Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Helpful Tips For A First Time Visit To Buenos Aires, Argentina

Photos and Story By Roy Heale

On your first visit to Buenos Aires---also known as the Paris of South America---you are likely to be impressed by the character, style, and friendliness of this enormous gay mecca. Hopefully you were able to spend some time in Spanish language classes before you left home. If you didn't, then be sure to carry a pocket dictionary as many portenos---as the locals are affectionately called---speak little or no English. However, they are welcoming and friendly to visitors, so with your dictionary, some sign language, and a smile on your face, communication becomes easier.

This very large, populous city can be overwhelming at first and will likely dwarf your own hometown. The best way to begin your visit is with a guided tour of the city in order to orient yourself with the diverse neighborhoods. A personal gay tour guide---fluent in English---costing approximately US$100 for a full day tour will probably customize the route to include your own interests. For those on a lower budget the “Hop On-Hop Off” City Tour Bus provides an excellent three hour round-trip route of major attractions and communities for around US$8 and allows you to embark or disembark at twelve different locations.

Once you are familiar with the city you will discover that the LGBT community resides in several different neighborhoods rather than one gay village. A little research will also reveal that the nightlife doesn't begin until well after midnight but continues until dawn. Also, dinner is a late night affair which often begins after 10PM and in fact many restaurants don't open for dinner until much later than you may be used to at home.

Although credit cards are widely accepted throughout Buenos Aires there are always exceptions. For example some restaurants only accept them for payment of dinners and most do not allow you to add the tip onto the credit card bill. Always have ample cash with you to pay for your meal or leave a gratuity. However, this amount of money will be much less than you might expect for dining out in many other countries.

One of the most important handy pocket guides to LGBT Buenos Aires is the GMAPS360 local map and gay guide to all that this city has to offer. Copies are available at numerous locations around the city or online at for research before you leave home.

Enjoy the lower cost of living in Argentina and have a wonderful time in this gay-friendly city. Chances are you will be back for many happy returns like so many other gay travelers who have already discovered that Buenos Aires is the gay capital of Latin America.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Day Trip To Colonia, Uruguay

Photos and Story By Roy Heale
Many visitors to Buenos Aires, Argentina take the time to enjoy a day trip to the Uruguay city of Colonia del Sacramento. Founded by Admiral Manuel Lobo as a typical Portuguese city of the XVII century, Colonia was declared a Unesco World Historical Heritage Site in 1995 and today charms tourists from all over the world with its well-preserved architectural richness.

From Buenos Aires the one hour fast Buquebus ferry allows travellers to leave early in the morning and return later that night for approximately eighty dollars round-trip. The customs and immigration process in both directions is unusually speedy and there is plenty of time during the day to enjoy the cobbled streets, historic architecture, shops, and restaurants. But be prepared for the afternoon siesta when most businesses---except restaurants and cafes---close for a couple of hours.

This charming old-world city may be visited during all seasons becuase its weather is mainly temperate. In the summer, average temperatures range between 22 and 30ÂșC; in the winter, dress warmly as the temperatures can drop to 5ÂșC. Most businesses and dining establishments remain open year-round.

Wandering its historical streets, or a high-energy trip up the lighthouse staircase for a spectacular view of the town and its surroundings, visiting its churches, its various museums and ancient houses are some activities which can be enjoyed by visitors during their stay in the city.

The Plaza de Toros (bullring), today abandoned by the passing of time, is another must visit attraction at Colonia, though at present bullfighting is only part of its past history.

There are many small and large hotels in the old town and the main city offering a wide range of styles and prices to suit all holiday budgets. One can choose a historic architectural experience or a full service modern hotel chain.

Take a step back in time and enjoy the Portuguese history of this early settlement which has been well preserved for everyone to enjoy as they re-visit its history.