|Egyptian Obelisk in South America?
I’m obsessed with everything Egyptian. Those who know me well know that I spent a couple of years in college studying Egyptian hieroglyphs and that in college and after graduating made a trip to Egypt for a couple weeks to see the real thing! Anyway, I was surprised when I hoped off the bus in Buenos Aires to see a giant 67 meter obelisk in the middle of a huge street. The manager of the hostel tried to convince me that Oompah Oompahs lived inside and if I knew the secret knock they would come out to greet me. I tried knocking to meet the Oompah Oompahs, but no one answered. Maybe I shouldn’t believe everything they tell me in Argentina.
The World’s Widest Avenue! Avenida 9 de Julio
Running right down the center of Buenos Aires and featuring the Obelisk in the middle, is the worlds widest avenue. This street is made up of five large streets combined. On both outer edges you have six lanes (three lanes each direction). In the middle you have another four lanes dedicated to buses (two each direction). To top it off, in the middle they also had another four lanes dedicated to one way traffic; I believe this four lane area changes direction based on rush hour traffic. All-in-all I counted about 15 to 17 lanes of traffic plus green areas between. It was a very, very wide area more like the width of a park with tons of traffic lanes. Crossing it with cross walks was also quite interesting as you’d have to wait once or twice to get across (not possible to cross it in one pass).
Big City Rankings
Buenos Aires is the second largest city in South America with a little over three million people. It is a big, spread out city and feels nothing like latin America. You truly feel like you are in Europe as you wander the streets. Giant stone buildings are everywhere with beautiful architecture. As big cities go, I loved it here.
Coffee and Alfajores… Yum!
Competing with Starbucks (which are everywhere), the local franchise of choice is called “Havana”. This coffee shop had a menu offering a combo meal of Coffee with alfojores. What is an alfojores you ask? I didn’t know and so locals insisted I go and try one. They are a chocolate type mini-sandwich. It’s really hard to describe (see photo below). It was yummy, but I don’t think I’d put it out there as my favorite dessert.
Awesome Street Art
Well, this is a different kind of street art; it isn’t giant spray painted murals on the sides of buildings, but rather funky, artistic statues in the middle of the downtown sidewalks. I saw several of these. One was a guy working at his office desk with three old school telephones on his desk and he is reclining in his office chair, smoking a cigar and talking on the phone. The other was of a barber standing next to an empty barber chair which is the perfect photo-op (see below). I took the photo but in hind-sight should have asked someone to take a picture of me sitting in the chair. Maybe it was the the sight of all those bare springs that caused me to hesitate. Hmm…
Modern Art Bridge (Puente de la Mujer)
Puente de la Mujer (Spanish for “Women’s Bridge”), is a rotating footbridge for Dock 3 of the Puerto Madero commercial district of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is of the Cantilever spar cable-stayed bridge type and is also a swing bridge, but somewhat unusual in its asymmetrical arrangement. It has a single mast with cables suspending a portion of the bridge which rotates 90 degrees in order to allow water traffic to pass. When it swings to allow watercraft passage, the far end comes to a resting point on a stabilizing pylon (wikipedia).
Costs in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Given I was in the second largest city in South America, I had lots of options for cheaper food.
Hostel: $15/night (shared dorm) including breakfast
Food: typically $8-$12 meal for lunch or dinner (I paid $3, paying by the ounce, for lunch and dinner at a Chinese buffet near my hostel).