Things I did in Buenos Aires pt. 2

Wow okay sorry, this is a post is a long time coming. Life got in the way (look for my next blog post about my exciting life updates) and I took a while to get this blog post together so apologies about that! Alright here we go on part two!

Capitol Building

I toured the Capitol Building in Buenos Aires. I make a point to try and visit every capitol building if I can. This is a free tour that is offered Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 12:30pm for the English tour, just need to show up a bit early to register for the tour. It is currently under construction so I was unable to see most of the building, but the two rooms I visited were beautifully built.

Tango Dancing Show

Something that Buenos Aires (and Argentina) is known for, is their tango. I went and saw a tango show at a place called Tango Porteno. We chose this place because they offered transportation to and from the show. They had a variety of price ranges but for just the show and an appetizer (empanada) it cost $48USD. It was a really great show and I highly recommend going to a tango show if you get the chance.

Afternoon Tea

One of the things that I was most excited about to visit was The Alvear Palace Hotel, L’Orangerie Afternoon Tea room. Afternoon tea is something that the British do and the Alvear Palace Hotel offers. I recommend making reservations if you are going during high travel season as it is very popular. I also recommend that you show up with an empty stomach as they have a variety of sandwiches and desserts that will fill you up. It cost $25USD/per person.

El Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookstore

This place was one of the places I was most excited to visit. I had read about this old theatre that had been saved and converted into a bookstore. It did not disappoint. I could’ve spent hours browsing around the bookstore (I didn’t though). There’s also a really sweet cafe on the stage that you can sit and look out at everyone. I tried to take a photo but too many people kept walking by that I didn’t get a good pic. The photo below is the best one I took from one of the stairwells.

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El Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookstore, Buenos Aires (Edited with Snapseed)

 

That’s my wrap with Buenos Aires. My next blog post will be a brief update on my life and my next travel plans. Thanks for reading and see you next post!

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Things I did in Buenos Aires pt. 1

Getting Around Argentina

Buenos Aires is a vast city that houses a lot of people. The last population consensus of 2010 stated there were 2 million people in Buenos Aires proper, but the metropolitan area around it houses up to 13 million (World Population Review). Needless to say, Buenos Aires is huge. In my previous post, I talked about how Buenos Aires is still a cash only city, and that includes their trains and taxi systems. They all rely on cash payments, wether paying the taxi driver or loading up your train card. The only exception is Uber. Uber does work in Argentina, the only caveat is they do not accept American Express. My friend was unable to order an Uber with her Delta American Express Card, but I was able to order one with my Chase Sapphire Preferred card. This is a great way to save cash, however because taxi’s are very important in Buenos Aires, the Uber drivers want you to sit in the front seat so it doesn’t look like they’re driving you around.

One thing to note- even if you choose not to use Uber, it is significantly cheaper to take an Uber to the airport than it is a taxi. A taxi cost around $60USD and an Uber cost $35USD. This is the rate from the hotel, and it was about a 50 minute drive to the airport.

San Telmo, Buenos Aires

The area I stayed in was called San Telmo. This is considered the art and historical district, as there are many art galleries and preserved buildings in the area. We stayed at the Anselmo Hilton Hotel, a boutique hotel that was purchased by Hilton. It’s a great modern hotel that doesn’t feel like it’s out of place in the area. I stayed one night in the Circus Hostel & Hotel which is a few blocks from the Anselmo Hotel. The hostel was clean and friendly. It was your basic hostel, wasn’t overly amazing but wasn’t terrible as well. I stayed in a 6 bedroom with a private bathroom and it cost me $11.33 USD for the one night, plus $2.50USD for breakfast the next day.

On Sundays, in San Telmo and steps outside from the hotel, they have host a market. The market is full of antique items, homemade goods and arts and crafts. It’s the perfect place to get souvenirs that aren’t completely touristy nor are they overpriced.

Wine Tasting

We did a wine tasting at Pain et Vin (Address: Gorriti 5132, C1414BJT CABA, Argentina) which is located in Palermo. Palermo is the hip, young area in Buenos Aires. All the clubs, night life and shopping is in Palermo. The wine tasting was fantastic and very well priced. They were very knowledgeable about their wines and had quite a range to choose from. The wine tasting, for 3 wines with bread and cheese cost us $30USD. I ended up buying 3 bottles of wine and a bottle of olive oil, and including the cost of the wine tasting, it was $70USD total. It is locally owned by a family. They even included a box with bubble wrap for flying back, and I am happy to report all the bottles made it back in one piece. *Please note they are quite busy on the weekends and a reservation is encouraged, we went during the week and it wasn’t as busy.*

I didn’t want to make this post too long to read, I kept writing and I realized it was really long! I am splitting it up and will posting more about what I did in Buenos Aires in a few days.

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Cash-Only Buenos Aires

So something that was a huge struggle for me was that Buenos Aires is still a cash heavy society.¬† This makes it difficult for a few reasons, one reason is because many US Banks do not carry, nor will order Argentinian Pesos for you (full disclaimer the only bank I asked was WellsFargo, but as this is a huge bank I’m assuming if they do not order Pesos for you, other banks won’t). The other reason is the struggle I faced withdrawing money from ATMS in Argentina.

So there’s a few things I learned being in a cash-only city. Hotels and Hostels obviously accept US credit cards, but most local restaurants and shops are still cash only. For those who want to immerse yourself into the culture, going to local places is important so for the first night I wasn’t able to experience Buenos Aires as much as I wanted to.

The next day, I spent most of the day hunting down ATMs where I could get cash and here’s where the issues started. It’s important to get cash before the weekend because ATMs will run out of cash on Friday evenings or early Saturday morning and won’t be replenished until Monday. Many ATM that is an Argentinian bank will not accept foreign debit cards – I tried:

  • Banco Patagonia
  • Banco Argentina
  • Banco Buenos Aires
  • Banco Citi
  • BBVA

None of these ATMs work. I don’t know why but it was extremely frustrating (I almost cried). Finally I was able to withdraw money from BBVA Frances and it was the only ATM that worked for me. Per research I did (while being stranded trying to find an ATM) HSBC ATMs will also work as well but I did not try and find their ATM so I cannot attest to this. However Argentinian ATM fees are extremely steep, they run about $10USD for ATM fees.

I kept track of my spending and I withdrew about $150 USD and that ended up being enough for my 5 days in Buenos Aires. I put my hotel on my credit card and the few tourist shops they had, I placed on my card so I was able to keep my cash for food and the train.

For those wondering how you can save money on ATM fees, I suggest using Charles Schwab Bank (for US travelers). I switched over to Charles Schwab for all my travel purchases for numerous reasons. The first was no foreign transaction fees on ATM withdrawals and purchases. The second is ATM reimbursement fees. I ended up going to the ATM three times in Argentina and racked up about $40 in ATM fees, and I got them all reimbursed. The last reason is there are no account fees. I have an account that I use only for travel so I only put money in the account when I’m about to travel so for a majority of the year the account will sit at $10 or less and I don’t get charged for having it. I love this for my travel needs and it’s pretty easy to transfer money into the bank.

Hope this helps a little and you’ll be able to avoid the same mistakes I made. Read my overview of Buenos Aires here.

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Buenos Aires Overview

So I just wrote a blog post about how I like to plan a trip but I will admit, I did very little planning for this trip. I did maybe 20 minutes of research and that was about it. I had zero expectations and honestly didn’t know what to expect. The reason I took this trip was because my friend from college had decided to backpack Patagonia and was flying out of Buenos Aires after her trip. She invited me to join her for the last end of her trip and I jumped on the chance on having an excuse to travel.

I flew out of LAX to EZE on American – this was a 12 hour flight and I came prepared with lots of ebooks, music. I made two playlists, one to get me through the flight and one to help me sleep. My sleep music tends to be classical or soft rock and it helps me sleep so I don’t hear airplane noise.

Getting from Ezezia Airport to Buenos Aires is relatively easy. You can take a taxi or you can take a bus. I chose to take the bus – it takes you from the airport to Terminal Madero and is about an hour long and cost $370 Pesos (roughly $9USD).

Once you are in Terminal Madero I recommend getting a taxi, however here’s the caveat, Buenos Aires is still¬†cash only so if you do not have cash, Uber works in Argentina (I’ll talk more about this in my next blog post). One thing I didn’t realize was how big Buenos Aires was so when I decided to walk to my hostel, it took me about 45 minutes walking (didn’t seem that far on the map and I was clearly wrong).

I booked one night at the Circus Hostel and then stayed at the Anselmo Buenos Aires Curio Collection by Hilton for four nights. The area I stayed in was called San Telmo and I’m going to do a blog post just on how awesome San Telmo is so stay tuned!

For the most part, Argentina is really cheap – a bottle of water cost around $120 Pesos, which is roughly $2.75 USD. The food was amazing and cheap, we had dinner out every night where we ordered appetizers, a bottle of wine and our main course and it came out to be average of $45 USD for both our meals.

I flew out of EZE to Dallas since American didn’t have a return flight to LAX. That was a 13 hour flight and I was going stir crazy towards the end of the flight. Also the person next to me wanted to talk the whole flight and I was not amused (it’s one thing to chitchat for a bit, its another thing when I’m clearly trying to sleep and you’re still talking).

Overall it was a great experience, I had a blast and cannot wait to explore more of Argentina. Stay tuned for more about San Telmo, the mistakes I made on this trip and things to do when you are there.

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My first international trip for 2019

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I’m so excited I’m finally going on my first international trip of the year. I’ve been planning this trip since August of last year and the time has finally come! My friend Emily, who I met in college asked me to go to Madrid with her last February. I’ll be in Argentina for 5 days, I leave Wednesday but won’t arrive till Thursday.

My trip to Madrid with her was last-minute and spontaneous. I don’t remember what exactly happened, but she had texted me and I was asking her what she was up to and we ended up talking about her trip to Madrid. She told me what dates she was going and I realized I had those dates off so I jumped on the opportunity to go with her and went (this all went down in three weeks).

This time around it was a bit more planned out. I’ve known since August after we had talked about going on another trip together. She mentioned she had already booked this trip to Argentina and asked if I wanted to join, and she knew I was going to say yes.

Tomorrow I’ll be flying to Buenos Aires through LAX on American Airlines. I’ll be making sure to take notes and get back to you on my experience flying American. This will be my first time flying American internationally (I’ve only flown them going from Seattle to NYC). The flight is about 12 hours long and I’m preparing myself for this.

Here are a few things I always bring on my carry-on:

  • Headphones
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sanitizer Wipes
  • Sleep Mask
  • Glasses case
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste

(Pro tip: If you travel with medicine, make sure to always bring your medicine with you in your carry-on in case your checked luggage gets lost).

This is my second time going to South America, the first time was in 2012 when I went to Venezuela for a mission trip. So this will be my first time going as a tourist.

We don’t have much planned yet but I have a few things planned and made a few reservations to a few different restaurants that I want to try (can’t wait to blog about it later!).

Sorry for this vague blog post, but I don’t want to give away too many spoilers for this trip, as I’ll probably do quite a lot of blog posts about it. I’ll be posting photos of my food adventures on my food instagram here and my new travelgram that I just launched, which you can follow here.

Catch you back in America!

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