Buenos Aries, Argentina Gateway To Cape Horn And Antarctica
One of South America’s busiest cruise ports, Buenos Aries is one of the largest cities in South America with a lot to see and do. Famous for the Tango and great steaks it is also a treasure trove of history packed full of interesting sights. Most cruises are using Buenos Aries as a embarkation or disembarkation port but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked as a destination in its own right. You will discover that hotels are moderately priced and good restaurants are plentiful and inexpensive.
Where the Ship Docks
Buenos Aries does not have a very convenient port facility and it has been that way for a number of years. It doesn’t look as if they are in any hurry to upgrade. While it does have a cruise terminal it is located so far from most piers that they use buses to get passengers to the ships after check-in. Be aware that you are boarding the ship from the pier and they us an erector set structure of steep ramps to access the ship. It is very unfriendly for peole traveling in wheel chairs. You also cannot walk in or out of the port from the ship. The terminal facility is located only a couple of miles from the downtown area but it is not easy to reach on foot and the only easily available transportation are taxis (more on taxi under transportation).
to If you are going to or coming from the cruise terminal you are pretty much going to be getting a taxi. While you can walk out from the terminal it is almost a mile walk to the nearest metro station located near the Sheraton hotel and that’s along heavily trafficked roads. It’s an additional half mile to the nearest shopping mall.
Taxis are supposed to be metered in Buenos Aries but there are a number of exceptions and add-on fees which are difficult to understanding. Because of that, taxis can be very inexpensive but also be prepared to often be surprised. For us a taxi from the Odalisque area to the in-town airport was 400 pesos while a ride the other way the next evening cost 700 pesos.
Buenos Aries has an excellent and modern subway system (Subte) with two hurdles to overcome for foreign visitors. First, like much of the city there is very little signage in anything but Spanish and few locals speak anything but Spanish. Second you need a SUBE card to ride which is available at subte stations, or at eight Tourist Assistance Centers. We did not see any information regarding a one or two day visitor card either. OFFICIAL METRO SITE IN ENGLISH
Taking a taxi to the port is pretty straight forward but we would recommend flagging a cab on the street and traveling on the meter. Several times we paid much higher fares by having our hotel call a taxi for us. Traveling from the Odalisque to the port on a meter should run 300 to 350 Pesos (tipping is not customary).
Leaving the port is another story. There seems to be a system in place to extract significantly higher fares from passengers. Upon exiting we were told that all taxis are on a fixed fare (no meters) from the port and a ride to the Odalisque would be US$15 or 600 Pesos (that conversion rate made the dollar quote much cheaper?). We had similar experiences using taxis to and from the in-town as well as the international airport.
The International Airport is a good distance out of town with a taxi ride from the port recently quoted at US$40. We took a metered taxi from our hotel near the Odalisque for less than US$25 in Pesos. Many taxis actually prefer to be paid in US$. When we originally arrived at the International airport we had booked a car online at a fixed price and by texting we located the driver right outside the terminal.
At this writing the exchange rate is about 38 Argentine Pesos to one US Dollar. Because of inflation rates over the past several years buying Pesos before leaving the United States is almost impossible. It is also very difficult to use American Dollars in Argentina except in high tourist locations. Money Exchange locations are sparse and at high traffic places, like the airport, the rates aren’t very good. In town you can get better rates buying Pesos mostly because there is speculation among changers against the Peso. We eventually used a shop advertising Western Union and got more than fair rate.
Buenos Aries is a large metropolitan area and like most it covers a wide range of environments. You will find everything from grand residences, and upscale neighborhoods to large slums. The city is criss-crossed by wide boulevards running through upscale shopping districts attached to mazes of side streets with incredible cafes, coffee shops and restaurants It is home to the Tango that is a national obsession. You can experience the Tango in restaurants or large stage show productions, small dance clubs and on the streets of the barrios (neighborhoods) where the people come out and dance in the evenings. Because of the exchange rate there are great restaurants and cafes where prices are hard to believe. The national dish is steak and the Argentines really know their way around an open fire grill. It is also the nations capital and you will numerous museums, galleries and historic buildings. If you are cruising out of Buenos Aries do yourself a favor and spend a few days seeing this lively and interesting city.
One strong suggestion we might make is try and plan a trip out to Iguassu Falls. It requires a plane ride and probably two days to see but it is one of the world’s true natural wonders.