Clarisse Douaud answered your questions on Buenos AIres
Norman, OK: I can't give trip information yet as have not scheduled. But we are going to Buenos Aires in February and I would like to know how to find an indigenous tango hall and milonga. We don't want to see a commercial show but want to experience the tango scene of the portenos.
Clarisse Douaud: Hi Norman,
Distinguishing between real vs. tourist milongas can be a challenge in Buenos Aires.
El Beso has old-school milongas good for sitting in on. Tues 9 P.M., Wed 10:30 P.M. , Thurs 6 P.M. , Sat 11 P.M.
Riobamba 416, 011-54-11/4953-2794
Another milonga portenos speak of as an institution is La Viruta. Personally I was a tad bored there as it is fairly amateur (although the all-age clientele was certainly very enthusiastic). I think you really have to take part in order to enjoy it. The bonus: there don't seem to be any foreigners.
Fri-Sat midnight to 6 A.M., Wed & Sun 11 P.M - 3 A.M. Arrive 1.5 hours early for the on-the-spot lessons.
Calle Armenia 1366, 011-54-11/4774-6357.
Sit and watch a milonga for more advanced dancers Friday nights at Salon Canning in Palermo. Call to reserve a table in advance. Show-up after 11 P.M. Scalabrini Ortíz 1331, 011-54-11/4342-4794
I also found this helpful article in a tango newsletter for the Chicago tango community. "List of Milongas in Buenos Aires", by Thomas Barnard. tangonoticias.com/articles/a2004/aug/ba_list.htm
Please note: La Catedral has since closed down.
Seattle, Washington: We will be on a cruise ending in Manaus, Brazil in April of 2006. We would like to see some more of Brazil or some other country in South America before returning, but have found airfares very expensive.
Do you have any suggestions for ways to find less expensive airfares or places to visit after Manaus?
Clarisse Douaud: Hi Nancy,
I should say that I have never been to Manaus, nor do I know much about Brazil.
Not only is Manaus a portal for Amazon tourism, it is also quite remote. So it is not surprising that flight prices are marked up to and from that area. Once out of the Amazon basin, prices should be cheaper. However, people often make the mistake of assuming that flights within Latin America in general are cheaper than in North America. They are not.
The trade off is that once you are 'on the ground' there are many options for budget food and accommodation.
If you have time and budget constraints, I suggest you stay in Brazil. If you are comfortable with the idea of not planning something in advance, you can probably find a cheaper flight by waiting to purchase it in Brazil.
Brazil's Northern beaches, such as those near Fortaleza, are supposed to be spectacular.
Oak Hills, CA: In Argentina AND its bordering countries, do you know if we can put a down payment on a house and make monthly payments, the way we can in the US? If so, would we send personal checks written on our bank account? With regard to another country south of the US border, I know that some mail from Mexico never got to the US and vice versa. What would we expect regarding our payments getting to countries down in South America? What worries and risks are there if buying in Argentina? Any advice is greatly appreciated.
Clarisse Douaud: I have never heard of anybody being able to make monthly payments on property here. Payments are made in full and most transactions are done in cash. Buying property via the United States would likely involve a wire transfer to a local bank (which implies hefty fees), at which point you may have to make a cash payment to close the sale.
NEVER make online payments for a house and never via an online contract. These scams do take place, so you must come to Argentina and go through an agent to avoid them.
I suggesting looking-up "real estate, Argentina" or "buying property, Argentina" on google.com and looking for a reputable agent.
I hope this helps.
Washington, dc: Hi, my boyfriend and I are planning to spend a month in Buenos Aires. Our dates are flexible, but I had originally hoped for February since that is the earliest we can go. After I've been researching, though, it seems like it may be too hot during February... and, more concerning is that locals may be on vacation then and it may be too touristy. We were hoping to live there for the month so we could get to know the 'real' BA... with that in mind, would it be better to wait until March? Is summer in BA similar to August in Italy, when all the locals go on holiday and everything's closed? Thanks for your advice!
Clarisse Douaud: In Buenos Aires, the month everyone goes on holiday and some businesses close-up shop is January. And as it's also the hottest month, tourists tend to stay away at that time. Things begin picking-up in February as the thermometer drops slightly. If you want to enjoy summer temperatures without being in a permanent pool of sweat, I think mid-February to mid-March would be the perfect time for you to come.
Rome, NY: I'd really like to travel to Buenos Aires this winter, and wonder what's the least number of days I should be there, to visit what's considered the most important sites, w/one afternoon at an estancia (or have I spelled that wrong?)?
Clarisse Douaud: Hi Diane,
I think Buenos Aires and an afternoon at an estancia can be done in 5 days. There aren't as many tourist sites in Buenos Aires as one might imagine. The city's real treasure is enjoying life: eating out, going for walks in parks or neighborhoods, shopping or watching shows.
"Pure" tourism (Plaza de Mayo, Avenida 9 de Julio, Calle Florida, Puerto Madero, Recoleta, Palermo, museums, etc) can be done in 3 days.
I am biased though, so I would say "stick around" and try to see as many of the less-traveled-to zones and corners of the city.
superior,colorado: My wife and are planning a trip to South America in Fall,2006. We are senior citizens and traveling on our own. We're especially interested in Ecuador, and Argentina,Peru,Chile, and the falls in central S.A. Any advice on a 1 or 2 month trip around S.A?
Clarisse Douaud: A month sounds like a long time, but for covering four Latin American countries it will fly! So you will only be able to see a couple highlights from each country. A possible list:
Ecuador: Galapagos Islands, the city of Cuenca, the Andes or the Amazon jungle.
Peru: you can't miss the colonial architecture of the city of Cuzco and the spectacular Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. Take adapting to the high altitude into account and allow yourself 5 days for this.
Chile and Argentina share some of the same topography, so you may want to choose one side of the Andes to focus on.
Chile: the city of Valparaiso and neighboring beach towns, lake district and Patagonia
Argentina: Patagonia (Bariloche), lake district, Mendoza, Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls.
One solution may be to skip Patagonia and the lake districts. You could go from Ecuador to Peru, to Santiago de Chile, to Valparaiso, then fly to Mendoza in Argentina. Mendoza is a beautiful city in a wine producing region of the Andes. There you can also go on wine and scenic tours outside of the city. From there, fly or take the bus to Buenos Aires, and make a short flight again to Iguazu Falls.
What an adventure!
Atlanta, GA.: I want to go to Buenos Aires. When is the best time to go there? I have been thinking of late Feb 2006.
Clarisse Douaud: February is a good time to go. The weather will be nice, but not too hot. However, accommodation is always cheaper during the winter 'off season' months (April-Sept).
Napa, CA: I want to go to Buenos Aires & Mendoza, Argentina. When
is the best time of year to go there? (We are flexible) And
what is the best Airline & route to get there from Northern
Calif.? (Cost also counts). Thanks, Terri
Clarisse Douaud: Hi Terri,
I think late spring/early summer, or late summer/early fall are the best times to visit. That would be Nov/Dec or mid-Feb/March/April. Avoid January as it can get unbearably hot in the capital and likewise very cold in July and August.
The off-season months for cheaper acaccommodationend to be somewhere in the range of March-November.
You should be able to get a some good deals with American Airlines connecting through Dallas. Using a Hispanic travel agency in California might help.
Pensacola, Florida: We are celebrating our wedding anniversary in December with a 10-day cruise from Rio to Buenos Aires aboard Insignia but will spend 2 nights pre-cruise in Rio and one night post-cruise in BA. Any suggestion for things to do and see - both cities? Any warnings?
Clarisse Douaud: A trip to Rio is incomplete without a meandering walk along its many beaches. To take in the full grandeur of the city, go up Corcovado mountain and see the statue of Christ the Redeemer, and make a nighttime visit to the Sugarloaf (Pão de Açúcar).
Rio has a reputation for being a more dangerous city than Buenos Aires. To avoid trouble, do not carry a purse or wear flashy jeweler at night.
When in Buenos Aires, try to make a trip downtown to see the Plaza de Mayo and the Obelisco, then go for a meal in the neighborhoods of Recoleta or Palermo. These are safe neighborhoods with lots of character.
New York, NY: Hi Clarisse, I am thinking about going to BA, but my Spanish is very limited. Will I have problems getting around? I want to be able to eat, stay, and shop with the locals.
Clarisse Douaud: You are more likely to find locals who speak a bit of English in the Microcentro, Recoleta, Palermo and Barrio Norte areas, as these are the areas of tourist interest. In terms of socializing, many people speak more English than they are willing to admit (due to lack of practice or embarrassment). So, if you come prepared with a few Spanish phrases, I'm sure you will meet with a positive response. At subway stations, kiosks, etc. sign language can also do wonders!
If you want to stay with a family, I suggest looking for a homestay through an agency on the Internet. Specify that you want to stay with someone who speaks some English.
Highland Mills, NJ: Any ideas for a long weekend over New Year's Eve?
Clarisse Douaud: I'm not sure what your exact time constraint is. So, let's say it's four nights.
I would stay in either Recoleta or Palermo, as these are attractive neighborhoods with lots of nighttime entertainment options for eating, drinking and shows.
If you have time, go away for an afternoon or overnight to an estancia (Argentine ranch), or the traditional town of San Antonia de Areco, the delta in Tigre or across the Plata River to the historical town of Colonia, Uruguay.
There are some basic things you have to do on a weekend in the capital: see tango, see the Recoleta Cemetary, go to the Sunday antique market in San Telmo and eat steak. However, I would also recommend as much walking as possible - through Palermo and its parks, Recoleta and Microcentro's plazas and shopping areas.
Atlanta, GA: My friends (who live in Boston) and I are planning to go to South America at the end of February next year. We are interested in going to Argentina, but the plane tickets seem very high. Will they go down? And if not, is there a more economical place to fly and stay in South America?
Clarisse Douaud: Because February falls during Argentina's summer, flight tickets are going to be more expensive. So, they should go down after that time - especially if you book in advance.
As a benchmark, in terms of food and accommodation, Buenos Aries is a lot more expensive than Lima, but cheaper than Santiago de Chile or Rio de Janeiro. The bottom line: it depends on what kind of holiday you want. Buenos Aires offers a European touch you won't find in most other Latin American cities.
The only other thing I can suggest is to be flexible and see what seat sales come up for Latin America and grab the cheapest one - be it for Lima, Buenos Aires or Rio de Janeiro.
Atlanta, GA: I would like to go to Buenos Aires, Argentina at for the last week of Feb, 2006. I would like to find the best fare possible and a good hotel that offers breakfast with the cost of the room.
Clarisse Douaud: I found fares starting at $520 at American Airlines (www.aa.com) - connecting through Dallas/Fort Worth. If this price is accurate look no further, because it is incredibly cheap.
We featured the Hotel Bel Air (hotelbelair.com.ar) in the Buenos Aires "snap guide". Doubles from $110, breakfast included.
Hanover Nh: We have been looking for a reasonably priced trip to a location that will provide amusement to our three children (3,6 and 9).
We find it difficult to locate something on-line due to many hotels restriction to 4 people per room and the generally high prices of suites.
A combination of history/cultural and amusement is what we desire.
Clarisse Douaud: As far as big cities go, Buenos Aires is very child-friendly and accessible for families.
In terms of accommodation, I would recommend staying at a B&B or guesthouse to keep costs to a minimum. Check-out some of the options in the Buenos Aires "snap guide" such as the Recoleta Guesthouse (doubles from $40, including breakfast).
Buenos Aires offers both culture and history with its museums, art galleries, theaters and architecture. There are many activities for children including going to the parks and zoo in Palermo, a 'day in the country' at an estancia (Argentine ranch), or a boat ride in the delta of Tigre.
Restaurants are happy to cater to children and usually provide children's portions as well. And hotels frequently have child-minding services.
Taxis are a cheap option for the gang to get around town. Regulations say only four people per cab, but bending the rules is a Buenos Aires pastime, so if they are "small" people there shouldn't be a problem!