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Some tips when traveling to Argentina

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Argentina > Do's and Don'ts in Argentina
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Do's and Don'ts in Argentina

Do have a coffee at the famous Cafe Tortoni in Buenos Aires. Cafes are a way of life in B.A., but Tortoni is perhaps the most famous cafe in all of Argentina, patronized by celebrities since 1858.

Don't expect to be completely understood if you have studied other forms of Spanish. Argentines would refer at their language as "castellano" not "espanol" (Castilian), in which case you might say "No hablo castellano" as opposed to "no hablo espanol".

Do learn to dance the tango, or at least watch others dance it. One of the best spots for admiring tango couples, or for receiving an impromptu lesson, is at the San Telmo flea market on Sundays in Buenos Aires.

Do spend a night on an estancia and mingle with some of the last real cowboys.

Don't ask about your change if it's less than 20 centavos (50 centavos in a taxi). One- and five-cent pieces are not in circulation and change is not considered important. Do carry plenty of one- and five-peso notes as few stores have change for bills over 20 and taxis never have change for anything over a 10.

Do pick up a copy of The Buenos Aires Herald, an English-language newspaper that has excellent coverage of local and international news.

Do change Canadian dollars at the Royal Bank of Canada in Buenos Aires—many other banks won't accept the currency. Also, don't expect all banks to cash traveler's checks. We had to cash ours at our hotel and the American Express office.

Don't be surprised if you have to go to the post office to mail letters or postcards. You can't just stamp your missives and drop them in the box. And don't mail things that really matter—the Argentine postal service is reliably unreliable.

Do try yerba mate, an herbal drink similar to tea. It's not just the national drink—it's a cultural ritual as well. The mate is passed clockwise and shared as a sign of friendship and acceptance.

Do try to see a polo match. Argentina is known for having polo players who are among the best (and best-looking) in the world.


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