Interview with Alan Patrick of Buenos Tours (Part 1)

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Alan Patrick of BuenosTours.comWhether you have three days in Buenos Aires or you plan to fall in love and live here for good, a walking tour is a great way to get to know the city. Argentina’s Travel Guide recently got the chance to speak with Alan Patrick of Buenos Tours about the life and times of an Argentine tour guide and entrepreneur.

ATG: I hear you give a great tour. Before embarking on Buenos Tours as a professional, did you ever take a walking tour of Buenos Aires as a tourist?

Alan: Yes, I did take a few tours when I first came here. I always like to take some walking tours when I first arrive in a city to get myself orientated and learn a little about the local history and culture. The best tour I took was probably Robert Wright’s. He writes a great blog about Buenos Aires (Line of Sight), and knows an immense amount about the city, especially its history and architecture. But I did take some bad tours too.

ATG: Yes, I checked out Robert’s site – his photos are fantastic.

mapa-bue-microcentro-copia.jpgAlan: The worst tours I took were free ones by the Buenos Aires city government. Maybe they knew their stuff, but their English was awful, their delivery dry, and they just didn’t seem interested at all. I guess you get what you pay for.

ATG: A lot of anglophones teach to earn their keep abroad. In the battle of the expat occupations, Tour Guide v. the English Teacher, who triumphs over evil and reigns supreme in Buenos Aires?

Alan: Tour guide every time. I started out as an English teacher when I came to BA over two and a half years ago, and although I enjoyed most of the lessons themselves and had some very nice students, I really hated the job overall.

ATG: I can relate! Glad to hear being a guide is superior.

Alan: They mess you around, don’t pay you on time (or even at all), make you complete a mound of useless paperwork, and a lot of the people that work in them are real power crazy. They like to shout a lot. I guess being a guide for a tour company might not be so hot. The thing I enjoy most is the freedom and satisfaction of working for myself.

ATG: Being your own boss I’d guess is always a better situation.

Alan: I think a lot of expats coming to Buenos Aires should consider trying to start up something themselves. Even if it is just teaching English privately, without the institutes. It takes a while to get your own thing off the ground, but when it does, it pays dividends, as my tour guiding is now for me.

ATG: That’s encouraging! Could you describe a typical tour. how do you prepare for a tour? Are there snack or shopping breaks?

Alan: I actually just give one walking tour of Buenos Aires these days. I am a big proponent of being focused, and doing one thing the best that you possibly can… so I specialize in one area of the city.

casa-rosada-buenos-aires.jpgAlan: The part that I chose for this tour is the historical center of the city, starting off where it was first successfully settled by the Spanish back in 1580… Plaza de Mayo. This area of the city has some of the most important and historical buildings in BA, such as the Cathedral, the Cabildo (where the Spanish used to rule Buenos Aires from) and the Casa Rosada.

And then the tour continues to cover other major attractions such as Avenida de Mayo, Line A of the subway (the oldest subway line in the southern hemisphere), Cafe Tortoni, the Palacio Barolo, and Congress.

We have a coffee break about half way through the 3 hours, usually at Tortoni, and that works well to break up the walking and give my clients the chance to ask me all the questions they have about BA.

cafe-tortoni-charm.jpgAlan: So, because my tour covers such a large amount of major Buenos Aires attractions in a concentrated area, and along the way I give a quick overview of over 400 years of local history, I call it the Buenos Aires 101 Tour … basically, if you just have time for one walking tour while you are in BA, this would be the one to choose, to catch many of the major historical sights.

Catch up with with us for the second part of Alan’s interview tomorrow later this week and get insight into Buenos Aires sites that rival historic city centers worldwide.

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[…] (Check out the first part of this interview)  ATG got the chance to speak with Buenos Tours’ Alan Patrick and learn more about his walking tour of the historic Buenos Aires center. We asked his advice about what not to do on your visit to Buenos Aires and learned that tour guides can get harassed on the job in this sexiest of cities! […]

[…] ATG got the chance to chat up Buenos Tours‘ Alan Patrick – and find out how one  becomes a tour guide/blogger when they grow up. (Check out the first two parts of this series.) […]

Judi on May 11, 08

I love ALan’s website. I never had the opportunity to take his tour when I was in BA recently but his writing about the city was very informative and gave me a great overview of Buenos Aires.It was partly due to him that I started blogging.

[…] Eve Hyman, in an Interview with Alan Patrick for the website, Argentinastravel.com. Alan is a blogger, English expat, who offers walking tours of Buenos Aires. I had read […]

pedro Werberg on October 5, 08

I think Alan does a good job and do relate to his stories. I was once an English teacher myself and didn’t like it very much. Beeing a tour guide is a lot more fun!
pedro

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