Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. At Elebaires we are great believers that regardless of which is more important the journey and the destination are both great opportunities to practise your Spanish. We would even go so far as to say that even visiting the dead can be a fun way to improve the way you speak! Elebaires offers you a variety of ways to get out into the streets and see Buenos Aires and use the Spanish you learn in the classroom. We offer many activities each week for you to enjoy all that Buenos Aires has to offer while improving your Spanish in a different context.
One of the most popular activities that the school runs each week is its walking tour of different barrios (neighbourhoods) of Buenos Aires. Some of the barrios we have visited recently include the historic district of San Telmo, the centre of Buenos Aires (Microcentro) and the more luxurious end of the city – Recoleta. The tour of Recoleta that was taken this week was particularly popular with students as it included a visit to the famous Recoleta Cemetery.
Like always, we had a diverse range of students involved in the activity. This week the tour consisted of students from Brasil, the United States and Australia and was led by Elebaires’ very own activities coordinator Juani. Juani is a true porteño (a Buenos Aires citizen) and knows a lot about the city that he grew up in. Juani is a great resource for anyone new to the city or if you want to learn more about what Buenos Aires has to offer. He can provide you everything from stories about the history of the city to providing useful tips on which colectivo (what they call buses here in Buenos Aires) to take.
Part of the fun of getting to the activities is the trip itself. On the way to the barrio you are about to explore it is more than likely you will take the colectivo. This is a true Buenos Aires experience. Often many people don’t take the colectivo as they are too confused or nervous about using Buenos Aires’ complex system of bus lines. However, in reality they are a cheap, easy and (sometimes) quick way of getting around all of the city. Juani provided us advice on how to use the colectivo. We have included the advice below for next time you want to take the bus to almost anywhere in Buenos Aires.
The best part of the ride is of course hearing all the Spanish around you. Porteños love to talk – about football, politics, celebrities, their love lives and more – so you are bound to hear something interesting and expand your vocabulary at the same time.
On this week’s trip to Recoleta we took Linea 102 into this beautiful barrio. During the ride a few of the passengers overheard the group speaking Spanish and decided to offer some free classes to the group. It was a fun way of passing the short bus ride – meeting some locals and discussing our experiences in Argentina with them – as well as receiving some good grammar and pronunciation tips at the same time.
Once in Recoleta we took full advantage of what the barrio has to offer. We checked out the statue of Bartolomé Mitre that sits close to one of Buenos Aires ugliest buildings – La Biblioteca Nacional – recently voted the least popular building in all of Buenos Aires by its citizens – as well as some of the stately homes and embassies that this neighbourhood is renowned for.
The walking tour of Recoleta includes one of Buenos Aires’ most recognizable sites. The Floralis Genérica is a two ton metal structure in the shape of a flower that has become renowned the world over as a symbol of Buenos Aires. After a tour around the impressive structure we passed the equally impressive University of Buenos Aires Faculty of Law building before heading to the most famous of Recoleta’s sites – its cemetery.
Recoleta Cemetery is one of the most interesting places to visit in Buenos Aires. What’s so interesting about a cemetery? In this cemetery all of the bodies are entombed in mausoleums that are not like anything you have seen before. During a walk through the cemetery you begin to wonder if there was a long, slow competition going on between the designers and sculptors of the tombs. As each one appears bigger and more impressive than the next it looks like there must have been a prize for the most imposing mausoleum built.
Aside from the impressive design you can also visit the resting places of a variety of famous Argetntines, including former presidents and Eva Perón who lies in her family’s mausoleum – the most visited site in the cemetery.
Recoleta Cemetry is a site that you cannot miss while here in Buenos Aires. The only problem we can see with it is that as it is full of dead people there are less opportunities to practise your Spanish!
Whatever your interests you are bound to find something noteworthy on one of our walking tours. So make sure you take full advantage of this, or any of our great activities. You will improve your Spanish and may even make friends with the locals along the way.
Tips for taking the colectivo in Buenos Aires
- make sure you
- have monedas (coins) or a bus pass (the colectivos don’t accept paper bills so remember to be certain you have some coins before boarding the bus)
- tell the driver either where you are going or what priced ticket you want to buy. The tickets usually range from 1.10 up to 1.25 pesos (we told you it was a cheap form of transport!).
- once you have told the driver what ticket you want swipe your travelpass or insert your coins into the machine that is behind the driver. The machine will take your money (coins only!) and provide you with any change owed and your ticket.
- With your ticket in hand move away from the ticketing area. The colectivos get very crowded in Buenos Aires, especially at peak time, so be sure to move far back as possible. This way you wont be blocking the passage of other people trying to get on the bus.
- relax and enjoy the ride!