General consejos (advise):
1. Get a "Guia T." It has all of the public transportation options, and it's a great way to navigate the city. It will be your bible.
2. Get all of the reading materials for your classes, read and study them. Those tests are harder than they seem, especially if they're oral! (If you’re studying at la UCA or la UBA)
3. Make sure your purse zips all the way up or slings across your shoulder, and be careful with any electronics you take, like in any big city. When you walk down the sidewalk, be mindful of where your purse is: a motorcyclist could ride along the edge of the street and grab your bag. I never saw it happen, but my host mom made sure to warn me about it.
1. Prepare for some all-nighters. Some clubs don't even open until 1am. If you're meeting up to go out at 10 or 11, it's early still. If you go home at 2 people will ask you why - seriously, it happened to me once! Porteños (natives of Buenos Aires) love their night life!
2. Don't take public transportation between 1am and when the sun comes up, especially if you're by yourself. The way we always avoided this was to make sure to start going out before 1, and stay out until the sun come up or the subway opens. Or take a cab - they're fairly cheap.
3. ONLY TAKE CABS MARKED "RADIO TAXI." If a cab stops for you and it does not say "Radio Taxi," send it away and wait for another one. My host mom warned me about those, and I trust her. Or better yet, find the number of a radio cab company and keep it with you at all times - there are lots of public telephones.
4. When you go out, keep some money in your bra. It sounds a little ridiculous, but you may go through any cash you brought by the end of the night, and you'll forget about the boob-money until you have to catch a cab. Also, you'll definitely notice if a pick-pocket tries to take that money.
A few consejos about hombres:
1. Be careful about how you dance with Argentineans. If you grind with them, they WILL think you want something. Tango doesn't count, though: it's all one big abrazo.
2. Know a little slang. If a guy asks you to go to a "telo" with him, this is what he means: a "telo" is a hotel that rents rooms by the hour or by the night. It may sound creepy, but most of them are actually pretty legitimate. Since Argentineans tend to live with their parents until they get married or turn 35, telos can offer couples a bit of privacy. Or hookers can go there, too. Whatever. I'm just letting you know that the nice ones are clean and safe. And easily distinguishable by neon lights and a sign that says something along the lines of “hotel transitorio.”
3. Be prepared to be called princess, queen, angel, goddess, sweet-cheeks.... in Castellano, of course! You are a woman, and you are not invisible, therefore you will get cat-called. My personal favorite: "Perdón, chicas: ¿Dónde está la puerta del cielo de donde vinieron?" Classic.
1. Have cash. Almost no one accepts cards.
2. Guard your monedas (coins): buses don't accept bills.
3. If you need monedas right away buy something cheap at a kiosko or buy a subway ticket.
4. Try to break 100 peso bills when you get them. I always did it at the subway - I'd pay for ten trips (tickets) or put a certain amount on my subway card, and pay with a 100. They look at you with contempt, but they usually have the cash for it.
5. NEVER pay a cab driver with 100. They will most likely not have change.
Places to go: Must go’s marked with *****
The basement of the Armenian cultural center - it's really not as creepy as it sounds, I promise! A place to take tango/salsa/"rock" lessons, and then dance afterward. I went at least once a week for class and then practice; when I went it was something like 20 pesos to get in, but during lessons they sell cards to get in four times for 40 pesos. If you don’t want to take lessons and just go dance, on weekdays it's free after midnight and they have milonga and stay open till 3am. On the weekends, it's free after 3 and they have milonga and stay open till 6am. They have drinks and food there, too. It's a great opportunity to dance with new partners (some of them will be awful, but you'll find a few gems). I hope if you go that you meet Alejandro, he's super nice, speaks English, Castellano and Portugese, and he loves meeting new people - especially Americans!
If you go to Lost on a Thursday, they play American rap and hip-hop and they'll probably have some sort of breakdancing competition on the main floor.
GO. Just once - it's kind of a hike. The cover charge is a little high (40-50 pesos) but it's a HUGE club, and just a great time. They play Latin and Reggaeton.
Check their website to see what’s going on that night – you don’t want to pay the cover charge and then find out it’s a night devoted to reggae. Unfortunate.
Gay club. I never went because the cover charge is 50 pesos – but then it’s open bar! Just tell your guy friends to be cautious in the hallways.
Generally, Plaza Serrano****. There you have: Crónico, Las Brujas, Tazz, and much, much more!
Right across from Niceto Club. If Niceto’s not open yet, Carnal will be. It’s kind of funky and artsy with a high bar and also tables.
Kind of artsy – floral wall paper, bathtubs on the walls, etc. There are board games - all in Castellano, of course!
Two and a half floors – food on the lowest level, drinks all the way up, archery and jenga on the top floor.
Pretty good food, drinks, deserts, a bar, tables, sometimes live acts upstairs, bowling.
There are artisans and street vendors most nights after 6 or 7 pm. Also, it’s one of the more famous and touristy streets in Buenos Aires
Feria de San Telmo****
Saturdays and Sundays, Starting at Calle Defensa, the oldest street in Buenos Aires, right next to the Plaza de Mayo. It’s a great place to buy gifts and see street performers.
Caminito en La Boca****
All those painted buildings you see in post-cards. There’s a bus that goes straight there – take it. There is one little touristy area en La Boca, and that’s Caminito – the rest of the area is pretty sketchy.
Avenida 9 de Julio ****
The biggest street in the world that isn’t a highway – at the intersection with Corrientes is the Obelisko, which is kind of like the Washington monument. It’s kind of cool to see, maybe on your way to Calle Florida.
Plaza Naciones Unidas****
It’s the cleanest park in Buenos Aires because there are no dogs allowed! It’s great for a day trip on a nice day – also home to Floralis Generica, a giant, steel flower that opens during the day and closes at night.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
Awesome museum – especially if you like Rodin!
Rivadavia 1635, entre Rodríguez Peña y Montevideo. A super-cheap (6 pesos) cinema that only plays Argentinean films. It’s a great way to practice listening, and it’s only a block away from the Subte stop Congreso, linea A.