun were empty. There is a central building and a greenhouse, but the day I was there both were closed. There were several sculptures and water features, but none very impressive. It was just a nice fenced-in park. I walked through and went on my way.

I strolled back toward the cultural center and Recoleta cemetery. On my way I passed by the city’s central library and an impressively large sculpture of Evita in front of it. I wandered through the street fair in the park again and centered my sites on the cemetery, this time with the desire to do some drawing. I meandered through the rows of mausoleums and finally settled on some nice statues. About an hour later, with pictures drawn, I headed back to the hotel by way of the grocery store again.

The next day, a tuesday, the Museo de Nacional de Bellas Artes was open. I headed there after an adventure to the post office which was around the corner from our hotel. I was delayed there for about 20 minutes because I had to take a number and wait in line to send my 10 postcards to the states. For anyone interested, it cost about $1.50 US to send each post card and hopefully they will get to you lucky ones soon!

Anyway, back to the art museum. I was impressed with it’s collection. Although small, it was well-rounded and interesting. They had a very nice collection of small Rhodin sculptures (about 15 in total), and paintings by Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Degas, Gauguin, and Renoir to name just a few. They also had an interesting temporary exhibit featuring drawings and paintings from the “Claridad” magazine which featured prominently in the socialist and anarchist movement in Argentina in the 1920’s and 1930’s. This museum is well worth the free entry fee!

This sums up my tourist activities in Buenos Aires. Things that I would like to do if we get a chance to go back include a tour of the Casa Rosada (which are given in spanish or english), explore the sunday market/fair in San Telmo, and see the La Boca neighborhood with it’s brightly painted houses and street performers. Until next time!

Preparation: A Whole New Beast

The longest trip away from home that I ever took lasted about 2 months. I don’t remember doing anything special. I stuffed all my clothes in a backpack and went. I didn’t have trip insurance, I didn’t look into special health care options, I didn’t cancel my mail or sell my car, I didn’t worry about how to get money, and I certainly didn’t try to learn any new languages. This trip is a whole new beast.

Below is an account of only some of the organizational things we have thought of in preparation for our trip:

Permanent residence: We do not own a house and I imagine there are very few reasons why someone would be compelled to maintain two rentals simultaneously. So we moved out of our rental house. Our nearest family lives in an adjacent state. Graciously, we were allowed to store the aftermath of our minimalist endeavors in their garage. We changed our permanent residence to match the location of our stuff. Some things we had to consider were: Change of addresses (U.S. Postal Service can be done online for a $1 fee and they will forward your mail for up to a year), driver’s licenses (A note from a family member confirming that we were actually moving in and two bills in their name seemed to be sufficient), voter registration (can be done at the DMV), and car registration (we decided that selling our cars would be a better option).

Health Insurance: It turns out that health insurance must match the state in which you are a permanent resident, so we had to make some changes. We enlisted the help of a health insurance agent who was certified through a variety of agencies. He was able to put together various quotes for different policies and look into policies that specialize in international travel (without any success). European health care is familiar with insurance companies in the United States, but we were told all bets were off in other areas of the world (i.e. the ones we’ll be visiting). We will probably have to pay up front for any medical care and file claims with our insurance later. We are currently looking into additional trip insurance with a medical evacuation rider in case we need to get back to the states in an emergency.

Money: ATM fees, international credit card fees, international bank fees? We are currently undecided as to the best and cheapest way to get our money abroad. We have been told from other reliable world travelers that getting as much cash out of an ATM at a time and doing this as infrequently as possible is a good way to keep a handle on fees. Also we’ve been told to avoid using credit cards because the fees are really high, although at this point it’s just hearsay. Also, if you are going to order currency prior to your trip you can do so through your local bank, but it could take up to two weeks for “unpopular” countries.

Again, these are just a few of the things that we’ve thought of before our trip. There are numerous other things that we have either thought of and dismissed, or haven’t thought of and will come back to haunt us in one way or another.