It was time for us to renew our visitors’ permits again, so we decided to take a day trip to Buenos Aires last weekend. We wanted to make sure we got that taken care of before the baby’s arrival.
We were told by a few expats that as of January 1st, 2010 there is an entry fee for all U.S. citizens entering Argentina. After doing a little digging before our trip, we discovered that the Reciprocity Fee of U$S 131, for now, only applies if you arrive at the Buenos Aires Ezeiza Airport (EZE).
However, you only have to pay the Airport Reciprocity Fee once every 10 years and it covers multiple entries. More information about the Reciprocity Fee can be found here.
Even though we found some cheap flights to Buenos Aires, we decided it would be best to take the ferry to avoid the Airport Reciprocity Fee. Last time we went to Buenos Aires, we took the Buquebus ferry direct from Montevideo to Buenos Aires. This time, we decided to take the bus to Colonia and the ferry from Colonia to Buenos Aires.
It actually worked out quite well for us. We arrived at the bus station around 7am and Zoë slept the entire bus ride out to Colonia and was refreshed when we got to the terminal there. She had a blast talking to everyone from her seat on Daddy’s back.
When we arrived in Buenos Aires, the forecast was for sun, but it was raining quite to our surprise! We didn’t come prepared for that. We were headed to a friend’s apartment who only lives four blocks from the Buquebus station, so we thought we’d try walking. Big mistake. The rain was coming down much harder than we anticipated.
So, we decided to grab a taxi. The only problem was that all we had on us were Uruguayan Pesos – we still hadn’t stopped at a Cambio to get Argentine Pesos.
We asked the taxi driver if he’d take Uruguayan Pesos and he agreed, so we hopped in the cab and off we went. He definitely took us for a bit of a ride. Then, when we got to our destination, the total fare was about 18 Argentine Pesos.
Brian handed him 100 Uruguayan Pesos and was planning to give him an additional 20 UY Pesos for a tip if he was honest. By the way, 18 Argentine Pesos equals about 92 UY Pesos… The guy looked at us like we were nuts and asked for 70 more UY Pesos. He really must have thought we were morons. He said that we had to pay for him to return to the place where he picked us up at.
So, Brian told me to get out of the taxi with Zoë and he gave the guy another 20 UY Pesos and said that’s all we have. And, we left.
It’s amazing how some people think it’s okay to take advantage of people that way. We had been warned about taxi drivers in Buenos Aires so we weren’t completely surprised though.
After arriving at our friend Lyle’s apartment, we decided to head out to find a Cambio and then some lunch. We walked over to Florida Street (a big pedestrian street that is a tourist trap) first to find a Cambio.
There were some guys standing out in the middle of the street soliciting a cambio. We grabbed one of the guys and he took us to what looked more like a travel agency, but whatever. We went inside and to the counter. Brian handed the woman 1700 UY Pesos. She did some calculations and gave him 170 Argentine Pesos.
Luckily we are more informed about exchange rates than the average tourist would be, so Brian tried to give the 170 ARS back and the lady acted like she didn’t know what we were saying (they were speaking English when we first came in). After a brief exchange the lady reluctantly and obviously irritated gave our money back to us… She thought she’d just made a little extra cash off of some ignorant gringos. Wrong!
We found another Cambio about a block away and guess what… We got well over 100 ARS for the same 1700 UY Pesos. Moral of the story? Be informed and aware when you’re traveling as a tourist anywhere.
At least we got the bad encounters out of the way early in the day. The rest of the day was very nice. The rain cleared up and we had a nice lunch and good conversation.
Our ferry was headed back to Uruguay at 8 pm, so we got to the Buquebus station at around 7 pm so we’d have time to check in and go through customs. We boarded the ferry and were pleasantly surprised at how nice this one was. There were sections with couches and even a duty free store on board!
Luckily we were some of the first people to board since pregnant women get priority boarding and we were able to get one of the couches. It was great for Zoë because there were some other kids sitting in the same section. She had a blast playing with them for the duration of the ferry ride.
When we arrived in Colonia, we got on the bus and headed back to Montevideo. The bus ride definitely felt much longer on the way back. I think next time we might consider taking the bus to Colonia on the way out, but taking the direct ferry to return, especially so late at night.