A Month in Bs As - Trip Report

Old Feb 17th, 2007, 06:56 PM
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A Month in Bs As - Trip Report

I just realized I never posted a trip report of my last trip to Argentina. So here it is.

I spent a month is Bs As (November 3-Dec 3/06.) Since I have been there several times in the last couple of years, this trip was not only about sightseeing but trying to get a taste of the culture and day to day life.

I rented a one bedroom apartment on Bulnes about half a block from Santa Fe and the subte and a block from Alto Palermo Shopping centre. I loved the apartment and the area. Had no problems either with the apartment or at the end with getting my full deposit back. I booked through Adelsur (www.adelsur.com) Since I had an internet connection in my apartment and had brought a laptop, I mainly used Skype to talk to people in Canada.

Took Spanish classes at Lenguas Vivas. At my level (pre avanzado) the Intensive course was 12 hours a week for 4 weeks. The price was definitely right – 300 pesos for the course. The classes were large – 13 people in mine, which was a bit of a negative point. However the teachers were excellent – especially Gabriel. All in all it was an excellent experience and I would not hesitate to go back to to LV.

Transportation: I used a mixture of subte, colectivos (buses), walking and taxis – depending on circumstances. For anyone planning to use the colectivos, buy a copy of the Guia T de Bolsillo (3 pesos at the kiosks) Its amazing that once you get the hang of it, you can often find a bus to take you where you are going.

I did revist many of the tourist sights – Plaza Dorrego, Feria de Mataderos, Recoleta Cemetery and artisan Fair, Calle Florida, the various Palermo Parks and Gardens, Plaza San Martin etc.

In general I felt quite safe and often walked around at night or took cabs or buses both alone or with others.. However it was quite sobering to hear the sad experiences of 2 people from my Spanish class. One woman from Brazil and her friend were physically assaulted and robbed by a taxi driver. They caught a cab (probably not a radio Cab) to leave Creamfields, the Rock festival at about 4.00 AM. She was traumatized by the whole experience. Another woman from Belgium was mugged right on Corrientes at about 8.00 PM and had money, passport and cell phone stolen. I am not telling these stories to be alarmist. But, as in any big city you have to be prudent and to be aware of your surroundings and realize that unfortunately bad things can happen..

I tried to explore various barrios and areas. So often I would just get on a bus or the subte and go to somewhere different and walk around there. One day it was Belgrano, another Villa Crespo, or Chacarita or Once or Abasto or Las Canitas.….

The Jewish Film Festival was on at the Abasto Mall so I saw several movies.

Also visited the Holocaust museum and the Templo de Libertad and the adjacent Jewish Museum.

Went to see the popular Argentinean singer Diego Torres live in Concert at Velez Sarsfield Stadium.
The ticket said 21.00hours. Since I was going alone and was afraid it might be really crowded or chaotic, I decided to get there quite early – like before 8.00 PM. Well by 9.00 PM most of the people were just starting to arrive and no one was rushing to their seats. The show did not start till 10.00 PM. Since it was in a football stadium, the sound was by no means perfect and if it hadn’t been for the gigantic projection screens, Diego would have been just a little figure in the distance even though I had “mid range” seats. However it was all part of the experience and I enjoyed it and was glad I went.

I really enjoyed sitting at a neighbourhood café – often outdoors- and leisurely having my morning coffee and medialunas while reading the newspaper or trying to do my homework for my afternoon class.

If you read any Spanish, I would recommend you buy one of the local newspapers like la Nacion and El Clarin every couple of days. I found out about a lot of things that were happening- street performances like on Nov 22 – El Dia de la Musica, Festivals, shows etc.. Also look at the various posters and billboards that are plastered around the city. Something may catch your interest.

I am not a wine connoisseur but did come to enjoy the Malbec and other wines. I was often quite happy to buy the 10 peso varieties at the supermercado, and enjoy a glass or 2 in my apartment together with empanadas or other “junk food” while either trying to conjugate all those Castellano verbs or watching TV.

Tried various restaurants. My experience was that although there are lots of restaurants, if you just choose one randomly you may be lucky. But as a rule I ended up with a better experience when I stuck to places that had received several good recommendations on this and other forums or in blogs. Some of my comments:
El Disnivel – San Telmo – cheap prices, good food but rather chaotic atmosphere
Cabernet – Palermo Soho – good food but abit expensive (relatively)
Don Julio and El Trapiche – Palermo Soho and or Hollywood – both fairly good but not quite as good as I had expected.
Palacio de la Papa Frita (the one on Laprida) Excellent value for the money.
El Establo - downtown – good and consistent.
Cocina y CIA - Santa Fe near Puerreydon. If you are tired or steak or Italian this is an interesting option. It’s a Tenedor Libre (buffet) with a huge variety including various Jewish and Middle Eastern dishes. On Sunday evenings it is only 20 pesos – 28 pesos other times. Definitely not gourmet or haute cuisine but pretty much something for everyone…
La Cabrera – Palermo Viejo – probably the two best meals I had (one dinner and one lunch) Sat outside both times. For value I recommend the menu ejecutivo at lunchtime.

Tango: I did not go to one of the glitzy shows. (I had been at one several years back. ) However on one of my previous visits I had met a woman Zully Goldfarb who is a professional Tango singer and we have kept in touch. She has just put out a new CD – Ciudad de Nostalgia. She used to perform at the Club del Vino in Palermo Viejo, but it has unfortunately closed due to a labour dispute. She was performing at one of the old Tango houses in Almagro – Almatango. Small venue – barely room for the two tango dancers, no tourists except me in sight. www.zully.com.ar

Other highlights:
Polo Match with Avrooster Thanks AV

A day trip to the Delta islands on the Barba with Captain Santi

Thanksgiving Dinner at Casa Saltshaker – excellent food and good company

The colours – Jacarandas in bloom, the painted hearts in Plaza San Martin, murals in Abasto area…

The music –its everywhere!! Tango music in Plaza Dorrego and on Florida, street performers in the subte, folkloric singers and dancers at the Feria de Mataderos, on El Dia de La Musica a fantastic Klezmer band at Plaza B. Houssay - www.orquestakef.com, a folksinger in the Plaza de Mayo –www.ralybarrionuevo.com

I also spent a weekend in Mendoza. I flew on LAN. I stayed at Plaza Italia B and B.
It is a really great place in a very central location . The rooms are well kept and tastefully furnished and the owners are very helpful. Took a half day vineyard tour and a tour to the mountains to Villavincencio

I guess I could go on and on. Buenos Aires is addictive!! I’m ready to go back for more and hopefully will.

raquel_z is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2007, 08:12 PM
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Thanks very much for posting your report. I really enjoyed reading it aloud to my husband. All the websites you posted are very helpful. We're planning on five wks this July. We just rented an apt. very close to where you stayed. It's nice to hear you liked the area. It's our first trip to Bs As. Annette
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Old Feb 17th, 2007, 08:50 PM
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Thanks Annetti,

I am sure you will enjoy your trip. I know I gained so much insight and good information from this forum and from Tripadvisor. I am sure that without reading of other people's experiences, I never would have had the nerve to rent an apartment!! And never would have known about many of the places I went to and things I ended up doing.

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Old Feb 22nd, 2007, 07:52 AM
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I enjoyed reading your trip report and thanks for sharing.

I also enjoyed the few times I bought a bottle of Malbec and excellent empanadas.

wcbert is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2007, 08:41 AM
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Muchas gracias, Bill.

Just yesterday, I was looking at your Bs AS trip photos on your site. I really enjoyed them!!! I think I have this thing called "Buenos Aires Withdrawal Syndrome"

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Old Feb 22nd, 2007, 08:01 PM
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What a wonderful trip, Raquel! Thanks for posting your report. And thanks for posting your language school. What was the general age group of your classmates?

I'm having a bit of BsAs withdrawal myself. Can't wait to go back!
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Old Feb 23rd, 2007, 07:24 AM
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Hi mcnyc,

The ages of the students in my class was mixed. I myself am 57. There was one woman older than me, a couple of people in the late 30s or early 40s, but the majority in their mid to late 20s. Geographically, there was also diversity. Korea, Belgium, Switzerland, Scotland, Italy, Germany, Brazil, USA, Canada. During breaks we spoke to each other in Spanish.

The minimum course length at Lenguas Vivas is 4 weeks. The email address that I used to contact them is [email protected]
They sent me their schedule and course prices (which I hear have gone up a bit for 2007 - but it is still reasonable) and then sent me the placement test which I did and sent back to them. Classes do fill up quickly, so it is best to make arrangements in advance.

I have previously taken one on one classes several times in Antigua Guatemala. Although that too is an excellent experience, I would say that the level of instruction and the quality of the teachers at LV was much higher.

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Old Feb 24th, 2007, 11:51 AM
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Very cool raquel! Thanks for posting the contact info for the school. The one I found had classes in Bariloche but not in BsAs, so this is good to have. Thanks again!
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Old Mar 18th, 2007, 06:57 PM
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Raquel, what a great report. SO much great information and it sounds like you had a great time.I'm sure, I, too, will enjoy Buenos Aires.
I think it's great that you went to the language school.
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Old Mar 19th, 2007, 02:21 AM
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Raquel...as usual...an excellent report, rich in detail.

A note about Lenguas Vivas: Most of the language instructors in the Spanish schools around Buenos Aires were trained at Lenguas Vivas. This is a public institution with a great location in Retiro (about a block from the Four Seasons Hotel) and reputation for excellence.
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