keskiviikko 28. marraskuuta 2012

Surviving in BA

This is still a work in progress: I will collect important links for everyday life in BA to have notes for myself and to make your stay in BA better! If you have any questions or good ideas, please let me know!


* I love the taxis in BA! There are millions of those black and yellow cars circling around the city, just waiting for you to wave for one! Make sure that you wave for a RADIO TAXI, they are the safest. How to recognize one? On the taxi it is written somewhere Radio Taxi, and there are usually two antennas, one long and thin and one short and thick. Those cars are connected to the taxi center or something, and they can ask for directions and help if needed. Inside they usually have a sign of the driver's name and the prices. Nowadays the taxis are not so cheap anymore; the base price is nowadays around 10 pesos, and usually a trip in the city costs around 30 pesos. Always check that the meter is running, and in the end of the trip you can ask for a receipt, un recibo or ticket. Usually you don't have to tip the taxi driver, only maybe round up the sum to the next full peso like 26,40 -> 27. If you want to go very far, like outside the city, the taxi driver may not want to take you there, or you have to pay also for the return trip to town, even though you are not coming back in that taxi.

* Get yourself a SUBE-card!!! Works for the bus = collectivo, the metro = subte and the train = tren. You can get it on kiosks marked with a lilac and green SUBE sign, it costs 15 pesos, you have to fill a form and fill in your ID-number, and sometimes they ask for your passport or ID-card. Then you need to charge it with money, either in the kiosk or the office at the subte. Then you just show it to the reader in the metro and the bus. In the bus you have to tell the driver where you want to go, because the price can be different: sometimes it is 1,10 pesos and sometimes it can be even 1,25 pesos! One ride at the subte costs 2,5 pesos. From the boletería at the subte station you can also buy tickets with 1-10 trips.

* How to know how to get somewhere on public transport? Use the guides on the internet! My favorite is the trip advisor at Comoviajo: write your address and where you want to go, choose how many blocks you can walk, and you get several options, also with combinations of the subte and colectivo. The bus lines you can check at Omnilineas: mark on the map where you are and where you want to go, and you'll see the bus lines that work the best. There is also the interactive map of Buenos Aires.

The bus stops are usually very well hidden, there can be a postcard sized sign on a lamp post or even attached to a tree. The colectivo stops usually before and after a big avenue, and very often even in every block. Sometimes there are several buses with the same number, and they all go to different places, and somehow you have to know which one is the right one for you; this one I haven't figured out yet how to solve!

* If you are lucky enough to have a bike in Buenos Aires, check the new bike routes here!
The city's slogan for promoting biking is "Mejor en bici", and I think it sounds much better in Finnish: "Paremmin pyörällä"!


* Take an old phone with you, or buy a cheap one from here, buy a phone card from a kiosk, and charge it, and voilá! you are ready to make those table reservations to the milonga! Recharging the credit is easiest in the kiosk with "carga virtual": you give them your phone number and money and they recharge it on the internet. You should then get an SMS announcing your new saldo. Often there are promotions that on a certain day for 40 pesos you get 80 pesos; at least my Movistar sends me these announcements about twice a week.

* Not so wise to walk around with your iPhone, so leave it at your BA home.


* Check the restaurants near you on GuiaOleo!
My favorite vegetarian restaurant is Artemisia in Palermo, Gorriti 5996.
My favorite place for beef = lomo is DesNivel in San Telmo, Defensa 855.

* In the supermarket, read carefully the packets. In very surprising places you find sugar, and if it says "sugar free" it probably means it has artificial sweetener. In most yogurts there is both sugar and artificial sweeteners, and it is very hard to find normal coffee without sugar!!! So read carefully if you want to take care of your diet. Or just enjoy the green, blue and pink breakfast cereals.
The fruits and vegetables are usually better at the Fruteria and Verduleria, the green grocer on your street.
There are some shops that sell organic products, especially in the Palermo neighborhood. Will put links later.
In the Dieteticas you find nuts and grains and sometimes also non-white bread.


* A good web dictionary and translator here! Must be several good ones, let me know your favorite one!

* If you really want to learn Spanish, this is a good school! I was planning to go, but then did not have time, but many friends go and really recommend it, and I can hear them improving! There are several levels, from completely beginners to very advanced, there are more and less intensive courses, and you can start any Monday!


* This is a big city, so take care of your belongings as you would in any other big city. Have a handbag with a zipper, and hold it tight. Hold your backpack in the front, not on your back. Be aware in the crowds, like the crowded subway or a busy street, parks, markets, and La Boca area. In restaurants also always have your bag at hand, don't put it behind your back or on another chair. And don't go out with all your credit cards and all your money at once. Just don't.

* The classical BA way to get robbed is that somebody throws some dirt on you, or bumps into you with his ice cream, or smears your jacket with McDonalds ketchup or bird poo, and then wants to clean you, and then really cleans you off, also of your money. So if something like that happens to you, please leave and go to a safe place to clean yourself. Oh, and I heard that the new thing is that somebody pukes on you at the subte and then tries to rob you... eew...

* The crowded subte is of course the place to loose your money and phone, so take care of your belongings. Hold your bag if somebody bumps into you. A bag with a zipper is a must, hold it all the time, and have your backpack on your stomach and not on your back.

* Don't change money on Florida street.
There is also fake money around, usually 50 or 100 peso bills, so take it as an authentic BA experience when you get your first fake fifty!

* Don't walk from San Telmo to La Boca, take a bus or taxi. In La Boca, take care of your belongings.


* Take a flashlight with you, or buy one from here, and keep it with you. There are power cuts often, so you never know when you have to help a lady friend to open her shoe clasp in the light of your flashlight.

* Tips for the toilet or el baño.
1) It is common at least in the old houses NOT to throw the toilet paper in the toilet, but put it in the waste paper basket, because the plumbing is ancient and we don't want the toilet to clog.
2) In the traditional milongas, there used to be a lady in the ladies' baño, and she would hand out toilet paper, and sell mints and stockings and earrings and knitted shawls and even dresses, basically anything that a woman could suddenly need in the middle of a dance evening. On this trip, I met this phenomena only few times: in the milonga in Club Sunderland, one night in La Viruta, and in the restaurant Todomundo on Plaza Dorrego. So be ready to hand over some pesos in exchange of toilet paper.

* Join the group "Surviving in BA" on Facebook!!!

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