Buenos Aires Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
June 20th, 2006 – by: ShannonJ
At first glance, Buenos Aires seems to be a harsh and crude city, but after a bit of exploring, I found a lighter, more enticing side of the metropolis. I literally do not have enough time or computer hard drive space to write every place to visit, sight to see, or restaurant at which to dine. Before beginning the journey, there are many things to keep in mind. Before you even begin to think about packing, I strongly suggest that you send away for your Brazilian visa while in the United States. Numerous students had issues applying for their visas in Buenos Aires. However, I sent away for mine from Atlanta to Miami with a cute little note attached saying how much I loved Brazil. My passport was back in my hands within exactly two weeks stamped with a five year visa for the same price that other students paid in Argentina to get a thirty day visa! As far as luggage is concerned, I came with a large hiking backpack and a carry on backpack. Although it does not seem like a large amount of luggage, I was more than able to make do with all of the clothes and such that I could pack in my backpack. Many people packed entirely too much useless shoes and clothing and ended up having to pay a charge because their luggage weighed too much for the intercontinental travels. Most importantly to note, it is indeed winter in Buenos Aires in May. I naively thought that even though it was technically “winter,” Argentina couldn’t possibly be chilly. I was mistaken and had to shell out way too many pesos for a giant sweater. Another key packing item is foreign language dictionaries. No matter how skilled you want to believe you are in Spanish or Portuguese, you will certainly not know how to translate the eight different sauce options for your pasta! I came into this trip with bare minimal Spanish and having never heard Portuguese, but I learned a surprising amount just by using my dictionaries and looking words up constantly. If you have a laptop, bring it! It may seem questionable due to possible theft or damage, but it is worth it. I am typing this blog on the computer I had to steal from my roommate and have spent entirely too many reals using the internet café. If the program is the same as this year, you will be staying in a residencia or some sort of dorm. It is an option to live with just Georgia Tech students, Argentina students, or both. I would only suggest living with Argentine students if you know a bit of Spanish. We had a few roommate and troubles and could not even communicate with our roommate since she knew no English. If you room with Georgia Tech students, you will still have plenty of opportunities to interact with Argentine students. Those students ate in the same dining room with us, and I had a great time meeting and chatting with them. The final, and for most college students, important logistic matter surrounding the trip is financing and budgeting. How much money will you spend? For obvious reasons, ie the sweet exchange rate, I assumed I would spend next to nothing. Well I suppose I nearly did in comparison to last summer’s adventures. Last May, I attended the Georgia Tech Lorraine program. I spent about $3,000 USD in two months in Europe. While I was traveling a bit more in Europe than in Argentina, I only spent $400 USD in one month there. It would have been easier to spend much more or much less. I would say I was directly in the median spending range- I would dine out on all the weekend meals at decent restaurants and spent a good amount at bars and clubs. I also did a lot of shopping at markets and stores, but I usually waited to buy things until I could find a bargain price. The spending estimates leads directly into all of the glorious Argentine foods and goodies that I spent pesos on. One teeny word that changed my life: empanadas. If you are on a tight budget or just looking for the tastiest food in the BA, empanadas are the answer to your woes. You can get meat, ham & cheese, spinach, corn, etc. in them and fill up on three or four for one American dollar! While in BA, it is also obviously necessary to sample multiple steaks and Argentine wines. The best steak place was probably Estacionamento. As with most asados, you could get steak for two, a side, and a bottle of wine for $20 USD. For after dinner festivities, Buenos Aires is simply overflowing with great bars and clubs to frequent. My favorite bars were Tazz and Utopia, and my favorite clubs were Roxy, Lost, and Museum. Do be forewarned that the rumors of the nightlife going from 3am to 8am is not an exaggeration. However, this usually worked in our favor, because we would get a great table since we were the only patrons arriving at the early hour of 12am. In terms of shopping, the most enjoyable and entertaining shopping venue that I found was the San Telmo outdoor market. There were street performers, musicians, and of coarse tons of arts, crafts, and antiques. While in Buenos Aires, it is absolutely crucial to see a few dance shows. I preferred the flamenco shows over the tango shows, because the music was more upbeat and my style, but I would suggest at least going to one of each. I did not discover one of my favorite places in Buenos Aires until a week before we left the city. The rose garden is a great place to go running or take a walk around. Within two breaths of Buenos Aires air, it is obvious that the word “pollution” hardly classifies the murky black air. With this issue, running for me was kind of limited. However, when I found the rose garden, I could run in clean air; however, the place was so beautiful I ended up getting distracted and walking around for most of the time. Buenos Aires reminded me a lot of a large urban city in the United States. With this in mind, there are things to do and see at all hours of the night. Although the public transportation system is decent, I strongly suggest walking around the city as much as you can. These walking adventures allowed me to explore the city and find different out of the way restaurants and shops. However, as with any big city, you should always exercise caution with yourself and your belongings, and also try to maintain an open-minded and friendly demeanor. I loved Buenos Aires despite my constant confusion at the language and lack of map reading skills.
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