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.
- It is relatively inexpensive compared to Europe and the United States. USD $1 = ARG $15
- 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
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 timelaps 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 Av. Cnel. Diaz 1736 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.
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.
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
Vamos Spanish Academy firstname.lastname@example.org +54-11-5984-2201 or +1-888-808-1242