This is a rather belated Trip Review but I imagine there is evergreen commentary here:
Over Thanksgiving break, I traveled to Argentina from NYC, spending over a week BA and then capping it off in gorgeous Bariloche. As a a first-timer to the country, and without a traveling companion to rely on, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the sound advice and generosity flowing from this forum.
Here are highlights of the trip:
* The REAL BA Tour, which was -- as many lucky participants have wisely attested already on TripAdvisor -- an immensely impactful experience. This was my first evening in BA and set the barometer straight, I believe, for the rest of the trip. Not only was the tour informative and eye-opening, it was a splendid way to meet the charming and inimitable AVROOSTER as well as other engaging fellow tourists. And my first parilla was one of the best.
* Teatro Colon - the tour is definitely worth checking out! I also bought tickets to a performance of Richard Strauss' Capriccio which was, unfortunately, underwhelming. The opera itself is a conversation piece so it centers on dialogue between a small group of four actors who remain on stage for the full 2.5 hour performance(one act, no intermission). With German language and Spanish subtitles this was a tiresome exercise for English-only ears. I was hoping for more stage revelry and delights but this was the only opera available and so I blame the disappointment on mismatched needs/expectations. BUT if one of your favorite operas is on the schedule, JUMP at the chance to see it performed in this brilliant setting.
* Museums - I visited the big ones MALBA and MNBA and enjoyed both as well as smaller ones like Museo Fernando Isaac Blanco (lovely and tucked away near Recoletta). Given the very warm weather, mixing up your day with outdoor activities and air-conditioned museums turned out to be an energy-preserving strategy.
* Shopping - as a New Yorker, the shopping didn't dazzle me but the outdoor markets are decent spots to pick up gifts for loved ones. I didn't even attempt to battle for the perfect leather jacket as Florida Street is a bit intense and you're constantly accosted by eager salespeople. I preferred the smaller markets and the artisan offerings...there is a market outside of town, Feira de Mataderos, (I believe its name means "slaugherhouse" in Spanish) that is particularly interesting and not overtly touristy.
* Estancia - I heartily recommend Estancia De Los Hermanos. Ana, the proprietor, does a wonderful job and goes the extra mile. She emailed me weeks afterward merely to check in. The day-long excursion is perfectly non-touristy...there were only four of us there that day and we rode (scratch that: GALLOPED!) for hours under the skillful guidance of our authentic gaucho Don Juan (yes, his real name!). The lunch was wonderful, there was a refreshing pool for cooling off, and the setting was lovely. This is a special place.
* Tour - I would avoid the city tours by bus. Mine was supposed to be three hours and it turned out to be well over four. The slow pace of bus itself, combined with the limited information offer by the bilingual tour guide (by the time he was able to identify a building in Spanish and then in English we were onto the next building...I was hoping to learn more about the history of the buildings or the contributions of the subjects of statues. Overall, I felt like it might be a good thing to do on your first day - to acclimate you to the layout of the city - but the tour is NOT a overflowing source of memorable statistics and facts about Buenos Aires. You're much better off splitting the city up and fully immersing yourself in different neighborhoods.
* Palermo Soho - I am especially partial to this part of the city...and wished I spent more time wandering around. I enthusiastically recommend dinner at Bobo, a laudable choice thanks to our excellent host SANTIGOV. I had nearly OD'ed on steak by then so the tuna entree was a joyful departure from the "all meat, all the time" diet.
* Lodging in BA - I stayed at Hotel Dora - an affordable and perfectly mediocre hotel. While the rooms are nondescript (be sure to ask for a room off the busy street...mine was very quiet), the front desk staff is pleasant and all were willing to help with reservations, recommendations and so forth. The location is central - one step out the door and you're in the hustle bustle of downtown BA.
* Bariloche - The Aerolina Argentinas strike infused some unexpected drama into my vacation. In order to get there I had to take a 20 hour bus ride...the first class sleeper seat is not so bad, actually. It was a means to an end, but a rather scenic one. The town of Bariloche is like one nestled in the Swiss Alps. The fresh mountain air -- and the perfect 70 degree weather -- was invigorating. The stores in town were great and there is a parilla (named after the owner, Alberto) that is AMAZING. The owner took my order and I made new friends at the table next to me. It's a family atmosphere that is truly unique. Luckily the strike ended in time for me to travel back to BA by plane.
* Llao Llao - the rave reviews of this hotel on this forum swayed me into choosing Bariloche over El Calafate and I am grateful. Having been to a fair share of high end hotels, I can unequivocally state that Llao Llao is in a class by itself. I like classic French elegance and decor of most five star hotels but there is a certain stuffiness about them in my opinion. Llao Llao is stunningly gorgeous but not pretentiously so...the mountain setting and the breathtaking views of snow capped peaks works perfectly well with the lodgy feel. The service is terrific - the daily breakfast buffet and happy hours go above and beyond. There is plenty to do: I visited the terrific spa and went on several hikes but my most serious business was conducted poolside. The weather in early Dec is just warm enough for sun bathing but not too hot. My only complaint was that the construction crews were re-tiling the outdoor pool and disturbed my afternoon naps!! :)
Hope some of the above is helpful.