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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.