The amount of Spanish you know and how travel savvy you are will play a big role in how smooth your landing is here in Buenos Aires. Fortunately, you have also discovered LandingPadBA and things are already looking up, no matter what your travel IQ may be!
Let’s break down the arrival…
I hate flying. After a flight all I want to do is rebalance my nicotine levels, shower off the communal filth-air of the airplane cabin and stretch out completely. The Buenos Aires international airport (EZE) can be a nightmare for both a rookie to Argentina or the seasoned traveler. Here are some tips to help get your trip to Buenos Aires off to a smooth start by minimizing your airport arrival hassle so you can relax and enjoy the city without a rough landing.
Almost all the international arrivals come into terminal C. After passing through immigration, you will then have to pass through the duty free shop, a gauntlet of goods. This is actually the most pleasant part of your arrival and a great way for your new host country to take advantage of your post-flight dazed mental state. The air is infused with the sweet smells of perfume, fine wines, bulk tobacco deals, booze, finely crafted time pieces and of course, the lovely chicas de promociones (very attractive Argentine ladies showing you how elegant and luxurious the art of consumption can be). Be careful, you may regain your senses in your hotel with a Rolex, 3 bottles of yogurt lotion and a carton of Pall Malls before your trip even begins.
Now back to the lecture at hand. Following this land of extravagance, you will enter the baggage claim. One benefit of EZE is that they have not capitalized upon weary travelers like the American airports. The luggage carts are free and speckled throughout out the claim area. First come, first served, so have at it.
The last structured step of your EZE arrival will be a pass through customs. Electronics are heavily taxed in Argentina, so whilst abroad Argentines will often buy not only for themselves but many of their friends. Typically, the staff are hunting Argentines that are attempting to bring in multiple iPods, laptops, cameras and other high value electronic goods.
As long as you don’t have a ridiculous collection of new and expensive gadgets, you should be in and out fairly quickly. All electronics need to appear as though they are not brand new (not in a box). Throwing on your best gringo Spanish accent will speed things right along.
Now, on to the tricky part: transportation. At this point, you will get your first lesson as to how things work in Argentina if you’re new. The taxis at EZE are notorious for charging a bit more than the average taxi because, well, you’re stranded. It’s a little hectic, depending upon when you are arriving, but when you exit those auto-opening doors it’s on! You have two options here:
The Easy and Safe Way : There are several booths for taxis immediately after those doors. Once again, depending upon how hectic it is, you may be getting offers left and right. I recommend the main, isolated taxi booth straight ahead. I believe its called EZE Taxi, but don’t quote me on that. It will not be the cheapest way to go, but you’ll be safe and sound and know exactly how much you’re paying. If you’re in need of some local currency, there’s an ATM off to the left if you are facing the exit doors, where you can get pesos. You’ll pay before you even get in the taxi, and in return, will receive a receipt that displays your charges, destination, company name and info. A driver will then escort you to the car and help carry your bags. This guy deserves a small tip in the region of 3-5 pesos.
The Adventurous Cheaper Way : If your Spanish is pretty good, you like to gamble a little, hate paying too much or just love to bargain, ignore all the booths and focus on the exit. Your negotiating skills and ability to judge a safe bet are now coming into play. As you approach the exit it will begin. Rouge remis drivers (working for smaller taxi companies) and lesser known Taxi Company associates will semi-encircle you, parallel your movements. Do not show them weakness. Now is the time to apply your negotiating skills and make it happen. I usually ask several different guys discretely along the way and get a feeling for the going rate. Sometimes asking the booth companies what the charge is inside will give you your goal of what to lowball outside in the piranha tank. Find a guy that offers the best price and you’re off.
1. Dollars are sought after and can be used for leverage. Check the exchange rate and be ready to make some quick mental calculations.
2. There will be two tolls that the cabbie has to pay. Be sure those are included in the negotiations.
Enjoy the highway drive (General Paz) into Buenos Aires. This ride can be particularly interesting if your driver is the typical aggressive type! And don’t worry, the neighborhoods improve the closer you get to the city. Keep your eye out for Villa Apache, once home to the famous soccer player Carlos Tevez. It usually takes about 35-50 minutes to get to where you are staying in the city from EZE. Good luck and welcome to Buenos Aires!
Helpful additional hints:
-If you smoke, tobacco is dirt cheap anywhere in the city and prices are fixed at each convenience store. Don’t bother buying the cigarettes in the duty free shop. The cigars are however, cheaper there than any other place I’ve been to personally in the city. The Cubans are not inexpensive, but they will be more reasonable at the duty free than any where else in Buenos Aires.
I need to go to this address: Necessito ir a este direccion
Can I pay with cash/credit card/dollars?: Puedo pagar con effectivo/tarjeta de credito/dollares
The tolls are included in the price?: ¿Las peajes están incluido en el precio?
It appears as though I have urinated in my pants, where is the bathroom?: Parece que me urine. ¿Dónde está el bano?