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Now that I have been here for a few weeks, I think I can confidently make recommendations of where to stay. Keep in mind that taxis are pretty cheap (a 10 min ride usually costs me about $2.50) and the Subte is user-friendly, cheap and can get you pretty much everywhere during the day. I´m still intimidated to take the bus on my own, but that´s because my Spanish is so bad.

Las Canitas – a little bit out of the way, but v cute with lots of trees, cafes and restaurants. Nice for a longer stay and more bang for your buck if you´re renting a vacation apartment.

Palermo – yes, this is where a lot of the expats hang out however there are weekend markets, nice bars, the best shopping I have found in the city and tons of restaurants. It also the largest (by far) neighborhood in BA: I prefer Palermo Viejo to Palermo Hollywood, personally but it doesn´t make a big difference.

Barrio Norte – I think this is the best bet if you´re on a budget. There´s not a whole lot going on in Barrio Norte itself but it borders with Parlemo Viejo and Recoleta. You get a great location and it´s a lot cheaper than staying in either of those. I can get pretty much wherever I want to go by walking for 20 minutes.

A word about San Telmo – this is where you want to walk around during the day, but not where you want to stay. It´s cute but v touristy and not that exciting at night. I don´t think it would enhance your visit to stay here.

If you´re here for a week or longer, it´s worth it to get an apartment. Not only is it less expensive, it´s nice to have some space and a kitchen (and many incl made service). I found my place on craigslist, however is also a good place to look.

Cicerones is a non-profit that matches proud Porteños with visitors to go on 4-hour custom walking tours. You fill in a form outlining the kinds of things you are interested in (art, architecture, sports, etc), the area(s) of BA you are keen to see and they match you with a volunteer. I had a great time with my Cicerone, Ariel. He picked me up and we took the subte down to San Telmo and then continued on to La Boca and took the bus back up to Barrio Norte. Because the guides are volunteers they are not professionally trained, they are sharing ´´their´´ Buenos Aires with you. It is free, but the visitor is responsible for covering costs (transportation costs, any entrance fees and in my case, beer).

Expat connection (yeah…the name isn´t so creative) is an organization in Buenos Aires that hosts a variety of social events: winetastings, dinners, paragliding.. these are open to visitors as well as Porteños and foreign residents. For someone like me who came to BA without knowing anyone it´s been a fun and easy way to meet people. In my experience (I have 2 events under my belt) it´s been predominately Americans (who all seem to come from the Bay area..) — just sayin. Anyway, check their online calendar, a lot of the events require RSVP.

Every friday night a group of Portenos get together to practice their English. They invite native English speakers to join them (local expats as well as travellers). I went last Friday and had a really nice time, we chatted for a couple hours and then went to dinner. They are a lovely group, very friendly and welcoming. They are not partyers.. this is not a pub thing but it is a nice way to get to meet some locals. To get the address you need to contact them directly (this is too weed out the sexual deviants): Grupo de Ingles

I had my first day of Spanish lessons today at Ayres de Espanol in Palermo. It´s a small school in a cute old building and but it´s main attraction for me is that it´s not a schlep away in San Telmo. Their methodology is somewhat bohemian but I´m pretty much level 0 so it´s fine for me. After working behind the scenes in language learning for 8 years and not having been an actual student in 9, it was a strange feeling to be sitting in front of a whiteboard with my new notebook cracked open. We started as 3 students in the class  but we were already down to 2 by the end of the first session (and I´m not sure how long my remaining colleague is going to stick around). I think I might need to find a school that´s a bit more structured… I want to establish a foundation so that I can really learn Spanish and I´m starting to wonder if maybe this school is more geared towards people who just want to be able to get around better. Stay tuned..

It seems there are a few of these types of maps floating around, but having tried a few I think this one is the best: Mapa de Buenos Aires. You can even enter a street address and see exactly where it is (Buscador General in the left menu for the Castilian-impaired).

I arrived in Buenos Aires VERY early yesterday and settled into my studio apartment I rented for a month. I think I´m in Barrio Norte but different maps seem to tell me different things… today I wandered around Recoleta and had the cheapest afternoon at the salon ever ($3 to get my brows dealt with – and it was a pretty nice place!!). Not speaking Spanish made it interesting and before I looked in the mirror I imagined myself with Greta Garbo eyebrows, which thankfully was not the case. Tomorrow I will try to sort out the Spanish lessons and SIM card (apparently I need my passport to get one..who knew?).

Luckily my corner store is run by Chinese people, otherwise I would have starved. OK, that´s an exaggeration but Mandarin did some in handy – esp when I went to pay and realized I forgot my wallet at home. The staff were pretty surprised (and entertained) to hear a gringa bust out the Putonghua .

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