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just arrived in buenos aires - first day experience

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Boise, Idaho
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just arrived in buenos aires - first day experience

after all the reading and research at this forum we finally came. as a payback to the help and support i go from here here's my first day experience for first timers.

departure -

flew from houston to buenos aires on united airlines. the did check for reciporcity fee receipt at boarding. so (usa, canandians, australians) pay up or deal with hassel.

arrival -

arrived at around 9:30am. breezed through immigration and customs with no trouble. no long lines and delays.

took manuel tienda leon shuttle bus to downtown for 75 pesos per person. we have two people and an infant (no charge under 3) the total came out to 150p, paid with my credit card. did ask about taxi rate (for the whole car), think they told me 250 pesos. we ended up walking about 2km from the bus stop to our hotel. the weather was nice and warm, soaked my shirt by the time we arrived at hotel. if i am to do this again, i would take a taxi, the savings of 14usd for us between shuttle and taxi isn't worth the hassle.

money -

we came to the hotel without any pesos. it offered us a 25% discount if we paid cash in usd right at the time of check-in. the exchange rate after the discount is 6.93. thinking xoom's effective rate is 7.63 after its fee i took the hotel's offer and paid with usd cash. when i tried to get xoom to send me some pesos i found out none of its pickup offices open over the weekend. no help there. we then set out to area near florida street (under heavy contruction), went with the 5th guy that was yelling "cambio". went to the back office in his store and got 800 pesos with a 100usd bill. took little negotiation to get it, he first offered 7 to 1, i told him i could get 7.67 to 1 at xoom, he immidiately went to 8, which was fine by me.

spent 500 pesos already, guess they are probably all real money.

food -

mcd's and bking's are all over the places, which is assuring that we will always have something we can live with. we strolled around quite a bit and had our dinner at a seafood place named sorrento by puerto maredo. we had a grilled seafood plate for two 310p, two 750ml quilmes beer 80p, a bottled water 19p, there was also a line for 30p (guess it was for the bread and butter), total was 425p and gave the waiter 450p. he seemed to be happy. the seafood plate was plenty for two and was delicious. we will try something cheap today.

safety -

my yesterday's impression walking around downtown (around oblisk) is that this place isn't more unsafe than rome, paris, madrid, athens... to name a few places we've been to in recent years. we were definitely tourist looking, didn't wear any flashy jewelries becasue we didn't have any. i did have my dslr camera strapped across my body all the time. also saw a few other people had their cameras out in hands including some dslr's. however, i did get warned by the locals at three different locations that i needed to be careful with my camera which looked more expensive than it actually was because i had a battery grip on it. this never happened at these other places i mentioned above. this indicates two facts to me: 1. the locals are concerned with what's going on in this city; 2. they are kind enough to warn tourists to avoid becoming a victim.

hope all this will be useful to the first timers to this city.

Buenos Aires
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1. Re: just arrived in buenos aires - first day experience

I wish you a wonderful time here!

Enjoy this sort of " Spring" weather in the city!

Yes, be careful with your camera and take lots of nice pics!!


Boulder, Colorado
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2. Re: just arrived in buenos aires - first day experience

Thanks for the "payback".

Yes.......taxi from/to airport IS the way to go. Glad you enjoyed Puerto Madero. Want a cheap meal there? On the street bordering Costanera Sur ........Parilla Mi Sueno has delish choripan sandwiches and a whole array of salads to top off your purchase. Nice vibe. Always busy. If you walk past the Hilton towards the C. Sur...you can't miss it. There are other street vendors......we like this one the best. Two can eat for 28-55 pesos! It becomes a habit.

Keep having FUN.

Washington DC...
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3. Re: just arrived in buenos aires - first day experience

Well, about the food, you can get great food for under the price of McD's or BK, specially around centro, where you get the lunch specials on weekdays

Ladysmith, Canada
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4. Re: just arrived in buenos aires - first day experience

Thanks for the info. Hope to read more of your observations during your trip!

Destination Expert
for Buenos Aires, Argentina
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5. Re: just arrived in buenos aires - first day experience

Thank you Bangzi for taking the time to write this report.

It will certainly be useful for future visitors.

Moreweird's suggestion of choripan is great: difficult to beat choripan for cheap and typical. Give a try to empanadas as well.

Keep enjoying Buenos Aires and this gorgeous weather!

Buenos Aires...
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6. Re: just arrived in buenos aires - first day experience

Thanks for sharing your experiences.... hope you have a great rest of your trip.

Punta del Este...
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7. Re: just arrived in buenos aires - first day experience

Very good post, should be helpful to others. Keep them coming.

The blue market exchange rate for large amounts in the Centro (business district) on Friday was 8.6 to 1. You can check this daily (hourly during the afternoon of each weekday) on www.ambito.com/economia/mercados/dolar.asp. Whatever you see there, you should be able to get within 40 centavos of that for small amounts (say U$S200-300) at any exchange place anywhere in the city, i.e., 8.2 to 1 as of Friday. You did just fine by accepting 8 to 1. Since you are exchanging relatively small amounts the few centavos don't matter; what matters is not getting stuck with the official rate, now around 5.1 to 1.

San Diego...
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8. Re: just arrived in buenos aires - first day experience

Great that you arrived safely and very very smart to get the informal rate. I really feel for those tourists that don't know about the informal rate. At the formal rate BA is expensive. At the informal rate not so much!

League City, Texas
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9. Re: just arrived in buenos aires - first day experience

Ditto saintba, I'm impressed you looked into exchanging (and even negotiated) at the informal rate. I don't know that I'd be so brave as to go with any of the Cambio guys on Calle Florida, but good on you. Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip. Oh, God... please don't eat at McD or BK. BsAs has amazing food; you don't have to spend a fortune for it, either. Have fun!

San Diego...
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10. Re: just arrived in buenos aires - first day experience

I agree to avoid the fast food places. There are PLENTY of great dining options in Buenos Aires from the upscale to low scale. At the informal "blue" rate it's affordable again to dine out in Buenos Aires. Go to a place like La Salamandra in Palermo Soho - http://lasalamandra.com.ar (Address = El Salvador 4761) and you can get a really great pastrami sandwich with side salad all for about 45 pesos. At the informal rate you're talking about $5.50 US. Absolutely delicious stuff that costs less than a McDonalds Extra Value Meal in the USA.

Plenty of places and examples like that.

Also, locals are warning you about your DSL camera for good reason. Don't keep it out all the time. Try to use a small backpack or something to put it in and only take it out when you need it. Petty crime (especially with DSL cameras IS a factor). In case you didn't see the news last year a tourist was killed over his DSL camera. So don't dismiss the warnings so easily.

In most of those cities that you mentioned, tourists aren't getting killed over a DSL camera. So keep that in mind. Granted the killing for the camera was an extreme example but lots of tourists getting their DSL cameras stolen so be careful and don't make yourself such an easy target.

Edited: 5:03 am, April 22, 2013