Comments about Buenos Aires experience
Trip Start Dec 02, 2008
33Trip End Dec 26, 2008
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ˇ I have a little notebook that I carry with us at all times. On the first page is the name and address of the Art Suites. When we went by taxi to the Art Suites, we just showed the page to the driver; the communication is fast and easy, since there is no issue about understanding our accent. Sometimes our accent makes it especially difficult for a porteno to understand us!
ˇ Portenos are friendly and patient as we try our Spanish. I get out words, and Harvey speaks in phrases and sentences. If our Spanish were better, we would have more interaction, but we have always been able to somehow communicate. A big aide was the Collins English/Spanish dictionary that we had downloaded on our iphone.
ˇ It took awhile for our bodies to adjust to the porteno schedule of a light continental breakfast, lunch at about 1 or 2 o'clock, and dinner at 9 or 10 o'clock. This is very late for us, but our bodies are starting to adjust, after 5 nights!
ˇ The city tour offered by Eternautas (http://www.eternautas.com) was excellent and gave us some understanding of history and an overview of Buenos Aires neighborhoods. It really helped us to get oriented.
ˇ There are so many ways to see and experience Buenos Aires! When planning your trip, read about the city and ask, what makes this place unique? What is it that makes this place, this place? Why is it worth my time to go? What is of interest to me? Perhaps it is its shopping and ferias (markets). Perhaps it is the architecture, wine, music, dancing, food, museums and the art scene, café life. Maybe it's people watching. Then, plan your activities so as to be able to experience it.
ˇ Consider expanding your itinerary beyond the standard tourist sites that tours go to. One of the advantages of traveling independently is that you can tailor your itinerary in any way you like! Take advantage of that freedom! What are your personal interests? Be it music, architecture, dancing, crafts, hiking and nature oriented activities, wildlife, history, different cultures and religions, food, wine, politics and government, etc. research the opportunities as part of your trip planning. It may determine the flow of your itinerary, the travel dates or your activities. With our keen interest in music and of nature, with the help of TripAdvisors (http://www.tripadvisor.com), we carefully planned out our itinerary. We had information on places to listen to live music as well as how to get the latest information on performers. This kind of planning can help set the stage for very special experiences and memories. If you have a particular interest, ask on TripAdvisor to see what options there may be to best develop that when touring. You will have to make choices, because Argentina has it all!
ˇ Radio taxis are easy to find on the street. We didn't need to call for one, but we were always careful that they were identified as radio taxis and had a meter and driver identification before entering.
ˇ Restaurant reservations were made by our concierge. I thought we were going to do that ourselves, hence the need for a cell phone in BA, but the phone was not used for that purpose because the Art Suites had Sergio, our concierge.
ˇ We brought far more clothing than we needed. Based on the weather being in the 70's during the day, all I wore was: jeans, a skirt (that was actually shorts, but looked like a skirt - from Patagonia Clothing), and a pair of black pants and top (for at night). I wore sandals during the day and night. I only needed another pair of shoes for tango dancing. I wore jeans for the tango lesson. Harvey wore jeans during the day, and casual slacks in the evenings. He also brought a pair of comfortable rubber sole shoes for the day and night, and an alternate pair for tango dancing. For tango dancing, we could have worn comfortable shoes and changed into the dance shoes just for the lesson. It would have been a whole lot more comfortable!
ˇ I carried our stuff in a shoulder bag with a secure strap and compartments made by Daymakers (http://www.daymakers.com). I was advised on TripAdvisor not to wear a waistpack or backpack.
ˇ Women dye their hair. Even though my clothes and camera didn't scream "tourist", surely my grey hair did!
ˇ Cash is king. Bring U.S. dollars and change at Banco Nacional at the airport. Bring extra U.S. dollars and keep them in reserve, just in case. Using the ATM, we sometimes would ask for $700 and the machine would tell us to input a smaller amount. US dollars as well as pesos are widely accepted. We used a debit card at the ATMs. We carry the Capitol One Mastercard as there are no transaction fees, unlike other credit cards. There is usually a cash discount if you pay in cash. Even if we pay for a meal with a credit card, we leave a 10% tip in cash. All the ferias, meal tips, taxis are in pesos. Try to get 20 peso bills; larger bills are sometimes difficult to use.
ENJOY! RELAX! HAVE FUN!