Finally, after months and weeks of planning and pining (and freezing) my husband and I flew into Buenos Aires for our 1 month stay. Thank you TA posters and experts for help and great travel ideas, all along the way. This is our second trip and again the arrival was smooth – no problems with luggage or customs. Found Banco del la Nacion right where we left it last year: waited about 10 minutes in line & got an excellent exchange for US dollars @ ~ 3:50. The limit they would exchage was $1,000 per person with ‘mas chicita’ bills but ‘no monetas’ Easy, efficient, safe.
Took World Car Remis (with a 20% discount card for return) in comfort, in English and in Air Conditioning. $130 pesos.
We have the great good fortune to be privately renting the apartment of a mutual acquaintance from DC. This is such a beautiful apartment in Recoleta, that we will likely have trouble returning to our humble home (LOL). The owner met us and showed us how to work the doo dads and her beautiful art work. The neighborhood is just where we want to be – on a lovely street near a park and larger avenidas for buses, Disco and Carrefors mercados and wonderful places for prepared foods for carry out (para llevar) like Basau and Quiero Mas. We’re mastering the art of pointing and smiling!
During the flight we met a couple with a shared trip advisor addiction. We had dinner with them that night at Rigeletto in Recoleta; decent italian and good chicken and fish options.
Telephone: From good TA advice, we had AT&T ‘unlock’ our cell phone before we left home. Our first full day we took a taxi (we had a passport with us) to Moviestar on Corrientes. They were, as described, helpful and knowledgable, and the process of changing SIM cards was easy. We bought a 30 peso card and got 60 pesos worth of minutes. Not excessive to call the States or to make reservations outside of BsAs. Very easy to buy cards to replenish minutes at most kioskos.
Spanish: We decided to take the 12 hour/4 day course from Espaniol Andando. We were not looking for heavy duty language classes, and this suited us well. For newcomers to BsAs this allows both simple language lessons and a bit of history with on location site-seeing. Most classes are small group, but we were private-just the 2 of us.
We met our teacher at 4 different bar/café locations in 4 different barrios: Day 1 = San Telmo, followed by our first collectivo ride to Retiro; Day 2 was round about Palermo Viejo and shopping; Day 3 in Congresso where we learned some history and more grammar, vocabulary, phrases etc then took Subte A line with our teacher to Plaza de Mayo ( we had previously ventured on our own on the D line and found it easy and not unpleasant); Day 4 was Recoleta – more informal class in a restaurant over lunch. It was helpful - but we are still at the pathetic level! Now we spend some time studying on our own, most days, in our favorite park–Vicente Lopez, where we cannot resist coffee at Nuncho (help, Scarlettt) or the yummy empanadas with spinache & mushroom salad at Las Immortales. Well, it keeps us working, albeit not doing too well on the spelling.
Tour As our orginal plan was to spend 2 weeks with friends from France who had never been to BsAs, we arranged an Eternautus Tour with a French speaking guide. Our friends’ plans changed, but we stayed with Eternautus and were not dissapointed. They were professional from the first e mail and sensitive to our interests, change in plans, etc. We learned quite a bit even though we had a good, but more touristy, bus tour last year with some reading between trips. We ended the tour in Centro, on Paraguay, and had an incredible lunch at El Establo – Proveletta and Bife de Churizo with a good Malbec. We managed to walk home from there to Recoleta –just. http://www.eternautas.com/
Part 2 next: