Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Favourite Buenos Aires Activity #6: Take the Bus

The buses in Buenos Aires are outstanding for so many reasons. First, they cost next-to-nothing. We've never paid more than 35¢ to get all the way across town. Second, there are literally hundreds of them, and no matter where you are and where you want to go, there's a bus for you. Third, the buses here are pimped out! Not only are they all adorned with various etched mirrors and fuzzy dice, the driver is often rocking out to loud 80s tunes. Some even have UV lights! It's just like when I used to go rollerskating at Super Skate 7 in grade 9, only I don't have to worry about falling on my ass. Although sometimes I do worry that the bus is going to hit someone, because they go pretty fast and don't leave a lot of room for error.

The bus system can be a little challenging to decipher at first. You need a Guia "T" (pronounced "gia tay"), which can be purchased at kioskos downtown and near the main bus terminal for a few dollars. The Guia "T" is a guide to all the buses in Buenos Aires. As a bonus, its cover illustrates a plethora of fonts and design principles!

The Guia "T" has a website, but it's been Coming Soon! for a while now. There's another site, though, called Como Viajo, that lets you enter your starting and destination points and tells you which buses or metro lines to take. It has terrible maps but other than that it's just fine.

The main drawback of taking the bus is that you have to have monedas, or coins, which can be hard to come by. We hoard coins just for this purpose, and possibly also to give Ken something to do (he likes to stack them neatly by denomination). You may be forced to stop at a kiosko and buy an alfajor to get change. (It's a hard life.) Another drawback is that they're a bit dirty - that is, they spew giant clouds of exhaust. But that just means that riding the bus is more pleasant than, say, walking beside it. Also, you might get an emo driver, like the one we had on Friday, who was smoking AND texting while slowly navigating a bus through San Telmo.

Speaking of buses, the intercity buses here are also awesome. They have seats that recline fully into beds, and often there's a movie and/or a hot meal! Which is good, because starting on Sunday we'll be on a bus for 20 hours, to Iguazu Falls, after which we'll be on another one for 24 hours from Iguazu to Rio de Janeiro. Thank god for Benadryl.

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