Buenos Aires was B’s part of the honeymoon, as he really enjoys visiting more urban places. We stayed there for 6 days, and while originally we thought that might be too long and were thinking of making a pit stop to Iguazu Falls, it turned out to be a saving grace as B came down with a nasty stomach bug for a couple of days. Unfortunately, we did an absolute rookie move and didn’t bring Pepto-Bismol or Tums, but learned that the equivalent of Imodium there is called Suprasec or Loperamida. I hope this is useful for anyone that might have this while down there, since B took a couple of things that weren’t effective and… well let’s just say we can now laugh about some things that happened (though let’s face it, I laughed during because I’m a bad wifey who enjoys low-brow scenarios). 🙂
Anyway, here’s some highlights and good things to know about Buenos Aires:
Reciprocity fees – U.S. citizens will have to pay a reciprocity fee of $160 per person, and will need to sign up and pay for this online. LAN, whom we flew with, made sure that we had this document prior to leaving Santiago, and we needed to present it to Customs. Total cost of fees: $320
Transportation – the subway (subte) is probably the cheapest way to get around quickly ($1 for 2 people one-way), but BA is organized incredibly efficiently where each block is 1 km, so 16 blocks is one mile (as told by our tour guide that I’ll mention later). Taxis are also relatively cheap, as we took one from La Boca to Puerto Madero, about a 15 minute ride, for about $3. We were advised to be sure to take taxis that said “Radio Taxi” – not sure why, maybe less scammers? The biggest hit was the transfer to and from the airport that our Air BnB hosts provided, but since the airport was pretty far from the city, it’s still reasonable. Total cost for transportation: approximately $95, as we walked a lot.
Housing – we again used Air BnB for this trip, but this time we rented out a studio instead of just a room. Again, I was super impressed with the studio, as it was more of a vacation rental and felt like a hotel room with the benefit of a kitchenette and rooftop pool. The views from the balcony weren’t all that great to be honest, but everything else was awesome, clean, and the company who ran it were super nice and helpful when we needed change to do laundry or we needed help with our internet. The location was great, as well, as it was on the main green line for the subway, and it was pretty easy to walk around everywhere. Total cost for 6 days including AirBnB fees: $650
Tours/Excursions – the only tours we spent were the voluntary tips for the BA free walking tours. This was equally amazing as the one in Santiago, and there were two tours available – the A.M. one with Gaston, the founder, who gave a historical and political view of Buenos Aires (plus it was during an exciting time as there was a teacher strike already on its 13th day with a lot of rallies and marches going on), and the P.M. one with Victoria which gave a cultural and social perspective. I recommend both of them since not only are the guides engaging, but it gives you a great “Porteno” insider look into the city. Other than this, we also did the touristy thing and bought tickets to a tango show, though we went with a cheaper version at $70/each since most run around $120-140/person. The food wasn’t very exciting, but there’s definitely no denying that the dancers and musicians were amazingly talented – how women dance in high heels while I’m walking like a clumsy Transformer is simply awe-striking to me. We also spent an entry fee into MALBA, a museum there, though we happened to go on a Wednesday which is half off normal fees. Total fees for tours/excursions/shows: approximately $190
Currency – currency is really interesting in BA as they’re currently experiencing inflation of about 30%, so there’s currently two rates – the official rate which was around 8 pesos to the dollar, and the blue market rate which is about 10-11 pesos to the dollar. If you use your ATM or credit card (as we did the first day), you’ll get charged the official rate, or you can try to exchange your dollars at the blue market. The blue market is actually still controlled by the government so it doesn’t sound illegal, but unfortunately people, and tourists especially, can receive counterfeit money, so it’s not really advisable to use this unless you know how to distinguish the two. Thankfully, my dad’s friend happened to be in town while we were there, and helped us get the latter rate in order for our money to go farther (plus he’s the one that gave us the tip on Suprasec). Also, if you use credit card at restaurants, be sure to have cash for tips, as there’s no line item for that on the receipt.
Food – food is undoubtedly the BEST part about visiting Argentina, especially if you like steak dinners or cheap eats in general. The only thing strongly lacking were great breakfast places since most eat light breakfasts and coffees at cafes, which is plentiful there. Thankfully, Well-Heeled Blog gave me a tip to try Oui Oui, and the breakfast there was so incredibly delicious! We didn’t get to try as many restaurants out as we would have liked due to B’s condition, but that didn’t stop us from taking in a few steak dinners – two half rib eye steaks, salad, rolls, and bottle of wine for $47 total! – and some Italian eats (lots of Italian restaurants there). Our favorites were Bahia Madero in Puerto Madero and La Playuca which was only a block from our place. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the dulce de leche! From macarons to gelato to cakes to breakfast spreads on croissants – if it had dulce de leche, I shoved it in my mouth! Total spent on food and drinks for 6 days: approximately $465 for both of us.
Souvenirs – BA has some amazing open air markets during the weekends, but unfortunately that’s when B got sick. He rallied enough on Sunday morning to go by the one in Recoleta, though, and we found a great tango artwork piece from a local artist. We don’t usually spend more than $100 on our souvenir so we didn’t get the $200 one we really liked, but we both agreed to get two mini-pieces of something similar since she’s amazingly talented. Total cost for the two pieces: approximately $120.
People – people in BA reminded me more of NY people versus Santiago’s citizens. It’s not that they’re not nice, but I think they’re just more like city folk, if that makes sense, and the drivers can be pretty rude, already inching towards you while you’re still trying to get across the street. There were also a lot more smokers when you’re walking down the street, and it got a little annoying if you wanted to sit outside a cafe and the table behind you lit up a cigarette. But on the other hand, they’re also really nice if you ask them a question, and our tour guides were awesome. We also received a lot of advice on pick pocketers and thieves, and while we didn’t experience any of that (thank goodness), we also heeded caution on keeping our bags in front of us even if a backpack, which a lot of people did. If you’re going there soon, I can offer up a bunch of the other tips they gave us, so just let me know!
Overall, Buenos Aires gave us a great feel of what city life was like. There’s undoubtedly a lot of great activities, but city life just isn’t for me (and in BA in particular, be sure to look out for dog poo all along the street!) so I was eager to come back home to the more laid back and sprawled out San Diego. I love traveling and this honeymoon was such a great experience! I hope you enjoyed the tips and pictures, and let me know if you have any questions!