After last week, in which I had an inner personal crisis going on, I decided to start the new week “fris en fruitig” writing a new little article.
“Well, I was in the neighbourhood”, I use to reply to people asking me how I ended up in South America. I found the US conference I attended for work a perfect reason to travel on to South America, to be more precise, Uruguay and Argentina. It’s impossible to write everything about it in just one story, so there might follow some others, but today we’ll start with a little travel guide: how to spend your days in Buenos Aires without money!
Let’s remind us first of the golden traveler’s tip I never needed before: bring at least two credit cards and put them in different places. I lost mine, and with it my last cash money as well, and suddenly I found myself stuck in Uruguay without any financial resources but 100 Argentine pesos (10 EUR).
Everything has a solution, of course, and next morning I could collect about 1000 EUR from Western Union. That’s a lot of money, you might say. It is, but keep in mind I had one week to go, I was not willing to miss Iguazú Falls, it were festive days and prices were awfully high, and thus I had to:
– buy a new flight ticket to Iguazú (450 EUR)
– pay the hostel for a week (219 EUR)
– book 3 additional hostels (one extra night in Montevideo, one in Buenos Aires, and a new one in Iguazú – together about 75 EUR)
– pay a new ticket to go from Montevideo to Buenos Aires (about 50 EUR)
That left me with 200 EUR effective money to spend. In the end, I did not had to buy a whole new ticket to Iguazú, but still I was inspired to see what you could do in BA for free, or not too much money.
So, what can you do there if you’d ran out of money?
1. Sign up for the city’s bike program
With Ecobici, you can sign up and use a free bike for an hour. If you’re lucky, at renewal there is nobody waiting and you can get it another hour. You register at one of the bike stations: bring a copy of your passport AND a copy of your entry stamp (the latter they do not communicate on the website). By the way, if you turn in your bike too late you are penalized…and you cannot use a bike for one week 🙁
2. Do a free tour with Buenos Aires Free Walks
They have two itenaries: one through the Paris of South America (a.k.a. Recoleta) and one through the City Center. Each is 3-3,5 hours and led by history students who know a lot, can tell in a pleasant way and are open to any question, related to history or not. I did both ones and I absolutely loved it! The tours run upon donations from participants, so you can decide what to give them for their efforts.
3. Go to Costanera del Sur and have a picknick. Or a run. Or a hike. Or take the bike. Costanera del Sur is an Ecological Reserve on the riverbank of Rio de la Plata. It’s not a paradise full of exotic wildlife, so that’s why I advise to really do something, but it is indeed a very welcome escape from the buzzy busy city.
4. Panorama’s. You can have a magnificent view over the city from the Torre Mitre (Galería Guëmes), with an entrance fee of 2 EUR. Less spectacular, but different and therefore lovely, is the view upon the Recoleta Cemetary, from McDonald’s terrace (upper floor) at Recoleta Mall.
5. Recoleta Cementerio. Wandering in the ‘streets’ of the Cemetery is an impressive experience. If you look up, you’ll see the high buildings surrounding the place, which makes it almost a surrealistic scene. In between the tombs, I felt like walking around in one of the books of Carlos Ruiz Zafón, like La Sombra del Viento (the Shadow of the Wind)
6. Free yoga. There’s a Facebook Group called Yoga Gratis en Buenos Aires, where you can find free yoga and meditation events. I did one with Energía Vital, outside, in the park, and I felt like reborn! By the way, if you ever see somewhere “a la gorra”, this means it’s not free but a donation is expected, like with the Free Walking Tours I mentioned. Just so you know!
7. At Alternativa Teatral you can find nice ‘projects’ in the more creative field, where people are looking for singers, dancers, models, musicians, editors, and so on (mostly non rewarded). A lot of the ‘convocatorias’ are long term, but you can also find one-day events. Please do a background check on the people offering, so you don’t end up in the woods with a scary photographer…I wanted to sign up for a dance project, but I didn’t trust the guy enough so in the end I let it go… The website also offers free tickets for theatre, milongas, etc. By the way, the website is meant for Baires people so your Spanish language skills should be good.
Of course, there are many other free or cheap things to do, but these are the ones you might not find in your travel guide or I did especially like. Or both.
One last tip: when it comes to saving money could change your money at the Blue Market. Everyone does, and with the pro tips you can read at Daniele’s blog you will find your way. The only tip I’m not sure of if I agree with it is to change big amounts at once, since the risk you getting back false bills will be probably higher with 500 than with just 100. Ow, and if you do not dare to change your money on the street, it’s just also fun to experience the experience and just try out some of those arbolitos.
Unfinished business – tango
If you would ask me what I love to do most, I would say three things: writing, traveling, and dancing. Writing, because I have to go somewhere with all my reflections, inspirations, and experiences, and simply because I feel I can express myself better writing than talking. Traveling, because it is an excellent way to learn – about cultures, different views, languages, and last but not least about yourself – well, more about that another time because I could write a whole article about this topic alone. But what about dancing?
While dancing I can say something I could not express with any words, not even written. Something that SHOULD not be expressed by words, since it is no message with a beginning and an ending, and not a message to a specific person, or to an audience in general. Dancing I can just be, in the moment, with all my flaws, mistakes, achievements, happiness, good habits and experiences. Dancing even made me partly the person who I am today.
It’s therefore a shame that I barely danced tango (if you are looking for macho men, go to Argentina!) and I promised myself to go back, dance the tango like never before and kick some asses! ….more to come!