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La Guia “T” – The Buenos Aires Bible

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Bus ride at night in Buenos Aires

It’s a book which should be within reach at all times. It’s studied and consulted, especially during times of trouble. Without it, this illuminating guide, this constant companion, life would be even more a struggle. And yes, I worship it. The Guia “T”.

Guia T

Honestly, when you get to Buenos Aires, you’ll want to pick up a Guia “T”. If you plan on taking the bus while here, the guide is indispensable, but it’s good to have in any case. A more thorough, useful map of the city doesn’t exist. One of the most common sights in Buenos Aires is a person with their nose buried in the Guia “T”.

I always had my well-thumbed copy with me, and should I have carelessly forgotten it at home, I’d go back to retrieve it, even if we were 10 minutes away. I don’t care. With the city broken into 36 quadrants, an exhaustive list of every street spread across 20 pages, and the routes of all 200+ city bus lines, this guide makes life much, much easier.

You can get them at any kiosk for about 10 pesos, and it’s the best money you can spend.

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May 2, 2011 at 9:11 pm Comment (1)

Riding the Bus

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The Rough Guide to Argentina

After watching a few barrel at breakneck speed down San Telmo’s tiny cobblestone streets, more inclined to use their horns than breaks when approaching an intersection, we concluded that buses must be the fastest way to get around Buenos Aires. And funnest.

Argentina Bus

The BA bus system is incredible, intimidating and comprehensive. Regardless of where you are or where you’re going, there’s usually a bus that will deliver you directly at your destination. Over 300 lines weave through the city, all operated by private companies (Bus #29 is run by Pedro de Mendoza C.I.S.A, for example). You’d think a citywide bus system would require central planning, but the privatization works here. The colectivos, as buses are known here, run frequently and even if you’ve just missed the #152, chances are another is right behind it.

Before hopping on your first colectivo, it’s worth your time to get a crash course from a local: the drivers are not patient, and would rather kick you off than answer questions. The Guia “T” is indispensable. A guide that details every bus in the city, it provides charts and maps to help you figure out which number you should take. The Guia T is the Bible of Buenos Aires. Study it. Worship it.

Basically, it goes like this: you’ve done your research in the Guia T, and know that #93 will you take you to the Recoleta Cemetery. Find the bus stop, and keep an eagle eye out for a #93 racing recklessly down the street. Wave it down as early as possible. The bus should stop, but I’ve seen them simply slow down and open the doors. Either way, as soon as those doors open, jump inside. Hesitate for just a second, and the bus will be on its way without you.

Once you’re on the bus, you tell the driver exactly where you’re going (an intersection is best), then pay the indicated fare. Right now, a full fare is about $1.25 and you pay the machine with coins, which can be difficult to find in the capital. In fact, the most troublesome part of taking the bus is scrounging up enough change; vendors are reluctant to give their monedas away. I’ve had people give me a $2 bill rather than a $1 coin, more willing to lose profit than relinquish their precious metal.

Once you’re on the bus, hurtling down BA’s busy streets and watching the buildings pass by, the stress was worth it. In the short time we’ve been here, it’s been a lot of fun — getting familiar with “our” lines, learning to jealously horde our change, and consulting the Guia “T” as we stare wide-eyed and happily out the window, on our way to whatever adventure the day holds in store. I bet by the end of our three months here, we’ll have joined the ranks of weary and wise passengers, silently heaping scorn upon happy foreigners like our current selves, so ridiculously proud of themselves for a thing like riding the bus.

Well screw you, Future Us! Stop trying to ruin our fun.

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February 22, 2011 at 9:48 pm Comments (4)
La Guia "T" - The Buenos Aires Bible
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