Australia to Argentina my Travel Abroad Experience
This is my second trip to Buenos Aires and so far I have been here for about 7 weeks. My first trip to this great city was in December 2014 and to be honest I only got a brief taste of it, but enough of a taste to know I wanted to come back for an extended period so I could explore more than just the top 5 tourist spots. I don’t know why, but from the moment I arrived on that first trip I was mesmerized. When I got home, my friends asked me where I enjoyed the most and without a moment of hesitation my answer was always Buenos Aires. However, what I struggled with, and indeed, what I still struggle with, is how to articulate why I love this city so much.
So, this trip forms part of my 12 month career break from my job in Australia. I have spent time in Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia and now Argentina. I’m six months into my career break, and I thought that by now I would be ready to head up into the northern hemisphere to catch a few rays of sun on the beautiful beaches of Italy and to explore Croatia. But here I am, showing no desire to leave Buenos Aires anytime soon.
Why Buenos Aires?
Australians travel to Buenos Aires for a variety of reasons including:
- It is known the world over for its arts and culture, food, wine, vibrant nightlife and its passion for football.
- Tickets are more affordable compared to flights to Europe
- There are no visa requirements, but is you are Australian you will need to pay a Reciprocity Fee of USD 100. As of 2022, Australians must pay a reciprocity fee to enter Argentina. The fee is $100 USD, and it must be paid online before your trip. This fee is a response to the Australian government’s visa fees for Argentine citizens, and it applies to all Australians entering Argentina, whether for tourism or business purposes. It is important to check with the relevant authorities for any changes or updates to this information. According to: https://argentina.embassy.gov.au/
- It is relatively inexpensive compared to Europe and the United States. USD $1 = ARG $450
- Argentina is a very safe country compared with the rest of Latin America.
- Read more about what to do and why to come to Argentina
So you’ve decided why you should come to Buenos Aires and booked your tickets, but …
Where will you stay?
You have many options depending of course on your budget. Like many visitors, I wanted to be close to the action, so I rented an apartment in Palermo Soho for a month through AirBNB bue there are other good local sites and companies where you can find apartments or rooms :
- Palermo Luxury Apartments
- Rent Palermo Buenos Aires
- Buenos Aires Habitat Rentals
- Luxury Apartments Buenos Aires
- BYT Argentina Rentals
- Below is a comprehensive guide to using Airbnb in Buenos Aires
Palermo is a massive suburb (barrio) and you will often see it segmented into sub areas such as Palermo Soho, Palermo Hollywood, Palermo Viejo and Palermo Chico. Filled with great restaurants, bars, shops and character, Palermo is a great base for exploring the city. One of the most important aspects for me is safety as I am travelling on my own, and so far I have found Palermo to be incredibly safe.
Check this cool time-lapse of the city.
Basic laws of supply and demand tell you that the more people who want to stay in this area, the more expensive it will be. I set myself a budget of AUD 50 per night and have been able to stay within the budget. Booking an entire apartment through AirBNB is more expensive and if you have decided to stay for a long period or you have firm plans you could go through a real estate agent to rent an apartment significantly cheaper (how to do that will be an upcoming blog).
If you are on a tighter budget, you can still find great accommodation a little further away or look at shared options as a way to meet locals or other travellers. San Telmo has many hostels, while Villa Crespo, Belgrano and Las Canitas are all great spots.
Here are some affordable Hostels in Palermo near Vamos Spanish School:
- Art Factory Hostel
- Eco Pampa Hostel
- La Morada Hostel
- The Pink House Hostel
- Reina Madre Hostel
- Don King Hostel
But I don’t speak Spanish…
Don’t let that deter you! I’ve lost count of the number of conversations I,ve had on my travels using nothing more than a few basic words, hand gestures and facial expressions. Of course, that will only get you so far and I realised pretty quickly that if I wanted to stay and explore this country and have meaningful interactions with locals, a working knowledge of Spanish would help me, so I enrolled at Vamos Spanish Academy located at Viamonte 1516 Ciudad de Buenos Aires in Palermo. Initially I signed up for 2 weeks of intensive group classes (20 hours per week) but I found I really enjoyed the process of learning the language, as well as the discipline required. Of course, it was also a great way to meet other students eager to explore the city. Check our class:
I still struggle with my confidence and always worry that I sound like a fool, but I am surprised how much more I am able to interact with locals after five weeks of classes. Last night I was coming home in a taxi and I struck up a conversation with the driver. No, I didn’t understand everything he said to me, no, my grammar and verb conjugations were not perfect, but did he understand what I was saying? Yes! Previously, I would have sat in silence hoping not to have to speak, but as with anything, the more you practice, the more you improve and so will your confidence. The locals probably laugh at my accent, but they are kind enough to wait until I walked away.
If you can, try to understand even just a few words. Duolingo is a great app and it’s free. I found it useful for vocab and verb conjugations. Check out this blog for a comparison between Duolingo and learning a language in class and using an app.
What to watch out for:
- Remember to pay the Reciprocity Fee before you go to the airport, and make sure to print out the confirmation after you make the payment. Argentine Immigration requires this for Australian tourists.
- Bring USD Cash, there is extra charge to take out money from ATM per transaction. Depending on your bank, you may also have to pay bank fees and deal with limited daily amount for international withdrawal.
- Try not to flash your iphone 6 or any expensive electronics on the streets.
- If you go to La Boca, we highly recommend you to stay within the Caminito street.
- Cash is still king in Argentina so if you are not too used to handling with cash anymore, just pay attention to what you give and were given, and count your change.
- Buenos Aires is a metropolitan city with lots of people and busy streets, use your common sense.
How to find a good Airbnb in Buenos Aires:
I’ve always wanted to be a carefree gal, strummin’ on a guitar, with long hair (not specifically just on my head), smelling of incense, who enjoys staying in 10 bed dorms in hostels… But it just ain’t me. I thought the fact that I couldn’t stand staying in a hostel would burden me financially and socially and that booking an Airbnb would be a terrible decision for my stay in Buenos Aires… how wrong I was!
This blog post is about my personal experience with Airbnb, it’s hugely biased and I have no shame in saying it.
List of Pro’s for Airbnb:
Check Out Your Host Before You Stay
If you’re in a hostel, there’s no way to check out if there’s an incontinent 108 year old German man on your top-bunk but with Airbnb you can look at your hosts profile, description and reviews from previous guests.
A big decision for me was looking at the Airbnb hosts profile picture, (yes PICTURE, it’s a meat market people, get used to it) to find a 20-30 year girl I could be best friends with, enjoy doing things like painting each others nails and having pillow fights in our underwear together… and I had complete success*.
*We haven’t actually had a pillow fight yet but I’m sure it will occur organically soon enough.
Cheaper Than Hotels But More Than Hostels
Sometimes Airbnbs only cost a fraction more than a 4-10 bedroom dorm in a hostel. But I suppose it depends what you’re after; if you’re hoping to shack up with Gaz from Bristol or do tequila shots from Krystal’s belly-button, it’s a lot easier if you’re sharing a bunk bed with him.
Cutting Out The Middle-Man
A sneaky thing that keeps cropping up when I mention Airbnb is the ability to message your host directly and offer to pay them cash-in-hand and rent the room outside of the Airbnb booking system. But beware, it is prohibited by Airbnb and the host can get in a lot of trouble. A friend told me that once when a host was messaging them through the Airbnb messaging system, the host asked the visitor to “chat with them via the website created by Mark Zuckerberg” because even though the messages between hosts and guests are private, Airbnb block and red-flag words like “contact me on facebook” and “here’s my mobile number” to make sure hosts are sticking to the guidelines.
Airbnb is a True Argentinian Experience
The best thing about Airbnb is if a) your host is an Argentinian and b) you get along with your host, then they’re bound to give you some great Argentinian experiences, like a hot cup o’ mate in the morning, an asado on the weekend, trips to Tigre or football games etc etc!
Below is a picture of my host and her friends, putting on an amazing Asado for me. I was sweating out the meat for at least 4 days after.
Español, español, español:
If you’re staying in Argentina or South America for an extended amount of time you’re definitely going to want to speak some Spanish and an airbnb host is a great opportunity to speak in Spanish daily. In hotels, they are so used to speaking English that it would be difficult to pick up any Spanish with them. You really won’t get more than a “¿como estás?” out before Juan escorts you from of the elevator with your bags.
I suppose you might pick up a bit of Spanish in a hostel, the one time I stayed in a dorm in Lima I had to google at 3am how to say, “Stop f***king snoring” in Spanish but smothering his face with a pillow for a few seconds worked a lot better ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I wanted to write a non-biased blog about accommodation in Buenos Aires but an Airbnb really is no competition to a hostel if you’re OK forking out a bit more cash. I really can’t think of one positive factor of a hostel besides the money factor and the only benefit of a hotel is the luxury.
Buenos Aires is an incredibly beautiful city, with many tourist things to see, however, scratch the surface and there is so much more than just beautiful buildings steak and tango. Come for a few days, or a few months, study Spanish, learn the culture… If my experience is anything to go by, as an Australian in Argentina you will be welcomed with open arms.
Also Read: Best Bars in Buenos Aires
We hope you have enjoyed reading this blog and would love if you can share if on your social media. Fore more information you can visit our Spanish School in Argentina or enter https://vamospanish.com/spanish-school-buenos-aires and https://vamospanish.com/spanish-school-malaga/
Vamos Spanish Academy [email protected] +54-11-5984-2201 or +1-888-808-1242