An hour's train ride north of Buenos Aires lies el Tigre--a popular, quick escape from the rigors of the city, this town of 80,000 makes a great relaxing day trip. Canals lined by grass and trees cut through the city, providing an interesting backdrop in which to wander. The train leaves frequently, about every 15 minutes, from the Retiro train station, costs only a peso, and is a good way to see the wealthy northern part of Greater Buenos Aires. Paralleling the river but a bit inland, the tracks pass through numerous municipalities where much of Argentinaâ€™s upper-middle to upper class live.
Once in Tigre, go to the Mercado de Frutos. Largely considered to be the best market around, the selection is vast and prices are generally a bit lower than in the city. Canal-side restaurants abound, and the waterways themselves can be explored with one of the many tour companies offering boat trips. The water isnâ€™t quite suitable for swimming, but trips take you through the maze of canals where rusting hulks of ships give way to greenery and charming homes on stilts.
Due to its size, remoteness and complex system of canals, the numerous islands east of Tigre have functioned as an asylum; many persecuted during the dictatorship fled here, as have criminals eluding the BA police. Lately, reclusive movie stars and other wealthy public figures trying to escape the limelight of Buenos Aires have taken up residence deep in the delta.
El Tigre also features an amusement park, El Parque de la Costa, whose massive Ferris wheel provides sweeping views. Next door to the park is a huge casino, Nuevo Trilenium Casino de Tigre, where those inclined can throw their money around. At the casinoâ€™s entrance is the tiny train station of the Tren de la Costa. A tourist train that winds along the banks of the river, the Tren de la Costa passes through the neighborhoods of the very rich. The 11 small stations along the way are impeccably restored, and most have a special feature such as a cafĂ©, theater or restaurant.
Paying for a ticket that allows you to get off and on as many times as you want is a great way to explore Greater BAâ€™s highbrow neighborhoods. The train only makes it to the northern suburb of Olivos, so youâ€™ll have to make arrangements for further transportation back to the city. For more information, swing by the Ente Municipal de Turismo de Tigre at Mitre 305 (54-11-4512-4497), or check their website, www.tigre.gov.ar.