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Buenos Aires Trip Report

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USA
posts: 143
reviews: 15
Buenos Aires Trip Report

Thanks to the people on the forums that helped me with questions...

A friend and I just returned from Buenos Aires on Monday. We stayed for 9 days. We also toured Montevideo, El Tigre and Santa Susana Ranch.

Firstly, I would like to say that we were completely safe. Nothing negative happened to us. We saw nothing alarming in terms of pickpocketing or muggings. Because of the forums, I was alarmed and quite guarded while in BsAs, but everything was fine. We are from New York City and are used to being in a big city. We did not wear any flashy jewelry or carry around big cameras. We stayed in Recoleta. We walked around late at night and felt safe. We did notice a police presence in general. More than people have reported. We spent an entire afternoon in La Boca on a weekday and had no issues. We stayed near El Caminito. Many people were genuinely friendly and that was refreshing for a big city. We were totally safe, so if you want to go to BsAs, be aware but not deterred.

We stayed at CE Design Hotel on Marcelo T de Alvear. The staff is very friendly. The hotel is boutique and unique. It is good for a mid priced range. We were a block away from Avenida Santa Fe which was great to shop and walk along. We walked almost everywhere. We loved how each neighborhood was so unique. We only took taxis to La Boca and San Telmo.

We used www.bsas4u.com to book a day tour to Montevideo, Uruguay, an estancia, and El Tigre as well as transfers. The company was very friendly, well priced and reliable. They easily secure Buquebus tickets for us. Those boats get crowded!

We loved the food. We were in "meat comas" almost everyday. We loved the empanadas, especially at the Evita Museum cafe. Food is really inexpensive, 3 course and wine never cost us more than $35 total for 2 people. We loved the helado, especially at Volta.

The museums were great. Loved Evita, MALBA is fun. Bellas Artes is free to enter! Recoleta Cemetery is super unique. We were lucky to attach ourselves to a tour to find the Duarte masoleum, it is a challenge to locate on your own.

The markets are wonderful, we enjoyed San Telmo but LOVED the weekend fair at Plaza Francia. Great artists sell handmade one of a kind items at incredible prices. Plus it's a chance to enjoy some pan relleno! We had many pesos, but most merchants did accept USD at a ratio of 1:4.

The shopping is amazing if you love leather. I especially loved Prune for bags and Sybil Vane for shoes. The Argentine goods are wonderful!

The Farmacity stores that are everywhere are wonderful. They have some things we don't have here, plus you can buy antibiotics and certain other medicines without a prescription. I came down to BsAs with a respiratory infection and was able to get the medicine I needed for under $10 US and I recovered quickly.

The one thing that was hard to see was the homelessness. We saw many people living in parks. A small tent city set up on 9 de Julio. Women with very small babies begging. On the side of Bella Artes museum there are several families with children living there on cardboard and old mattresses. These people kept to themselves, but it was heartbreaking to see groups of people (especially young children) living in these conditions (not to say that NYC does not have homelessness), but this definitely tugs on your heartstrings.

Overall, BsAs is an enchanting city. We were so happy to experience the summer in February. We loved the city and hope to return and see more of the country in the future...

P.S. Ezeiza airport is madness. We arrived 3.5 hours in advance and only had 30 minutes to spare before boarding our flight. In the future I would get there 4 hours in advance...

WDC
Destination Expert
for Buenos Aires
posts: 3,184
reviews: 42
1. Re: Buenos Aires Trip Report

Nice Trip Report, Professor, and many good tips for first timers to Buenos Aires. I hope you, too, have gotten the 'bug' and will make some return trips.

~MarnieWDC

Edited: 5:19 pm, March 01, 2011
Nice, France
Destination Expert
for Buenos Aires
posts: 2,007
reviews: 4
2. Re: Buenos Aires Trip Report

professorwach,

Ah, you're a woman - 'Prune' and "Sylvia Vane'. I'm glad you had a great trip, that you were and felt so free. That's how I've always felt in BA. But be warned: you're at risk of becoming addicted to this joyful and inviting city.

Your report was a lot of fun to read! Did you buy something at ‘Comme Il Faut’?

And, how did you come to walk La Boca after all the warnings? That's the only thing I've not done in BA yet except for a bus tour which doesn't count. This bugs me but out of fear, I heed the warnings. Did you have a meal there? What did you see there besides the touristy corner?

USA
posts: 143
reviews: 15
3. Re: Buenos Aires Trip Report

Yes, I am a woman LOL! I also bought shoes at Carlo on Santa Fe and Natacha on Santa Fe. And a bag at Cardon... The leather is just too great...

While I was having lunch at Cafe Tortoni I saw a tourist with 2 Comme Il Faut bags. I didn't ask her about the store. I wound up not going there because I bought 5 pairs of shoes from other stores (tango shoes from Carlo).

As far as La Boca, I was a little scared of the idea of it. My friend and I switched camera memory cards, left our credit cards in the hotel safe and carried a nominal amount of pesos. We took a taxi from Recoleta there. It was around 33 pesos. The cab driver showed us the taxi stand to catch a taxi back. He said only get one there. It was around 3pm when we arrived. It wasn't crowded. There were some market stalls set up. We were asked to take pics with tango dancers for money (which we declined). We went across the back of the colorful buildings with all the sculptures, then around the front with the cafes. We did walk down some side streets that had open stores. We walked up 3 flights of stairs and had empanadas and pepsi at a small cafe. There were some blocks with fencing and train tracks that looked unappealing, so when we approached those we turned around. We noticed police by the tracks. We browsed all the shops and purchased a few small items. We were there for about 2.5 hours just exploring. When we were done, we got a taxi at the stand. He drove through the neighborhood to get to the autopista (highway). It was really interesting to see, but glad we didn't walk further. It was pretty run down and desolate once you get past the colorfully painted buildings. 20 minutes and 34 pesos later, we were back in Recoleta. No one bothered us while we were there. We were totally fine. But we made sure to not be flashy. We didn't even carry handbags that afternoon. We stuffed our money in our bras (the best womanly trick!). I am glad that trip advisor made me aware because it really helped us have a smooth trip. I love this site!

Buenos Aires...
Destination Expert
for Buenos Aires
posts: 16,353
reviews: 14
4. Re: Buenos Aires Trip Report

I loved your report, thank you so much for taking the time to post ..

I too love Sylvia Vane .. it is hard to stop once you start shopping there and Prune too .. I am glad your visit was so full and that you were not afraid.

Those people by the Belle Artes are sad .. there is a terrible homeless situation here and while they all do have a place to go at night and a place for food, many seem to prefer to live outdoors. But there are places for them to go to..

You were brave to go to La Boca alone. I think you were also very very lucky.

USA
posts: 143
reviews: 15
5. Re: Buenos Aires Trip Report

I agree that I was lucky... When I return to BsAs in the future I will not tempt fate and go to La Boca on my own again. I also do not want to give people a false idea of safety there. Tourists should be aware and make an informed choice. It is weird that all the tourist books romanticize La Boca. It's the cover of my Top 10 Buenos Aires book. They do not warn people at all of the risks.

I also wanted to mention that we ate the kosher McDonald's in Abasto Mall and toured the Jewish neighborhood. People were very friendly to us there. My friend practices Judaism and enjoyed seeing the area. We also went to a tango dinner show at La Ventana in San Telmo. The food was excellent and the show even better. Most of the show is tango and the live music is wonderful!

Boulder, Colorado
posts: 1,153
reviews: 216
6. Re: Buenos Aires Trip Report

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Thanks for the memories...a week to go and we'll be back!

When Scarlet told me 2 yrs ago that I'd become "addicted" to BA.....I thought she was crazy. But not a chance......BA does get under your blood.

For whatever it's worth......DH and I HAVE walked the streets of La Boca and taken collectivos there....only during the afternoon. Spent a short am't of time at El Caminito......but have basically gone to El Obrero.Lunch is until 4 PM.

May NOT be as brave this time around......with all the posts on this forum!

Nice, France
Destination Expert
for Buenos Aires
posts: 2,007
reviews: 4
7. Re: Buenos Aires Trip Report

professorwach,

You were smart and adventurous going by how much thought you first gave to going to La Boca by envisioning your visit and putting precautions in place (eg. leaving when you encountered fencing - too isolated.) Thank you for candidly explaining how you balanced astuteness, preparedness and warnings in order to do this once.

I wanted to stop in at one of those eateries on the street parallel to that 'hall of tourism' but the bus tour didn't allow time so I just took photos of people and restaurants. No one bothered me.

Enjoy your shoes!

Brooklyn NY
posts: 41
reviews: 82
8. Re: Buenos Aires Trip Report

Thanks Professor. For about a year, I have been reading, collecting information and planning for our trip to BA. Your post has given me more insight than everything that I have read so far. It seems that you pull it all together into one comprehensive thread. I now understand about the La Boca neighborhood. I mapped out a week' worth of sightseeing but did not really plan to shop. When others mentioned " shopping for leather", I didn't realize the quality of the merchandise. Your mention of these shops led me to explore the web. Shopping is now a must. I really appreciate your excellent advice.

Abilene, Texas
Destination Expert
for Buenos Aires
posts: 7,073
reviews: 64
9. Re: Buenos Aires Trip Report

Just to clarify, the warning about La Boca applies more to wandering around the barrio and not to El Caminto and the area around it....I would not, for example, attempt to walk from the stadium where the Boca Juniors play to El Caminito....El Caminto is heavily policed and generally safe enough. Touristy but fun.

New York
posts: 16
reviews: 3
10. Re: Buenos Aires Trip Report

Thanks for the nice report, we've been to AR 3 times, I have about 10 handbags from Prune, love the leather too, I also have my leather pants that I bought on the first trip, they've held up well! Trying to decide if we should do a fourth trip next year, it's such a fun country!