Forget the often stated chestnut that Buenos Aires Argentina is the Paris of South America, it is really Rome. Buenos Aires is a European City with a distinctly Italian flavor. The Spanish spoken is fast and melodic, the people friendly and courteous, the food uniquely Argentine and the culture a synthesis of 200 years of immigration.
Buenos Aires is a mature city of almost three million people, almost the total population of Panama, packed into a dense multistory environment. It has excellent but confusing public transportation. There is the Subte (subway), a confusing maze of bus lines and what must be a taxi for everyone in the city. The subways are easy to navigate and you can buy passes for a single ride, when we were there a ride was 2.5 pesos, about $.50 soon to increase to 3.5 pesos, soon to be $.50 if their inflation continues at the current rate. The buses use magnetic payment cards and have such a convoluted route structure that guides are available for sale at kisoks where you can buy and charge the cards.
We Stayed in a district called Recoleta. I choose Recoleta in 2008, and because I was familiar with it, we selected it again. It is an older, wealthy urban barrio with a subway line close and short proximity to many tourist attractions. We rented an apartment for a week, two bedrooms in a lovely old building for $850US a week. It appears all real estate transactions in Argentina are done with US dollars, not Argentine pesos.
Much of our travel was done by walking to absorb the sounds, smells and tastes of the city. We worked a large perimeter around the Recoleta barrio into the downtown Federal District and out to the very Italian Palmero barrio.
The streets were safe for walking and crowded from morning well into the evening and in the busier areas there were police posted almost every block. You should not carry your passport with you, leave it secure and make a copy for identification. I never even carried a wallet, too many reports of pickpockets in tourist areas. I kept a copy of my passport, a credit card and cash in a pocket, nothing more.
I insisted on having a working cell phone so Dan and I went to Movistar and obtained prepaid SIM's, they were free, but did require a copy of a passport to register the number. Movistar could not sell minutes, we had to find a a kiosk with a sign and ask the right questions, can you charge a prepaid Movistar phone to get it done. The killer deal was the one I needed, one peso a day for unlimited internet access, a great deal anyplace.
What to see is best demonstrated with photos so there is a 34 minute production from this trip in the video box above.