Day one turned into an interesting adventure in Buenos Aires. I was finishing a tour (on a tour bus) of the entire city to figure out its layout, historical places and parts to be explored further when I noticed the rain drops….
Well, I got caught in the rain of the century. The city was flooded. The drainage system could not cope with exceptionally heavy downpours and I actually saw owners sweeping water out of their stores and restaurants.
After taking a shower in the crazy rain on the streets of Palermo Soho, I finally managed to get to my apartment only to find out that the entire area had no power. That did not kill my spirit of adventure and I decided to dine at Casa Cruz. Electricity disappeared after a second glass of Argentinian wine as my newly acquired expat friends shared their experiences about the city. Candlelight dinner, wine, chocolate muss/cake – what a great way to start celebrating my big birthday!
A few practical points about Argentina before you start planning your trip:
1. Entry fee of 132$ (effective January 1, 2010) is valid for 10 years and can be paid by cash or credit card at the entry point to Argentina (airport before passing through customs)
2. Cabs can be booked in advance or pre-paid at the airport. I used Remisesuniversal cab service.
3. Book your travels within the country in advance, especially if you are flying to El Calafate, Patagonia. In El Calafate, be prepared to pay the airport exit tax before you go through security.
5. Don’t over-pack – there are plenty of local shops in BA. Don’t also assume that it’s shorts and flip-flops only – it’s not a jungle but a beautiful European-like city.
6. A pair of comfortable shoes is a must – there will be tons of walking involved unless you are one of those people who uses a drive-through in Starbucks:)
7. In addition to pesos, dollars and euros are accepted in many stores/hotels/restaurants. Some places even give you 10% discount if you pay cash.
8. Any country can be dangerous if you don’t follow the basic rules. Same with Argentina. Keep an eye on your wallet, but don’t act as if you are walking through an alley full of thieves. It’s a civilized country who’s economy was affected by an unfortunate currency collapse.
9. Watch out for fake money, especially when it comes to the large bills.