Buenos Aires- the good, bad and ugly

Old Nov 29th, 2004, 04:48 AM
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Buenos Aires- the good, bad and ugly

Just returned from a week in Buenos Aires and thought that people would enjoy an honest opinion from a well traveled couple. Here it is:

Buenos Aires GOOD:

Inexpensive. The Argentine currency has lost value against the dollar in recent years. Things that were super cheap include: taxis, subway, restaurant meals, services and some hotels.

People look like Americans. No this is not a racist statement. Because most people in Buenos Aires come from a European background someone like us fits right in and are not stared at or bothered.

Great people watching. Thousands of people on the street that were full of life and expression. So many full-filled our expectation of what a resident of Argentina would look like. Many looked like someone out of a movie. Alot going on in the streets.

Incredibly attractive people: I never saw so many beautiful women and men in one place. Especially in the fancy shopping centers off of Florida Street.

BUENOS AIRES BAD:

The quality of the three and four star hotels were poor. The orginal place we were assigned (The Waldorf Hotel) was incredibly bland, depressing and run down. Rooms were like closets. We bailed out after checking out a variety of other three and four star hotels. All were poor by American standards. Eventually had to pay a high price for a 5 star hotel that was equal to a 3 star American style Doubletree or Marriott.

The food was poor. While the food was cheap we found the steak over cooked and overrated. Also from a tourists persective, the 2 hour dinner starting at 9:00 pm was a hassle. There is no sense of urgency in Argentina. Service was slow. As a tired tourist- we just wanted to eat and run. This was impossible in Buenos Aires. Even fast food was slow and almost uneatable.

Pollution: The cars and trucks put out alot of bad smoke into the street. Driving in a taxi, or walking the streets, smelling the smoke was tiring. Alot of water and air pollution.

Terrible economy. We saw so many sharp looking well educated people doing menial jobs. Such a shame. We kept saying that someone that looked so sharp in America would be a $100,000 a year person. In Buenos Aires- they were working as a security guard, or another boring job. (There are alot of security guards in BA). The middle class in Buenos Aires only make about $300 US Dollars a month. 45% of people make less than $200 a month US Dollars.

THE UGLY:

Outside of the rich areas of town, there are miles of run down apartment buildings for as far as the eye can see. Few if any parks or green space could be found in the poorer neighborhoods. The typical person in BA is really struggling and have no recreational opportunities outside of social activities and walking the streets.

In general Buenos Aires is a interesting area to visit if you are tired of Europe but visit the great European cities first.

My rating on a 1-10 scale-------6----
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Old Nov 29th, 2004, 05:26 AM
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I realize that your impressions are your impressions....but, while I agree with you on some ponts, many of my impressions are dramatically different from yours :


1. Hotels. The Star rating system in Buenos Aires is meaningless. I self styled 5 Star hotel could just as easily be considered a two or three star hotel in the United States. This having been said, there are some excellent hotels available that meet 4 or five star standards in any nation, for not that much money. Since there is no uniformity, what is required is more on-line research on forums such as this one....

For example, while you were in the Waldorf,with your cramped room, I stayed in the Hotel Madero for 80dollars per night....The Madero would easily cost double or more this amount in Miami or New York. The Madero is at least a four star hotel...Nicer than many NYC Five Star Hotels at a fraction of the cost....Great bed, large room, pool, large screen tv with dvd player, gym, three restaurants on the property, balcony with a view of the docks, etc...

2. Food. Granted, Argentine steak differs in taste from American steak..it is grass fed and both tastier and chewier than our hormone injected, grain fed beef....but if you found it overcooked, it was probably because you failed to specify how you wanted your beef cooked...Asadors take great pride in cooking steaks...had you ordered A Punto you would have received a medium done steak, slightly pink in the center as I have done on countless occassions.

Service is slow because it is considered an insult to hurry patrons....if you want to eat and run, you need to tell your masero that you are in a hurry....and when you are ready to leave, ask for "la cuenta por favor."

Not sure where you ate, but some of the best meals I have ever eaten have been in Buenos Aires restaurants....Italian, Seafood and Steak at the top of the list, but also some fine Sushi restaurants...

3. Green Space is available in many middle and lower class neighborhoods, though perhaps not in others...Boedo, Caballito, Almagro....none of these are wealthy areas, but have beautiful parks and plazas.....

Sorry your experience was not what you hoped for......I am a great believer that what works for one person will not work for another.....I love Buenos Aires, other locations obviously work better for you....





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Old Nov 29th, 2004, 06:19 AM
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Keep your opinions coming. We liked Buenos Aires, but as with most places- there is both good and bad from a tourist perspective.

We told the restaurants we went to that we were in a hurry. It did no good. A two hour drawn out meal is fine some of the time but not every day!
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Old Nov 29th, 2004, 10:08 AM
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Well,
We have just returned from our trip and give it an 11 out of 10.

We loved the people...so gentle and helpful...not in your face like some Europeans and the rest.

The food top class and excellent service... we followed some of your recommendations and were never disappointed...and found the service superb.

We stayed at the Art Hotel...only open 6 months but booked out almost every night we were there...lovely staff...so helpful and would reccommend to anyone for character and attention to detail.

I can't say enough good things about Argentina...great nightlife...we loved eating late and then partying till dawn...shopping fab...even saw Robbie Williams...but the Falls were better!


Stayed on a ranch and went out wandering one day...only to be invited in for lunch at one a few miles down the road...by the owner of another one.

Time of our lives...and we've been to Boston and the Cape, Egypt and Poland all in the last 6 months.

Sad to be home
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Old Nov 29th, 2004, 10:43 AM
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Robbie Williams stayed in the Four Seasons, just around the corner from my apartment....the street was filled with teenagers for days....all awaiting Robbie to fling open the windows of his suite and emerge onto the balcony....I have decided I don't like Robbie Williams.....whoever he is....

Partying till dawn is a way of life in BA.....glad you enjoyed yourselves.
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Old Dec 1st, 2004, 08:49 AM
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Oh Dr D,
Ask one of your students... and listen to one of his songs..Entertain me...we were some of those hangers out...though not for days.
An added bonus!

Oh well off to see if we can source some fine Argentinian Wine on these green shores



PS I got my contact lens for 1/4 of the cost in Ireland
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Old Dec 1st, 2004, 09:35 AM
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I probably bumped into you! I was the old guy who looked annoyed as I threaded my way through the throngs of people waiting to get a glimpse of Robbie...lol....

Sorry I didn't know you were around at the same time, I would have bought you a glass or two of Malbec! Next Trip!?
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Old Dec 1st, 2004, 09:51 AM
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I think these forums are more useful than people give them credit for. That being said, it isn't unusual to find people who return dissapointed from their vacations because they didn't enjoy certain aspects from the places they visited.

Sometimes it takes a little more homework time in order to find out exactly where it is you're planning to travel on your holidays in order to avoid the dissapointments and enjoy only the things that make that destination a special place. An informed traveler will generally enjoy his trip a lot more.

You won't find in London what you found in Melbourne and you won't find in Buenos Aires what you found in San Francisco. Every destination has its pros and cons and the next city you visit may be totally different from the last. A smart traveller knows when comparisons are due and when it is just a useless exercise.

Sorry you ranked Buenos Aires a 6. Curious to know what destinations you're comparing it to.
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Old Dec 1st, 2004, 10:06 AM
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I gave Buenos Aires an above average rating. A "6" 5 is average.

I prefer to read what the critics say about a travel destination. All the good things are written in travel books.

Here are my ratings for other international destinations visited:

Rio 6 1/2
Cancun 5
Paris 8
Rome 9
London 6
Austria 8
Florence 7
Hong Kong 8
Singapore 5 1/2
Bangkok 6
Bali 5
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Old Dec 1st, 2004, 10:15 AM
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Guide books are worth their weight in gold in my opinion. Years ago I went to San Juan. Took what turned out to be a cheesy tour. I thought - what a hole! But so many raved about the place. So I had another occasion to visit and decided I better study and find out what they had to offer. 2nd trip was so much fun and we really loved the place. Now I study, and study. Plus, it is fun to study for vacations!
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Old Dec 1st, 2004, 10:39 AM
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As much as the quality of the destination, one's degree of satisfaction with a city depends upon a good match between the person and the location.

I suspect those who enjoy Buenos Aires are those who:

1. enjoy the unhurried atmosphere to savor a cortado in a sidewalk cafe or linger over a glass of Malbec in a dock side restaurant.....

2. appreciate things aesthetic, from the statuery in the parks of Palermo to the opera in Teatro Colon.

3. Like vibrant night life, whether in a casino or disco or tango dance hall.

4. Enjoy good food.

BA does not have beaches or other natural attractions.....it is a city best enjoyed by those who are ready and willing to embrace the culture as it is, instead of asking the culture to bend to themselves....For those willing to take a little time to read or prepare themselves, there is so much that is fascinating about BA and Argentina....from Gauchos to Evita and from Tango to Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo....

For me, BA is a 9....only because there are no 10s....The only other city I have visited that comes close to BA is Victoria, BC (maybe Vancouver)....I haven't visited Rome yet, but I think I might give it high marks as well....
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Old Dec 1st, 2004, 05:01 PM
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I think I'm going to love Buenos Aires & Argentina (Feb. 2) as Dr. D's 1-4 apply to me, tho not so much #3, run out of steam. If I may be so bold as to ask an opinion of Dr. D....I emailed Mike on Sunday re an apartment and haven't heard from him yet. Is response time a little slower in BA?
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Old Dec 1st, 2004, 08:53 PM
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Kathygo,

No, response time should not be this slow...I know he is very busy, but he usually checks his mail several times per day.

.....Did you try [email protected] or [email protected]? I'm usually email him at the first address and he responds promptly....Try again and put Dr Dawggy in the subject line.....not sure if that will help, but maybe it will get his attention.

http://www.apartmentsba.com
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Old Dec 2nd, 2004, 04:20 AM
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Dr. D.......Thanks. I originally sent the message to "info", have now resent, following your suggestion, to mike @argentinago.com
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Old Dec 2nd, 2004, 07:49 AM
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I wrote to Cintia on Monday, making it clear that I wanted to employ her services. I haven't heard back. I know she is busy but a quick " I have received your email and will get back to you later" would appease me; at least I would know that she has received my email. This could apply to all agents.

Perhaps we are just an impatient lot......

BTW, drdawggy, it appears from your list that we will enjoy Buenos Aires a lot. Well, I don't think #3 fits us.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2004, 01:14 PM
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I've found the best way to reach Mike is by phone at (786)245-0513. We are currently using argentinago.com.

Regarding Cintia, she was too busy to assist us couple of months ago. Her first e-mail didn't get to us for some reason. So when I e-mailed her again about it, she resent to original message. Dr. D said she has hired someone to help, so maybe you'll get lucky.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2004, 11:48 PM
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Everyone has a different perspective. Personally I always enjoy B uenos Aires.
I do not get tired of praising Cintia and Wow( her travel agency, [email protected]) because it has contributed a lot to our enjoyment of Argentina.
Maybe because she replies in a very personalized
way it might have been a delay. I would not change Wow for any other, because I find it hard to be topped.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2004, 02:59 AM
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I don't know when Cintia plans to add a staff person, but I hope it is soon!

Several posters on this and other boards have complained about slow responses or receiving curt treatment via the phone (I suppose because she is overwhelmed with too much work).

Graziella is right. Cintia has been an outstanding guide, travel agent and person. If she responds to you, however slowly, you will be rewarded by quality service....
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Old Dec 3rd, 2004, 03:55 AM
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I received a very detailed response from Cintia this morning. All I needed was to be patient, so I apologize for grousing.

I know she will take good care of me.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2004, 10:36 AM
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I posted this a few weeks ago after talking to Cintia. I think it must have been missed by some. She has indeed hired a relative of her husband's to help with the inquiries. I am happy for her as she was just working day and night to keep up.
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