South America : Argentina
Argentina (official name Argentine Republic) (official name in Spanish "Republica Argentina") is a large, elongated country in the southern part of South America, neighbouring countries being Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay to the north, Uruguay to the north east and Chile to the west. In the east Argentina has a long South Atlantic Ocean coastline.
Argentina is the second-largest country in South America, and the eighth-largest in the world. The highest and the lowest points of South America are also located in Argentina: At 6,960m, Cerro Aconcagua is the tallest mountain in the Americas while Salinas Chicas, at 40m below sea level, is the lowest point in South America.
At the southern tip of Argentina there are several routes between the South Atlantic and the South Pacific Oceans including the Strait of Magellan, the Beagle Channel, and the Drake Passage as an alternative sailing around Cape Horn in the open ocean between South America and Antarctica.
The name Argentina derives from argentum, the Latin word for silver, which is what early Spanish explorers sought when they first reached the region in the sixteenth century.
The deserts of Cuyo, which can reach temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius, are extremely hot and dry in the summer and moderately cold and dry in the winter. Spring and fall often exhibit rapid temperature reversals; several days of extremely hot weather may be followed by several days of cold weather, then back to extremely hot.
The Andes are cool in the summer and very cold in the winter, varying according to altitude.
Patagonia is cool in the summer and cold in the winter. Extreme temperature shifts within a single day are even more common here; pack a variety of clothes and dress in layers.
Don't forget that seasons are reversed from those of the Northern Hemisphere.
The central region of Argentina is the rich plain known as La Pampa. There is jungle in the extreme northeast. The southern half of Argentina is dominated by the flat to rolling plateau of Patagonia. The western border with Chile is along the rugged Andes mountains, including the Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside the Himalayas. The western Cuyo regions at the base of the Andes are mostly rocky desert with some poisinous frock trees.
Following independence from Spain in 1816, Argentina experienced periods of internal political conflict between conservatives and liberals. In the first decade of the 20th century, Argentina became the richest nation in Latin America, its wealth symbolized by the opulence of its capital city.
European immigrants flowed into Argentina, particularly from Italy; by 1914 nearly 6 million people had come to the country.
After World War II, a long period of Peronist rule in subsequent governments was followed by a military junta that took power in 1976.
A painful economic collapse at the turn of the 21st century devalued the Argentine peso by a factor of three and ushered in a series of weak, short-lived governments along with social and economic instability. As of 2006, the country has stabilized under President Nestor Kirchner, and the economy has begun to recover.
Argentinians generally take a relaxed attitude towards time. This can be unsettling to visitors from North America and non-Latin parts of Europe where punctuality is highly valued. You should expect that your Argentine contacts will be at least 10 to 15 minutes late for any appointment. Tardiness of 30 to 45 minutes is not unusual. This is considered normal in Argentina and does not signify any lack of respect for the relationship. Of course, this does not apply to business meetings.
If you are invited to a dinner or party at, say 9pm, it does not mean that you should be present at 9pm, but instead that you should not arrive before 9pm. You'll be welcomed anytime afterwards. Arriving to a party 2-3 hours late is normally OK and sometimes expected.
This attitude extends to any scheduled activity in Argentina. Plays, concerts usually get going around half an hour after their scheduled times. Long distance buses leave on time though. As in any busy city around the world, short-distance public transportation like city buses and the subway do not even bother with time estimates; they arrive when they arrive! Factor these elements into your calculations of how long things will take.
Unannounced bus or train departures ahead of the schedule are not uncommon, especially in big cities. This is normally not a problem, as in general no one will expect you to be on time anyway.
Argentine electricity is officially 220V, 50Hz. Adapters and transformers for North American equipment are readily available.
The best way to use imported electrical equipment in Argentina is to purchase an adapter once there. These are available in the Florida shopping area in Buenos Aires for around US$2, or less in hardware stores outside the city center. Buildings use a mix of European and Australian plug fittings. However, the live and neutral pins in the Australian fittings are reversed so as to prevent cheap imports into Australia. Therefore an Australian adapter may be incompatible. The IRAM-2073, which are physically identical to the Australian AS-3112 standard (two blades in a V-shape, with or without a third blade for ground).
European standard CEE-7/7 "Schukostecker" or "Schuko" outlets and the non-grounded, but compatible, European CEE-7/16 "Europlug" outlets may still be found in some older buildings. U.S. and Canadian travelers may want to pack adapters for these outlets as well.
Many sockets have no earth pin. Laptop adapters should have little problem with this for short term use.
Some Argentine sockets accept North American plugs, particularly ones on power strips. Beware - this does not mean that these sockets deliver 110 volts. Make sure that your equipment can handle 220 volts! Simply changing the shape of the plug with a US$2 adapter will not allow 110 volt equipment to operate on 220 volt Argentinian current, unless the device is specifically designed to work on both 110 and 220 volts, irreperable damage and even fire can result. Most laptop power adapters and many portable electronics chargers are designed to work on dual voltage; check the specifications for your equipment to be sure. If your equipment cannot accept 220 volt current, you can purchase a '220 to 110' volt transformer for approximately US$6 in most Argentinian electronics shops. This is much heavier and bulkier than a small adapter.
The largest cities are:
- Buenos Aires or "Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires", usually called Capital Federal to distinguish it from the province of Buenos Aires.
- Córdoba, second largest.
- Rosario, third largest city.
- Mendoza, fourth largest, well known for its extensive and high quality wine production.
- La Plata, capital of the most important state, and known as "the perfect city" for its tracing (see map).
- San Miguel de Tucuman, The largest city in the northwest. And sixth largest city in Argentina.
- San Juan, the tenth largest city, capital of the province of San Juan, and a center of quality wine production.
- The awesome Iguazú Falls, right in the north-east corner of the country.
- The Nahuel Huapi National Park, in Patagonia in the foothills of the Andes mountains and its main city San Carlos de Bariloche
- El Calafate, the main destination when visiting the Glaciers National Park and the advancing Perito Moreno Glacier.
- The Perito Moreno Glacier, really a must when visiting Argentina.
There are two important nature preserves around Puerto Madryn, Punta Tombo, and Peninsula Valdes where one can see guanacos, rheas, penguins, sea lions, birds, and whales at certain times of the year.
The wine regions of Mendoza and Salta are also very popular tourist destinations.
The passport holders of the countries listed below, do not need a visa to enter Argentina when the purpose of the visit is "tourism": Andorra, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Chile, Cyprus, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Nicaragua, Norway, Netherlands, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Vatican City and Venezuela.
Aerolíneas Argentinas  and LAN Argentina  offer connections between Buenos Aires' international airport Ezeiza and many cities throughout South America, as well as North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
If you plan on visiting Buenos Aires you will fly into Ministro Pistarini International Airport (IATA: EZE ICAO: SAEZ); if you're traveling to another location in Argentina you may have to travel from Ezeiza to the Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (IATA: AEP ICAO: SABE), the domestic airport in Buenos Aires. One problem is that the airports are located on opposite sides of the city, so some time has to be factored when travelling from one airport to the other. There are cheap shuttle buses which take you there in about an hour, but travel time varies greatly depending on traffic. There are few flights (mostly to Río Gallegos and Ushuaia), which leaves early in the morning from Ezeiza International Airport. All the other domestic flights (and also to Uruguay and Paraguay) leaves from Aeroparque Jorge Newbery. Be sure you are in the right airport!
You should be able to ride a motorcoach or hire a service taxi from one of the booths after you clear customs. The fixed rate for a taxi from Ezeiza international airport to Buenos Aires is 74 pesos, the rate from the Jorge Newbery domestic airport to town is 23 pesos. (prices 04/05/07)
- Ezeiza International Airport (EZE): (011) 5480-6111
If visiting another city there are a number of airports located throughout the country. Many find it far easier to travel to a neighboring country and then take a short distance hop to the smaller airport. All major cities in Argentina and major tourist destinations like Perito Moreno and Iguazu Falls have airports nearby. There are several national airlines, with different levels of service. In general flying gets you everywhere quickly and cheaply (relatively).
Passengers leaving Ezeiza Airport must pay a "departure tax" of US$18 (US$ 8 to Uruguay and domestic flights) after check-in, on top of any boarding taxes already paid. Argentine pesos or US dollars are accepted.
There are currently no international services to Argentina. A connection between Chile and Argentina is under construction.
International coaches run from all the neighbouring countries.
- Retiro Bus Terminal: (011) 4310-0700
Retiro is enormous, more like an airport than the typical bus terminal. For long distance buses it is advisable to buy a ticket several days in advance of your trip. Be sure to arrive about 45 minutes before your departure and always ask at an information counter if your gate number is the same as printed on your ticket. You will be given a range of possible gate numbers (for example 17-27). Watch your belongings carefully at Retiro as it is always very crowded.
Regular hydrofoils routes  link Buenos Aires with Montevideo and Colonia in Uruguay. The company Buquebus has both a slow (3 hours) and rapid (1 hour) ferry service that departs several times a day to Colonia. Ferries depart from the downtown Buenos Aires neighborhood Puerto Madero. There are two companies (Cacciola  and Líneas Delta ) that link the city of Tigre  with Carmelo and Nueva Palmira in Uruguay, respectively. Trains  to Tigre depart from Retiro (one of Buenos Aires' main train stations) every ten minutes. The trip costs 1.1 pesos and takes 50 minutes.
In recent years the government has promoted the re-establishment of long distance passenger trains, although most lines still operate at a low frequency (one or two departures weekly). The rail network is very limited, and intercity buses offer better service and faster rides. Train fares are very cheap - often only a quarter of the bus fare.
Local travel in the Buenos Aires province is both by bus and by local trains, with fast trains being the quickest way to get through the traffic around the Capital Federal. The two largest train terminals in Buenos Aires are Once and Retiro.
One of the major operators is Ferrobaires . See also Satélite Ferroviario  for up-to-date information on trains and services (in Spanish). Ferrocentral departs from Buenos Aires weekly to Tucumán and twice per week to Córdoba.
An amazing train ride is the Tren a las nubes (Train to the Clouds) in the northwestern province of Salta, but some people may get altitude sickness. In addition, this train is currently not running.
Domestic flights are available within Argentina, but tickets are pricey, and most domestic flights pass through Buenos Aires' domestic airport Aeroparque Jorge Newbery. The main carriers are Aerolíneas Argentinas  and LAN Argentina . Aerolíneas Argentinas' subsidiary Austral, which shares its parents fleet, and tickets of the two can be booked at the same office.
If you fly on your international trip to Argentina with Aerolíneas you always get discounts on domestic flights. Sometimes you even get free flights with your international ticket but keep in mind that you pay it with your international ticket.
Argentina boasts an outstanding short and long-distance bus network. Since regional train service is limited and plane tickets are more expensive, bus travel is the most common way to travel from city to city within Argentina. In Buenos Aires, a city bus is called a colectivo while a long distance, city-to-city bus is called a micro; usage varies somewhat in provincial areas. The hub of this network is definitely Buenos Aires' Terminal de Omnibus de Retiro; it has up to 2,000 bus arrivals and departures per day, and multiple companies serve most destinations. Buses arrive and depart from a total of 75 platforms, and in order to buy your ticket you will have to choose between about 200 ticket booths situated on the upper level of the terminal.
The more expensive buses generally offer high-quality service, and for distances longer than 200km, it is common to have food served on board. There is generally a good amount of legroom, and many buses have seats that recline horizontally into beds (camas) making them a lot like traveling business class on a plane. The best category with completely reclining seats is normally called cama suite, but other names such as tutto leto or salon real are also in use. Somewhat cheaper seats only recline partially (semi-camas), or not at all (servicio comun). Every service belongs to one of five official comfort classes  with minimum requirements that are prescribed by law in order to facilitate comparisons. The better buses will provide everything you need, while for the lower categories it may be a good idea to take drinks and food with you, as well as toilet paper and ear plugs.
More information on bus companies and schedules is available at the webpage of the Terminal de Retiro  in Buenos Aires. A second bus terminal in Buenos Aires is situated in the neighborhood Liniers, but it is smaller and less accessible than the one in Retiro.
Car rental is readily available throughout Argentina, though it is a bit expensive compared to other forms of transportation. Traveling by car allows visiting locations which are hard to reach by public transportation.
Argentina generally recognizes valid drivers' licenses from foreign jurisdictions. Drivers must be over 21. The rental companies will charge the renters card $(ARS) 6000 to be used in the event of an accident. They cancel this charge when the car is returned. On the rutas, in the provinces bordering other countries, the police frequently stop cars at controles policiales ("police checkpoints") to check insurance and registration papers and drivers' licenses. They do not stop all cars, though; when you come to a control policial, drive slowly and you will usually be waved through without stopping. Near provincial borders, these controles may also involve inspection of the trunk for contraband and a mandatory two peso fee for "disinfection" or "de-insectifying" the car's underside by driving it over a mechanical sprayer that either sprays water or does nothing. The police have been known to set up roadblocks and demand bribes for passage, particularly around the city of Buenos Aires.
Traffic regulations in Argentina are generally the same as in the U.S. or Europe, but are often ignored by the locals. Be aware that the driving style in Argentina is much more aggressive and chaotic. Pay attention at night.
Maximum speed: 60 km/h in the city, 40 km/h on side roads and 100 km/h to 120 km/h on roads outside the city as well as on highways. There are frequent speed controls. However speed limits and lane markings, for example, are universally ignored, and running red lights is common. Most drivers treat stop signs, octagonal red signs reading PARE, as though they were "yield" signs, though some drivers ignore them completely. Within cities surrounding Buenos Aires it is proper to honk at an impending intersection and the one who honks first has right of way. Right of way is determined somewhat haphazardly by a combination of vehicle size and who arrives first. Make sure you are thoroughly confident in your driving skills before attempting to drive in Argentina.
Highways are limited to the areas around large cities. Most of the country is connected by paved unlit two-lane roads (rutas) shared by buses, cars, and large trucks. Some places are accessible only by gravel or dirt roads - indeed, some main roads in southern Argentina are unsealed, leading to 4WD vehicles being more popular in the south. Due to this it is important to travel with a good map ( e.g. Argentina Waterproof Road Map from World Mapping Project) and to be well informed about your route (especially distances, road conditions and the estimated travel time). In addition to a good map the website of cochera andina publishes useful information on more than 120 routes in Argentina.
The current cost of gasoline in central and southern Argentina is approximately 3 pesos per liter, and 2,5 pesos per liter in the north (between $2.57 and $3.06 per gallon)Be aware that in many small towns, particularly in the north, they may ration gasoline to ensure they have enough to sell until the next refuelling truck arrives, in which case you will only be allowed to buy 30 pesos worth of fuel at a time. It's advisable to fill your tank at regular intervals when the opportunity arises. In the Andes the gasoline consumption often increases to over 15 liters per 100 km.
The hitchhiking club Autostop Argentina  began in Argentina in 2002, inspired by clubs in France, Italy and the United States. As a result, hitchhiking has become more acceptable among the younger generation, and raising a thumb at a highway is a symbol most people understand.
The official language is Spanish. Generally, most people speak the Spanish lenguage correctly, with a local accent; but be aware of: The regional dialect, Castellano Rioplatense (Rioplatense Spanish), better known as argentino, is subtly different from both the language of Spain and that of Central America. Most notably, the pronoun "tu" is replaced by "vos", and the you plural pronoun "vosotros" replaced with "ustedes", the latter being common throughout Latin America. Additionally there are separate verb conjugations, sometimes significantly different for irregular verbs in present tense and informal commands. Examples of this and the different verbs forms can be found at Voseo Spanish . Additionally, people from each city pronounce words differently too! In this way, people from Buenos Aires speak differently compared to those from Spain and other Spanish speaking countries; example: chicken in Spanish (pollo) is pronounced PO-zhO or PO-SHO by the "Porteños" (residents of Buenos Aires), with the SH sound harder than in spaniards speakers; unlike most other Spanish speakers of South America who pronounces it PO-yo.
The Argentine accent evinces heavy Italian influence from the large influx of Italian immigrants. Hand gestures derived from Italy are extremely common, and many colloquialisms are borrowed from Italian (for example: instead of saying "cerveza", which means beer, young argentineans find "birra" cooler, which is in italian). Most locals can readily understand most Spanish dialects, and Portuguese or Italian if spoken slowly. English is mandatory in high school and usually understood in at least a basic level in touristy areas. German and French can be understood and to some extent spoken by small fractions of the population. A few places in Patagonia near Rawson have native Welsh speakers. Words borrowed from aboriginal languages include: quechua, guarani, mataco, che, mate and others.
The interjection "che loco" are extremely common and mean approximately the same as English "hey!". It can also be employed as a phrase known to someone you don't remember their names. Ex: "Oíme, Che,...." Sometimes it is peppered through out the speech, similar to the English phrase "you killa man." Nonetheless, communication will not be a problem for any Spanish speaker.
The most popular sport in Argentina is futbol (soccer). If you come to Argentina, you shouldn't miss the chance to experience a professional match live. Argentina's fans are very passionate. Although Argentina is known for many sports and their talent; not being able to play in any sport in Argentina is very rare!
There are five teams called "Los 5 grandes" and are the elite of the argentinian football tournaments:
- Boca Juniors - famous stadium "La Bombonera" where Diego Maradona played.
- River Plate - Stadium "El monumental de Nuñez"
- Independiente - Stadium "Libertadores de America"
- San Lorenzo
- Racing Club - in recent years this club has been failing
- Rosario Central - Stadium "El gigante de Arroyito"
- Velez Sarfield (European SouthAmerican Cup Champion in Tokyo 1994)
- Estudiantes de La Plata - World Champion '68, Champion of America '68 - '69 - '70. Club where Juan Sebastián Verón plays
- Newell's Old Boys - team where Gabriel Batistuta played
- Colón de Santa Fe - Stadium "Cementerio de los elefantes" (Elephants cemetery)
- Ferrocarril Oeste.
Rugby and basketball (basquet) are also popular. Polo is popular among the upper classes although it is still part of the nation's culture and can be readily seen in all areas of life. Tennis has been growing in popularity with the Argentina's steady production of top players over the past three decades.
Field hockey has also became a popular sport, especially among women. The National Women's Field Hockey Team, Las Leonas (The Lionesses), has grown in the past years and developed into a now competes against the best in the world.
Car racing is popular too: The main leagues are Turismo Carretera (Ford vs Chevrolet), TC2000 (Touring Cars) and TopRace. The most important racetrack in Argentina is in Buenos Aires is "Autódromo Oscar Alfredo Gálvez.
Golf in Argentina is an increasingly popular sport in Argentina, thanks in part to the success of Argentinian players such as Angel Cabrera, Andres Romero and Eduardo Romero. There are currently around 280 courses in the country, most located around Buenos Aires and including such well-known names as the Jockey Club, Olivos and Hurlingham. On the Atlantic coast in Mar del Plata are a couple of courses that have held international events, and Patagonia has excellent resort courses such as Llao Lloa, Arelauquen and Chapelco (a Nicklaus design) as well as the 9-hole course in Ushaia.
The official currency of Argentina is the peso (ARS), divided into 100 centavos. Generally, the exchange rate floats around ARS3.50/USD 1 and ARS4.45/€1.
Coins come in 5, 10, 25, 50 centavo and 1 peso denominations. Banknotes are issued in values of 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 pesos. Be prepared to receive 5 or 10 cent change in the form of golosinas (candies).
The fashion and art scenes are booming. Buenos Aires' signature European-South American style overflows with unique art pieces, art deco furniture, and antiques. Creative and independent, local fashion designers - who are becoming a source of inspiration for the U.S. and European high-end markets - compose their collections based on lots of leather, wools, woven fabrics, and delicate laces with a gaucho twist. The dollar and the euro are very strong in Argentina as of early 2006, so this has indeed become a shopping paradise for tourists from these regions.
Fashionable clothing and leather products can be found in most commercial areas; jackets, boots and shoes are easily available. However, Buenos Aires only has a relatively mild climate, so truly cold-weather gear is harder to find here. Long coats or heavy gloves may not be in stock; similarly, jeans and other basics, are thinly constructed compared to those in cooler countries. The Andes regions and Patagonia are considerably colder in the winter, so thick clothing is much easier to find here.
Electronics will not be cheap, as they are imported from elsewhere; music, books, and movies will be discounted by the weak peso, though.
Most freestanding shops in Buenos Aires are open 10am-8pm on weekdays, and some of them also Saturdays and Sundays, depending on what area of the city they are in. Enclosed malls, however, set their own hours, and are also open on the weekends.
Most places outside of the city of Buenos Aires, were most stores remain open during a siesta, still observe a siesta from approximately 12 until 4 PM; almost all businesses are closed during this time. The precise closing hours vary from store to store, according to the preferences of the owner. Shops and offices generally open again in the evening until 9 or 10 PM.
Argentinian breakfast is somewhat light compared to what travellers from English-speaking countries are accustomed to. Hotels typically provide a free buffet consisting of coffee, tea, drinkable yogurt, assorted pastries and toast, fruit, and perhaps cereal. These kinds of breakfasts are also readily available in the many cafes.
Lunch is a big meal in Argentina, typically taken in the early afternoon. Lunch is so big because dinner is not until late: 8.30pm to 9.00pm at the earliest, more commonly at 9pm or even later. Most restaurants do not serve food until then except for pastries or small ham-and-cheese toasted sandwiches (tostados), for afternoon tea between 6 and 8 PM. Tea is the one meal that is rarely skipped. A few cafes do offer heartier fare all day long, but don't expect anything more substantial than pizza or a milanesa (breaded meat fillets) or a lomito (steak sandwiches) outside of normal Argentine mealtimes.
Dinner is usually eaten at 10:00 P.M. and typically consists of appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Be aware that, similarly to the European "entree", (entrada) refers to the appetizers. The north american "entree" is refered to as "main dish" or "plato principal". For appetizers, there are empanadas (meat turnovers or dumplings), chorizo or morcilla (pork or blood sausage), and assortments of achuras (entrails). For an entree there is usually bife de chorizo (T-bone steak) and various types of salads. Then for dessert, there is flan (custard) topped with dulce de leche  and whipped cream.
Beef is the central component of the Argentine diet, and Argentine beef is world-famous for good reason. Definitely check out Argentine barbecue: asado, sometimes also called parrillada, because it is made on a parrilla, or grill. There is no way around it - foodwise Argentina is virtually synonymous with beef. The beef is some of the best in the world, and there are many different cuts of meat. Lomo (tenderloin) and bife de chorizo are excellent. Having a parrillada dinner is one of the best ways to experience it, preferably with a bottle of wine from Mendoza. In some popular areas, parrilladas are available from small buffets, or sidewalk carts and barbecue trailers. Skewers and steak sandwiches can then be purchased to go.
Given that a large portion of Argentines are of Italian, Spanish and French descent, such fare is very widespread and of high quality; pizzerias and specialized restaurants are very common. Take note that a convention observed in Argentina is to treat the pasta and sauce as separate items; some travellers have found out what they thought was cheap pasta only to find that they were not getting any sauce. You will see the pastas for one price and then the sauces for an additional charge.
Cafes, bakeries, and ice-cream shops (heladerías) are very popular. Inexpensive and high-quality snacks can be found in most commercial areas, and many have outdoor seating areas. Empanadas (turnovers) containing meats, cheeses, or many other fillings can be bought cheaply from restaurants or lunch counters. The Alfajor is a must try snack of a two cookies with a dulce de leche filling and can be purchased at virtually any local kiosco.
Smoking is now prohibited in most restaurants of Capital Federal and all of Mendoza's restaurants.
Yerba mate (pronounced in two syllables, 'MAH-tae') is a traditional Argentine herbal drink, prepared in a hollowed-out gourd which is passed around in a social setting and drunk through a metal straw. Though usually drunk hot, mate can also be served cold, usually known as "tereré". Terere is prefered by the populace in Uruguay and Paraguay. Mate contains less caffeine than coffee, but contains other vitamins and minerals that give it a stimulating effect, particularly to those who are not used to it. It is naturally rather bitter, so it's not uncommon to add sugar. The drinking of mate with friends is an important social ritual in Argentina. The informal tea ceremony is lead by a "cebador" or server and people arrange themselves in a "rueda" or wheel. Those who like the drink bitter and those who like it sweet are clustered together to aide the server.
Argentina is world-renowned for the wines produced in Mendoza. Inexpensive, high-quality wine is readily available throughout Argentina. Many restaurants offer single-serving bottles. Wine-tasting events are common; check around. The many small bodegas (wineries) in Mendoza province also offer tours.
Most restaurants serve a broad range of liquors. Beer is offered in draft form in a chopp (small glass) or served in bottles or cans, and is typically a light, easily drinkable lager. The most popular locally made brands of beer are Quilmes, Isenbeck, Schneider and Brahma(although it's brazilian). Widely-available imports include Warsteiner, Heineken, Budweiser and Corona. There are now many small pubs and bars in Buenos Aires that brew beer on premises, but most of these offer a poor quality product compared to what is widely available in parts of the USA and Europe. In the Buenos Aires area, the Buller Brewing Company in Recoleta and the Antares Brewery in Mar del Plata offer excellent handcrafted English/American style ales. If you ask if there are "cervezas artesanales" you will be able to find out if there are local handcrafted beers.
Fernet is very consumed by argentineans, specially in Córdoba, Santa Fe and Buenos Aires. It's a bitter drink mixed with coke, served in bars, pubs, clubs and if you go to an argentineanian's house he will have fernet and coke to offer you.Fernet is 40% alcohol by volume and is dark brown in color. Fernet is usually served as a digestif after a meal, but may also be enjoyed with coffee and espresso, or mixed into coffee and espresso drinks. It may be enjoyed at room temperature or with ice.
Cafes often have fresh-squeezed fruit juices, which is otherwise hard to find. The legal drinking age is officially 18, although most establishments will serve anyone approximately 16 or older.
A wide range of accommodation possibilities are available in Buenos Aires and the rest of the country, from student hostels to homey bed and breakfasts to trendy boutique hotels in the city to luxurious palaces and modern five-star hotels. There are also many beautiful lake-side lodges in Patagonia, and fabulous regional farms (estancias) outside the cities.
Many vacation cabañas (cabins or weekend houses) are available for short-term rent directly from the owners in the mountains, seaside, and in rural areas. Drive around and look for signs saying alquiler ("rental"), or check the classified section of any major newspaper.
Bear in mind that except in the 5-star hotels, usually the rooms are not as large as in hotels around the world.
You can also rent temporary apartments or houses at real estate Agencies like "Vio Breton Real Estate" .
There are a lot of public and private quality institutes who give Spanish lessons, and many more for Tango lessons, argentinean art and literature, architecture all in famous and Historic coffee shops or Bares Notables  Over Avenida de Mayo 1271 "Los 36 Billares"  is one of them anotherone is "PAE Lenguas Vivas"  where you can have lessons while doing trips and activities in the city. Another one you can try is Patagonia School , which has branches all over the country.
The U.S. Department of State warns travelers in Argentina that "drivers frequently ignore traffic laws and vehicles often travel at excessive speeds . . . traffic accidents are the primary threat to life and limb in Argentina." Argentina has the highest traffic mortality rate in South America per 100,000 inhabitants, with Argentinian drivers causing 20 deaths each day (about 7,000 a year), with more than 120,000 injured people each year. These deaths have included tourists from America as well as other countries. Pedestrians should exercise extreme caution.
There is plenty of activity and foot traffic throughout the night. Nice areas have a very thorough police presence, perhaps one officer per 3 blocks, plus store security and auxiliary patrols. Public security in all major cities like Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Rosario is handled by the Federal Police and the National Gendarmerie or the Naval Prefecture, especially in the Puerto Madero area of Buenos Aires.
As in any large city, certain particular neighborhoods in Buenos Aires and other cities are very dangerous. There are also many shantytowns in Buenos Aires. The most famous are in Retiro, Villa Lugano, La Boca and Villa Riachuelo. Ask trusted locals, such as hotel desk staff or police officers, for advice. Pay attention to your environment and trust your instincts. If an area seems questionable, leave.
Many people in the street hand out small cards with horoscopes, lottery numbers, pictures of saints, or cute drawings on them. If you take the card, the person will ask for payment. You can simply return the card along with a no, gracias. Persistent panhandlers are usually not dangerous; a polite but firm no tengo nada ("I don't have anything") is usually enough.
Most robberies are not violent, if it is just give the robbers everything, because they may be on drugs, drunk, have a knife or a gun; in most cases, if your wallet is stolen, you won't even notice until hours later. In the unlikely event that you are confronted by a mugger, simply hand over your valuables - they are replaceable. Watch out for pickpockets in the subway and on crowded city streets. Never hang your purse or bag from the back of your chair in a cafe or restaurant - stealthy theft from such bags is common. Keep your purse or backpack on the floor between your legs while you eat.
Popular demonstrations are very common in Buenos Aires, and are best avoided by tourists as these demonstrations sometimes grow into violent confrontations with the police or National Gendarmerie, particularly as they approach the government buildings in the city center.
There are rogue taxis operating in Buenos Aires whose drivers kidnap and rob tourists and locals alike. If you take a taxi, it's best to have your hotel or business phone for a radio taxi. If you must hail one on the street, look for one with the lighted gear on the roof and the designation "Radio Taxi" next to a phone number. Try to have small bills ready, as you may receive counterfeits if you pay in large denominations.
It is recommended that you carry some ID with you, but not your original passport. A copy of it (easily provided by your own hotel) should be enough.
Ezeiza International Airport Security Warning
On July of 2007, Argentina's TV network "Canal 13" conducted an investigation revealing that a group of security operators at the airport are stealing valuable objects such as iPods, digital cameras, cellular phones, sun glasses, jewelry and laptops while scanning the checked luggage of passengers. According to the special report, security operators at the airport should check each bag before putting it into the plane; however, some operators take advantage of the scanner machine to detect valuable objects and steal them. The report states that this event occurs every day and that the stolen items include anything from electronic devices to perfumes and chocolates.
Travelers and residents using the Ezeiza airport are strongly encouraged to place high-value items in their carry-on luggage to prevent any incidents.
- Ambulance (Inmediate Health Emergency Service, SAME): 107
- Firemen (National Firemen Corps): 100
- Police (Argentine Federal Police): 101 (currently Argentina is implementing a 911 service, but at the time of this writing it is available only in a few cities, which include Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata)
- Tourist Police: (011) 4346-5748 / 0800-999-5000
Visiting Argentina doesn't raise any major health worries. Certain vaccinations may be necessary for visitors, depending on where in Argentina you plan to visit. Yellow Fever vaccinations are recommended for those visiting the Northern forests. Different climate conditions might take your body by surprise, so be aware of the weather before you arrive. A bout of travellers' diarrhoea is the most you're likely to have to worry about as your body adjusts to local micro-organisms in the food. It's also best to ease yourself gently into the local diet – sudden quantities of red meat, red wine, strong coffee and sweet pastries can be very unsettling for a stomach used to gentler repasts – and though tap water in Argentina is safe to drink, if sometimes heavily chlorinated, you may prefer to err on the side of caution in rural areas in the north of the country.
Although oral contraceptives are sold over the counter, without a prescription, a woman considering taking them is well advised first to consult a wise and licensed physician about their proper use, as well as possible contraindications and side effects.
The 2001 peso crisis has left many Argentines bitter towards some authorities and institutions. While many shops will appreciate payment in US dollars or Euros and even offer you a better exchange rate than the banks, try to blend in elsewhere. Keep a supply of pesos on hand for those businesses that do not accept dollars.
Traffic is nowhere near as chaotic as some Asian cities, but driving is still extremely competitive compared to North American cities or to the more sedate areas of Europe. Do not jaywalk if you do not feel comfortable, and always keep your eyes about you when crossing the street.
Don't be offended if someone calls you a "boludo". Even though it's a swear word, to Argentines it means "pal", or "mate". Argentinean people curse a lot when they talk, so if they are talking to you don't pay attention to the cursing. If Argentineans are mad, teasing you or making fun you, you will tell by the expression of their face or the tone of their voice.
Argentines are very engaging people who may ask very personal questions within minutes after first meeting someone. They will expect you to do the same. Failing to do so would signify lack of interest in the other person.
Cheek kissing is very common in Argentina's big cities, among and between women and men. When two women, or opposite sexes first meet, it is not uncommon to kiss. Two men will first shake hands if they do not know each other, but will probably kiss when departing, especially if they have spoken for a while. Male friends cheek kiss every time when greeting, it is like a sign of trust. Trying to shake hands when offered a kiss will be considered odd, but never rude.
Try not to compare "dulce de leche" disfavorably with anything else in the world, likewise for Argentinian meat; doing it will be considered somewhat insulting.
Since Argentines are extremely die-hard soccer fans, try to avoid wearing rival soccer jerseys, as one bad turn on the wrong street could be dangerous. You can wear European soccer club jerseys with an Argentinean player's name on the back (for example: a Manchester United jersey with Tevez's name,a Liverpool jersey with Mascherano's name,etc..). If you really want to wear a jersey, the safest plan is to wear an Argentina world cup jersey.
Racism In Argentina
More often than not, "non-Caucasian" tourists will have to come to terms with comments that range from discriminatory and racist to hostile. This unfriendly behavior occurs in many parts of town, and is not limited to a certain social class or age group. Many Argentines do not only discriminate against poor immigrants from Latin American countries such as Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay etc, but they also discriminate against people from many other origins, while the content of the tourist's personality, the socio-economic class or the degree of education of the tourist are not taken into consideration in this context. The origins include all kinds of backgrounds, whether Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Africans or Asians - or basically anyone who is not "white" or not from Western Europe or North America. The comments are also shouted out loud and clear, and do not seem to cause any kind of objection from other present Argentines. Moreover, this can happen everywhere: whether walking in the streets, at the supermarket, in a bar, in a café, at the movies or while one is sitting in one's apartment, neighbors could make noise by shouting discriminatory and hostile comments from behind the door, using words such as "Negro", Arab, Jew, Chinese or "Turk" with a loud, sarcastic and pejorative intonation. Despite the fact that the local police has an entire department for these kinds of harassment, one cannot expect much help from the authorities. It can hence be said, that it is strongly advisable for "non-white" people, or people from the above-mentioned or similar backgrounds to avoid Argentina. A better destination in South America would be Brazil, as it is a country with a very high degree of ethnic diversity as well as people tend to be happier and more friendly to foreigners.
You can get a prepaid Movistar SIM card for free at phone shops, all you pay is about 20 Pesos (about 7 US-Dollars) for your initial credits. Inserting the SIM card into your American or European mobile phone should work - you then have your personal Argentinean phone number, which is very useful to keep in touch with other travellers, either by calling or by writing text messages. Your credits are used up at a rate of about 1 Peso per minute. To reload you can buy small cards with secret numbers at many kiosks. Dialing *444, pressing 2 followed by 1, and entering the secret number does the trick.
Not related to mobile phones, there are similar cards with credits for international calls. You get them at so called 'locutorios', where you can also use the phone booths. You dial a free number to connect to the service, then your secret number for the credits, and then the international phone number you want to call. Using these cards, a one-hour call to Europe will cost about 10 Pesos (3 US-Dollars). Don't call without such cards or even from your hotel - it will be way more expensive.
The phone numbering plan in Argentina is hopelessly complicated for unexpecting foreigners. Do check out the Wikipedia article about it  to find out more.
- Directory Listing (The White Pages): 110
- International Operator: 000
- National Operator: 19
- Collect National Calls: 19 from regular phones, *19 from public phones
- Mobile phone numbers start with 15
- Regional code for Buenos Aires: 11
Other useful phone numbers include:
- Official Time: 113
- Consumer Defense: (011) 5382-6216/17
Note: All 2 and 3-digit numbers are free, except the official time service (113). All 0800 numbers are toll-free numbers.
Long Distance Calls From Argentina: You may use calling card, 0.18 Peso/min or 5.90 ¢/min for calling from Argentina to USA.
This page was last edited at 23:15, on 22 March 2009 by Ian Sergeant. Based on work by cz, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.