So, answer each question yes or no:
1. I scream TOURIST in my style of dress (i.e. white sneakers, clothing very different in manner from the locals, expensive clothing, etc).
2. I scream TOURIST in my demeanor (i.e. talking very loudly in English everywhere, walking around with a map/guidebook out most of the time, being flamboyant with cash, not paying attention to what is around me, etc)
3. I scream TOURIST in my electronics (i.e. my camera, cellphone, computer are on prominent display on my body at all times, I am aiming a camera or video camera at everything and everyone, I am very obviously using other expensive electronics like a hand-held GPS, etc.).
4. I scream WEALTHY (which means lush pickings for a local thief) in the items I display on my body (i.e. watch, jewelry, shoes, accessories, electronics).
5. I scream CARELESS (purse carried by the strap instead of across the body, tendency to set items down and walk away from them -- even for a moment, displaying cash in the wallet when paying for an item, etc.).
You scream, and the thieves will come.
Don't scream, and you'll most likely be just fine (unless it's your karmic turn for bad poop).
The CD and book box set of Gustavo Santaolalla's Café de los Maestros. It's a living history of the great masters of tango music. We were at the opening of the live show at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. A once in a lifetime experience that is beautifully and superbly memorialized in the very soulful performances recorded on this set. Truly a must.
Sometimes truly magical films come into your life.. films that evoke the smiles and nuances of places you'd like for your own history, and the film Valentin is one of those special films...
Warning! We can't watch it without wanting to buy another plane ticket to Buenos Aires.
If you thrill in immersing yourself in a country's most noted literature -- and you have somehow missed reading Jorge Luis Borges, undeniably one of the most noted South American authors (and as a bit of trivia, for whom the street in Palermo leading to Plaza Serrano has been named), then start with his collected fiction:
- rely on the landline in your apartment/hotel
- use your home country cellular service
- use an argentine based cellular service
- use a VoIP service
- make your calls using a locutorio (it's a telephone and internet service shop -- they're on almost every block).
The first and last options are physically limiting: you must stay near the hardwired equipment. However the VoIP option (think Vonage or the like -- or even a Magic Jack) is the most economical option for calling to and from the USA, if you will have access to a computer and the internet.
If you use the landline in your apartment to make calls, grab a "Habla Mas" card at a kiosko -- use that to place your international calls. Note that many temporary rentals have landlines that have to have time replenished by the use of prepaid cards -- they don't have unlimited local calls -- so you'll need to also buy cards for whatever local service provider is used by the landlord when you run out of time.
If you use your home country cellular service you'll end up paying their prices for international roaming (ouch!) and you'll probably not get any calls from anyone you meet or need to have call you in Argentina (because they'll have to make an international call to reach you). Plus you'll get to pay for getting all those calls you didn't want to get from back home (there's nothing like paying roaming charges for a "will you take our survey about customer assistance?" call).
Using an Argentine service is the most practical for MOST uses within Argentina (it is not the best for incoming international calls -- use your landline or a VoIP service) -- and best yet: it's easy and inexpensive. Just follow these steps:
1) You will need an UNLOCKED tri-Band or Quad-Band cell phone (and no this doesn't mean just the keypad being unlocked -- it means unlocked so that it will accept and use SIM cards from any carrier). Most phones in the USA are sold to you by your carrier locked. So you need to unlock your phone. You can do this one of three ways:
a. After you make sure you have a tri-band or quad-band phone, have your carrier unlock the phone for you. From personal experience, AT&T will provide you the unlock code and instructions for your phone if you've been with them awhile, you will be traveling outside of the USA, AND you "apply" for the unlock code at least 10 days in advance of your trip. However, certain phones cannot be unlocked (i.e. iphones). But, there is hope: take out that old phone of yours and check it out -- it might just work.
b. You can have a local, INDEPENDENTLY OWNED cellular repair shop unlock the phone for you. This usually costs $20 to $25. Ask them if there are any risks involved with your make/model phone.
c. You can do some research on the internet, try to get the unlock codes and instructions and do it yourself. However you need to understand YOU ARE TAKING THE RISK OF "BRICKING" (freezing up) YOUR PHONE if it doesn't work. Then your phone will never work (except as a paperweight). I always go with option "a" myself.
Or you can buy an unlocked phone (used unlocked phones can be cheap on online auction sites or you can research which models of new phones are unlocked -- i.e. some of the cheap prepaid phones found at big box stores are actually unlocked and run about $30).
Or you can rent a phone in Argentina.
2) You need an Argentine sim card. There are 3 major companies:
Claro ( formerly known as CTIMovil)
All have comparable rates -- But Claro is considered the least expensive (and because it is -- the cell time refill cards are more readily available in outlying areas).
3) You will need to buy time for the phone. Time is purchased in the form of cards "tarjetas" which can be purchased at kioskos (think mini-mini mart) all over Argentina. 20 peso cards are the easiest to find. But 50 peso cards tend to be the best value. Follow the instructions on the card for loading the time onto your phone. This involves dialing an access code, using the scratchoff PIN number on the card, then waiting for a few seconds for the time to register.
Be warned: the way cellular phone tariffs work in Argentina is different than in the USA: the caller pays for the airtime of the recipient cell phone... so it can eat up credits very quickly. This also makes is more unlikely that people will call you, because it costs them double (their airtime and yours), so texting is king in Argentina.
4) You'll need to know how to dial and be dialed. Telephone numbers are not the familiar 7 digits.. so, let's start with some basics:
11 = country code for Argentina
54 = area code for the province of Buenos Aires
26 = area code for Mendoza area
29 = area code for northern Patagonia
11 = city code for Buenos Aires
14 = city code for Mendoza
44 = city code for Bariloche
15 or 16 = area code for cellular phones within Buenos Aires
Landline telephone numbers are 8 digits of which the first two are more specific area code (i.e. most of the telephone numbers in Palermo start with a 48) So, now that you're confused, here is
How you dial a landline number from the USA:
011-54-11-xxxx-xxxx (number in Buenos Aires)
011-54-29-44xx-xxxx (number in Bariloche)
How to dial a Buenos Aires cellular from the USA:
011-54-911-xxxx-xxxx (this is tricky: you substitute 911 for the 15 or 16 at the beginning of the cellular number, so you're dialing 9-11- then the last 8 digits of the cell number)
How to dial from within Buenos Aires:
cellular 15-xxxx-xxxx or 16-xxxx-xxxx
Dialing a landline to another area of Argentina from with Argentina:
Dialing to the USA from Argentina:
001-area code-telephone number
Having a decent map of the city helps in planning which hotel/apartment/B&B to stay in (if you've ever been surprised when you discovered that your window overlooked a freeway, you'll immediately understand the value of the planning-stage map) -- you can view the different areas of the city, the proximity to places you'd like to visit -- and even determine whether you're about to rent an apartment on the corner of two busy roads whose noise will likely keep you up all night. You can locate the subte (subway) routes easily (and note whether you're staying close to one).
Now, considering that most people are planning on spending a few thousand dollars on a trip to Argentina, spending $10 or so on maps doesn't seem like such a stretch -- but, you'd be surprised where people cut corners. Oh wait, you won't.
We wondered if people don't buy them just because they don't know where/how to buy one? Then again, is that why people don't buy a decent guidebook and then bounce onto an internet message board with the overly broad question of "Hi, I'm going to Argentina. Where should I go and what should I do?" (think about how much time it would take you to answer that question if it were asked of your country -- and if you answered it -- you would have just written a.....guidebook).
So, to make it easier.. here are some links to some good maps (and a guidebook or two thrown in for good measure)
This is one of the two Buenos Aires city maps we carry with us:
and the other (a Lonely Planet map) is out of print now, but this one looks like it might even be better:
A full map of Argentina not only helps put the country in perspective, but may give you ideas on places you'd like to research a a possible destination:
or, if you want the full perspective.. try all of southern South America (including Argentina):
Our favorite guidebook for Buenos Aires is the Time Out guide:
And there's also a nice one for Patagonia:
For Argentina as a whole we're super excited about the upcoming TimeOut guide for Argentina (including Uruguay!):
But, if you need something quickly, try:
If you've already made it to Argentina and are in Buenos Aires (or once you get there), we recommend picking up a copy of the GuiaT -- it's an extremely detailed grid of maps of the full Buenos Aires area -- complete with bus route information. It comes in a desk size and a pocket size -- and will only cost you a few dollars. To our knowledge it's not available for purchase outside of Argentina.
Aji Picante -- Hot Red Pepper
Albahaca -- Basil
Azafran -- Saffron
Canela -- Cinnamon
Ciboulette -- Chives
Cilantro -- Cilantro
Clavo de Olor -- Cloves
Comino -- Cumin
Eneldo -- Dill
Jengibre -- Ginger
Laurel -- Bay Leaves
Manzanilla -- Chamomille
Menta -- Mint (typically spearmint)
Nuez Moscada -- Nutmeg
Orégano -- Oregano
Perejil -- Parsley
Pimienta -- Pepper
Pimienta Negra - Black Pepper
Romero -- Rosemary
Sal -- Salt
Salvia -- Sage
Tomillo -- Thyme
Vainilla -- Vanilla
Anana - - Pineapple
Banana - - Banana
Cayote -- a squash that is made into a sweet preserve in the North of Argentina
Cereza -- Cherry
Ciruela -- Plum
Damascus -- Apricot
Durazno -- Peach
Fruitilla -- Strawberry
Higo -- Fig
Kiwi -- Kiwi
Limón -- Lemon (or sometimes Lime)
Mandarina -- Tangerine
Manzana -- Apple
Maracuyá -- Passion Fruit
Melón -- Honeydew.. or Cantelope
Membrillo -- Quince
Naranja -- Orange
Pera -- Pear
Pomelo -- Grapefruit
Sandia -- Watermelon
Uva -- Grape
Ajo -- Garlic
Alcaucil -- Artichoke
Apio -- Celery
Arveja -- Green Peas
Batata -- A pale fleshed yam
Berenjena -- Eggplant
Brocoli -- Broccoli
Brotes -- Sprouts (as in alfalfa, mustard, soy sprouts, etc)
Calabasa -- A pumpkin-like member of the squash family
Calabacita -- a small hard-shelled squash -- usually served stuffed (rellano)
Cebolla -- Onion
Chaucha -- Green Beans
Esparrago -- Asparagus
Espinacas -- Spinach
Garbanzo -- Garbanzo Beans
Haba -- Fava/Broad Beans
Hinojo -- Fennel
Humita -- a tamale-like cooked corn mixture
Lechuga -- Lettuce
Lenteja -- Lentils
Maiz -- Corn
Nabo -- Turnip
Palta -- Avocado
Palmito -- Hearts of Palm
Papo -- Potato
Pepino -- Cucumber
Pimiento -- Bell Pepper
Porotos de Soya -- Edamame/Soy Bean Pods
Puerro -- Scallions
Rabanito -- Radish
Rabano -- Parsnip
Radicchio -- Radicchio
Radicheta -- Chicory Greens
Remolacha -- Beets
Rucula -- Arugula
Tomate -- Tomato
Zanahoria -- Carrot
Zuccino -- Zucchini
If you are arriving at EZE, you have two safe choices for efficient independent travel (meaning not arranged by your hotel or travel agency and not involving public buses or shuttle buses) from the airport: a private car (known as a remise) or Radio Taxi Ezeiza. The private car will cost you just about 100 pesos (or more, prices keep going up) or about 10 pesos more than the taxi and will greet you just outside of customs.
There are three remise companies that I am familiar with that have booths directly outside of customs: VIP, World Car, and Manuel Tienda Leon. They are directly to your left as you exit customs. I use both VIP and World Car -- both are excellent and lower priced than Manuel Tienda Leon.
There are times when there are waits for cars. So those who prefer not to risk a wait (20 to 30 minutes) should make a reservation:
Telephone 5480 4590
Telephone: 5480-1226 or 5480-1215
To dial from the U.S. dial: 011-54-11-xxxx-xxxx (use Vonage or a phone card unless you want to pay your phone carrier's crazy international rates -- a $5 phone card purchased here in the US will give you like 6 hours of talking time to Buenos Aires).
Radio Taxi Ezeiza has a large booth in front of customs after you exit. You stand in line at the booth, prepay for your taxi, then wait to be assigned to a taxi.
For those on a budget (and staying close enough to the one-stop it offers to make it worthwhile to wait for the bus, change transportation, etc) Manuel Tienda Leon offers a shuttle bus to the city that makes one stop at "Terminal Madero" -- then you'll need to get to your final destination. For the truly adventurous you CAN take a public bus into the city. There is one that I know of that goes to/from the airport into the more touristed parts of the city: Line 8 which has a route of Liniers > Central Marketplace > Congreso > Plaza de Mayo > School of Engineering (UBA) > Paseo Colón. The fare is 1.35 PESOS. I do NOT advise this if you have anything more than a carry on bag/knapsack -- the public buses are very crowded (often standing room only) and there is no place to store your bags.
Friday, December 19, 2008, 9:00 p.m.: Fabiana Cantilo at ND Ateneo (the theater, not the bookstore). Fabiana Cantilo has a charming alternative folky soft-rock style that appeals to many. ND Ateneo, 918 Paraguay (in the microcentro). Tickets are available at the venue box office (in advance) or at http://www.ticketek.com.ar/Conciertos/Pop/FABIANA-CANTILO__FABIANAND
Saturday, December 20, 2008, 9:00 p.m. Pedro Aznar at ND Ateneo (the theater, not the bookstore). Aside from this being at one of the nicest small theaters in Buenos Aires, Pedro Aznar's music is exceptional... a beguiling mix of tango influenced very soft rock.. ND Ateneo, 918 Paraguay (in the microcentro). Tickets are available at the venue box office (in advance) or at
Monday, December 22, 2008, 9:00 p.m.: Fito Páez at La Trastienda, Balcarce 460, San Telmo. This noted composer and pianist of a very jazzy Argentine soft rock presents a new concert with "The Killer Burritos" Tickets available at the venue or at http://www.ticketek.com.ar/ He is also performing, sans the Killer Burritos on Thursday Decemebr 19th and Friday December 20th.
For Leather Jackets and Coats: Bcrro's. After looking at jackets everywhere from Calle Florida to Murillo (and finding them all overpriced compared to a good bargain in the USA) during my trips, I wandered into the Bcrro's one day in April (this tiny shop sits atop its basement located fabricating studio -- wondrous leathers come and go via am impossibly small staircase). There I purchased a very nice jacket for 240 pesos ($80 US). That jacket has gotten me a number of compliments -- mostly from argentines -- they all want to know where I purchased it. So, naturally, this trip I went back.. and fell in love with a full length coat -- very 1960's style -- quite mod - and for 500 pesos a true bargain. They had some really cool patchwork leather jackets for 100 pesos! Do all the leather shopping you want -- then head to Bcrro's.
Corrientes 2580 (in the Galeria del Sol, Local 6)
When you're finished at Bcrro's take a wander around -- because you're in Once -- the wholesale clothing district. The streets to each side and behind Bcrro's are filled with small shops.
If you're in the market for larger pieces of leather (for example, you'd like to buy leather to upholster furniture or to make a coat -- or as I did, to make placemats) you'll need a distributor's shop: Casa Sergio. Casa Sergio is a trove of leathers -- all sold by the meter (as in metric meter as opposed to by the yard in the USA). It is not a big shop, it is not a tourist oriented shop (do not expect much english spoken). Prices run from 40 pesos to 100 pesos per meter. Imagine gorgeous pieces of suede for under $12 US a yard! If you ask nicely, they will unlock their shop next door -- where you can buy sheepskin rugs (100 pesos for the finest quality mohair type sheepskin -- much less for regular), cowskin rugs.. and other types of skins.
Avenida Boedo 1196
While you are in Boedo, you can walk a couple of blocks to the Esquina Homero Manzi at the corner of San Juan and Avenida Boedo. Here they do the large dinner tango shows, but earlier in the day you may stop in for coffee and soak up a bit of the atmosphere.
For another shopping adventure, take a taxi (or collectivo) to the "outlet" strip on Córdoba.. ask the taxi to take you to Scalabrini Ortiz y Córdoba.. there you will see shops lining the street in both directions.. there is even an Yves St. Laurent outlet mixed in with all the outlets for the major stores that you will see in the malls.. there's a Ricky Sarkany outlet, Ona Saez, etc. All the better if you are in Buenos Aires at the change of the seasons - - when the pickings for the season just past will be in bounty. While you are there, save time to stop in to Scannapieco at Córdoba 4826.. here you will find one of the most authentic ice cream places.. where your ice cream will be served by one of a handful of men who seem to have worked there or owned it for a lifetime and more. The ice cream is some of the best I've had in Buenos Aires, and the coffee is rather good too. Heck, go even if you aren't going to go shopping.
First, learn to say"Soy Celiaco (or Celiaca if you are female) Necesito comidas sin gluten, por favor" which means, "I am Celiac. I need gluten-free food, please."
Of course, you know, eating out is at YOUR OWN RISK. What's been safe for me may not be safe for you.
Parrillas are an easy place to eat if you order you order just grilled items -- with one caveat: there is a grilled cheese (just the cheese, no bread), called provoleta that is DELICIOUS. But, some cooks dip the rounds of cheese in flour first to hold them together -- so you have to be clear on that one. In my experience people are very accommodating and I have had NO problems. I have a personal rule of tipping a bit better (standard in Argentina is 10%)- I tip 15 to 20% when I receive special attention).
I have eaten at all the restaurants mentioned elsewhere in this blog. The owner of Almacen Hollywood went out of his way to buy and cook for me gluten-free pasta on a return trip to the restaurant! But, I suggest, that if you go, you show up with your own bag of gluten-free pasta. Munchies is an ice cream shop that has its gluten-free ice creams very clearly marked -- they are open until 1 a.m. There are a number around the city, but my favorite one is the one at the corner of Guise and Charcas, a couple of blocks from the Alto Palermo shopping mall. You order your size and pay first -- then take your slip to the ice cream dippers... say "soy celiaca" as you order and perhaps add "necesito plastico" if you need to clarify. Los Cholas has a delicious provoleta de cabra (goat cheese) that I ws assured was made without flour, and a great grilled vegetable platter and great grilled trout -- along with all the meats.
I have been told about a lovely gluten-free coffee shop (complete with pastries and foods!):
Te Adoro García
Teodoro García 2902
Colegiales, Buenos Aires
(Colegiales is right next to Palermo)
The government has a list of all the gluten-free products manufactured:http://www.anmat.gov.ar/alimentos/gluten/Listado_LibresGluten_18-05-07.pdf
I find the largest selection at Dietetico Viamonte in the microcenter on Viamonte a half block from Suipacha. BUT, most dieteticos (health food stores -- which abound all over the city) will have some gluten-free products, including a passable bread made by Tante Getty.
For more information see:
There is also a listing of gluten-free restaurants at:
(but, note that Simona, much to my dismay, is now closed and much of the rest of the list are places which will accomodate, but not serve any special gluten-free foods).