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Character of different neighborhoods in Buenos Aires

Character of different neighborhoods in Buenos Aires

Old Aug 9th, 2010, 11:42 AM
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Character of different neighborhoods in Buenos Aires

We will be travelling to Argentina for the first time in December. I have a Fodor's guidebook and have started research. I'm wondering what neighborhoods Fodorites recommend for "first timers", and how one would choose one over another. I realize that the ultimate decision is based on individual taste, but would appreciate whatever insights locals and experienced Argentine travellers might be able to offer. Where would you stay and why?
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Old Aug 9th, 2010, 11:54 AM
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You'll get dozens of answers on this. Personally we liked Palermo Soho where we rented an apartment. A lot of people like Recoleta, and it is a beautiful neighbourhood, but I just felt more at home in Palermo. I read someone's post on Tripadvisor where they said that they wouldn't stay in Palermo because they weren't young and hip. Well, we aren't either (being late 50s/early 60s), but I enjoyed being cose to restaurants, shopping etc.
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Old Aug 9th, 2010, 12:33 PM
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Thanks, SusanInToronto. I HOPE to get dozens of responses!
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Old Aug 9th, 2010, 01:06 PM
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Hi, I agree with Susan.. Palermo is a lovely neighborhood.. full of character, parks and cafes and shopping. It is a very large barrio, broken into areas called Soho, Hollywood, Botanico, Viejo ..
The Botanico part is closest to Recoleta, where I live..we walk to Palermo from our home.

It depends on what you are looking for. If you want to walk as much as possible, shop? are you renting an apartment? staying in a hotel.

Our first visit to BA , we stayed in an ApartHotel in Recoleta.
We decided, based on what we like, to live here too.
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Old Aug 9th, 2010, 02:58 PM
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I believe for this first visit we would prefer to stay in a hotel. Wherever we travel we like the comfort of having a concierge for advice and services on our first trip, then try apartments on trips thereafter. We are "foodies" and also like to see the sights and sounds of a city. We are not big on nightlife. We walk a lot, but would also like to be close to transportation to get to other parts of the city, if public transportation is safe. I only have high school Spanish, and my husband not at all, but I understand that the dialect spoken in Argentina is quite different from what I know anyway. So it would be helpful to be in an area where English is spoken widely -- this may be the case throughout this large urban area.
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Old Aug 9th, 2010, 03:46 PM
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We walked a lot, but also took cabs (inexpensive) and the subte (subway - super cheap and easy). I speak a little Spanish, but I had trouble with the accent in BA (mind you, I had just been through the earthquake in Santiago and felt traumatized - maybe that was part of my problem!). Despite that, we didn't really find we had a problem. Most of the cabbies didn't speak English, but we'd write down where we wanted to go in case they didn't understand us. Restaurants weren't a problem. We loved our time in Buenos Aires - we had 10 nights and that was wonderful.
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Old Aug 9th, 2010, 05:29 PM
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For getting around by taxi, just print the names of the cross streets where you want to go ..
Castellano is a beautiful language but takes some getting used to, if you know Spanish at all.
You will catch on fast though..
I don't know if English is widely spoken in any one area but generally, there will be someone who will speak a bit. Depends on how touristy the place is .. My neighbor doesn't speak a word of English but she is fluent in French :- )
Recoleta and Palermo are both good for finding people who might speak English .
Palermo is a good "foodie" spot .. but then you will find plenty of good places all over town.
Living here, we walk mostly and take Taxis.
No buses but we have taken the subte a couple of times and it was clean and safe.
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Old Aug 9th, 2010, 11:37 PM
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We stayed in and apt. in Palermo for a month in Dec 2008 and really loved it. It was a 2 min walk to the Linea D Subte station on Avenida Santa Fe which we found extremely convenient for getting around the city. Mostly we walked and used the Subte and occasionally the bus. The Subte doesn't hav an extensive network like most capital cities but we found it the quickest and most convenient way of getting around.
We tended to avoid taxis as, on the few occasions we did use them it was in the rush hour and we always seemed to get stuck in traffic.
I speak very basic Spanish and didn't find the lack of English to be a problem.

it was very easy to walk to the other Palermo areas - Soho, Viejo etc. which are all different in character. It was a longer walk to Recoleta but still manageble. Other areas such as San Telmo, La Boca etc. are great for a visit but I don't think I would stay there. Puerto Madero down by the river is a totally different side to BA, ultra modern and very swish with some nice hotels and many restaurants, but just a little too out of the way (again worth a visit).
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Old Aug 10th, 2010, 06:10 AM
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My favorite time to visit Puerto Madero is Sunday brunch time.
At Central Market. Sitting outdoors, enjoying the views and people watching and very good food then perhaps a spot of shopping inside :- )
There are shops to browse, ships that are museums that you can go on ... and the Ecological Reserve which is really wonderful at the right time of year.
I would never stay there though, it is too sterile for my taste and on the boring side after a while, as well as what Crellston says, too out of the way.
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Old Aug 10th, 2010, 07:02 AM
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With just 2 visits to BA, we've split our stays in 2 different locations each trip. First visit we stayed in Palermo Soho at the Malabia House, despite being told at that time, it was "out of the way and dangerous for tourist!" This was about 6 years ago, how times have changed?!?! Anyway we loved out stay in Palermo at the Malabia which was one of the few B&Bs there at the time. Then we left the city came back and stayed at LoiSuites Recoleta which we also loved. Both areas were delightful to stay in and offered lots of restuarants and shops and sites. Recoleta being more crowded and a bit more upscale back then. Second trip, in 2008 we stayed in San Telmo for a few nights and enjoyed staying there, but I wouldn't recommend it for a first visit to BA. I think its not quite as centrallly located. Left the city and returned to Miravida Soho, in Palmero Soho and we loved staying there. We're coming up on our third visit and we're still staying in Palermo, but a different area. We picked the apt based on the agreement on TA about its location. I'm sure we'll love it. We've found Palermo to suit us well, but we'd be fine in Recoleta or San Telmo for a visit and we will no doubt spend much time there.
When in BA we walk most of the time with an occassional taxi ride generally at night. Have taken the subte once in awhile. Its easy to get around with minimal Spanish. People are very helpful and nice! Have a great trip.
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Old Aug 10th, 2010, 01:41 PM
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After having stayed in Recoleta on three of my four visits-- that is the neighborhood I'd highly recommend for its modicum of safety, its easy accessibility to other parts of the city, its ambience, and OTHER prime features: museums, the cemetery, parks, restaurants.... Of the five independent guides who I hired, three of them lived in Recoleta which I found out after I'd booked my apartments.

A good friend of mine visited BsAs with her daughter and stayed at a moderately priced, centrally located hotel in RECOLETA. I think it was the Recoleta Suites, and in our discussing their trip, she and her daughter seemed quite pleased with their lodging and its location.

Do visit Puerto Madero on a weekday and walk through the Ecological area. My expat guide and I did this in May of 2010, and just being in the area without having to encounter a lot of people enhanced this part of my trip.

Visit San Telmo on a Saturday; the slight crowd did not mar my visit there. (I've been there during the weekday as well when the crowds have not been present. I think the atmosphere, in a way was lost-- for me-- anyway as a result.)

Visit Palermo and its wonderful array of offerings and areas on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. I have yet to experience this area fully although I've been in its environs for dining and walking adventures on three or four occasions, w/wo a guide.

...stayed at 725 Hotel in Microcentre-- liked it very much but still prefer Recoleta as "the area."

Have a wonderful holiday. I like Buenos Aires and think I must return to partake in some of its offerings in terms of barrios and restaurants, etc. which I've missed on previous trips.
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Old Aug 10th, 2010, 02:37 PM
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Edd-Did u mean visit San Telmo on a Sunday when the antique/flea market is there? We watched them set it up one Saturday.
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Old Aug 10th, 2010, 05:15 PM
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Saturdays in San Telmo can be kind of quiet too, as some shops are closed. Mondays a lot of shops are closed. Sunday is a good day, for all the craziness of it and the music and the dancers ..
We go there during the week when we want to actually shop and not just for browsing and eating

I have never thought anyone would need a guide here if they are able to get about on their own..although I do recommend the Cicerones for a free guide who will take you wherever you ask .. it is according to what interests you.
http://www.cicerones.org.ar/index_spa.php
You can take an Open Bus tour in the morning/when you arrive in BA and from that you will know your neighborhoods and where you will want to go back for a closer look. Plus you can get on and off the buses.
It is cold here, and those buses are still full of people !
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Old Aug 11th, 2010, 01:22 PM
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We´ve just spent some time in Palermo Viejo and in San Telmo; for me Palermo was the most fun, but it´s possibly more of a challenge - it´s very friendy, but is far more "Argentinean" for want of a better word. The restaurants in Palermo are better too

San Telmo on a Sunday is great; there´s am antique market, live tango, great street food and a real vibrant feel to the place.

Walking around is easy, although it can be quite a distance. All the streets are set out in a grid, so even a free map is easy to use. In our experience the one in the Timeout Buenos Aires is very good and is the gay-friendly (!) map you can get at tourist information offices, it´s a bit unwieldy, but is very clear.

The Subte subway is good and cheap, but the lines are limited. For AR$1.10 you get a single journey, and you can easily walk to where you want to go.

Taxis are pretty cheap as well, but traffic can be awful, so it can take a while and the waiting costs can add up!

We spent some time learning Spanish there as well, I´d highly recommend even the shortest course as the accents and pronounciation are very different. Speak even limited (like mine) clearly though and you´ll be understood, the locals are mostly very nice.
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Old Aug 11th, 2010, 03:26 PM
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Scarlett, We finish a cruise on Dec 22. We want to see glaciers and penguins and also a "ranch" and as much of BA as we can and still get back to Kansas City by new years. WOW lots to do and not much time. We are looking at the Baucis Boutique Hotel in Palermo. Do you know it? Seems like the price is right. We would take some organized tours to make the best of our time in BA. Any names where I can contact to find tours etc?
Steve
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Old Aug 11th, 2010, 06:04 PM
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The taxi meter starts at 4.80 peso.. about $1.20 USD..
Taxis will only take 4 passengers..

Steve.. I am sorry but I have never heard of that hotel. Hotels are popping up here faster than you can count. If I hear or see anything about them I will come back to this thread and post what I hear.
I don't know what the price is but I am from the group that says if it offers a lot of amenities and is very low priced, something is wrong with the location ..
I tend to go with places that are well spoken of and have been around a little while.
But that might just be me :- )
The Cicerones are a great tour group. They are Free. You tip them, you tell them what you want to see, or what is your interest..
The best source of information for us was this lady, Sandra. She speaks flawless English and is extremely nice as well as knowing everything there is to know about this amazing place.
http://www.batravelguide.com/
Be sure to get things booked up in advance, with the holidays and tourists and things closing for the holidays, you want your time here to be trouble free.
Rough Guides is another great guide book , with up to date restaurant recommendations as well as hotels etc.
Look into TripAdvisor.com / Buenos Aires forums for specifics if you feel like it. Those forums are hopping with questions and plenty of people with more answers than I have
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Old Aug 12th, 2010, 01:40 AM
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Thank you all for your recommendations. Keep your comments coming!
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