I still enjoy thumbing through the paper editions of travel guides, but there's no doubt that technology has ushered in a new era of trip planning and research. Travel-focused apps often provide access to in-depth information about places that traditional guidebooks barely even mention, and without the constraints of traditional publishing, they can be updated on a more frequent basis as well. You can carry around the equivalent of hundreds of paper guidebooks right there on your lightweight mobile device, another distinct advantage of going digital, especially if you're visiting multiple cities and/or countries. Lastly, the accessible price points of these mobile applications make them hard to resist!
But like everything else, not all apps are created equal. So, today I'd like to recommend a pair of quality, Argentina-related apps, both of which I have personally tested on my iPod touch. These apps function on the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.
Recoleta Cemetery by Endless Mile
Author: Robert Wright
Recoleta Cemetery contains more than just a collection of ornate mausoleums; it contains the history of a nation. "Thanks to its occupants and their eternal sense of style," the cemetery figures prominently on the list of Buenos Aires' must-see attractions. With Endless Mile's Recoleta Cemetery app, you're free to tour the cemetery and take it all in at your own pace.
Truthfully, I can't imagine anyone other than Robert Wright authoring an app about the cemetery. I've been following Robert's blog Afterlife—the definitive English-language resource for information about Recoleta Cemetery—for years now, and his attention to detail, enviable research skills and passion for history have always impressed me. He's managed to condense the wealth of information accumulated in his blog into a slick, well-organized app highlighting the 25 most interesting mausoleums plus the meaning of common funerary symbols and a general overview of the cemetery.
A virtual map leads you through the cemetery to the tombs of some of Argentina's elite. At each point on the route you gain insight into Recoleta's incredible architecture, historical figures and urban legends through text presented with beautiful photos and illustrations. Fans of Evita, the cemetery's most famous resident, will even find a section of the app dedicated to her.
While I fully recommend the mobile app, Robert packs even more information into his 22-page Recoleta Cemetery PDF guide ($9.95). I suggest this option for those with unlimited time to explore and an intense interest in the cemetery's history, since the PDF guide details information about 70 different tombs. The PDF is also the way to go if you'd prefer to print out the guide to carry with you or if you don't own an Apple device.
Argentina Travel Adventures by Sutro Media
Author: Wayne Bernhardson
As the man behind the blog Southern Cone Travel and author of Moon Handbooks for Argentina, Buenos Aires and Patagonia, Wayne Bernhardson is eminently qualified to tackle Argentina "from the top to the tip, the city to the campo." The writing featured in the Argentina Travel Adventures app truly reflects Wayne's years of travel experience and knowledge. In addition to information about major attractions, the app offers practical information and cultural tidbits touching upon food, transportation, culture, and health and safety.
The app includes a number of attractive photos, most of which were provided by the author. They look good on the iPod touch, but I imagine they really shine on the larger display of the iPad. An interactive map with markers allows you to visualize each of the recommended spots, and you're able to conveniently filter results by category. You can even ask the author questions or suggest additional information about an attraction. How's that for interactivity?
The app is useful and well-designed, but it only scratches the surface, providing a brief overview of Argentina's most popular destinations. Each entry gives you just enough information to pique your interest. If you're looking to explore second-tier cities or locations off the beaten path, I'd consider a different resource; however, for first-time visitors or those sticking to the main tourist circuit, I think Argentina Travel Adventures more than fits the bill.
Have you tried either of these apps? Can you recommend other useful Argentina-focused apps?
Disclosure: Although Robert Wright and Wayne Bernhardson both provided complimentary downloads of their apps, the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.
[Photo credit: Tony Buser]