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Buenos Aires Tours
Thursday, October 1, 2015  
Even though our Silversea Silver Explorer cruise included one night in Buenos Aires, Argentina, we decided to spend an additional night on our own. That was a wise choice, since our flight from DFW did not arrive in Buenos Aires until 8:50am after an all-night flight. With an extra day at our disposal, we decided to look for a private tour of the city and came across BuenosTours.com. We booked a 4-hour walking tour online two weeks before our trip. Everything was handled very professionally by Justine and we received lots of email communications about our scheduled tour prior to our departure.



Ceri explains Argentine history to Rickee

After we checked into the Park Tower Hotel, we had just enough time for a quick nap (we had been up all night) before our scheduled 3:00pm tour. We went to the lobby of the hotel at around 2:30 and found Ceri (pronounced as 'Cary'), our guide, already waiting for us! As it turns out, we were able to begin the tour a little earlier than scheduled. After our introductions, Ceri led the way past a famous tourist pedestrian shopping area, Florida street. We mentioned that we might need to get some local money and Ceri quickly offered to take us to a local money changer. You can't walk anywhere in the city without someone asking you, "Cambio?" They want to change dollars into pesos for you.

After the end of 2011, the government imposed restrictions on the amount of dollars Argentine citizens could buy (basically banning the purchase of foreign currency). This caused the black market for dollars to expand, creating a parallel exchange rate (this alternative exchange rate is called the “blue rate”). This means that tourists or expats with dollars can buy more pesos for the same amount of dollars, increasing their purchasing power dramatically and making Argentina seem like a bargain.

After walking down a few side streets, we end up in a somewhat deserted shopping mall with a few folks standing in front of an innocent looking antique shop. But they, nor we, are here to buy antiques. We are here to exchange US dollars for pesos. Ceri knows his way around this sort of thing, so we were in good hands. You do have to be very wary of counterfeit money in Argentina, but Ceri gave a us a quick lesson on how you can spot the real deal. Soon, we were led into the small shop, Ceri explained that we wanted to change $100 US and we were given an exchange rate of 10.7 to 1. Compare that to the 6.8 to 1 ratio I got earlier at the ATM! So, I ended up with $1,070 pesos for my $100US. The ATM would have only given me $680 pesos. Now I understand why there are guys on every street corner yelling "Cambio" as you walk by.

Feeling as if we just made the deal of a lifetime, we continue on our tour. We walked to nearby Plaza San Martin where there was a dog park and an overlook to the English Clock Tower, a Buenos Aires landmark that was a gift from England. Ironically, the clock tower is right in front of the Falkland Islands War memorial, which we also visited.


English Tower

As we walked through the streets of Buenos Aires, Ceri was quick to point out historic buildings, sculptures and statues of Argentine leaders. It was very educational and interesting.


Local sculpture

The highlight of the tour, however, was our visit to Cemeterio de Recoleta, a famous cemetery like none other I have ever seen. When I first read that the tour included a visit to a cemetery, I was not that thrilled, but it is a "must-see" place in Buenos Aires. More than 4,700 mausoleums are organized around walking paths. It is like walking through a small city. Some of the mausoleums are very extravagant and others relatively modest. Of course, the highlight is a visit to the burial spot of Evita Peron.


Evita is buried in the Duarte family mausoleum

After our visit to Recoleta, we walked a few blocks to a local sidewalk cafe where we enjoyed a drink and snacks. Rickee tried the local specialty, Fernet and Coke, which had an ominous amount of liquor mixed with Coca-Cola.


An excellent local cafe in Buenos Aires

After our relaxing drink and light snack, we headed back to our hotel, Park Tower. We had the option of taking a taxi back, but it was such great weather that we decided to walk back. Ceri was kind enough to show us the way. Back at the hotel, we said our goodbyes, promising to connect again upon our return to this great city. Buenos Aires is a city well worth a visit. If you find yourself embarking or disembarking a cruise here, plan a few extra days to really see the city. And, for a great, personal way to see Buenos Aires, contact BuenosTours.com.


     
     
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https://cruisereport.com/crBlogDetail.aspx?id=3649   |  9/19/2017 8:58:12 PM