We had been warned not to flag cabs down in the street but to book one through our hotel. Nevertheless as we were miles from our hotel on a hot day and already well on the way to La Boca, we flagged down an official taxi to take us there. Things were going fine until, driving down an eerily empty street, the driver stopped for no apparent reason and a young guy came to the front passenger window. Words were exchanged between the driver and the man and the driver handed over a small amount of money. The guy then stuck his head through my window looking around the car (our bags were on the floor at our feet and we were not wearing jewellry etc) and demanded something from us in Spanish. Thinking he was asking for money, I told him in no uncertain terms (in English but am sure my intention was clear!) where to go. The man then left us. Meanwhile, mysteriously, our taxi meter had switched itself off (or been switched off?). Luckily I had glanced at it just before this happened so the heated exchange we then had with the driver when we got to La Boca was able to be sorted out fairly quickly with us still feeling we had given him a fair price. Things got more interesting when we returned to central Buenos Aires. We decided to take a bus and while heading back through the same deserted streets we came across a taxi stopped at an intersection and being swarmed over by people who were literally reaching in to the car and removing cameras and bags from the hapless tourists inside. Fortunately we were not the only ones shocked to see this happening right under our noses as the locals on the bus were horrified too. So, it seems the buses are safer in some instances and we would definitely be a bit more careful in future about taking taxis in Buenos Aires, particularly to an area like La Boca. Having said all of that, the taxis that we took from the official stands at the airports, and that were booked through our hotels were all absolutely fine (probably just proving the point to try and avoid flagging them down off the street!).
Long-distance buses in Argentina can be very comfortable and are more reliable than flights. It is a cheap way to get to know the country and, unlike for air travel, the prices are the same for foreigners and residents.
Buenos Aires is one of the most remarkable places I have ever been. It's clean, classy, safe, and dirt cheap. The leather bags are at least 400 pounds cheaper than what you would buy on the high street.
Also they have miles and miles of shops on Florida and Avenida Santa Fe where you can buy anything for one third of the price in the US or UK.
We stayed at the art hotel in Recoleta which was a boutique hotel with contemporary art in the foyer, free internet access, great rooms and wet room bathrooms.
Beware the fake taxis in Buenos Aires. Because we'd been there for four days we realised that if they don't have a proper meter in the right hand corner and photographic id on the back of the driver's seat then don't get in. We used a taxi which charged us three times the price of a journey from the airport. We refused to pay and threatened to call the Policia!
If this happens to you get to your hotel and ask the concierge to translate... avoid at all costs.
Otherwise, BA is one of the safest cities in the world and the people are very nice. Palermo is great and so is Recoleta. Avoid San Telmo if you have to. Use taxis rather than buses as they are very cheap and the metro is great for getting around centrally. In taxis from the Newbery internal airport it should cost you no more than $14 and to the international around $50.
Try and go to the best steak restaurant in the Palermo area called La Cabrera, it's economical but BOOK AHEAD as it gets very busy.
Various.. please email me if you want any tips email@example.com(no spam)
A recommendation that they be avoided like the plague. In a recent trip out here, my Dad was delayed a total of 11 hours over three flights.
When we were scheduled to fly back to BA from San Martín de los Andes at 2pm, having rung to check all was ok, we were informed that we'd be flying back from Bariloche instead and they would be coming to pick us up at our hotel at 4.45am. I asked how they had planned to inform us about this development, since if we hadn't rung we'd have been stranded. They said 'you should always re-confirm your flights'. We already had, twice.
Take LAN wherever possible, or better still, the bus.
Buquebus offers ferries to/from Buenos Aires and Uruguay (Colonia, Montevideo) in combination with coach transportation within Uruguay. Very easy to book online, very reasonable rates (my roundtrip ferry/bus fare was less than $100). The ferry is comfortable, as are the buses. For pictures and full description go to www.travelmusings.net
Buy a Guia Lumi (city plan with all the bus routes listed in the back) and travel by bus - a great way to see the city and almost guaranteed to be more useful than the spidery metro (especially to go to places like La Boca). Watch out for taxis, and follow the tips on the foreign office website, especially for travel from the airport.
All over BA
There are thousands and thousands of taxis in Buenos Aires. They are very, very cheap, reliable and safe. During our three week stay we occasionally took the metro and the bus (el collectivo), both of which were cheap and efficient but the taxis were in a class of their own. Not once were we taken out of our way and the drivers (always happy to chat) invariably used their meters.
It was completely unnecessary to negotiate a price in advance, and quite the opposite of what we'd been led to believe. We were told never to hail them off the street, but we always did. I have never felt safer than I did in Buenos Aires.
I agree with the other tip to take taxis but, especially for non-Spanish speakers, it is probably better to use radio taxis (booked over the phone). Most bars and restaruantes would call one for you. Look out for the company Premium Taxis: they have AC and drivers speak (some) English.
www.taxipremium.com/ 5238-0000 or 4374-6666
Take taxis everywhere. They are cheap, never costing more than a few euros for most inner-city rides, the drivers are talkative to a fault, and they don't expect tips. As a matter of fact, they will usually round off the cents in your favour.
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