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Buenos Aires travel tips

Independent Golf Tips for the professional at Leisure

December 2007

 

Argentina is the eighth largest country in the world by land mass, but has a population of only 40 million people, about the same as the state of California. From the air, much of Argentina is barren and uninhabited.

Over one-third of Argentineans live in the Buenos Aires area, a massive urban landscape covering over a hundred square miles.

The Paris of South America

Many Travel guides warn prospective tourists that Buenos Aires is the “Paris of South America”, and it's European feel is undeniable.

Buenos Aires claims to be the wealthiest country in South America, with a per capita income of about $5,000 per year. 



The tomb of Hero Jose San Martin

We found Buenos Aires to be like Paris in many respects. Like the French (and many Americans), the people of Argentina are somewhat nationalistic and proud of their culture. 

Buenos Aires is like Paris in many respects, although we found Buenos Aires to have more in-common with Tijuana Mexico or Mexico City. Buenos Aires is undeniably like Paris in many ways:

  • Great Wines – Both Paris and Buenos Aires have great wines, but unlike Paris, the wines are reasonable priced. Argentinean wines are wonderful and inexpensive, a must with any meal. A bottle of Dom Perignon actually costs more ($300) in Buenos Aires than in New York City ($225).
     
  • Wide Avenues – Like Paris, Buenos Aires has wide boulevards.
     

Buenos Aires is a city of contrasts, with virtually no middle class, and the very rich living adjacent to poverty.


A replica of a turn of the century Buenos Aires home

There are civil protests in Buenos Aires every day, and the Argentineans are very politically active.

A protest demonstration in Buenos Aires

 

A large police presence in Buenos Aires to keeps tourist safe

 

Hotels in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is very expensive by South American standards, and we advise using the major well-known hotel chains like Hilton, Sheraton and Marriott.  Expect to pay up to $300 per might in a safe area of Buenos Aires.

The psyche of the Argentine People

Like residents on many large cities in America, the people of Buenos Aires are polite, yet reserved. Their nationalism and love of all things Argentinean is omnipresent, and the people of Buenos Aires love their nightlife, and most of the restaurants open at 8:00 PM and close at sunrise, and local Buenos Aires natives can be see all all-hours eating, drinking and talking.

The restaurants in Buenos Aires open at 8:00 PM and don't close until sunrise

The people of Buenos Aires like American things, but their choices of Americana are quite interesting.

The Simpson's and Disco rule in Buenos Aires

The Argentineans like some American things most notably “The Simpson’s” TV show and American Disco. Disco is hot in Buenos Aires, and the locals drink and dance-away the night to the latest sounds of the Disco beat.



Simpson's re-runs are on the local television stations constantly and the translations are true to the English originals, and you can recognize Marge and Lisa even though they are speaking Spanish.

 

Crime in Buenos Aires

Like big cities everywhere, petty crime is present in Buenos Aires, and we may remember that in November of 2006, first daughter Barbara Bush (sister of Jenna Bush) was robbed while dining in the San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, a pickpocket stealing her purse and cell phone right from under the eyes of her secret service guards.

A typical street shopping area in Buenos Aires

The CIA web site notes these safety recommendations for American travelers in Buenos Aires:

"Street crime in the larger cities, especially greater Buenos Aires, is a problem for residents and visitors alike. Visitors to Buenos Aires and popular tourist destinations should be alert to muggers, pickpockets, scam artists, and purse-snatchers on the street, at bus and train stations, and cruise ports.

Criminals usually work in groups and travelers should assume they are armed.

A common scam is to spray mustard or a similar substance on the tourist from a distance.  A pickpocket will then approach the tourist offering to help clean the stain, and while doing so, he or an accomplice robs the victim. 

Another common scam is for victims to be approached by someone who distracts them, for example by unfolding a map and asking for directions, while an accomplice robs the victim.  Several American visitors and residents have been robbed of their watches and jewelry while walking on the street. 

Cruise ship passengers are a favorite target of pickpockets and petty thieves. "
 

Touring in Buenos Aires

Most American tourists will take a standard half-day city bus tour that covers the main historical sites, the La Boca and Puerto Madero district, plus the main government buildings.

Argentina has erected a monument to commemorate the dead Argentineans from their invasion of the Falkland Islands.  During the invasion and subsequent reclamation, Argentina sustained over 700 men killed, while Britain lost only about 250 soldier and sailors.

The memorial to British-killed Argentinean Falkland invaders

Ironically, the Argentineans build the Falkland memorial right across the street from the San Martin clock tower, a gift from Great Britain to celebrate Argentina's 100 year anniversary of independence.


The Puerto Madero District of Buenos Aires

The Puerto Madero area is tourist safe area with lots of police where Americans can stroll along the waterfront.  The locals make a big deal about Puerto Madero female street names because Puerto Madero was built in-response to the complaints from the Buenos Aires women about all the streets of Buenos Aires having all-males names.

Puerto Madero has many great restaurants, specializing in Italian seafood and steakhouses.  We consider El Mirasol to be best steak restaurant in Puerto Madero, but there are many choices of fine dining options.

  • Happenings - This is a South American chain restaurant like the nearby Estillo Campo, but the steaks are good and reasonably priced.
     
  • El Mirasol - Considered the best steak places (parrillas) on Puerto Madero, so make sure to get reservations in advance.
     
  • Las Nazarenas - Cheaper than El Mirasol, you can get great steaks at very reasonable prices.
     
  • Sorrento del Puerto - This restaurant has modern Italian vittles.
     
  • La Bisteca - Excellent, cheap beef, but slow service.

Insider Tip:  If you don't plan to spend three hours, ask your waiter for fast service.  It's the custom in Buenos Aires to spend at least three hours eating, so if you want a fast bite, be sure to explain your need for urgency.  Otherwise, they will assume that you want to linger for hours, nibbling on Tapas and drinking their fantastic inexpensive wines.

Great steaks are under $20 in Puerto Madero

The meat is Offal

Restaurants in Buenos Aires serve-up all sorts of beef, and you can go far beyond traditional steaks and enjoy testicles and tripe (intestines) from sheep, lamb and goats.



But there are many other things to do in Buenos Aires besides eating and drinking wine.  Let's take a look at some of the main tourist stops.

La Boca District (The mouth)

La Boca literally means "the mouth" of the river, and La Boca was a past port for the city until the early 20th century.  The La Boca area claims fame as the birthplace of the Tango dance, and they are very proud of their tradition of drinking, whoring, debauchery.  La Boca has a bohemian culture.

Tango in La Boca

The people of La Boca even have fake street prostitutes who dress in red and will pose for a photo with you for a few pesos.  The La Boca art market feature works by local artists.



Questionable Art in La Boca Buenos Aires

The La Boca area has many colorful buildings and the entire area is well-patrolled by police and it's safe, except for the omnipresent threat from pickpockets.

Colorful buildings in La Boca

In sum, Buenos Aires is a great cultural and dining experience and if you like Paris, you will likely find Buenos Aires has a distinct European feel.

 


 

 

 

Note: The opinions expressed on these pages are the sole opinion of Donald K. Burleson and do not reflect the opinions of Burleson Enterprises Inc. or any of its subsidiaries.

Suggestions?  We are always seeking new tips for the professional at leisure, and any suggestions would be most welcome.  If you find an error or have a suggestion for improving our content, we would appreciate your feedback. 

Copyright © 1996 -  2010 by Donald K Burleson. All rights reserved.