Guia-T If you have all the time in the world, try the Colectivo, but this is very confusing, the Guia T guide is not the easiest thing the world to comprehend, and you must have coins to pay for the ride. You need to know a bit of Spanish, at least to ask if this goes to the place you want - because many streets are one way, it is not easy to figure out which direction a bus is going, so ask the people waiting in line, or ask the driver - va a Sante Fe for example. They might reply otro meaning take the other bus on the same route - even though the bus may have the same number, many times they run a shorter or slightly different route. Or he may say no, wrong direction, then ask or look for the next one way street for the bus in the opposite direction. So, this is not a easy task, the guide is not very good in that it does not show the path and direction or bus-stop for each bus, so this option may not work for every tourist.

An excellent internet guide which also provides information on how to get from point A to point B and colectivo number and map is Viajo Asi web site. It offers maps, walking directions, subte directions, as well as colectivo directions. The directions from that website were usually correct, though in a few cases it reported an incorrect starting point. Therefore, always confirm their directions with the route description in the Guia-T.
The colectivo is a good way to take it slow, see different parts of Buenos Aires. The key thing to note is that since most of the streets in the city of Buenos Aires are one way only, the ida will be on different, adjacent street from the regreso route.


Subte Ticket Subte Station The subway is called Subte and it is very good - roads can get into very bad traffic jams, so if subte is a possibility, go for it - buy the 10 ride pass for AR$9 [2008]
Also - be very careful to pick the right street entrance and the right turnstile to enter the subway. You must choose the correct one because once inside, you can only take the train in one direction. Very few stations have access to both directions, so if you make a mistake, have to pay for another ride to cross over and use the other turnstile or keep going until you come to a station that has access to both directions. Some subway maps identify the stations that have access to platforms in both directions - there will be a horizontal bar in the circle representing a station, but not all maps offer this legend.

While the subway is the best choice where possible, the subway does not have a wide-spread network which explains the heavy use of black-smoke spewing diesel buses on the streets! The heat in the stations and the trains can also get stifling but this is an issue only in January and February.


While it is important to be cautious and aware, I think the tourist guides are a bit too strong on harping about dangers of hailing cabs. As long as you trust your instincts and are comfortable in cities like New York, should have no problems hailing a cab and taking it. It is also a matter of convenience - at the hotel, it is easy to get a radio taxi called in. But after dinner, after a walk around in the neighbouhood, it makes no sense to worry about this and call in for a cab when you can just do what the locals do, hail a cab on the street and not worry about this too much. And, do be careful about large bills since change is hard to get, and there are reports of counterfeited bills - best to have exact change or small bills to pay for the ride, around the Microcentro and neighbouring barrios, tabs should run around AR$10, so have AR$10 bills and change with you. Taxis in Buenos Aires are a very good deal, just under AR$1 per kilometer in 2008.

Fedora Core 7 Install Notes

Notes on things to look out for working with Fedora Core installs.

perl CGI scripts hanging
Fedora Core 7 current perl package is perl-5.8.8-27 [Jan 2008]. This perl package contains version 3.15 of, which has a problem handling POST_MAX. Any HTTP post of size greater than POST_MAX value will cause the CGI script to peg the CPU at the $q = new CGI statement and not terminate for a very long time. After the CGI script is automatically terminated, a HTTP 500 Internal Sever Error status code returned to the requester.

This problem exists in all distributions using Perl 5.8.8, and is not limited to Fedora Core 7.

This issue is very hard to track down. Most of the time, the CGI scripts will work fine. When they do fail, there will invariably be nothing more than a single line in the Web server log stating that the job took around 300 seconds and a HTTP 500 Internal Server Error message was sent back. The times at which the failures occur will be all over the clock, there will be no pattern to the time when the failure occurs. If you do manage to see this rare failure happening, the CPU will show that all free CPU time is being used by the CGI script - but the script has no logging or database activity thus indicating that it locked up very early in the script. That will eventually lead to looking at the $q = new CGI statement, and to the fix.

The fix is simple - upgrade to version 3.21 or later. But to make this stick will require some additional configuration because while can be updated on its own, it is also bundled with perl. So to avoid a future yum update restoring back to version 3.15 when perl 5.8.8 is updated, requires preventing perl from being updated, or keeping two copies of around and changing scripts to load the right one.

Tips - Money, Accommodations, Getting Around - Montréal

Short takes and tips for travelers to Montreal.

Tourist Offices The main tourist office is located near Peel and Ste-Catherine at 1001, rue du square Dorchester - this is a good place to begin your trip, get the free tourist guides and Centre-Ville (downtown) maps.. The official city web site is at Ville de Montréal and it has a Discovering Montreal section with excellent maps.

Buying a vacation home? Here's how one American did it - very nice story with pictures and good descriptions: A Love Letter to Montreal - Living a Wonderful Life in a North American Gem of a City. This page also includes many tips on good restaurants in Montreal, though some of the recommendations are quite touristy places. (Not that there is anything wrong with that. But if you want the local Montreal experience, best to avoid any place in Old Montreal, as well as any expensive place - since such joints are easily found in any city, better to stick to places frequented by Montreal locals.)

Getting in the mood Not that anyone should need any help getting in the Montreal mood - but here's Arianne Moffatt's song Montreal - it is in French - Je rentre à Montréal ... Je reviens à Montréal ... I understand it says I return to Montreal ... I'm coming back to Montreal ... great music even if the words are all foreign!

More tips for travelers to Montreal in the following sub-sections of this chapter.

Montreal Accommodations

If you are sure of the days you are going to stay in Montréal and are OK with non-refundable advance payments and are booking a week or more in advance (so as to get in multiple offers over multiple days), try Priceline -- amazing deals are possible -- pay 40-60% of the prices normally charged at the hotel web sites, in some cases. Good discussion boards for Priceline include (search for Montréal) and BetterBidding (search for Canada). If Priceline does not work out, Hotwire hotels section is also worth a check. Note that both Hotwire and Priceline do not display hotel name until after you pay for it, and only a single double-bed is guaranteed though you can request options and sometimes the hotel will honor them.

For those visiting for a week or more, a great option is to rent a room or an apartment. This is a great way to live like the locals and explore neighborhoods. This is fraught with some risk in that the people renting may not be totally dependable - you may find that the person is not around at the agreed upon time, or that the place may not be as promised. But the advantages are many, and this also is usually less expensive than a hotel. There are large number of choices that can be browsed online - the one good site is short term rentals and if you really feel adventurous and can put up with miscategorized postings and can spot scams, another site is craigslist sublets. (But in some cities, this applies: Craigslist full of rental scams.)


Montréal is a completely safe city to visit. Downtown is incredibly safe at all times, only danger on streets late at night is drunk American students screaming on the streets or puking in the corner! It is a large city, therefore there are somewhat significant numbers of pan-handlers that one may encounter. Finally, when exploring the city, there may also be an encounter with a narrow-minded Quebec or French supporter -- I have been shouted at for not knowing French by a bum out in Ahuntsic borough.

And then had a interesting encounter with a well-dressed woman in the nice area near Ave Parc and Laurier who took my help in loading her car with her unwieldy package of food and wine but insisted on speaking French in a condescending manner even when I said I don't speak French, and never saying thanks either in French or English!

Then there was an incident in the metro late at night where one guy shouted obscenities in English inter-mixed with the word "immigrant" (I do look like an immigrant, of course but am a tourist here!) - I never felt in danger, and ignoring such people usually works.

These are rare incidents, and I am only listing them here to point out that Montréal is a large city and they have a few whose insecurities may lead them to cause some discomfort to travelers or new-comers who look different or speak a different language. But to repeat, this is a very safe city for tourists, and while downtown is incredibly safe, outer boroughs are also safe and worth exploring.

Getting Around - Montreal

Getting Around: STM - Métro and Bus Montreal has an excellent métro (subway) and bus system. Visit the STM site - Tariffs for details on tickets.
2016: Credit cards from the US now seem to be accepted at the Metro ATM vending machines.
Before this the Metro would only accept Canadian credit cards.

For three consecutive days, the 3-day pass is good deal. For tourists visiting for a week and starting on Monday, the CAM hebdo - a weekly commuter pass is a good deal. Other useful passes including a evening pass starting at 6PM and a Fri-Sun weekend pass.

On the tickets subway to bus transfer or vice-versa is free to continue a journey, remember to hold on to your ticket for the entire ride. More details on the Metro at the STM Metro and Bus official web site. And pictures and more details on the new OPUS card also available in the albums section (click on image shown).

Bixi Bicycle is a great option if you have a working smart phone with data plan in Montreal. T-Mobile or Google Project Fi is a good choice for US residents. Bixi is only available in the non-winter seasons, though. The reason you need a smartphone is to get a quick map of all the Bixi stations around your location when you need to return a bike.
Be sure to read the How it works section on the Bixi page carefully, especially the part about how to return the bike. The bike has to be firmly inserted into the dock, and it may fail sometimes and the led light turns red. Do not leave - remove the bike and insert it again until the led is green! If this fails, note down the number at the Bixi web site and call, otherwise you will be responsible for a lost bike.

Money - Montreal

Before 2010, the ATM was the best source for least amount of fees - was easy to find a bank with less than 1% tacked on fees.

No more - now just like credit cards, most banks typically charge 3% currency conversion fee in addition to a fixed foreign ATM use fee.

For the infrequent traveler, any choice is fine - even with 3% costs plus fees you lose just 3-4 cents per dollar, so exchange cash (comparison shop before settling on a place), or use a credit card (no fee for Capital One, 3% for nearly all others), or use a ATM (0-3% fees) - whatever is more convenient.

Credit Cards: The Capital One credit cards do not yet charge any extra fees for credit card transactions. Now that the free ride on ATMs is history, credit cards may be a good deal even for smaller transactions of $20 or more, certainly credit cards are now the better choice for larger transactions such as hotel stays - no need to lug around too much cash. Other than Capital One, all other credit cards seem to charge at least 3% in fees.

See Foreign Exchange Fees Going Up for more details on both ATM and credit cards.

ATM: Daily limits are usually $400 to $500 and this depends both on the bank owning the ATM machine as well as the bank where the account is kept. And most banks charge a $2 fee or more for foreign ATM cards. Carry two ATM cards and have a backup plan since the likelihood of ATM card use denials is quite high.

Best option is to use ATM cards from credit unions or investment accounts such as E*Trade (0-1% or so actual fee charged) and they may also provide ATM fee refunds. This may end up being better than the so-called 0% conversion fee cards.

Public Libraries and Audio Book Downloads

Public Libraries in the US have now started offering audio book downloads. For example, in my local library, the books The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, The Dork of Cork, Candide, and many others are available for online borrowing as a MP3 download. There is a limit to the number of audio books checked-out and downloaded and each book is licensed for playback for a certain number of days only.

Visit your local library web site to see if they offer NetLibrary downloads. Available at most Public Libraries in the US and UK, and many other countries too.

These specific audio books are Microsoft DRM protected, so no Apple iPod support.

Audio books are a great invention given the amount of time spent commuting stuck in a car, or waiting at bus stations, train stations or airports. MP3 player user interfaces have not caught up well enough with this use, though. While it is great that books can be played on extremely tiny flash MP3 players, these players don't yet offer good bookmarking capabilities, only a single pause/resume capability is offered for all content on the MP3 device. Listening to books would be a much better experience with a multiple bookmarks capability per book...