Buenos Aries, Argentina – Gateway To Cape Horn And Antarctica
Arriving in Buenos Aries
Buenos Aires has several airports but the two you are likely to use are the major international airport, referred to as Ezeiza and the-in city Jorge Newbery Airport. Most inbound international flights will come in to Ezeiza while many regional flights use Jorge Newbery.
Ezeiza, its official name is Ministro Pistrani International Airport, is located about 15 miles southwest of Buenos Aires. It is the largest and busiest airport in the region.
Jorge Newbery Airport is actually an international airport too located just to the northeast of downtown Buenos Aires and serves as the main hub for a majority of domestic flights.
The travel time from Ezeiza to city center by taxi is at least 30 minutes or up to 40-60 minutes depending on traffic. Options include official taxis, Remis or organized private cars, or public bus. Uber may be an option but they seem to be in a constant process of being shut down by the government. There are also online car service booking sights which we prefer for a couple of reasons.
After arriving at Ezeiza you may need to get cash for bus or a taxi. DO NOT change money at the changing booths in the airport. They’re famous for low rates of exchange and charge additional service fees. If you really need local currency use an ATM in the arrivals area of the airport in front of the McDonalds. Because of financial problems in Argentina and erratic inflation you may discover that many drivers actually prefer Euros and Dollars. Keep track of exchange rates – recently1 US$ = 135 Argentine Peso (ARS).
Authorized Taxis – The taxi stands operated outside the airport are not the most trustworthy option so ask what the rate is and if they will accept Dollars and do a bit of comparison shopping before accepting.
Remis Service – In Argentina the ” remis (or remises) ” are a very popular option. A remis is a sort of taxi service, but the difference is that you just hire a driver with his/her own personal car. Actually they are considered the safest option for a ride from EZE. They can be booked online or paid in advance at an airport kiosk or booths inside of the airport. By all means avoid the rogue taxis outside the airport. By booking online you can have a driver waiting for you with a sign at the exit of baggage inspection. The drivers are mostly bilingual and Whatsap is usually the preferred method of communication.
Public Bus – Line 86 of the local bus system is the only public transport that runs regularly from the airport. The bus will only cost about US$3-5 but will take about two hours. During rush hours there may not be much room for suitcases.
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 and 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 Ships Dock
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).
If you are going to or coming from the cruise terminal you are pretty much going to be getting a taxi or hiring a Remis. 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 so 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 would 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 and an easy add-on to a visit to Buenos Aries. MORE HERE