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Apps for Buenos Aires

Photo credit and copyright: Nico Kaiser

Nobody wants to be the obvious tourist. There’s nothing worse than standing in the middle of a crowded inner city street with a confused look on your face, looking desperately around for some form of street sign while your partner twists and turns a large fold out map. You’re also probably sweating as you flick frantically through your phrase book and to pluck up the courage to ask one of the locals who are bustling past, exactly where a certain street is. The locals in Buenos Aires love to be helpful. They even love to practice their English with you. The problem is, occasionally you get the wonderfully helpful local on the street that actually doesn’t know where you want to go but gives you some sort of directions to follow anyway.

But in today’s modern world, when packing for Buenos Aires, there is little need for finding room for your large all included South American guide book, your small handy phrase book and waterproof tourist city map with magnified city centre on which you have probably scribbled x marks on the place of your hotel and potential milonga hotspots. Armed with your smartphone or tablet, you have all the information you need at your finger tips with the help of many trusty apps.

If it’s transport you need, look no further than BA Como Llego, an app used by tourists and locals alike. It gives routes on all forms of public transport, by foot, or by car, even factoring in a handy estimate of how long it will take to get there. If you’re more of a cycling nut, then BA EcoBici is a great app letting you know where to hire bikes and where the cycle lanes are. While the flat streets make Buenos Aires a bike friendly city, unless you are an adrenalin junkie,  just remember that the traffic is not always bike friendly and sticking to the cycle lanes is a surefire way to make your trip more pleasant.  Best of all, these apps are free.

If it’s language you need, a Spanish English translation dictionary is the way to go. For a laugh, check out Porteño Spanish but it is best to avoid trying to use any lunfardo (slang). There are fine lines between friendly banter and being offensive and not all words are appropriate for both sexes to be using.

If it’s general information you need, then most major guidebooks now offer an app version of their books. This can be useful for saving both trees and baggage allowance weight since these guidebooks tend to be ever expanding with information.

If it’s food you need, and let’s face it - you’re not travelling all this way to eat bad food, then Guia Oleo is a trusty companion to have with you when navigating the numerous restaurants on offer here. Just remember though, sometimes the best meals come from those little surprises that you just happen upon in your wanders through the city. Some of the best pasta is served up in the unlikely of hidden little places.

But if it is Tango that you need (and you will be needing tango if you visit this amazing city), then there are a couple of apps that will interest you. Learn Argentine Tango Vol 1 features videos taking you through the basics and fundamentals of Argentine tango. Available for your iPhone and your iPad, the clear video format explains all you need to know to grasp the beginnings of this dance. It’s portability means you can practice anywhere - at the office, at the bus stop or even on your long flight down to Buenos Aires.

Hoy Milonga has all your milonga and class needs at your finger tips. Rather like an events calendar, this app lists both famous and lesser known milongas according to the days on which they are held. There is added information about whether or not there are classes prior to the milonga and includes a green star if there is to be a performance. It gives time schedules, names of teachers and performers (both dance and bands) and even includes directions on how to get to the milongas. This saves on collecting up pamphlets and trying to organise a diary of where to head on which evenings.

All this technology is changing the way we travel and how we interact with our surroundings. While it is great to come prepared, Buenos Aires is best explored with an open heart and open eyes. Take an unexpected turn down a road you hadn’t planned on and you’re sure to find a hidden shop or two that takes your fancy. It’s a great way to discover cafes that only the locals haunt and a chance to get lost within this beautiful city.


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