Michael Luongo, author of Frommer's Buenos Aires guidebook and webmaster of misterbuenosaires.com, answered your questions on Buenos Aires earlier this week in a live chat on BudgetTravel.com. Here are some highlights.
Buenos Aires always seems to have the young beautiful people in its advertisements. Would some gals in our young 60s enjoy ourselves there? What would we find to do and where should we stay?
I love your question! I find Buenos Aires is a great place for gals your age to enjoy themselves. Part of Argentina's European charm is the respect for women of a certain age, and in fact, you'll find plenty of North American gals your age living down there permanently. I don't know if you love to tango, or plan to, but I highly suggest some nights out—which are very late, meaning, like, 2 in the morning. Some places to try are Bien Pulenta, which offers a great mix between a milonga (tango hall) and a show. You can also try afternoon places like La Glorietta which is an outdoors place. It does not matter if you tango and it is such a beautiful thing to watch. There are galleries, restaurants, all kinds of things anyone would do no matter their age group. Of course ads have beautiful people all over the place in them, but doesn't all advertising have that?
I have heard that it is better to skip the meal at most Tango shows and just see the show. Can you recommend a good show where you are not required to have a meal?
Virtually all of the shows have that option. I think some really high quality ones are El Querandi, in the Montserrat area, and I think for glamor and orchestral quality, you want Esquina Carlos Gardel. What these options give you are things like drinks instead of dinner. You may save about 30 percent of the ticket price.
Alternatively, you could head to the milongas, which are tango salons that mix shows with the public dance time, like Bien Pulenta. Milongas are a cheaper option with no requirement to buy dinner. That said, they happen very late at night, say 1 in the morning to begin.
What areas of Buenos Aires would you avoid?
This is a tricky question because it can depend on the time of day or night. I would say for sure, avoid La Boca at night. Monserrat can be a little dodgy, but is generally OK with spillover from busy San Telmo. In general, use good judgment, avoid abandoned streets as you would in any big city.
I'm traveling with someone who is mobility-impaired. What do you recommend?
It sure is pedestrian friendly as it is just off Calle Florida. Go to the Plaza San Martin area, too. Portions of the access are high steps, but certain areas will be easier for wheelchairs, you just have to go the long way around. It is a beautiful park. Florida Street is pedestrianized. Not all the stores will have access, but major places like Galerias Pacifico will be accessible—it is a mall with shops and eateries. You can also do outdoor dining in Buenos Aires as well, and though it's heading to autumn, you should have good weather. Should you need medical attention, Buenos Aires has a great healthcare infrastructure. Hospital Britanico, the English hospital has a lot of English speaking doctors. estancias are not really designed for those with limited mobility. You could try for a day trip Santa Susana and Fiesta Gaucha. It is touristy, but designed in such a way that you should have access to most of the shows, whether the gaucho games, or the dancing inside. You might have to arrange special transport rather than use of the usual buses that take people there however.
What will the weather be like?
July and August in Buenos Aires can be cold and rainy. The best way to describe it is like British weather. Gray, cold, rainy, but never as cold as in say the Northeast US in winter (though Buenos Aires had its first snowstorm recently in something like 70 years.) So a jacket, coat, sweaters, umbrella for sure. You'll want to spend a lot of time indoors, so check out cafes, restaurants, and of course art galleries too.
November is a really beautiful time in Buenos Aires, especially early November when the jacaranda trees are in their purple bloom.