Buenos Aires

BAStay ® your key to an amazing city!

Buenos Aires Stay city, travel and tour guide Buenos Aires.

If you are visiting Buenos Aires for a holiday, business or to Buenos Aires Stay for a while, then you are in for a real treat.  There is so much to tell you, I am not sure where to start.  This one of the most impressive cities I have had the privilege to visit. Its unique character is built on Spanish colonialism, smuggling and piracy, political and social upheaval and mass European immigration, all of which contributed and to some extent still flourish in this multi-cultural melting pot. Its diversity, tolerance, history and eclectic nature give rise to an energy, passion, elegance and romance. It is said, ‘when you watch the tango, you watch the very essence of Buenos Aires.’

The immigrant populations have signposted their arrivals with amazing avenues and boulevards that offer some of the most inspired and diverse architecture I have seen anywhere.  Its grandeur and underlying poverty; its love affair with good honest beef and potatoes gastronomy; the fine Argentinean wines; its very distinctive districts (barrios) all make this one of the most fantastic cities for the inspired holidaymaker.

If you are not too interested in reading more on this great 427 year old monster, you can navigate to my favourite barrios detailed below, where I offer a good snap-shot of the best and safest neighbourhoods and some great low cost or luxury accommodation and hotels in amazing Buenos Aires (BAires, Bs.As., Capital Federal or BA, not to confuse you, but to avoid being penalised for word spamming by Google).  I list hundreds of furnished apartments in ascending price order in the best known barrios and their many neighbourhoods:

Abasto, Belgrano, Caballito, Centro, Downtown, Las Canitas, Palermo, Plaza San Martin, Puerto Madero, Recoleta, San Telmo, Zona Norte.

To rent apartments in Buenos Aires is still good value for money, especially when compared to four or five star Buenos Aires hotel suites, where you will pay upwards of US$400 a night in a Buenos Aires hotel like the Four Seasons.  The apartment you rent through Buenos Aires Stay is usually fully inclusive of all costs apart from the use of telephone; some rents even include a maid. They are priced according to market forces and when considering the rent you must realise that landlords expect only 6 to 8 month income each year.  Short term lets have many additional risks and costs not associated with renting unfurnished apartments and long-term rentals in Buenos Aires.  If you want to rent an apartment for 6 months to two years, you need collateral in BA to sign a contract (a guarantor); the rents you pay are up to 60% cheaper than Buenos Aires vacation apartment rentals. I often hear portenos (people of the port) tell jolly foreigner that they have been charged an extortionate rent. They enjoy seeing your shock and horror. This is simply not true, and our many Argentinean clients pay exactly the same rates for their vacation apartment in Buenos Aires.

I am often asked to list the barrios in order of safe to dangerous.  It makes me giggle when my American cousins ask me how many serious crimes are committed in each zone. I promise that BA is not like being in Basra, far from it. My British counterparts often want me to help them navigate Buenos Aires’ cafes, pubs and restaurants that have English beer and food. I will try and answer many of the more general questions raised by travellers, but for greater insights read more on each barrio or speak to my staff who offer great local knowledge and no obligation advice free of charge.

The barrios dealt with on this site are generally safe, I feel safer in Bs.As. than I do in many American cities or parts of London late at night.

But! People this is a capital city in South America that is home to some of the poorest and richest people in the world and like any city, even in the developed world, if you advertise your wealth or compromise yourself then someone is going to take a lot more interest in you and your property. I am afraid to say that 90% of people, who tell me that they were robbed or conned, on interrogation, turn out to have done something really stupid.  It is never nice when you suffer crime and I do not mean to be flippant, but please do not be a victim of your own stupidity!

I have decided to write about BAires under separate headings, so you can read all my ramblings or pick parts of my review and my many insights that best suit your stay.  When you read my information please remember that I was a better sportsman than academic, and I also have to pack in my keywords to rank this page, or you may never find me. This is a summary of further writings found at www.buenosairesstay.com

 

Buenos Aires city, Federal District, and capital of Argentina, situated on the shore of the Río de la Plata (River Plate), 150 miles (240 kilometres) from the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the world's most important ports and most populous cities. The city proper covers an area of 77 square miles (200 square kilometres). The total metropolitan area, however, occupies some 1,500 square miles. According to tradition, 16th-century Spanish sailors named the port after their patron saint, Santa María del Buen Aire (St. Mary of the Good Air). 

The city is the national centre of commerce, industry, politics, and culture. The Argentine poet and philosopher Ezequiel Martínez Estrada has called the city ‘The Head of Goliath’, a metaphor that illustrates the imbalance in relation to the rest of Argentina, much like a large-headed monster with a feeble body. In my mind, this city is Argentina, although the future bodes well for many other amazing cities reviewed at www.buenosairesstay.com.

This is a city that will never bore you, but it will not give up its secrets easily, you have to take your time folks and really explore. When I say take your time, you will also have to be tolerant of our much loved portenos who make taking their time an art form. Just accept it. You have to wait for everything and its all part of BAires charm.  So slow down, take a deep breath and remember you are on holiday.

The many wonderful sites and tourist attractions are surrounded by elegant shopping, lots of local produce and great ‘one-offs’ from Buenos Aires designers.  ‘Shopperholics’ will enjoy the wealth of goods on sale, as well as the suave and stylish portenos; world-class leather goods and woollen clothing are great buys, they are especially cheap if you are good at barter (even if you cannot speak Spanish) ask for a calculator and ‘bid the Buenos Aires tango.’ Much face pulling and huffing and puffing is required to get your prize at the right price. Portenos love a good barter and you will not hurt their feelings -go in for the kill.  Those who live-to-shop must not miss Palermo Soho.

Shopping done? Good!  You are now in for a gastronomic treat (vegans beware you will starve), the steak and barbecue lunches and suppers available in numerous restaurants, for considerably less than in the United States or in Europe, make great eating. The famous parillas (pronounced pa-ree-sha) are fantastic barbecues of steak, sausage and bits of animals I will let you taste first and question later. It is true, the steak here is exquisite. My local butcher on Rodriguez Pena has filet steak that will send your taste buds to carnivore heaven.  The caveat to great meat is trying to find decent fruit and vegetables (poor veggies). Buenos Aires bars and restaurants are numerous and all the barrios have their share of great international food and first-class cuisine to fit every budget.  Puerto Madero gets my vote for a whole day’s excursion, walking around the ecological reserve to get that appetite up and then relaxing in one of the many waterside restaurants.

At night, and I do mean night; not early evening; you eat at 22h00+, relax and then get ready for a night at a boite (pub/nightclub) or for an evening of tango in Buenos Aires, there are lots of great places to venture out and something for every taste and pocket.  If you book mark this page I will be reviewing restaurants, bars and clubs later in the year. What a life?  I will have to see them all!  To go for dinner at a civilised hour is uncivilised.  You are likely to be on your own in what always seems a soulless empty room with over attentive waiters, or worse still, sat with one of your own countrymen whose ‘excitement’ you came to BA to escape.  Recoleta has some early bars on Vincente Lopez, these tend to be crammed with tourists and get busy around 18h00.

The portenos are moderate drinkers and great lovers of music and dance, so be ready to shake away those inhibitions and join the fun.  If you start your alcohol consumption too early you will be floored by the generous measures and frowned upon by your fancy • it is not good form to fall around drunk in BA. Good grief, I sound like my mother.

When navigating the City of Buenos Aires, broad avenues define the limits between different barrios in Centro or Downtown. The city is set out in a grid system that still manages to baffle me. It is easy they tell me. I have been lost when only five minutes from home on more than one occasion.  For my countrymen, downtown means the city centre, my parents had visions of a more dangerous district with bandidos, pistolas and rough looking gauchos on every corner, as it is not a term used much in Great Britain.

On writing this review, I am nursing a very sore right foot that brings me to another important piece of information • look down! This city is still hampered by poor infrastructure and needs lots of investment.  The streets are an assault course of ‘doggy pooh’ left by an army of dog-walkers who control packs of up to 20 pooches (portenos do not poop-scoop) and pavements that are broken, rising up and sometimes potholed. I am sure that many a broken ankle finds its way back home.

During rush hours the avenues are clogged with traffic, most of which is created by buses called the colectiva, an Argentine invention that is one of the city's more distinctive and interesting forms of travel. Smaller than a typical city bus, it is usually crammed with people and barely stops as passengers leap on and then leap off to freedom. The drivers, usually one of the socios, or owners, of the cooperative that operates the line, are often colourful characters, who provide frequent, and sometimes shocking commentary on everything from weather to politics and their taxi driving counterparts to Argentinean football (soccer). Their ‘assertiveness’ is legendary and they are fast but competent.  The colectivo driver has become a symbol of the frantic pace of city life. At first, I thought I might die on one of these marvels of modern transport or choke to death on the fumes, but one does get used to them, I think.  Hold on tight, remember that a pinched bottom might be the removal of your wallet in the squeeze and do not play chicken with these ‘babies’ as they take no prisoners!

The cabs are cheap and you round up or down the final fare, according to your budget. Plan, get a Buenos Aires map and tell the driver the direction you wish to go and the road, intersection and a house number you must reach.  Planning stops drivers taking you on an unofficial sightseeing tour.  A good map of Buenos Aires is essential.  From Centro, I never pay more than US$2-6.00 to go anywhere in the barrios I write about. Be prepared, as they race drive the streets, bob and weave and corner their cars with great speed but competence.

Downtown, the old city centre, which occupies only a fraction of Bs.As and houses almost everything the budding tourist might want to find, is found in a relatively compact area making your days of sightseeing relatively pain free if you are not a happy walker.  In addition to the fancy shops, Centro is the site of virtually all of the major financial institutions and corporate headquarters.  Picture houses and live theatres are clustered within a four or five-block stretch on the Avenida Corrientes and the Calle Lavalle, which forms the centre of a crowded entertainment district ablaze with billboards you will recognise from New York or London’s theatre lands.

I have described each barrio recommended for your BAStay® and I also provide an historical glimpse of the city that I intend to expand into historical walks • do not leave without going to historic San Telmo.  Walks, I must add, much needed after my many planned food and wine critiques, which will be found on these pages by November 2007. There you go a deadline. Please navigate to your barrio of choice to read further:

Abasto, Belgrano, Caballito, Centro, Downtown, Las Canitas, Palermo, Plaza San Martin, Puerto Madero, Recoleta, San Telmo, Zona Norte.

Want to know more about BAStay ® to find out about our services and your many accommodation options.  We can find you high quality apartments, budget to luxury hotels, great car hire deals, city tours and travel around Buenos Aires and Argentina.  We have a full time team of advisors and a concierge who have one aim - to ensure you have a fantastic BAStay ®.

Andrew Rae McCance

Buenos aires Stay


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