Currency exchange news:
The Argentine Peso is suffering from 40% or more inflation, per year and the government has currency controls that have created a huge blue (black) market in the country for US dollars. The official rate for one dollar is currently 9-28-2014 –ARG$ 15,00 Argentine Pesos. Restaurants and businesses will routinely take dollars at close to or at ARG$ !5,00 There are currency exchanges that operate both openly and somewhat openly. The somewhat open ones are called cuevas and located in areas that can be risky to enter. The open exchanges seem to operate with impunity, but they are raided by the police occasionally. The Argentines tell you that the raids are a joke and for show, since the police are likely bribed to allow the exchanges to operate. In any event, we managed to exchange a fair amount of dollars which save us mucho dinero. If you plan to visit Argentina, use your credit card as little as possible. Take cash and go to some effort to find an exchange and get the blue rate. The currencies of Uruguay and Chile are stable and not a problem. There is a black aka blue market in Arg for US cash and to a somewhat lesser extent, Euros. The best rate is given for clean US$100 bills.
How to move around:
The best way to move around Buenos Aires is by Taxi. There are thousands of taxis in the streets at any hour. You can hail a taxi anywhere, not just at taxi stands. When you see a taxi with a red light on in the windshield, it means it is available. Taxis are very inexpensive for tourists. You will never spend more than $10-15 US if you travel within the city. There were several problems with unauthorized taxis that scammed tourists, so MAKE SURE you pick a taxi with the "RADIO TAXI" sign.
On cell phones:
In Buenos Aires there are three companies Movistar (www.movistar.com.ar), Personal (www.personal.com.ar) and Claro (www.claro.com.ar)
You must know that you must bring a triband cellular to be able to work with our GSM Cards
General advice and tipping:
We just returned from a trip which started in Santiago, through Bariloche to a week in Buenos Aires. In general, everyone we met was fantastic and more concerned about our welfare and safety than we were. However, some things to note: at 2 am the police go home. If you are out roaming the streets after hours, take taxis, travel in groups and be cautious because help is not easily available. Follow the local customs: Ladies, take either a small bag with only your essentials in it, or use a purse that is held high under the arm and has a zipper. No extra pockets, flaps, etc. If you set your purse down, make sure it is under the table, tucked away, next to a wall, and out of reach of a grab. Don't open your whole inner purse to take out your wallet - know what is in your wallet, reach in, take out what you need quickly and precisely and zip it back up. Keep your valuables in a safe. You sometimes need a passport for identification - like for buying tickets - but it is usually enough to know your number. Carry a photocopy if you need to remember. Locals are worried about individuals who are out of control on drugs. They say there are regular violent murders by people who are drug-sick. What I saw was a very clean, orderly city (we stayed in Palermo SoHo) so I'm not sure if this is in other areas, but I trust the locals to know what they are talking about. On a more everyday level, tipping is highly confusing. 10% seems to be the standard. Note that we did not find a single instance where you could add your tip if you paid by credit card, so carry sufficient cash for tipping.. Taxi drivers are almost insulted if you tip, but since small bills and coins are in short supply, they seem quite happy to settle the difference by rounding up, leaving them a small amount. for example, on a taxi bill of 14.63 (ARP), if you only have a ten and a five, you can say "keep the change" and everyone agrees that is the most sensible thing to do. There is no loss of face. The only place we actually got ripped off was by a clerk in the subway station where we bought our tickets. She refused to give us the correct price. Two young girls also pressed up close while I was buying the tickets, almost touching me even though the station was almost empty. Finally, be warned that sidewalks are maintained by the individual property owners facing the streets and are very rough and uneven. The surfaces change every few steps. Lighting is often also poor at night and the cars and motorcycles cut very close to the curb and drive as fast as they can. After all this, have fun! It is a great city.