Interview with Alan Patrick of Buenos Tours (Part 2)

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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: I read a bit about your tour on your site and then had the opportunity to ride the A line for the first time. It’s such a great thing to do!

Alan: Yeah, the A Line is fantastic! I love the old wooden carriages. I’m sure in the US or the UK they wouldn’t let them run because of the fire risk. Luckily things are a little bit more easy going down here. And of course, the A Line makes me feel a little bit more at home, because it was built by the British.

subte-line-a-wooden-carriage.JPGAlan: Although in fact, they used Irish engineers. I’m half irish too, so I like to throw that fact in. I won’t go into how you can tell Irish engineers were used, otherwise everyone will think I’m a sad trainspotter.

ATG: Hows that? You’ve piqued my interest now…

Alan: Well, it’s to do with the gauge of the railway tracks. they are the Irish gauge, which a lot wider than the British gauge.

ATG: That’s cool.

Alan: Apparently the wider gauge helps with the stability of the trains when they go round corners. Not that there are many corners on Line A of the BA subway! But stability is something you want in a train system for sure.

ATG: What site do you think leaves the most lasting impression upon visitors? Is the A line a winner?

Alan: I’m not sure I should reveal my greatest secret… but I’ll give you a hint at what impresses people the most…

ATG: K, what’s that?

Alan: On my weekday tours I sneak us inside a tall building and take people up to its rooftop terrace for a view of Buenos Aires from above. Its a great view. But you’ll have to take my tour to find out where it is.

ATG: I will have to do that! How did you prepare your tours? Did studying philosophy play a role in prepping to be a tour guide?

Alan: Well, my tours don’t take much preparation these days because I give them so often that I know the route like the back of my hand and the facts and figures are all eternally etched into my brain.

Alan: I actually think the best preparation is making sure I am well rested so that I can put on a good performance. I think being a good tour guide is a little like being an entertainer… you have to perform well to keep people happy and interested over the full 3 hours.

Alan: There is always a mountain more to learn… which is why I always try to keep learning and discovering new things about Buenos Aires to help make my tours better. Even if you are the most informed tour guide in the world, there always comes a time when you have to do a little bit of bluffing for the occasional left-field question that comes at you.

ATG: What’s the most unusual request you’ve ever had from a tourist?

451017-telo-1.jpgAlan: Show me a TELO. I didn’t oblige that one. I was engaged at the time. For the uninitiated, a TELO is the Argentine version of a love motel.

ATG: Besides inviting you to a Telo, what is something you’d like to dissuade your public from doing while they’re in Buenos Aires?

250px-buenos_aires-recoleta-cementery-p2090035.JPGAlan: I really encourage tourists coming to Buenos Aires to avoid the bus tours. They herd you around to the different areas of the city like cattle. It’s like woooooosh there goes the Obelisk… did you see that? And then they throw you off the bus so you can spend 5 minutes in Recoleta cemetery, looking at Evita’s tomb and nothing more. Walking tours give you the chance to get up close and personal and to see things at a more relaxed pace.

We’d like to thank Alan for his time and his insight, it was great to get into the head of a great (and friendly!) Buenos Aires tour guide.  If you’d like to take one of Alan’s tours, then check them out here.  And don’t forget to tell him we sent you.  [Update: Alan’s Cemetary tour was named “best Cemetary tour in the world” by The Guardian newspaper!]

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