33.4500° S, 70.6667° W
This is the point where our trip gets a little crazy.
Up until now we’ve had at least a month to relax and enjoy each location, but from here on out we’ll be hitting the remaining counties on our itinerary in 2 weeks.
With Argentina being so big, rather than spend 2 weeks running ourselves ragged we decided to hang in Buenos Aires for 2 weeks and get a taste for city life.
What we do know is we need to come back and see more of what Argentina as a country has to offer which leads me to lesson 1.
Lesson 1: Argentina has $160 Reciprocity Fee you must pay PRIOR to entering the country.
Now any reciprocity fee is a bummer and this one is quite high but the good news is it’s good for 10 years so trust me, Tom and I definitely plan to come back and take advantage of those $320 we’ve already given the Argentine government.
The bummer is we failed to notice the part where you must pay PRIOR to entering.
Call it bad luck or call it getting what we had coming, the Brazilian airport does a great job of helping Argentine customs stop people from boarding a plane to Argentina without having paid this fee.
The TAM Airlines Employees were very helpful in helping us pay the fee, but that was after we missed our flight.
The reason I say it may have just been bad luck is that the flight we got rebooked on was by way of Uruguay and there was no one checking passports before boarding for this segment as there was in Brazil…
Regardless, we take full credit for not doing the most current research. (We hadn’t checked VISA requirements since Tom originally picked our destinations in Fall of 2012. He picked countries other than Australia that didn’t have VISA fees…obviously this was poor travel etiquette on our part, as this Reciprocity fee has been in effect since Oct 31, 2012!)
Luckily this error on our part didn’t cost us any money, just hours of sleep. Our flight from South Africa to Brazil that left at 10am was our first 10+ hour flight that wasn’t a Red Eye. Rather than sleeping we had a blast having a little “movie day” with all you can drink complimentary red wine…which may have been a mistake given how our evening went…
While we were “sorting” out our flight issues in Brazil, our jet lagged bodies thought it was 4am in the morning. Our flight via Uruguay rather then direct to Buenos Aires finally took off at 11pm with a 2 hour layover. Our final segment took off at 3am landing at 7am Buenos Aires time or what felt like 1PM to us.
We hope this goes down as the most brutal travel day ever, but regardless learn from us. If you’re headed to Argentina, pay your reciprocity fee here: Argentina Reciprocity Fee BEFORE YOU FLY!
Lesson 2: A Taxi from the Airport should only cost 200 pesos…Just use a metered Cab
I’ll never understand why you can’t find a metered cab at the airport.
Of course there are the stands inside the airport that you KNOW will rip you off, but given some bargaining ground Tom and I headed to the street to negotiate a better deal.
The owner of our AirBNB rental told us to pay no more than $30 so armed with some crisp US bills we went out to negotiate. It was a hard bargain, but we finally got someone to take us downtown for our price.
On the way back to the airport we took a metered cab and it was only 200 Pesos, which if you cambio is roughly $20!
Lesson 3: Don’t use an ATM just listen for Cambio
With the strict government regulations on the Argentine Peso, the black market is HUGE in Argentina.
Rather than get money out at an ATM where the exchange rate is 8 Pesos : $1, just listen for Cambio (change) as you walk down the streets.
If you don’t hear it, head to Florida street…if you still don’t hear it, maybe look into getting a hearing aid.
Prices change depending on the day, but the best rate I found was 10.4 Pesos : $1.
Lesson 4: Don’t come to Buenos Aires on a public Holiday
When we did finally make it to Buenos Aires (10 hours late) we learned we had arrived on their labor day or International Worker’s Day.
What’s interesting about this holiday is that they are honoring the Haymarket affair in Chicago that occurred on May 4, 1886. Why they honor this and we don’t is beyond me, but it means the entire city is dead for 4 days.
We were able to get to a store our first day in town, but unfortunately didn’t stock up so you can imagine our disappointment when we found out most things closed that weekend around 2 in observation of the holiday.
Lesson 5: WIFI in Argentina is Unpredictable
Notice I didn’t say bad, we were able to find some incredibly fast WIFI–at times.
We would also return to that WIFI in hopes of those same fast speeds to find it hardly worked at all.
Needless to say, if you’re looking to work online Buenos Aires isn’t your city.
If you do happen to find an apartment or hotel with fast WIFI please leave a comment below as we’d love a good option when we return to see the Ice Caves in the future!
The best WIFI we found was at Exedra.
Lesson 6: The Best Part of Buenos Aires is San Telmo Sunday Market
As you can probably tell, Buenos Aires and the Morkes didn’t quite get off on the right foot.
In fact if you talked with me my first week in town I’m sure I explained to you why I was hating it and ready to move onto Chile.
Buenos Aires, I apologize for my previous comments…As Tom would say I must have been on my period…
Anyways, the Sunday Market in San Telmo completely redeemed the city for me.
The chocolate covered dulce filled churros the street vendors sell are divine (maybe I was on my period!)
The street vendors have the best artisan crafts we’ve seen anywhere in the world! (Thus far at least!)
San Telmo’s cobblestone streets and ancient buildings and churches are spectacular!
We could have spent hours browsing all the fun antiques.
The San Telmo Sunday Market is a definite must!
Lesson 7: Caminito is a must see
Reading up on travel blogs, (a good one to check out is Gringo In Buenos Aires) most paint this part of town in a very negative light.
To sum up my research I would recommend going during the day and keeping a close eye on your wallet, but I would definitely go as the colorful streets were the first thing that really made me smile in Buenos Aires (aside from my Bikram Classes)
The rest of the Architecture in Buenos Aires is pretty spectacular as well, but what can I say I’m a colors girl!
Lesson 8: Watch your Step
Buenos Aires has the most dog feces I have ever seen on the streets of the city.
Near a park, near the mall, in front of the grocery store–it doesn’t matter watch your step!
Also be careful of loose bricks in the side walk. There tends to be water underneath and I had particularly bad smelling slush surge out and all over me.
Many people have told me Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America, so I couldn’t help but remember → scene from Sex and the City Season 6.
Lesson 9: Cats live in Graveyards
Another great stop we made was visiting La Recoleta.
La Recoleta is the home of Eva Peron’s (Evita) grave, but it also it just amazing to spend a couple hours wandering through.
The tombstones, or mini churches are pretty spectacular and you can spend hours walking around checking out the different tombs.
La Recoleta is also home to many manegy cats.
Lesson 10: Don’t try to Diet in Buenos Aires
I do apologize if my view on Argentina comes across in a negative light.
Tom and I are learning that while we like to live near a city, as travelers a city is a city. We look forward to coming back and not only spending more time at the San Telmo Sunday Market when we have more room in our suitcases, but also seeing what else Argentina has to offer!
The other reason why I may have been bitter is we decided to nix the carbs and alcohol (except for our 2 AMAZING cheat days!)
Buenos Aires is a very difficult city to refrain from carbs in.
Even our favorite restaurant, a hole in the wall that specialized in grilling meat served huge portions of bread with delicious eggplant and olive oil.
You can not believe how hard it is to work in a Starbucks smelling of Chonga Bagel when you haven’t had bread in 6 days.
Anyways, we’ll see if my attitude came from Buenos Aires or the lack of carbs when we do the same experiment the first week we’re in Peru!
Did we miss anything?
If you’ve been to Buenos Aires, tell us where we went wrong!
If not, what do you think Buenos Aires is a future travel spot for you?
Leave us a comment below!