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Mini Trip Report - Ushuaia and Buenos Aires - March/April 2024

Mini Trip Report - Ushuaia and Buenos Aires - March/April 2024

Old Apr 3, 2024, 3:39 pm
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Mini Trip Report - Ushuaia and Buenos Aires - March/April 2024

I thought I’d share my recent, albeit too short experience in Argentina. The trip included Ushuaia and Buenos Aires and was country #83 for me. I chose Ushuaia for the novelty of it being the southern most city in the world, I wanted to see if last minute Antarctica deals were still a thing (doesn’t seem to be), and I wanted to have some outdoor time as part of this 3-week trip to Chile, Paraguay, Argentina, and Urugray.

I flew to/from USH on AR. I wrote a short report in that airline’s thread. All in all it was fine. I stayed in a mid-range hotel, with a good location, and was clean and generally comfortable, but it had the worst post-COVID hotel breakfast I’ve every had (and I know because I had 93 hotel nights in 2023). USH had decent restaurants, was very clean, safe, and walkable. I did a penguin/sea lion cruise on the Beagle Canal and two day-long hikes in Tierra del Fuego. Re: money and expenses. I’d put USH on par with the US as related to hotel, tour, and food costs. Credit cards were widely accepted. The only cash issue I ran into was a small pizza pub that would not accept tips via a credit card. This forced me to get cash. The cambio was closed, so I used an ATM with my Schwab card. I could only withdraw a maximum of 30,000 ARP. I did take a tip back the next day – it appeared to be a family-owned joint and service was good. The ride from/to the airport was about 5,000 ARP. I had to give the ‘from’ driver 5 USD cash and she seemed to be pleased with it. Plenty of options to book the Beagle Canal cruise and I used the local shuttle to go back and forth to TdF – 20,000 ARP the first day and 18,000 ARP the second day (round trips) for a returning customer discount. (I didn’t have to ask – the agent remembered me from the previous day.) There was also a 12,000 ARP TdF entrance fee each day. A two day pass was available, but only online, not at the park entrance. I also found a lavenderia about a block from the hotel. 5,000 ARP for a laundry basket full of clothes – wash, dry, fold – finish within 1 business day. Not bad.

With regards to Buenos Aires, I was there over Easter, so I don’t know what is normal, in terms of tourists, locals, etc. I split my stay between a NH tourist hotel because it was inexpensive and well located and the Marriott, also well located, because I had some work to do and a NH is not conducive to work. I’ll post a NH review on TA and a Marriott review in the FT thread at some point soon.

Tourism-wise, I did the following: two free-walking tours, exploration of several neighborhoods, a day trip to Tigre, and a day trip to Colonia de Sacramento in Urugray. BA, like London, Paris, etc., is a city that I could rent an apartment for 2-3 weeks and spend a lot of time exploring the neighborhoods and taking day trips. BA is very walkable and generally seemed safe, day and night (unlike Santiago). There were homeless asking for money, but generally not aggressively unlike those at home. Only two other editorial comments. One is that I don’t think BA has a recycling program. There were individuals digging through dumpsters for cardboard, metal, etc. Some were orderly about this, but others just emptied the dumpster on the street, took whatever, and moved on. More than once, I observed the ciudad personnel shoveling up the trash, back into the dumpster or into a truck. The other is that there seem to be plenty of friendly dogs with their owners, but my observation was that many do not ‘clean up’ after the dog, thus causing me to always have to watch my step no matter what part of the city I was in.

I generally used my credit card, but I also exchanged 100 USD at a ‘cambio’ on Calle Florida. I didn’t shop around; just went to the first person I heard say ‘cambio’. He showed me on a calculator what that equaled in ARP, took me to a storefront and led me inside, and a person behind glass counted out the ARP. Easy peasy. I generally used the cash for tips, a few small purchases, etc. I know there is a lot of discussion about how to get the best exchange rates. I don’t have time on vacation to shop around and my past experience, in other countries, shopping around saves just a few dollars anyway. I recognize that may be important to some and I am not downplaying its importance. Somewhere I picked up an irritating cough and stopped in a farmacia to buy night time cough medicine. Obtaining the med was easy, but the cashier advised that the credit card machine was out of order. But the pharmacist must have told her, I assume, to proceed with a credit card transaction. I did note that the Marriott has a QR code that can be scanned for today’s VISA exchange rate – today it was 939.2.

I mostly walked, but I used Uber a few times, so my experience might not be a great sample. Uber did not ever arrive as advertised, i.e. UberX, pickup in 3 minutes. Most times it was 10-15 minute wait. On vacation, I am never in a hurry, so just a FYI. Also, I assume that Uber does not hold its vehicles to US standards; most of my rides were in rundown cars; again that does not bother me – this is just to set your expectations. But Uber is very inexpensive.

With one exception, all of my meals were great. And I did have a ribeye at Santos Manjares, thanks to a FT recommendation from another thread. While I found USH on par with an east coast US city in terms of costs, I almost universally found BA to be less expensive than the same US city – food, lodging, transportation, etc.

I did two day trips. One to Colonia de Sacramento in Uruguay (country #84) and one to the Parana Delta via Tigre. I had planned to spend several days in Uruguay, but some work items got in the way and I needed to be available. The logistics of several days in Uruguay and then back to EZE for a night didn’t make sense. I bought a round trip ticket a couple of days in advance at the Colonia Express terminal. (Another FTer mentioned buying the ticket online, but I wanted to make sure I knew where the terminal was since the first time I tried, Uber took me to a travel agency with a similar name.) 0830 departure (you do need to be checked-in at the terminal not much past 0730 as you have to go through both ARG and URG immigration). Colonia de Sacramento was very walkable, I had a good lunch (albeit much more expensive than BA, although I received some sort of tax credit of about 20% for using my foreign credit card). If you don’t like walking, golf carts were available for rent. I bought a couple of trinkets. The salesperson carefully wrote out an itemized receipt. I didn’t think too much of it at the time, but when I returned to the terminal, I noticed a tax refund station. It was not staffed, but I suspect I could have gotten the taxes refunded on the trinkets. Again, be there an hour prior to departure because the immigration process has to be completed again. URG is fast, but ARG is a picture and a thumbprint every time. Basically, I think the ferry will leave without you.



I also did a day trip to Tigre. It was that or San Isidro – both are on the same train line – the Mitre Linea line from the BA Retiro station. Tigre is a gateway to the Parana Delta, water-based community, for lack of a better term. I did a 2 hour cruise through the delta and really enjoyed it. The train ride was about an hour each way. I compare the train to the DC metro, except all above ground and no non-paying passengers to put it nicely. The ticket was 840 ARP (<1 USD round trip). I received a paper ticket and had to show it prior to entering/exiting each station. It looked as if a subway card could be used also for the trip. And in Tigre was my only bad meal – a busy looking ‘hamburger and beer’ joint. Basically, it was a frozen hamburger patty with grizzle. And I used the restroom – glad it was after lunch because it was disgusting and I think someone was living in it – wet clothes hanging in a shower stall and that is all the detail I’ll go into. I wanted to pay by card. Wait staff told me that would require a 14% surcharge. I didn’t have cash, so I said OK. But the receipt was for the menu price and my credit card statement indicated the same.

I did take a Marriott arranged a driver to the airport (EZE) for 35,000 AGP. Uber would have been the cost, but getting to the airport in a reliable vehicle is important to me. And about 35 USD for what was a 50 minute ride is not unreasonable.

A few other comments. Mosquitos – exceptionally irritating. I’m not sure if this is a regular thing in BA (but also Colonia de Sacramento). I don’t pack lightly and I always bring an insect repellent. That was good because I heard guests at the NH hotel saying none was to be found. I also did try the subway the Thursday before Easter, entering at the Catedral station. The automated machine was off and while the light was on in the ticket booth, no one was there. And the manual gate was wide open. I thought about just walking through the gate, but I observed others using a card to go through the turnstile even though the gate was open. I figured they knew something that I didn’t. And another editorial comment. A person was harassing people in the ticket line at the Retiro station. I was quite pleased because the agent was having none of it and was immediately on the phone to someone and watched through the window as the person wandered off. (I was also surprised because DC metro station managers do absolutely nothing about anything.) Lavenderias were common in BA – that was a good thing as I had another week’s worth of laundry, but only 3000 ARP.

Finally, I walked by the Malvinas (Falklands) memorial a couple of times, including yesterday when the President was honoring the anniversary. I also walked by another time with the changing of the guard. Interesting to see and a reminder than I should read a bit about it because I was in middle school when it occurred (and whatever I recall was from a US perspective, I suppose).A couple of comments about EZE itself. Check-in for UA opened at 3.5 hours prior to departure and I was #3 in the Premier Access line, so that went smoothly. I very much appreciated the UA agent’s comment about not buying any drinks to take on the plane as EZE performs a secondary security check and such items are forbidden. The most I ever do is to fill my water bottle in the lounge it was nice. I’ve been to so many non- European airports where I’ve seen irritated passengers not being allowed drinks purchased in the airport for US-bound flights. I assume those airports do not trust its own security practices. And don’t tell me that it is TSA, because I’ve taken my water bottle many times for US-bound flights from Europe. To get to security, you must endure 3 manual boarding pass checks and then an e-gate where you scan your boarding pass. Security and immigration went smoothly. Although I observed a denied flat blade pair of scissors being denied (like to trim nose hairs); it took 3 security personnel to consult and make a decision. The *A lounge is adequate.

Last edited by lamphs; Apr 3, 2024 at 3:48 pm
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Old Apr 4, 2024, 12:15 pm
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Originally Posted by lamphs
I chose Ushuaia for the novelty of it being the southern most city in the world, I wanted to see if last minute Antarctica deals were still a thing (doesnt seem to be).
Great report, I was wondering what Antarctica deals were you looking for? because your trip looks like it was at the end of March, very hard to find last minute deals because most ships are done by mid March, so any deal you need to get it the first week of March before departure or last week of February. I got an email from FreesStyle back in February and their latest ship to sail was first week of March, for example I saw deals on Ocean Endeavour from March 9~19, Ortelius from March 4 to 16 and Seaventure from Feb 29 to March 14, similar date for Ocean Albatros. In most cases, they have Classic Antarctic (usually 10 days) from $4.2k and up and Antarctic Circle from $5k+. Next time, check a couple of months in advance, o at least 3 weeks before your trip, I was able to get some deals from Freestyle Adventure Travel, which is one of many companies travel agencies that are located in Tierra del Fuego.
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Old Apr 6, 2024, 12:19 pm
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I wanted to follow up on this very interesting trip report with a couple of questions:

What hotel did you choose in Ushuaia? I'm trying to decide where to stay for my trip in July. Do you have any thoughts as to whether it's preferable to stay downtown or in the outskirts? From what I can tell, there are several nice and very reasonably-priced hotels on the hills outside of town, some with amazing views. But of course that means a shuttle/bus/taxi ride to get to restaurants and other attractions in the city, which could be inconvenient.

Did you enjoy Tigre? As I've been to BA many times already, I was thinking I might take a day trip out there to see something different.

Thanks for your thoughts!
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Old Apr 7, 2024, 6:31 am
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Originally Posted by fedechat
Great report, I was wondering what Antarctica deals were you looking for? because your trip looks like it was at the end of March, very hard to find last minute deals because most ships are done by mid March, so any deal you need to get it the first week of March before departure or last week of February. I got an email from FreesStyle back in February and their latest ship to sail was first week of March, for example I saw deals on Ocean Endeavour from March 9~19, Ortelius from March 4 to 16 and Seaventure from Feb 29 to March 14, similar date for Ocean Albatros. In most cases, they have Classic Antarctic (usually 10 days) from $4.2k and up and Antarctic Circle from $5k+. Next time, check a couple of months in advance, o at least 3 weeks before your trip, I was able to get some deals from Freestyle Adventure Travel, which is one of many companies travel agencies that are located in Tierra del Fuego.
I should clarify - I was wandering around to see if I saw any signs in storefronts re: last minute deals for future reference. (I figured that those storefronts would not take down the sign just because it was the end of season.) Alas, I didn't find any, and not finding any confirmed what I've seen in a couple FB travel groups - basically last minute deals are better found by signing up for notifications from a variety of cruise marketers. Anyhow, a visit to Antarctica is something for the future and thanks for the tips above!
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Old Apr 7, 2024, 6:44 am
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Originally Posted by M60_to_LGA
I wanted to follow up on this very interesting trip report with a couple of questions:

What hotel did you choose in Ushuaia? I'm trying to decide where to stay for my trip in July. Do you have any thoughts as to whether it's preferable to stay downtown or in the outskirts? From what I can tell, there are several nice and very reasonably-priced hotels on the hills outside of town, some with amazing views. But of course that means a shuttle/bus/taxi ride to get to restaurants and other attractions in the city, which could be inconvenient.

Did you enjoy Tigre? As I've been to BA many times already, I was thinking I might take a day trip out there to see something different.

Thanks for your thoughts!
MIL810 because it seemed to be a good deal on booking dot com (which I use quite a bit when Marriott and Hilton properties are way too expensive or non-existent). Just don't. I had no breakfast expectations during COVID. But in 90+ hotel nights in 2023, this hotel had the worst breakfast I have ever encountered. In fact, two mornings, I just went to local coffee shops.

That said, I walked most of downtown and into the close-in eastern outskirts. The only hills I walked were about 3-4 blocks above downtown. Lots of choices. I think it depends on a) if you're a walker, like me, b) how close you want to be to restaurants - by the way I found restaurants above the main road to be a bit more genuine than those on the main road, and c) how much cash you want to carry to grab a taxi for a few block ride although taxis seemed to be inexpensive and plentiful.

This trip report speaks of Ushuaia also and I did try a couple of the restaurants listed: Trip Report.

Re: Tigre. I had more time in BA than planned and I'm not going to get into the details. But I did look at day trips - Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay; San Isidro, and Tigre. Tigre can be reached easily from the Retiro station (as can San Isidro). There are two trains available - a direct train and a more scenic train that involves a change somewhere along the way, I think. I chose the direct train, took about an hour, less than $1 round trip - just buy the paper ticket at the window (although it appears that a subway card could be used also). I didn't wander around Tigre itself too much as I was more interesting in seeing the delta. Multiple types of cruises are available for a delta tour, as are water taxis if you are going somewhere specific on the delta. I did a two hour cruise and the delta is fascinating in that the homes, restaurants, water sport parks, hotels, etc., are only accessible by water as far as I could tell. A very different way of life.
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Old Apr 7, 2024, 10:14 am
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Originally Posted by lamphs
MIL810 because it seemed to be a good deal on booking dot com (which I use quite a bit when Marriott and Hilton properties are way too expensive or non-existent). Just don't. I had no breakfast expectations during COVID. But in 90+ hotel nights in 2023, this hotel had the worst breakfast I have ever encountered. In fact, two mornings, I just went to local coffee shops.

That said, I walked most of downtown and into the close-in eastern outskirts. The only hills I walked were about 3-4 blocks above downtown. Lots of choices. I think it depends on a) if you're a walker, like me, b) how close you want to be to restaurants - by the way I found restaurants above the main road to be a bit more genuine than those on the main road, and c) how much cash you want to carry to grab a taxi for a few block ride although taxis seemed to be inexpensive and plentiful.
More generally, did you enjoy staying in the city? My main concern is that it might be loud, as Latin American cities tend to be. I definitely like the idea of being somewhere a bit removed from the center, but with easy access. While I don't expect to be out particularly late at night, I would want to get food and maybe take a stroll afterwards before going back to my hotel.
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Old Apr 7, 2024, 10:43 am
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Originally Posted by M60_to_LGA
More generally, did you enjoy staying in the city? My main concern is that it might be loud, as Latin American cities tend to be. I definitely like the idea of being somewhere a bit removed from the center, but with easy access. While I don't expect to be out particularly late at night, I would want to get food and maybe take a stroll afterwards before going back to my hotel.
I would not consider Ushuaia loud at all - very quiet. Only a few people wandering around after dinner (note that two of the restaurants didn't open for dinner until 7:30/8 PM). I don't recall that I came across any loud bars, clubs, etc. All very nice to walkaround. And police officers on foot patrol. After dinner, as a walker, I always took a long enough walk to enjoy a cigar.
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Old Apr 7, 2024, 10:46 am
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Originally Posted by lamphs
I would not consider Ushuaia loud at all - very quiet. Only a few people wandering around after dinner (note that two of the restaurants didn't open for dinner until 7:30/8 PM). I don't recall that I came across any loud bars, clubs, etc. All very nice to walkaround. And police officers on foot patrol. After dinner, as a walker, I always took a long enough walk to enjoy a cigar.
Excellent! That's great to hear. It definitely makes me feel more comfortable with the idea of staying downtown. Another factor that weighs in downtown's favor is the likelihood that there'll be significant snow on the ground, making for a slog to get to/from the outskirts.
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Old Apr 12, 2024, 11:24 am
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Originally Posted by lamphs
I thought Id share my recent, albeit too short experience in Argentina. The trip included Ushuaia and Buenos Aires and was country #83 for me. I chose Ushuaia for the novelty of it being the southern most city in the world, I wanted to see if last minute Antarctica deals were still a thing (doesnt seem to be), and I wanted to have some outdoor time as part of this 3-week trip to Chile, Paraguay, Argentina, and Urugray.


I generally used my credit card, but I also exchanged 100 USD at a cambio on Calle Florida. I didnt shop around; just went to the first person I heard say cambio. He showed me on a calculator what that equaled in ARP, took me to a storefront and led me inside, and a person behind glass counted out the ARP. Easy peasy. I generally used the cash for tips, a few small purchases, etc. I know there is a lot of discussion about how to get the best exchange rates. I dont have time on vacation to shop around and my past experience, in other countries, shopping around saves just a few dollars anyway. I recognize that may be important to some and I am not downplaying its importance. Somewhere I picked up an irritating cough and stopped in a farmacia to buy night time cough medicine. Obtaining the med was easy, but the cashier advised that the credit card machine was out of order. But the pharmacist must have told her, I assume, to proceed with a credit card transaction. I did note that the Marriott has a QR code that can be scanned for todays VISA exchange rate today it was 939.2.


.
Thanks for the great report, I am planning on a trip to Argentina as part of an Antarctica cruise for this December, so this helps.
How did you find the Marriott BA from a location standpoint, easy to get in and out to other tourist spots? Food options around that area? Safe at night?
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Old Apr 13, 2024, 6:52 am
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Originally Posted by Commie
Thanks for the great report, I am planning on a trip to Argentina as part of an Antarctica cruise for this December, so this helps.
How did you find the Marriott BA from a location standpoint, easy to get in and out to other tourist spots? Food options around that area? Safe at night?
Generally all good. I'll be posting on the BA Marriott thread in the next couple of days.
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