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First time to Buenos Aires- will be there 2 weeks

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Smyrna, Georgia, USA
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First time to Buenos Aires- will be there 2 weeks

I have a few questions that I hope someone can answer:

1. I have seen a couple of good reviews for the Sofitel Madero, do you agree? Is it in a good location for restaurants/shopping? Any better suggestions?

2. How does one get from Buenos Aires to Punta Del Este? Is it worth it? Are there any beaches in Argentina worth visiting?

3. Should I rent a car? Can you drive to Punta Del Este

4. Suggestions for sights to see, restaurants, and shopping.

Thanks in advance!

Abilene, Texas
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1. Re: First time to Buenos Aires- will be there 2 weeks

Sofitel Madero is a bargain for its category, 4-5 stars. Nice hotel. See reviews for more specifics. Good area for restaurants nearby in both Puerto Madero and San Telmo.

Not that close to shopping, but not too far by taxi.

Atlanta, GA
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2. Re: First time to Buenos Aires- will be there 2 weeks

Hi, I'm not going to be much help to you because I'm planning my first trip to BA now. However, I was leaning toward the Sofitel Madero too. I'm not going until the end of April so if you go before me. I'd love to hear your impressions of the hotel. My only worry is that it may be a little out of the way. Thanks in advance for anything you can share.

chicago, il
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3. Re: First time to Buenos Aires- will be there 2 weeks

I just returned from BsAs. My second trip. You will have a grand time! Sofitel Madero is not in a convenient location if

you like to walk around in neighborhoods, etc. I'm sure it is a fabulous hotel (it's new) and I refer only to its location. It is in an office district that has little interest to tourists. There are numerous restaurants in the area, but they are MUCH more expensive than comprable restaurants in Palermo or Recoleta.

The Sofitel Recoleta is a much preferable location. It is a beautiful hotel and while I did not stay there, I enjoyed dinner and dancing there on New Year's Eve. Other hotels in the same category as Sofitel include Park Hyatt, Four Seasons, and Alvear Palace. All are in Recoleta.

The only hotel outside of Recoleta that I would recommend for

tourists is Hotel Intercontinental. It is located in a neighborhood called San Telmo. It is an older, more bohemian district, but is a lot of fun and has some excellent restaurants.

(It looks a lot like New Orlean's French Quarter, only larger.)

chicago, il
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4. Re: First time to Buenos Aires- will be there 2 weeks

In regards to Punta del Este, yes it is worth it if you enjoy beaches and nightlife. I suppose you could drive there, but unless you speak the language, driving and rental cars can be

a hassle. Instead, take the ferry from BsAs to Uraguay, then take a 1st class bus on to Punta. Or you can fly. This time of year, Punta is full of wealthy Argentinians who are escaping the heat and infestation of tourists in BsAs. Beware, the season in Punta only lasts from New Years to the end of February. Then it is empty. And every thing is expensive in Punta compared to BsAs. (High Season prices are comprable to Miami Beach in winter).

The main beach in Argentina is at Mar Del Plata, south of BsAs.

It is easily accessable by bus and is very crowded this time of year.

See following post for restaurant information.

chicago, il
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5. Re: First time to Buenos Aires- will be there 2 weeks

Most of the newest, trendy restaurants are in the Palermo District. (You will also see Palermo referred to as Plamero Chica and Palermo Hollywood all parts of the neighborhood have excellent restaurants)

These were my favorites:

Cluny ( an excellent menu with french influences)

Roof ( an international menu)

Bar Uriarte ( good also for lunch)

Central (owned by same group as Uriarte)

Sucre

In Recoleta, do not miss Lola. It has a great terrace area for

lunch and an elegant interior dining room for dinner. It is a little more expensive, but all restaurants in BsAs are CHEAP for us.

Also in Recoleta, I had an excellent meal at Prima Fila which is located in the same building as the Buenos Aires Design Center. The Design center is also a must see for shopping.

chicago, il
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6. Re: First time to Buenos Aires- will be there 2 weeks

A little more about restaurants. I didn't have a bad meal the entire time I was there. There are many small local restaurants that practically give away their food -- lunch for U$S 3.00 is not unusual. I had lunch several times at LaMadeline (Santa Fe Ave and Callao Ave) (the same chain as in the US, but a little different menu) for less than u$S 4.00 and it was very good. Also liked

a restaurant called del Pilar (Junin and Las Heras Ave) .

La Biela has a large terrace area and is internationally known as the best people watching place in BsAs. It is at the end of

Quintana Street.

When you dine, do not pass up the Argentine wines, even if you don't usually drink wine at home. They are world class and extremely inexpensive for us. Let me mention just a couple that I found impressive. Crios Rose of Malbec 2003 at Bar Uriarte and Etchart Cafayate Torrontes 2003 at Lola.

chicago, il
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7. Re: First time to Buenos Aires- will be there 2 weeks

And now about shopping:

This is a shoppers paradise!!!

Expect to pay 1/3 of the US price for merchandise that is comprable to what you would find in US department stores.

And if you shop at tax-free stores, you will get a 16% refund on your purchases when you leave the country. If you find something you like at a store that is not tax free, they will usually offer you a 10% discount. If they don't offer, ask for a discount, and the manager will gladly give you one.

I don't know too much about women's clothes, because I shopped only the men's stores. The best ones are Christion Dior and Yeves St. laurent. These stores are everywhere, in the shopping centers and on the best streets of the city. They carry beautiful, quality items that will be the envy of all your US friends! Also, the top stores will give a better exchange rate. At Dior and YSL, one dollar = 3.30 AR Pesos. This is about a 10% advantage. The best shopping buy is anything

leather, but especially shoes. I bought a pair of to quality woven leather shoes that would cost $400.00 or more in the US

for only U$S 83.00 and then got 16% back for tax refund!

chicago, il
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8. Re: First time to Buenos Aires- will be there 2 weeks

One final recommendation for your trip to Buenos Aires.

Hire a guide. It was the best money I spent on the entire trip.

I used an agency called MeetBuenosAires.com and they were phenomenal! The agency is managed by a man named Esteban and he was very detailed in determining my needs and assigning a guide to me. The guide saved me hundreds just by advising me on shopping. (OK, I shopped a lot!) But he was able to get tickets (Box Seats!) to sold out events at the Colon Theater, made all kinds of reservations for me, planned day trips, made sure I saw everything I wanted to see. Their rates are extremely reasonable. for one person they charge U$S 40.00 per day. Group rates are a little more, depending on how many people are in the group. Look them up on the net at the above address and contact them by e-mail. Ask to be assigned to German. If you get him, he will make sure you have a vacation to remember.

If you have other questions or want more information, please feel free to contact me via e-mail: Jmontgomery@excite.com