Too much to do in Buenos Aires
IT'S the city of steaks that fill your plate for $12, metro rides for 25 cents, two-hour massages for $50 and real leather bags for under $100.
Argentina's economy has struggled in recent times and with Australia's strong dollar, the peso makes for a good exchange rate.
There is so much to experience in Buenos Aires that you could easily fill a few weeks.
The main sightseeing can be done in a day or so but the key to falling in love with this city is in the neighborhoods.
It's about mixing with the locals (known as porteños) whether it's tango in San Telmo, taking in the craziness of a La Boca futbol match or doing a pub crawl in Puerto Madero.
On the shopping front, you can choose from the madness of Florida Avenue in the city's heart, the stylish Santa Fe or the cutting-edge boutiques of Palermo.
Galerias Pacifico shopping centre, off Florida, is worth peeking for the architecture and opulent design as well as the shopping.
There is also a section of the city dedicated to high-end fashion labels but Buenos Aires is best known for its leather goods.
You will find a great selection of the latter around Paraguay and Suipacha streets.
One of the main attractions of "the Paris of South America" is the vast number of cheap Spanish schools.
I went to IBL which at 165 Florida, also a lovely building, and had a great teacher, Angeles.
I had already had 12 one-hour lessons before I arrived in South America so I had a base to work from.
Angeles reviewed what I knew and quickly made our way through the workbook at my pace.
I can easily get by as a tourist and can have small talk conversations with people I meet.
When you first walk through the city, the narrow streets and tall building can be a little stifling.
But they grew on me, becoming cosy and charming, especially once all the street vendors lay out their wares in the evening and the street performers start putting on a show.
However, the city has plenty of areas and green spaces oozing character.
Head to Palermo's parks to watch an impromptu game of hockey or the highly skilled roller bladers weave their way through small cones.
Wander through the Japanese or rose gardens and take a row boat on the water.
For a good steak, I can recommend anywhere along Puerto Madero or Avenue de Mayo, also lovely walks.
You should not need to pay more than 60 pesos for a good slab of meat.
And if you can squeeze it in, or maybe have them as an afternoon snack, you must try panqueque or flan de dulce de leche.
It's a little like caramelised condensed milk draped on top and it is truly delicious.
Every tourist should check out colourful and charming La Boca, where the sexy Argentine tango was born, but best to take a taxi because it can be dangerous to wander outside the tourist area day or night.
Taking a tango lesson followed by a tango show was definitely a highlight of my Buenos Aires stay.
But if you want something less organised, there are plenty of places in San Telmo to get involved with the locals.
For great bars, Palermo Soho, San Telmo and Puerto Madero have dozens of options.
I can recommend The Buenos Aires Pub Crawl whether alone or in a group.
They head to a different area of Buenos Aires each night of the week and there is a great mix of gringos (us tourists) and locals.
You will easily party until 4-5am, or longer if you want because this is a city where some clubs do not even open until 2am.
Something you will notice during your time in BA is the mate (pronounced mar-tae).
Every second person will have a mate mug wedged in one hand, complete with metal 'straws' of various shapes, and a thermos under the other arm.
It's a must-try whether you like tea or not.
As for sightseeing, don't miss Plaza de Mayo where Madonna made the balcony at Government House famous in the movie Evita.
The cemetery at Recoleta is also worth a visit. Not just because Eva Peron's grave is there but the crypts are so ostentatious and whole families are buried there.
It is incredible to walk around but it's better with a guide to explain some of the stories - maybe try a bike tour.
I stayed at a homestay 18 blocks from the city and found that helpful for picking up a bit more Spanish before the rest of my South American sojourn.
My homestay and Spanish school were organised through Kumuka Travel but there are plenty of options.
I am now boarding a flight to the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador.