Buenos Aires (official name Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, also called Capital Federal ) is the capital of the Argentine Republic. The name means fair winds in Spanish. It is one of the largest cities in Latin America, with a lot of cultural offerings, and is the point of departure for travelling to the rest of the country. Inhabitants of Buenos Aires are called porteños, "people from the port". Buenos Aires is a singular, open and integrating destination that allows the visitor not only to view the city but also to live an exceptional urban adventure.
The City of Buenos Aires has about 50 districts called barrios. The most important and visited are:
The city is geographically contained inside the province of Buenos Aires, but it is politically autonomous. Its coordinates are 34º 36' S, 58º 26' W.
The city extends on a plain covering 19.4 kilometers (12 miles) from north to south and 17.9 kilometers (11 miles) from east to west.
Approximately three million people live in the City of Buenos Aires (the Federal Capital of Argentina with 202 square kilometers equivalent to 78.3 sq miles). The City is divided into 48 districts or barrios. Together with its metropolitan area or Great Buenos Aires (Gran Buenos Aires) this is one of the ten most populated urban centers in the world with over 14 million people. Most of the country's activity is highly concentrated in this single city and its surroundings.
Buenos Aires constantly receives tourists from all over the world and offers a large choice cultural events, nightlife, restaurants and pubs, so you can expect good services and a wide range of options.
Buenos Aires has also one of the largest homosexual communities in Latin America and there is a liberal attitude towards gay society. Within Capital Federal gay couples can form a legal civil partnership. Following the economic recovery, in recent years there has been an increase in gay-friendly businesses such as real estate, apartment rental, travel agents, language classes, tango classes, bars, restaurants, hotels and guesthouses. Year 2007 has seen arrivals of more gay cruise ships, the opening of a gay 5-star hotel and a general increase in gay tourism.
All the rates are in Argentine Pesos (1 dollar = 3.15 argentine pesos)
Hot dog - 2 pesos Pizza (traditional size) - 15 pesos "Tenedor libre" (all you can eat) - 20 pesos Steak with salad and drink - 25 pesos
Transportation Costs Metro Trip - 0.90 peso Bus - 0.90 peso Taxi service within downtown - starts at 6 pesos
If you want to learn about local issues, there are many newspapers in Buenos Aires, most of them with internet versions. Some of them:
Ricchieri Highway, Km. 22. Tel. 5480-6111 - International and some domestic flights use the Ezeiza International Airport (referred to as Aeropuerto Internacional Ministro Pistarini), located in the suburban area named Gran Buenos Aires, about 30-45 minutes from downtown by highway. Planes fly to most countries in South America, the United States, and Europe. Non-stop service to the U.S. is available from Atlanta (Delta), Chicago (United and AA), Dallas (AA), Miami (AA), Houston (Continental),New York (AA, United & AR) and Washington, D.C. (United).
Some flights from Aerolíneas Argentinas to Ushuaia leave from Ezeiza during peak season, so check which airport you fly into or leave from.
There is also a useful Aerolínas Argentinas flight direct to Sydney, with a stop in Auckland and a twice-weekly Malaysian Airlines flight to Kuala Lumpur via Cape Town and Johannesburg. Direct flights to Europe are available with British Airways (with a stop in Sao Paulo) , Lufthansa , Iberia , Air France , Air Comet  and Aerolíneas Argentinas . Also Air Canada flies from Toronto via Santiago. There is a departure tax of $18 USD (about 54 pesos) for all international flights.
From the airport there are the usual taxis, private cars (remises), buses and minibuses.
The cheapest way to get downtown is to take the 86 bus. The stop is just outside terminal B arrivals, you need to walk 100 meters. the bus will take almost 2 hours to get to the Mayo square, going straight on Rivadavia Avenue an then on Hipolito Yrigoyen street. It will cost less than 2 pesos to get downtown, and be ready to have coins to use them on the bus, you may get some asking for change at the counters where the airport tax is payed or at any shops. If planing to go form downtown to the airport, be sure to ride the 86 bus that says "AEROPUERTO" as there are several 86 buses that go to other places. the bus stops all along Mayo Avenue and then Rivadavia Avenue.
Trips on the comfortable Manuel Tienda León  coaches from EZE to Retiro cost 32 pesos (as of October 2007). The coaches leave every half hour - less frequently during evenings. From the Retiro Terminal, a smaller van will deliver you to any downtown address for an additional 3 pesos. Manuel Tienda León also offers transfers between EZE and Aeroparque. Tickets can be purchased from their booth just outside of customs.
Prepaid taxis (remises) from EZE to downtown cost about 75 pesos. Hailing a non-prepaid taxi is not recommended for tourists, but if doing so, be aware that there is a 2 peso toll and a 0.80 peso toll if the driver goes by the autopista; the driver will inform you as you approach the toll booths.
If you do speak some Spanish, you may find it cheaper to walk outside of customs, find a taxi that is dropping someone off, and hop in. You may see the taxi drivers slowly driving through. Put your bags in, and tell the driver "Al reloj" ('to the meter', meaning you want to pay price reflected on the meter instead of negotiating a price for the ride). You may have to pay the aforementioned tolls, but it works out to around 50 to 55 pesos to downtown.
When you wish to return to the airport when you leave, you can talk to any cab driver and tell him that you need a ride to the airport. Frequently you can negotiate. They will come pick you up from your apartment or hotel and drive you to the airport. Some of the best insights about Buenos Aires can be gleaned from taxi drivers. If you are new to the city, it's probably good also to have a map out, so that the driver knows he or she can't go in circles.
Another alternative is that some of the prepaid remises will provide you with a 20% discount coupon for your airport return. If you manage to hold on to this coupon, dial them directly to come and collect you and save yourself 20%. You must also keep the original receipt, as they need reassurance that you used the remise from the airport originally.
Located in the Ave. Rafael Obligado. 4576-5300 extension 107/122 (Information: 4576-1111). Most domestic flights use the smaller Jorge Newbery Airport (referred to as Aeroparque), 10 minutes away from the downtown area. You can take a taxi (25 pesos) or bus from there.
There are national railways, but they are scarce. The terminal stations are the same from suburban transportation. From Retiro station you can take the train to the Tigre Delta. There you can do a boat cruise and see the wetland and recreational area of the porteños.
There are some long distance domestic services. Buses are usually faster and more comfortable, but also three times as expensive. There are several main stations in the BA area (see below).
Retiro - Córdoba (overnight): departs Mon. & Fri. 20:10, arrives 10:25
Córdoba - Retiro (overnight): departs Thu. & Sun. 16:30, 07:33 (25 pesos - tourist class)
Retiro - Tucumán (overnight): departs Mon. 10:05, arrives 10:40
Tucumán - Retiro (overnight): departs Wed. 18:00, arrives 19:20 (35 pesos - tourist class)
There are four main highways entering the city, those permit fast communication with the huge suburban area and access to the national routes. As with the trains, the most important routes are centered in Buenos Aires, so you will have no problem driving to and from the rest of the country.
Heading to Rosario city, you can travel by highway all the way (north access highway, then route 9), from here you can keep going to the north by a good route (Panamericana), or turn right about 150km from Buenos Aires and go to the Mesopotamia region.
To the west, you can drive to the Cuyo region using the north access highway, then the route 8.
Going out with the west access highway, you can follow by routes 7 and 5, heading to the west and southwest, respectively. For visiting western Patagonia, the route 5 is a good choice.
There are very good services parting from Retiro bus station, covering the whole country. By buying the most expensive tickets, you can get very comfortable seats and on-board meals.
Almost all the long-distance buses use the huge and well-organised Retiro bus station on the northern edge of the city centre. The buses are mostly modern and the roads are good; there are frequent services to most parts of the country and international bus services to neighbouring countries.
You may catch taxis from Retiro bus station, and the subte (underground) also stops there. There are many local buses that stop outside the station as well.
There are numerous operators. The basement level is for cargo and package services. The ground level holds waiting areas, cafes, shops and services including a barber. The upper level contains the ticket offices, or boleterias. The upper level is conveniently divided by color into geographic areas for companies which serve the place you want to go, including an international area. Look for the signs.
Cama Suites or Dormi Camas lie completely flat and some have dividing curtains. With these services, the seating arrangement is one seat one side and two seats on the other side. Other Cama services are laid out two and two, and do not recline as far. Companies usually have photographs of bus interiors. Make sure the journey you choose has the service you want. Most buses are double decker.
Bus travel times to/from Buenos Aires:
Terminal de Omnibus de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires
Two companies operate this service.
The services are now coordinated by Buquebus. The ferrytour ship is the slower one, used for Colonia. You may still make a fast trip to Colonia, at a higher price.
From the official city site:
The City is an important destination for the maritime and fluvial cruisers industry of South America. The Benito Quinquela Martín Passenger Terminal, a few blocks away from downtown, at Ramón Castillo street between Avenida de los Inmigrantes and Mayor Luisioni street, has a surface of 7,100 square meters, a boarding room for 1,000 passengers and baggage facilities with capacity for 2,500 suitcases. In addition, it provides tourist information, handicrafts shops, snack bars; and Migration, Customs, Interpol and Prefectura (Coast Guard) Offices.
You may also take a boat from nearby Tigre to Nueva Palmira in Uruguay. Trains leave from Retiro Station to Tigre frequently. Boat services to Nueva Palmira also connect to Colonia del Sacramento by bus.
There is also a service from Montevideo-Carmelo-Tigre-Buenos Aires. It costs around 10 dollars one way for the whole shebang. Get the tickets and depart from Tres Cruces in Montevideo. The price includes bus to Carmelo, boat to Tigre and bus to the centre of Buenos Aires. The official website is http://www.cacciolaviajes.com and they often have very good special offers that include some nights in hotels in Buenos Aires.
Grimaldi Lines - Freighter Travel operates a bi-monthly freighter link from Europe to South-America via Africa. Five freighter ships do the rotation and each accept 12 passengers. The journey lasts about 30 days (60 days for a round trip) and port calls include: Hamburg, Tillbury, Antwerp, Le Havre, Bilbao, Casablanca, Dakar, Banjul, Conakry, Freetown, Salvador de Bahia, Vitoria, Rio de Janeiro, Santos Zarate, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Paranagua, Santos, Rio de Janeiro, Dakar, Emden and back to Hamburg. Only the stops in Europe and at Buenos Aires accept embarcation and disembarcation of passengers although all the port cities are accessible to the passengers for visit. All the port calls are subject to change depending on the loading and unloading needs of the ship. Tickets for a cabin on a Europe to BA trip start at 1450 euros/pp for a double cabin and 1890 for a single cabin (more expensive luxury cabins are available).
The public transport in Buenos Aires is very good, although crowded during rush hour. The metro network is not very large, but reaches most tourist attractions of the city, and there is a large range of bus routes and several suburban railways used by commuters.
Finding your way around is easy. Most of the city grid is divided into equal squares with block number in the hundreds. Most streets are one way with the adjacent parallels going the other way, so beware that the bus or taxi won't follow the same route back. Going by taxi, you simply need to tell the driver the street and block number, eg. "Santa Fe 2100"; or two intersecting streets, eg. "Corrientes y Callao".
City maps are issued by many different publishers (Guía T, LUMI) and the local tourist authority. They are indispensable for those wanting to use public transportation, since they include all bus routes. Be aware that some maps are bottom up (South on the top of the map). This is true for the maps at the official taxi booth at Ezeiza airport.
Taxis are not the quickest option for moving around in the most congested areas at rush hours, as traffic jams are common. Still, you will find that taxis are usually rather inexpensive, convenient, and exciting (in a white-knuckled, the roller-coaster-seems-to-have-some-pieces-missing kind of way.)
It is safest to have your hotel or host call for a radio taxi. If you must hail a cab on the street, watch out for private operators disguised as commercial services. Also avoid paying in large bills as there have been cases of counterfeit change.
If a taxi driver says that your money is counterfeit and says that he will take you to an ATM, just tell him you want to get out there. There are many stories of travelers (especially when they spoke little Spanish and were coming from the airport) being robbed under this premise. It also helps if you see a police officer nearby because if they are trying to rob you they will probably be scared off. If you are headed to a hostel or hotel, the receptionist will usually understand the situation if you honestly do have counterfeit money, and will lend you money to pay the cab.
Also, if the cab "breaks down", it is recommended that you just get out and find another cab.
Also recommended is keeping your luggage in the seat with you if possible in case a situation arises in which you want to get out of the taxi.
The principal means of public transportation within the city, are the buses (colectivos). They have a cheap maximum fixed price as long as you are moving inside the city borders (1 peso). Tickets can only be bought on the bus, through a machine that accept coins only.
There are more than one hundred lines, covering the whole city. They work 24 hours a day, the whole year; but run less frequently on holidays and at late hours. For each route the bus is painted differently to make them easier to distinguish. The best way to figure out the bus system is to buy a Guía "T". It's essentially a little book with a directory of streets, which correspond to map pages, and have a bus listing on the facing page for each map. Once you get your hands on one, it's very easy to figure out, but give yourself fifteen minutes the first few times you use it to plan a route. These can be bought at many kiosks around the city, or subway stations.
Otherwise, visitors who are comfortable with speaking a little Spanish can call 131 toll-free from any phone for help finding which colectivo to take. You just have to tell the corner (or the street and the number) where you're at and the one you want to get to.
On most services, board the bus and tell the driver your destination (or do what Argentines do -- just say "un peso, por favor" meaning you'll be traveling a normal distance and want to pay 1 peso); he will press a button instructing the coin machine to take a certain amount of money for you, which will then appear on the machine as the amount to insert. Step a bit further back into the bus and insert coins into the machine which now knows your destination and has calculated your fare because the driver punched it in. You will receive change and your ticket automatically, collect it at the bottom of the machine.
If you see a little metal knob on the coin machine, it's not for dispensing your ticket like the candy/toy machines in grocery stores in the U.S. ... it's the door to the inside of the machine to change the paper and whatnot. Don't turn it!
You can also use buses to move to and inside the suburban area (Gran Buenos Aires), but the fares are higher (up to 2 pesos, depending on the distance and service). The suburban-only lines (you can differentiate them because their line numbers are above 200) have lower standards of comfort, and many of them don't run after 11 pm.
By metro (subway or underground)
The city has a metro network ("subte", short form of "subterráneo", which means "underground"). It is very efficient - you can gain a lot of time by using it - and very cheap too (0.90 pesos for any combination). If you need to be somewhere by 9 am or 9.30 am on a weekday, however, the Subte will be incredibly crowded and depending on where you are catching it from, you may have to miss several trains in a row before there is space for you. Once on board, during peak hours it can get very crowded. Factor this into your timing arrangements to make sure that you make your meeting on time.
The lines converge to the downtown area and connect the main bus and train terminals.
In the southeast branch (the E line), the service is extended by a trainway known as premetro, but beware, it goes to some of the least secure places in the city. Premetro is 0.60 pesos (approx. 0.15 euros), or 0.70 with a Subte Transfer.
The subte works approximately from 5 am to 10 pm, except on Sundays, when service starts at 8 am.
The A line is a destination on its own because of the old wooden carriages. It was the first subway/underground built in Latin America (1913). The subte article on Wikipedia  has some information on this.
Many subte stations have interesting murals, tiles and artwork. Transferring between lines is indicated by combinación signs.
You may purchase magnetic stripe tickets encoded with more than one fare. This saves the time of individual cashier transactions; and you may also buy a rechargeable card at some stations. Tickets are not swiped upon exiting stations, therefore you may use one magnetic stripe ticket for more than one traveller, as long as it has the required number of fares.
The subte and premetro services are under Metrovias S.A. control. You can reach their Customer Service personnel by calling -toll free, within Argentina- to 0800-555-1616 or by sending a fax to 4553-9270.
There are a good deal of railways connecting the suburban area in a star shape. The quality of the service ranges from excellent to very bad, depending of the line; ask before using them at nighttime.
The main railway terminals are Retiro, Constitución, Once and Federico Lacroze. From all of these you can then use the metro and bus network to get right into the centre. The suburban fares are very cheap.
If one is truly adventurous (and has a bit of a death-wish), cars are available to rent in Buenos Aires. There are several things to keep in mind before renting a car in Buenos Aires. First, Buenos Aires is such an excellent city for walking that if something is within 20 or 30 blocks, it is often worth the extra effort to go on foot and get to know the city on a more intimate level. The terrain is flat...get out there and put those legs to work! Second, if you aren't (or can't be) much of a walker, the public transportation system in Buenos Aires is cheap and efficient. It can get you anywhere, and fast! Third, and perhaps most important, is that the traffic in Buenos Aires is extremely chaotic. Stoplights, signs, traffic laws...for many porteño drivers, are just suggestions. Picture yourself trying to get several thousand heads of cattle to move down the street and stay inside the lanes, and you have a decent idea of driving in Buenos Aires. The best advice? Take the bus! Otherwise, lots of luck to you. Argentina has one of the highest motor vehicle accident mortality rates in the world.
If you are a fan of walking in open green spaces and parks in big cities like Buenos Aires, be sure not to miss a promenade in Palermo, a beautiful area in the eastern part of the city. Here you will not only find open spaces to walk in, but a large lake where you can rent paddle boats and an immense flower garden with free entry!
Another great place to walk along and experience Argentine street life in a safe area (during the day only, folks - interesting characters emerge here at night!) is El Puerto de Buenos Aires.
The National Immigration Museum is not open on the weekends like Moon Guidebooks says. Use the Retiro subte.
La Boca has the Caminito pedestrian street with arts and crafts. There is also a river cruise you can take from there. There is a huge metal structure across the river which is picturesque. Tango dancers are in the cobblestone streets. You may try to catch a rowboat to Avellaneda on the other side of the water for 0.50 pesos (0.125 euros), but the rower may not allow you to if you are a tourist, citing it's dangerous (peligroso). There is no subte to La Boca, but many buses go there. In addition to tango, La Boca is famous for its football, and you may also take a tour of the La Bombonera Stadium. The buildings are painted in bright colors. You can also take pictures with you and a tango dancer for a small price! But if you want a true tango experience that is not put on a sliver platter for a European or American tourist, read below and experience the true Buenos Aires Tango experience.
The prices for most everything in La Boca is 2 to 3 times what it is in the rest of the city. It's been over tourist-ified, but is enjoyable if you just feel like being a tourist. Don't even think about coming here at night. It's safe during daytime in the Caminito neighborhood.
The Cementerio de la Recoleta: This is where all the rich families in Buenos Aires go to be buried. Be sure to visit the grave of Eva Perón (who, despite having the most visited tomb in the cemetery, is considered by many of the Buenos Aires aristocracy to be too "low class" for eternal interment in Recoleta.)
The Palermo Viejo district: This is a trendy neighborhood with charming cobblestone streets, bookstores, bars and boutiques; definitely better than the touristic San Telmo area for a nightime excursion. The Plaza Italia station is the closest metro stop.
More information is available at the Buenos Aires official tourism website, including suggested itineraries.
Tango is best experienced not in La Boca and on Calle Florida, but in the "Milongas". A milonga is both a place where a Tango dance will take place, as well as a specific type of tango dance. A good place for beginners to check out authentic tango is at Confiteria Idéal at Suipacha 384 (just off of Corrientes, near Calle Florida). Parts of Evita were filmed here. The ground floor is a confitéria with overpriced and bad tasting food. However at night several times a week they have magnificent, authentic shows for no more than 30 pesos. There is usually someone around who speaks english if you don't understand the shows.
Upstairs there is a dance floor where you can see people dancing tango. They come to the Milongas to dance. Entrance is usually around 10 or 15 pesos. It is worth it just to watch the older "milongueros" dance. Many have been coming regularly for over 30. Quick warning... If you don't want to dance be careful of the eye contact you make. Here, you will not see men physically getting up to ask a woman to dance. He will get her attention with his eyes, nod or make a "lets go" move with his head. If she accepts she will nod and smile, and they will both meet on the dance floor. The locals here are very friendly and if you are interested in learning tango, asking around for local instructors is the best bet.
There is a monthly magazine put out in Buenos Aires called "El Tangauta". It is the bible of everything Tango going on in Buenos Aires. Every group lesson and milonga is in there. There is lots of advertising of instructors. Many if not all speak English. Finding it can be hard but go around to some of the studios and you will find one.
Milongas take place either during the day or late at night. "Matinée Milongas" usually start in the early afternoon and go until 8-10pm. Made popular by tourists who may struggle staying up until 5am every night, you will find many locals here as well more than willing to show you how to dance. the night Milongas officially start at around 11, but don't fill up until around 1:30. They may go on until 5 or 6 in the morning. Don't be surprised if you see 80 year old men who still have 3 times as much energy as you do at that time.
The names of some of the more popular milongas are: Salon Canning, El Beso, Porteňo y Bailarin. There is literally tango going on 24 hours a day. Make your way down to the Zona de Calzados, buy some tango shoes, and Bailar!
The zona de calzados is just Past Diagonal Norte on Suipacha. You will see many shops grouped together that sell tango shoes. As with many things in Buenos Aires shop around and make sure you are not getting the gringo price. Men can buy excellent hand made leather shoes for around US$50. Womens can be even less or a little more. For those of you with time on your hands you can ask them to make you a pair. They will draw your foot ona piece of paper and you can design your own shoe for the same price. Do be aware that if they tell you that it will be ready in a week, that probably means about 10 days. If you don't have time, they can mail them back to your home for a small (maybe 40 pesos) fee. You can't have top quality custom made leather shoes for less than that anywhere. The soles are either leather or suede. Watch out if you are travelling in January as a lot of places will not make new shoes until February because of vacation.
You can start learning tango through the group lessons offered at many studios. Some popular schools are at the Centro Bourges Culturel, on the very top floor. It can be very hard to find the actual place as there are some stairs you have to go up, and go through a museum. Ask the security people where the "Escuela de Tango" is. It can be very hot in summers in the room. The Centro is within the Galerias Pacifico, the overpriced American-style mall near Calle Florida on san Martin.
The best way to learn even if you do not have a partner is with private lessons. If you look hard enough you will find top quality instructors for 1/4 of the price you would pay in Europe or the United States. Compare rates and try different instructors until you find the one you like. Rates will change every few months because of Argentine inflation, but is still affordable. You can find instructors who charge as little as 50 pesos per hour, all the way up to ones that will charge 100 dollars per hour. Many of the more 'famous' instructors command a premium price. An honest opinion is that even an inexpensive teacher can be as good as a famous teacher. Again, watch out that you are not paying the gringo rate. At milongas ask around locals and foreigners who their instructors are.
Be warned if you start taking tango lessons. It will seduce and consume your life and you will make many pilgrimages back to Buenos Aires to dance.
A really good hint to get to know the city of Buenos Aires in a different way is Cicerones de Buenos Aires, a nonprofit organization that provides free tours and travel assistance to visitors. During a tour, you´re accompanied by a resident of Buenos Aires who can show you the popular spots of the city, as well as unique, less-traveled ones.
Another option for learning Spanish is to take classes in a private language school.Tutors are offering special lessons according to your needs. While you're visiting Buenos Aires you can take lessons at your pace and level with the convenience of learning Spanish and Tango in an Historic Tango coffee shop.
Employment is available for Spanish-speaking visitors in Buenos Aires. Many foreigners work as translators, or English teachers. There's also a recent trend for technology and recruiting companies hiring English-speaking or bilingual employees.
It is very common for foreigners to work in call-centers. There are companies that provide Customer Care and Technical Support services to many big American and European companies like Microsoft, Verizon, Vodafone, Motorola and others. If you speak just a bit of Spanish you can get this kind of job and earn a decent salary.
If you are interested in buying goods, you have a lot of shops in the downtown area, and many shopping centers, but be aware of the price difference. Certain tourist havens have inflated prices for staple products, such as leather wallets.
The most popular souvenirs are:
Florida Street and Lavalle Street (from 500 up to 1000) are for pedestrians only, where the main tourist's shops in MicroCentro (downtown) are located. At the intersection of these two pedestrian streets, there is often some sort of interesting street performance going on, especially at night. The Palermo Viejo district of Buenos Aires has many shops that will appeal to young or artsy people (think New York's SoHo). Nearby is Murillo Street, a block full of leather houses.
There are many artisans' fairs, most notably the weekend Recoleta fair located in the Francia park, near Recoleta cemetery (which is an excellent place for photography) and on Sundays the San Telmo market. In every fair you will find some excellent hand made products, but beware, also there are industrialized products disguised as "hand made". This is one of the most likely places one would find a pot dealer.
In the Corrientes Ave. from the Obelisco (big obelisk landed in the intersection with 9 de Julio avenue) up to Callao Ave., you will find a lot of cheap bookstores where you can find many books mostly in Spanish. "El Ateneo," a massive bookstore with a reasonable offering of books in English, is at Santa Fe 1860.
The Último Taller at Jorge L. Borges 1975 (between Soler and Nicaragua streets) sells funky candles and street address plates and markers; there are charming cats, and photos can be etched onto these plates as well. The shop is open Monday to Saturday 10am-9pm; and its telephone number is 4831-4135. There are other stores that sell nice candles in this area as well.
Exchange money: The peso exchange rate is currently 3 pesos to the US dollar or almost 4 pesos to the euro. You can exchange at Banco de la Nación Argentina at the airport, but there are many safe places downtown where one can find better rates of exchange. Before you change your money check out rates and fees!
ATM: There are several Banelco or "Red Link" ATMs all over the city that can dispense cash in pesos. This is probably the best way to get pesos in your hand, as they are more convenient and the exchange rates are usually better. Fees depend on your hometown bank and so there are few hidden surprises because the ATM can switch to English. Sometimes the machines also dispense dollars for international bank cards that are members of the Cirrus and Visa Plus/Visa Electron networks. Visitors from Brazil can find many Itaú agencies all over the city. Remember: banks open from 10 to 3 pm., only on weekdays.
It is a bad idea to bring travellers' cheques to Argentina. Don't even think about buying them from Visa, as they are very difficult to change. Try to avoid Argentine banks as much as possible (try to deal with one and you will find out why). There are transactions that must be done in dollars or euros, such as apartment rentals. You can bring your ATM Card but bear in mind that there is a withdrawal limit set by the government. Some ATMs you can only take out 300 pesos at a time. Others can go up to 950. The Link network is best for getting out money. Also be persistent - your card may not open the door to some of the bank ATM machines outside bank hours. If after several attempts to get into a bank this way, give up and find another bank - eventually you will find a bank that will let you in, provided your card has the Cirrus feature or is a credit card. The Visa Plus network of ATM cards have a lower limit of 320 pesos per withdrawal with U$5-6 fee. You can withdraw your 320 pesos three times per day, but that will cost U$15-18 because each of the three transactions will have a fee. Visa says that this extraction limit is for your safety. However, the Maestro (Mastercard) network will let customers withdraw their daily limit. Banco Frances, Citibank, and Sandader Rio all play well with the Maestro network. You might just find it a good idea to bring cash with you and change at the American Express office at San Martin Plaza or any of the cambio places along Florida or Lavalle. As always, be smart about not displaying large amounts of cash. A$100 is the largest bill and often is difficult to change. Watch out for fake money in exchange by taxi drivers. Also, coins are ridiculously hard to come by. Try not to spend them if you want to take the bus a lot.
Saturdays and Sundays are great days for the outdoor markets, especially in the summer. The Feria Recoleta (in Plaza Francia) is an assortment of all sorts of artesania, from jewelry to shawls; and Plaza Serrano in Palermo viejo comes alive in the afternoon with a feria of artesania in the plaza and freelance designer clothes in the bars surrounding the plaza. Another nearby Plaza (in Palermo viejo) between Malabia, Armenia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua streets has stalls with items for sale. Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo offers tango and antiquities. Defensa street on Sunday from Chile to San Juan comes alive performers and vendors. The crowds are thick, watch your pockets.
In October, 2006, a new smokefree law went into effect that made all bars and restaurants less than 100 square meters smokefree. Larger establishments are permitted to have a designated smoking area.
If you're not vegetarian, you will want to try asado (beef/steak barbecue). In addition, if you want to try the meat specialities on offer, you should go to a parrilla, one of those are restaurants that specialize in roasted meats. There are fancy expensive parrillas, and more simple ones. Everybody eats a lot of meat here and the way that it is prepared makes it very tasty. The bife de lomo (tenderloin) is unbelievably tender in comparison to US beef and is more reminiscent of European cuts.
The Italian and Spanish food are almost native here, as the cultural heritage heralds in great part from these two countries. Other popular meals are pizzas and empanadas (traditional meal, small self-contained pastries, stuffed with various ingredients; the traditional one is the meat empanada), you will find it comes in many varieties. They are quite a popular home delivery or takeaway/takeout option.
The pizza is excellent in Buenos Aires, due to the Italian immigrant heritage. Pizza comes al molde (cooked in a pan, usually medium to thick crust), a la piedra (baked in a stone oven, usually thin to medium crust), and a la parilla (cooked on a parilla grill, very thin, crispy crust).
One incredible and typical Argentinian kind of "cookie", is the alfajor, which basically consists of two round sweet biscuits joined together with a sweet jam, generally dulce de leche (milk jam, akin to caramel), covered with chocolate, merengue or something similarly sweet. It's just delicious and can be easily found in any kiosko (the Argentine convenience store). The peaked chocolate forms of this cookie (biscuit) that are sold at Havanna coffee shops, are considered by Argentinians to be the best dulce de leche and you can buy them separately or by the dozen in a lovely box. The Havanna coffee shops are found all over Argentina (check their site to get the exact addresses) and are just fantastic . Don't forget to try their coffee and the other kinds of candies they sell. If you would like to take some Havanna chocolates back home at the end of the trip, they are available at the airport for the same cost as the coffee shops.
If you can read some Spanish, ElCuerpoDeCristo is a blog/wiki/forum about food, with most users in [Argentina]. There's a short list of recommended restaurants in Buenos Aires. If you can't read Spanish, you could write us: we are willing to exchange foreign eatable goods for food tips in Argentina].
There are a lot of al paso (walk through) places to eat; you eat standing up or in high chairs at the bar. Meals vary from hot-dogs (panchos), beef sausages (chorizos, or its sandwich version choripán), pizzas, milanesas (breaded fried cutlets), etc. Don't forget to indulge also in the perennially popular mashed squash - it is delicious and often comes with rice and makes a full meal in itself. It is perfect for vegetarians and vegans to fill up on.
You can go to a huge variety of small restaurants, with cheap and generous servings, most notably the ones owned by Spanish and Italian immigrants. There are also many places which offer foreign meals, mostly Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Arabic, Spanish, and Italian.
The most expensive and luxurious restaurants are found in the Puerto Madero zone, near downtown, heading to the River Plate. Sometimes they are worth the price, sometimes not. Fixed price menus (three courses) can be had with drink and coffee for 25 pesos (approx. 6.25 euros); these restaurants have outside seating areas with excellent views of the dársenas, the Fragata Sarmiento and the old European-style warehouses. But the nicer places in terms of decoration, food and personality are mostly based on Palermo Viejo, Palermo SOHO or Palermo Hollywood neighbourhoods.
The main areas to go out are: Puerto Madero, close to the Casa Rosada, renovated harbour full of restaurants, some hotels and nice for a walk. Safe during the day and night. Recoleta area close to the famous cemetery, restaurants, bars, cinema complex, used to be trendy, now mainly for tourists. Palermo SoHo and Palermo Hollywood, full of trendy stores, restaurants, and bars; young and trendy, nice for a walk, eating and drinking. Palermo Las Cañitas is another nice area close to the Polo stadium.
Buenos Aires has a popular cafe culture.
You may want to try lágrima, a "tear" of coffee on a cup of milk.
Try mate: You can buy a mate in any Coto or Norte (these are the names for two of the many supermarket chains available, like K-Mart or Wal-Mart; anyway, this last one you can find in Buenos Aires as well) for 3-5 pesos (0.75 to 1.25 euros) and then a metal or bamboo "straw" (called a "bombilla") for around the same. Don't forget the yerba, the actual "tea" you drink; an excellent brand is Nobleza Gaucha, "Taragui", or "Rosamonte". Anyway, ask a local to help you in preparing and drinking the mate, since it's not as easy as it seems. Many visitors take mates as a gift when they go away and they become big fans (locals tend to drink it bitter (amargo), but foreigners generally like it sweet (dulce)). Outside the country, you can find yerba in Argentine stores in big cities like New York, Madrid, London, Paris, Miami, Tel-Aviv, and others.
Clubs & nightlife
For many, Buenos Aires has the best nightlife in the world, a great variety of bars, clubs and discos, that are opened until late hours (6am or 7am). For more info on open clubs, check the city government official webpage.
Try the Niceto Club, Cocoliche, Pacha, Opera bay, Amerika, Bahrein, Mint, Lost, and El Living. Other popular hangouts are the omnipresent Irish pubs. You can try Kilkenny´s in Reconquista 600 in the Retiro area or The Shamrock in Rodriguez Peña 1200, in the Recoleta area. These places are very popular with local and foreign crowds. El Milion, in Parana, between Santa Fe and Marcelo T. de Alvear is a very nice upscale bar. It is located in a refurbished petite palais from the beginning of the century. It is also very popular with foreigners.
Sonoman Bar y Resto Fitz Roy 1655 @ Honduras - Pretty hip and trendy bar with loads of Argentines dancing and drinking the night away till around 6am on weekends (maybe later who knows). There's a restaurant as well as an outside area, but you can smoke inside and outside, so prepare! Bartenders are nice and check out the disco ball, it's not like any other. Music is a mixture of beloved 80s and dance. The drinks ain't cheap either! The Palermo Barrios (SoHo, Hollywood, Las Canita or simply "PalVo") have many fantastic restaurants that turn into bars as it gets later. New bars are always opening, so look for an updated map or guidebook when you arrive. "Bar Uriarte" is always a favorite, though.
Pub Crawl Buenos Aires. - The only nightlife tour in Buenos Aires that features some of the best bars and clubs that the city has to offer and provides for a unique, fun-filled atmosphere all while hosted by an amazing international staff. For as little as 50 pesos ($16 dollars, $12 euro, or $8 pounds) you get...
See the website for more details -- pubcrawlBA.com
In addition to the choice of hotels at bargain prices compared to the US or Europe, there are many apartments available for rent for as little as one week at rates surprisingly low for such a large city. Check out the Buenos Aires Herald website for listings, or just do a search on the internet (many of them have a website). Another option is to search for a local travel agency that usually have better rates than the hotels.
There is an enormous number (more than 150) of hostels in bs.as. - new ones growing every day. In the more famous hostels booking in advance might be nessesary, but you'll always find a dorm bed if you need it.
There are many budget hotels where you can get your own room for no more than 15 or 20 dollars per night. You will not find them advertised on the internet. They can be hard to find period, but there are many. Walk down Avenida de Mayo near Café Tortoni. There are no less than 10 hotels that charge between 15 or 20 dollars for a single occupancy room. Start from Avenida del Julio (the giant one) and make your way towards the Plaza de Mayo. Look on the small side streets plus or minus two blocks and you will find many of these places.
The InterContinental is on Piedras and Moreno streets, close to the San Telmo and Montserrat areas. Other international-class hotels are the Alvear Palace Hotel (said to be the most luxurious hotel in South America) in Recoleta, the Hilton, the Marriott-Plaza, the Sheraton in Retiro, and the Park Hyatt in Puerto Madero. There are also many suites-only hotels like the Broadway Suites very close to the Obelisk which have very reasonable rates.
Also, individuals rent their upscale apartments by the day, week, or month. Many times these apartments are 3 times the size of a hotel at 1/2 the price.
The local phone code is 11. Long distance prefix: 0, international prefix: 54.
Internet cafes are widely available for 1-3 pesos per hour; and many are open 24/7. Ask for a "máquina", or simply "Internet"; the verb for print is "imprimir".
Toll free call. 107
Taxis: If you have to flag one down on the street, pay attention; there have been robberies taking place by illegal cab drivers. When in doubt, play it safer, and call a Radio Taxi; these are generally a lot safer: you call by phone and a cab is quickly dispatched. Also you can ask when you order a cab for the car number so you know the cab that comes to pick you up is legitimate and actually the one that was dispatched. Also be careful that the "taxistas" do not give you fake bills. You can usually tell by the texture and color if they are real.
Ezeiza International Airport Security Warning
On July of 2007, Argentina's Canal 13 conducted an investigation revealing that a group of security operators at the airport are stealing valuable objects such as iPods, digital cameras, cellular phones, sun glasses, jewelry and laptops while scanning the checked luggage of passengers. According to the special report, security operators at the airport should check each bag before putting it into the plane; however, some operators take advantage of the scanner machine to detect valuable objects and steal them. The report states that this event occurs every day and that the stolen items include anything from electronic devices to perfumes and chocolates.
Travelers and residents using the Ezeiza airport are strongly encouraged to place high-value items in their carry-on luggage to prevent any incidents.
Spanish in Buenos Aires--people pronounce things differently there. "Calle" and "pollo" sound very different and the double l´s sound like sh´s instead of y´s or j's. The difference in pronunciation probably reflects the influence of Portuguese traders in the port in the 19th century...many of the words that Porteños pronounce differently from the rest of the Spanish-speaking world are pronounced identically to a Portuguese word for the same thing. Much has been written on Spanish language in Buenos Aires. It was influenced by the many Italians who immigrated here as well. If you have studied Spanish you'll find these differences enormous. Also vocabulary differs a lot from Iberian Spanish or other Latin American varieties of Spanish, so may be useful to get an Argentinian dictionary or take some lessons of Argentinian Spanish before getting there. Anyway, most of "Porteños" (inhabitants of Buenos Aires City) speak a little English but it is very easy to find people who are very fluent, especially if you stay near the tourist areas.
Haircuts are available at nice places for around 50 pesos. A luxurious super-stylish could be anywhere from 75 pesos to 200 but make sure you know what you're getting before you sit down.