One and done- A Virtual Vacation to Buenos Aires
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You may be familiar with the Virtual Vaction concept from other geeklists that use that name.
One of these, perhaps:

VGG Virtual Vacation #1 - BELGIUM
VGG Virtual Vacation #2- Australia!
Join us! Virtual Vacation #3-- Italy
Virtual Vacation #4 - Scotland
Virtual Vacation #5-- Japan!
Virtual Vacations #6- Canada
Virtual Vacation #7- India
Virtual Vacation #8 - Ireland

Typically, those have a duration of one month's worth of material in them.

But what about places where you can't really see yourself spending an entire month?
Almost anyone could travel around France or Spain or Italy or Germany, etc. and find plenty to amuse them for a month.
But is there a month's worth of things to do and see in Argentina, for example?

Maybe if you're planning a vacation with a much more relaxed pace. Spend a week here, another nine days there, maybe hang out for five days in a smaller city and really get a feel for local life.

But a Virtual Vacation tends to be splashy. On the move. Lots to do, lots to see. What's next?
With that in mind, I figured I'd try out this new concept. One location, one big push to find out what makes a place unique and worth visiting.
Then wait for a lull in the geeklists and throw another one in there.

Other mini-lists:
One and done: A Virtual Vacation to Vienna
One and done: A Virtual Vacation to Iceland
One and done: A Virtual Vacation to Denmark

Feel free to do that yourself-- you can feature your own hometown or a nearby place that you think has visitor appeal but maybe not a month's worth. If you know what I mean.
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1. Board Game: Buenos Aires soy Gardel [Average Rating:5.17 Unranked]
Board Game: Buenos Aires soy Gardel
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The destination of this quick-hitting feature will be the capital city of the country of Argentina. Buenos Aires.
That's "Good Airs" for all of you non-Spanish speakers out there. Or, as wikipedia points out, "Fair Winds". Which might be a better translation.

BA, as I will call it most times from this point forward, since typing isn't my strong suit, is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata (River of the Plate, I believe).
It is actually so wide that a lot of people refuse to even call it a river.
But most Argentines do.

(from wikipedia)
The river is about 290 kilometres (180 mi) long, and it widens from about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) at its source to about 220 kilometres (140 mi) at its mouth.
It forms part of the border between Argentina and Uruguay, with the major ports and capital cities of Buenos Aires and Montevideo on its western and northern shores, respectively.
The coasts of La Plata are the most densely populated areas of Argentina and Uruguay.

Here it is on a map:

External image


But before we get to the lowdown on the city itself, the next items will deal with various general aspects of South American life.

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2. Board Game: Mind Your Language [Average Rating:4.25 Unranked]
Board Game: Mind Your Language
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As I've already noted, the language that all of the local residents will be speaking is Spanish.
That means the signs will be written in Spanish first, and possibly English after that-- if you're in a particuarly touristy location.
There is also a large German contingent in the city, due to ties with Germany after World War II.
Their influence will be noted, when necessary, but the history and any talk of the war will be non-existent or very limited from this point on.

So then; Spanish.
Good news for many North Americans and Europeans, since Spanish is very much a living language. Whereas Italian, for instance, is spoken in Italy and pretty much nowhere else (downtown Toronto, Canada, not withstanding), Spanish is still spoken in many coountries around the globe.
It's what you need to know if you go to South America. Other than Brazil which-- in case you weren't aware-- speaks a form of Portuguese.

Some basic words and phrases for travellers follow:


Hello Hola
How are you? ¿Cómo estás? (dig the funky upside down question mark!)
Goodbye Adiós
Please Por favor
Thank-you Gracias
My name is Me llamo
Can you take us to the hotel? ¿Puedes llevarnos al hotel?
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3. Board Game: Climate Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Climate Game
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BA sits at about 35 degrees south of the equator.
Which means that it shares the same type of climate as most of central USA, northern Africa, Central China and Japan.
Only the seasons will be completely reversed. So they get the coldest days in June/ July: 10.7 °C (51.3 °F), and the hottest ones in December/ January: 26.6 °C (79.9 °F).
The elevation (sea level) means a fairly mild (temperate) climate, with more rain than snow in the summer, and pretty dry and very warm in the winter.

If you head north, the temperatures get hotter, and way down south you can encounter sub-arctic conditions. Likewise to the west, on the high mountain plains known as the Pampas, the higher elevation means much colder temperatures and more wind.

If you are visiting today then, good news! Partly cloudy and between 23 and 27°C (basically 80°F). So you won't need a coat.
cool
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4. Board Game: Money! [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1794]
Board Game: Money!
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In Argentina, they use the Argentine Peso ($). There are $100, $50, $20, $10, $5 and $2 notes, varying in color, and $1, $0.50, $0.25, $0.10 and $0.05 (centavo) coins.
ATM machines are plentiful in Buenos Aires and using your ATM card will generally give you the best exchange rate available.

As of right now, one USA dollar is worth 20* Argentine Pesos
*ideally. Your credit card company, currency exchange outlet, or bank won't get you that good of a rate, naturally.

One Euro is worth almost $25 pesos. With those same conversion caveats.

So if you see something for sale at $100 in BA, divide by 20. $5 American.
Or divide by 25, to get €4, if you're coming from most places in Europe.
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5. Board Game: Let's Learn About Different Food [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Let's Learn About Different Food
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Argentina is famous for its wine, and Malbec is the signature grape of the land. A fine quality Malbec can be had for 8-10 $US Dollars per bottle and makes a fine gift. Especially for someone like me, if you're offering...

The primary consumption of Argentinians is beef, but there are other options in this cosmopolitan city. Italian food is pervasive but in neighborhoods like Palermo, pizza joints are seeing heavy competition from sushi, fusion, and even vegetarian bistros.

Jugoso means rare (literally "juicy"), however the Argentine concept of rare is very different from that of someone from the States. Most places prefer meat cooked all the way through (but still juicy) so rare is more like medium when it comes to beef.
In fact, if you order your meat azul ("blue"), you will not get a blue steak, more like an American Medium Rare. If you like your meat "bloody", or practically "still walking" it might pay to learn words like sangre ("blood"), or to make statements like me gusta la sangre ("I like the blood")!
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6. Board Game: The Arrival [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:4092]
Board Game: The Arrival
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Buenos Aires is Argentina’s international gateway and easily accessible from North America, Europe, and Australasia, as well as other capital cities in South America.
The main airport used for international flights to travel to and from Buenos Aires is Ezeiza International Airport.

A taxi will cost about ARS 250 (10 Euros/ 12.50 US$) from the airport to downtown, so it seems to be quite affordable that way.

The city itself is laid out in a grid system of streets, so it is easy to navigate and easy to walk around in, purportedly.

Traffic is dangerous and hardly respectful toward bicycles, unfortunately.

The city has a subway network ("Subte", short form of "tren subterráneo", which means "underground train"). It is very efficient and you can save a lot of time by using it.
It is cheap (7.50 pesos for unlimited transfer as long as you keep underground travelling throughout the network).

If you need to be somewhere by 9AM or 9:30AM on a weekday, however, the Subte will be incredibly crowded and depending on where you are catching it from, you may have to miss several trains in a row before there is space for you.
_________________________________________________

Where to stay?
You can rent an apartment, if you research things and plan ahead. This is often the best option, with the most chances for an authentic visit in a local neighborhood, away from all of the tourist trappings.

They have hostels, of course, if you have very little money and you're simply backpacking your way around.

Otherwise:

San Telmo - budget hotels and hostels on the edge of downtown.

Palermo - chic boutique hotels on the higher end.

Recoleta - the fancy residential neighborhood is also home to the four-star and up crowd including the Park Hyatt.

Puerto Madero - an old port area which has been renovated and now hosts the best and most famous restaurants in town and multinational companies.
Due to the fact that it is the most secure zone of Buenos Aires, lots of foreign travelers prefer to stay at hotels in Puerto Madero, such as the Hilton.
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7. Board Game: Monopoly: Argentina [Average Rating:3.20 Unranked]
Board Game: Monopoly: Argentina
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Count on Monopoly, if you're ever looking for a game listitem with the name of a foreign place. whistle

Anyway: THIS IS IT! The item for the city.

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The three largest cities in Argentina are:

1 Buenos Aires (population in 2010) 2,890,151
2 Córdoba 1,317,298
3 Rosario 1,193,605

Not that a large population is a great indicator of the interest that a place holds, but it does give you an idea of where the locals live and where the major shopping and hotel facilities might be.
After those three cities, the next largest city (La Plata) has a population of 643,000 and they get smaller still after that.

So with almost 3 million people living there, this is not going to be a quiet and quaint location. We're talking a full-on modern, hustle and bustle, party 'til dawn type of atmosphere.

External image


A city is made up of neighborhoods, each with its own particular flair or immigrant population.
BA is no exception. Here's a primer:

External image


Microcentro- downtown, an ideal location for visitors to be near to the main historical spots of the Argentinean capital. Florida Street is located downtown and is a famous pedestrian street of the city, where visitors can do window shopping and buy clothes and other usual city goods.

Belgrano: A commercial hub and an elegant residential neighbourhood all in one.

La Boca: A picturesque neighbourhood defined by artists and immigrants.

Montserrat: History and tradition around every corner.

Palermo: Home to the arts, the city's largest park, and magnificent mansions.

Puerto Madero: A former port has turned into an exclusive and modern neighbourhood.

Recoleta: Once home to aristocrats, today Recoleta still maintains its European-inspired splendor.

Retiro: A sophisticated scene juxtaposed with a high-traffic neighbourhood.

San Nicolas: Iconic landmarks will draw you into the heart of the city.

San Telmo: Dance the tango on the historic cobblestoned streets.
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8. Board Game: Tourist Traps [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Tourist Traps
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One person's tourist trap is another's "must see" destination, so don't be too afraid to go and see what made the place famous in the first place!
Just don't expect great bargains, and keep an eye on your purse/ wallet and phone.

The Palermo Viejo district:
This is a trendy neighborhood with charming cobblestone streets, bookstores, bars, and boutiques; definitely better than the touristic San Telmo area for a nighttime excursion. The Palermo station, on D line, is the closest metro stop.

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San Telmo:
Best visited on Sundays when tourists and locals alike flood in to attend the weekly street fair and flea market. Be watchful for good deals, and bring in your own water, as it's quite expensive here.
On Sunday nights, there is a tango performance in the lovely plaza, which is specifically for tourists. (Visit an underground tango club for the most amateur experience. If there is advertising, or disco ball, then it's not amateur).

External image


Jewish Areas:
Argentina is one of the largest jewish comunities in the world. They established at some areas and concetrated in the urban life. By walking or car you can discover the famous Kosher McDonalds, the oldest syangogue , visit the area and the jewish museum and some art.

Tour the eye of the Tigre:
Forty-five minutes from the noise and smog of downtown is an almost unspoilt subtropical delta full of densely forested islands and shining waterways. Hop on to a river bus and enjoy a boozy picnic. See www.tigre.gov.ar.

External image


Get lost among the dead:
Losing yourself in a labyrinth of tombs and mausoleums might sound like an Edgar Allen Poe short story. But Cementerio de la Recoleta, a remarkable necropolis in one of BA's most exclusive areas, is the final resting place of the good, the bad and the beautiful people of Argentina's past. When you find the crowd, you have found Evita's ghostly flower-strewn monument.

Snack on coffee and medialuna:
In Buenos Aires, you should drink a cup of freshly roasted coffee with a crispy medialuna (Argentinian croissant). A splendid place to bite into one is the Café Tortoni, the city's most traditional café. Founded in 1858, it has doubled as both a bohemian and literary joint over the years. The best part is that it hasn't lost any charm, despite the throngs of tourists that hover around.

Have a picnic and go bird watching:
With over 200 species of birds, scuttling iguanas as well as joggers and cyclists, the Reserva Ecólogica Constanera Sur is a multi-purpose green space. In this nature reserve, four lakes, giant pampas grass, willows and shrubs create a lush habitat for local wildlife, as well as keen exercisers. Here, you can join visitors who descend here to picnic and enjoy a spot of bird watching in peace. Moonlight tours are organised once in a while, but make sure that you book ahead of time.

Pick up classic souvenirs:
Once you've tanned, tangoed and drunk yourself silly, then it's time to go home. So don't forget to take a few souvenirs with you. Find a cool mate set for your morning coffee at the shop Estudio MW and a polo shirt from La Martina.
Fill your cellar with traditional Malbec wine from any supermarket and if you're a collector of curios, a gaucho knife set is a must-buy from the stalls at Feria de Mataderos.

See a polo match in Palermo:
Long regarded as a sport for the elite and possibly the world's oldest sport, polo has made Argentina famous. The sport is played in Buenos Aires between September and November. The latter is the golden month when the Abierto Argentino de Palermo (Argentinean Open) takes place at the magnificent 16,000-capacity Campo Argentino de Polo.

See a futbol match:
If you can score a ticket on gameday, you won't be disappointed by the action on the field or in the stands. Make sure you cheer for the home team, though. Consider buying a jersey, before or after the game. A nice souvenir.

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9. Board Game: Been There, Done That [Average Rating:6.33 Unranked]
Board Game: Been There, Done That
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Have you been to Argentina before? To Buenos Aires in particular?

Please (please!) share your thoughts and experiences below in the comments or (even better) add your own item and tell it like it is; good, bad, or indifferent!

Would you consider going to a city like this someday?
Why? Why not? Leave a note about your travel likes and dislikes. It lets us know that you've seen and read the list, at least.
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Images-- I love geeklists with lots of images. Share!
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