Personal experiences & helpfull hints, Buenos Aires
OK, so it is much cheaper to use the Locutorios (something like communication centres offering telephone, fax and internet services) than the phone in your hotel room.
You could find them nearly on every main street in Buenos Aires. Easy to recognise them since they have the sign shown on the picture.
These places are just great for international calls. I remmeber that I paid something like a dollar for talking 3 or 4 minutes with Bulgaria. So, I would definitly strongly recommand this option :)))
In order to make an international call you should dial 00 + country code + area code + local number which is more or less what you do when you are abroad.
FYI, the country code for Argentina is 54 and the area code for Buenos Aires is 11.
Probably you would find this site useful if you can read Spanish:
Todo De Tango/All About Tango
Looking for a great place to watch a tango show? Feeling overwhelmed by the massive selection of shows? Need advice on which one is the best? The place I recommend you pay a visit to is Tangodata. Located inside the San Martin Cultural Center on the corner of Sarmiento and Parana, Tangodata is staffed by multilingual employees that will help you weed through different tango shows located in the area. www.tangodata.com.ar
With different locations around the city, these kiosks are staffed with a friendly and bi-lingual crew whose main focus is to help you out with any questions you may have. Whether you need a street or metro map, need to find a place to buy tango tickets, need to figure out which bus takes you across town, or just need to speak to someone who speaks your language, these booths are extremely helpful with up-to-date information. I used them on several occasions on my trip, and they always were able to answer my questions -- with a smile!! Plus they're free!!! Can't beat that. Additionally they offer free walking tours.
Avenida Roque Saenz Pena and Florida
Galerias Pacifico, Florida 753, entre Viamonte and Cordoba
Cafe Tortoni, Avenida de Mayo 829, entre Piedras and Tacuari
Terminal de Omnibus de Retiro, Avenida Antartida Argentina and Calle 10
This may seem like a weird tip, but on my way to my morning coffee, I would always stop at my favorite newsstand at the cornet of Alcorta and Calvia for a copy of the Buenos Aires Herald. After 3 days, I didn't even need to ask, they just got the copy ready when they saw me walking up.
The co-owner is a Porteno by the name of John. John used to own a gelato stand in Brooklyn, but is now back in his hometown selling newspapers, and is much happier. A huge futbol fan, when I needed an update on King Diego's condition, then John was my source. You can also find all kinds of maps, guides, bus schedules, camera film and the random nick-knack.
We never got very close to the Rio de la Plata during our city tours, except for La Boca during our final afternoon. This is because the riverfront along the west bank of the river has a large buffer zone of streets, railway tracks and green zones between the water and the built-up Recoleta and Palermo districts.
However, as we flew out of BA from Jorge Newbery Airport, for our internal trips in Argentina, we had a good aerial view of this very wide waterway. Fed by the mighty Parana and Uruguay Rivers, the Rio de la Plata is a light chocolate brown colour, not very attractive for swimming at all. Further out, from the air you can see where the clear waters of the Atlantic swirl in conflict with the brown river waters.
This photo was taken from the departure level of Jorge Newbery, showing the sea wall that runs along the river here. It was a grey and humid day, but several people were fishing off the wall using very long rods, catching who knows what?
We found that most places did not appreciate taking the larger bills we received from the ATM's. Smaller denominations were appreciated. However, when we stated that we had no smaller bills it was taken without further comment.
Fondest memory: The excitement of the city was electric!
We booked our trip using Go Today and I was extremely pleased with just about everything regarding the trip. The package included our airfare to South America, our flights while in South America, hotels and transfers, the prices were very reasonable considering how much we got.
The flight to Rio was straight from Chicago to Sao Paulo, then to Rio and from Buenos Aires straight to Chicago, all on United. I couldn't have asked for better flight connections and to leave from Chicago it was only an additional $50 per person.
There are multiple levels of hotels, we decided not to go with the budget option and instead selected one of the middle levels, we were generally pleased with the location of the hotels and the quality of the hotels.
The transfer service was excellent, the drivers were always on time at the airport and picking us back up for the return trip. In Iguazu Falls, our driver also offered guided services but the prices were a bit steep and we found our own transportation.
As you would expect in a city of 12 million people, the traffic can get hectic during rush hours. However, that being said, we never seemed to have much of a problem when we navigated our way through the city via taxis.
If you are touring the city on foot, as we did on more than one occasion, you need to keep your eyes peeled when crossing intersections. The cars assume that they have right of way and sometimes 'cheat' a bit on the lights or change lanes unexpectedly. One last glance over your shoulder is always a good idea!
This photo was taken as we crossed the world's widest street (it cuts a swath one city block-wide through Buenos Aires) on our way back to our hotel from Cafe Tortoni.
There are a number of statues scattered around Buenos Aires, although the green parklands of the Palermo district seem to have more than their fair share! The statues cover a wide variety of subjects such as local heroes San Martin, Mendoza and Moreno; foreign icons Shakespeare and George Washington; local celebrity Carlos Gardel or such diverse things as a Lion, the Thinker, Don Quixote and numerous ones dedicated to Lovers.
Fondest memory: The most unusual statue that we came across was this one in the once-abandoned Botanical Gardens (presently being rejuvenated). This 1909 bronze statue presented quite a realistic scene of Roman debauchery resulting from their annual festival in honour of the God 'Saturn' !
I got the Frommer's Buenos Aires guide and I really enjoyed the guided walks they put together as they focused primarily on architecture and led you into buildings you probably wouldn't have otherwise discovered.
My husband was a little frustrated with the placement of sights on the maps but they do a good job with giving cross streets so you can just use the maps as a general guide. Some of the information on times and costs were incorrect but I suspect that's a problem with any of the guidebooks. The restaurant recommendations were pretty solid and I like their "Take a Break" boxes.
What I didn't like was that there wasn't even the briefest section on language, it would have been nice to have something to reference for food, days of the week and a few other small things.
Even without seeing anything of great importance, it was a pleasure to just walk along the average everyday streets of Buenos Aires.
Warm temperatures, the sun shining, the hustle and bustle of everyday life in a large city with all it's attendant smells and noises and, let's not forget, the (for us) completely different Spanish culture! After all, that is what travelling is all about or, as the French would say, 'Vive la difference!'
We thoroughly enjoyed Buenos Aires - what more can I say?
One of my favorite experiences in Buenos Aires was taking dance classes with Carlos Ricciuiti and Natalia Giacchino at Cabillito Blanco. They are very passionate about teaching and even more so about tango. Carlos speaks good english and is quite a character.
If dancing tango is a reason for you to go to B.A. than go check these two out and see if they can help you.
They do group and private classes at Caballito Blanco, located on:
Marcelo T. de Alvear 479, Buenos Aires
It is near Parque San Martin and Florida.
Clases and Practice are Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday 1pm to 4 pm.
In all of the major (and I suppose less major)theatres, movies are always shown in their original language with Spanish subtitles, unless it is a children's movie. The children's movies are put into Spanish but otherwise you can watch it in the original language. The movie theatres are very very nice, clean, and well built. Two of the best centrally located places to go to the movies would be Cinemark behind Alto Palermo shopping center (in Palermo) and at the Recoleta Village.
Tickets cost about 10 pesos approximately, except on Wednesdays when there are discounts. That's also why it's very crowded on Wednesdays.
If you are from the states and order popcorn, then you should know there is no "buttered popcorn"--people here eat it sweet. However, nowadays it is possible also to get salted popcorn (still, no butter!).
We only had one occasion that we needed to use an internet cafe, we saw one at the Galerias Pacifico shopping mall (Cordoba and Florida), down near the food court. Just 2 pesos an hour, the connection was a little slow but fine for our needs.
We then decided to call my mother in law, it was my husband's birthday and she had given us a hard time because we never call her while on vacation. We only talked for about 2 minutes and it was 1.95 pesos, the connection was pretty crappy and I could barely hear her. But now she can't claim we are too cheap to call LOL
1) when trying to get pesos in Buenos Aires, you can go into any ATM with your foreign ATM card (most ATMs are connected to the Plus network, all the ones on the Banelco chain are) and get pesos at the daily exchange rate (usually a pretty advantageous one) directly without needing to go to a Currency Exchange.
2) Never get 100 pesos out of an ATM in Argentina - because, most likely, you will end up with one 100 pesos bill, which is much harder to break (imagine if you went to pay a cab in NY with 100 bucks, same situation). All ATMs store also 10, 20 50 and 100 Pesos bills - I usually get 90 pesos which breaks down to one 50 and 2 "20s" or 4 "10s" depending on the ATM - that way I already have a decent amount of change
3) NO FEES on argentine ATMs! so you won't have the added $1.50 / $2.50 transaction cost you get in the US
4) when you are about to travel back to the US and if you ran out of dollars head for the ATM again, most stock dollars and pesos.