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Our Introduction to Polo – Argentina vs. England

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Polo Books

The British influence in Buenos Aires is apparent in a lot of ways, from the English architecture of picturesque neighborhoods like Belgrano “R”, to the still-festering political resentment over the Falkands, and in the world of sports. The Brits are the reason that some soccer teams in Buenos Aires have names like “River Plate”, “All Boys” and “Newell’s”, and they’re also to thank for another staple of the Argentine sporting scene: polo.

British Day

We picked up tickets for the Easter weekend Copa de Naciones match at the Palermo Polo Grounds: Argentina vs. England. Putting on our smashing-best clothes (jeans mostly without holes and t-shirts only slightly wrinkled), we went out to hob-nob with the jet-set. Or at least, sit down with a beer and leer silently at the beautiful people.

I had never seen polo before, and was skeptical of its entertainment factor. In my mind, it would be respectable gentlemen wearing top hats and monocles, lightly tapping balls from atop their horses, and saying “Jolly Good” a lot. But it turned out to be a fast-paced and exciting sport. It’s played four-a-side, and the skill of these guys, maneuvering their horses and whacking a little ball backwards while galloping at full speed is nothing short of impressive. There was also a good amount of body-checking, which is even cooler when you consider that they’re horse bodies.

The crowd wasn’t as huge as I expected for a grand-sounding event like the “Cup of Nations”, but still enthusiastic. It helped that Argentina whupped the English, 13-8. Overall, we had a great time, and recommend that you take advantage should you have the chance to check out a match.

Argentine Polo Association
Location of the Polo Field

Polo Horses
Gaucho
Chandon Travel Blog
Rolex Traqvel Blog
Marching for England
Polo Bets
Polo Player
Me and My Jumpy
Crazy Horses
Fast Horse
Polo Sticks

Hotels Buenos Aires

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May 3, 2011 at 7:58 pm Comments (0)

Punta Brasas – Not Bad in a Pinch!

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Grilling the Argentine Way

It was a Sunday afternoon, and we were stomping angrily around Palermo Hollywood looking for a place to eat. The restaurant we had wanted to go to was closed, and we had no backup plan. One of the bad things about eating in Buenos Aires is that restaurants have irregular schedules… Mondays, Sunday afternoons, Tuesday nights, closed. Advance research is always a smart idea. But one of the good things is that there’s usually another great option around the corner, regardless of where you are.

White Wine

Before we even got two blocks away, we encountered Punta Brasas on Bonpland and Honduras. We grabbed a spot on the upstairs terrace, and sat down for an excellent meal. I had a Caeser salad, and Jürgen ate stuffed chicken. The service was good — our waitress was there when we needed her, but stayed out of our way generally — and the prices were fair. Sitting in the sun with a bottle of white wine cooling in a bucket, and great food in front of us, it was difficult to be anything but happy.

But we almost didn’t go! It was a typically porteño scene: as we were approaching Punta Brasas, the door girl approached us on the sidewalk. “Looking food? Come in! So nice!” This is such a turn off. Even though we had planned on going there anyway, we almost turned around out of principle. Why do so many restaurants around the city employ this pushy tactic? Does anyone actually ever say “okay”? If anything, I have to believe that it drives business away.

Puntas Brasas
Bonpland 1694
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Tel: 4776-2784
The Perfect Steak

Mozzarella Stick
Pinch
Liquid Cheese
Meat Roll
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May 3, 2011 at 7:21 pm Comments (0)

The Parks of Palermo

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Parks in Books

The largest barrio of Buenos Aires is also its greenest. A number of parks stretch between the residential streets of Palermo and the Rio de Plata, greatly improving the quality of life for those lucky enough to live close by.

Love Bridge
Los Bosques de Palermo

The Parque 3 de Febrero is more popularly known as the Palermo Woods, and is one of the largest parks in the city. With a artificial lake as its centerpiece, a rose garden and an Andalusian courtyard, it’s one of the most popular spots in Buenos Aires to spend a lazy summer afternoon. On weekends, the park is packed with families picnicking, while joggers taking advantage of the plentiful tracks.

You can take a paddle boat out to explore the lake, or rent rollerblades for the recreational circuit that surrounds it, which is what I did. The rollerblades cost just $10 (US$2.50) for a half hour, and although they weren’t exactly top quality, or even matching, it was nice to get some exercise. For a more serene time, you can stroll around the rose garden which juts into the lake.

Japanese Garden
Jardín Japones

We chose a weekend to visit the Japanese Gardens, which was a poor decision. The gardens are supposed to be a tranquil oasis, but on weekends, hordes of people suffocate the place, making any sort of relaxation an impossibility. We headed toward the exit almost immediately after entering.

During a weekday, though, the garden is supposed to be great. The Japanese landscaping includes bridges, a bonzai section and ginko trees.

Planetario Buenos Aires
The Planetarium

Looking like a spaceship that crash landed in Buenos Aires, the gleaming, circular Planetarium sits next to a pond. It’s more an attraction for kids, who can learn about the cosmos, but the park surrounding it is as nice a place as any to lay down with your thermos and mate.

We passed through the parks of Palermo countless times, cutting through them on the way to some museum or event. But somehow the parks make us lazy, and we always ended up sitting on the grass for an hour, happily cancelling plans in order to spend a little more time in the sun.

Locations on our Buenos Aires Map of…
The Rose Garden
The Japanese Garden
The Planetarium

Buenos Aires
Parks Buenos Aires
Boats Buenos Aires
Fashion Buenos Aires
In Love
White Buenos aires
Spanish Tiles
Rose Boy
Rose Garden Buenos Aires
Red Bike
Grumpy Old
Geese
Super Blader
Palermo Flirt
Palms Horse Ride
Deutscher Platz
Plaza Alemania
Berlin Bike
Crazy Fish
Börd
Crazy Bird
Japan Waterfall
Japan Shrine
Plaza España
Deer Park
Do Not Aks
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May 2, 2011 at 7:44 pm Comments (3)

Te Mataré Ramirez

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We were sitting outside at La Fabrica Del Taco, a popular Palermo joint serving up cheap Tex-Mex style fare, when we noticed something strange about the restaurant next door. It had the appearance of a fancy, exclusive club, with red curtains obscuring the interior, but every couple who approached the door looked anxious and slightly furtive, like kids about to put their hands into a cookie jar. I went to investigate and, after reading the menu, understood the nervously excited behavior of the people going inside. Te Mataré Ramirez is an aphrodisiac restaurant. And its menu is among the best things I’ve ever read.

Warning: if sexually explicit language doesn’t sit well with you, stop reading now

Erotic Restaurant

Here are some of the meals featured on the menu. This is totally serious, I am not nearly clever enough to make this kind of shit up.

You Scream with Ecstasy While You Beg for Penetration
Of Brazing Lips and Inflamed Desires
Childish and of Insolent Vocabulary, She Emanated the Aroma of her Secret Fluids
Your Female Swell Annihilates Me at Night
Savory, You Split Apart like Ripe Fruit
I Tear Out Enjoyment from Your Warm Treasure with My Flaming Tongue
You Indecently Drank the Eruption of My Pleasure
I Covet the Beauties that Her Short and Airy Skirt Suggests
Your Mouth Dances While Kissing and My Tongue Revolts
Playing in the Dark, Playing to be Strangers, to Have “Company”

Waiter, I think we’re ready to order! I’d like to start with a Childish and of Insolent Vocabulary, She Emanated the Aroma of her Secret Fluids. Oh yes, that sounds quite good.

Immediately, I called Jürgen and our friends over, to join in the mirth. While we laughed, another shame-faced couple approached the door… we felt bad for mocking their erotic evening, and quietly returned to our tacos.

Hilarious, and I have to admit that I’m intrigued. Who among our readers has been to Te Mataré Ramirez? Don’t be shy! I need to know what it’s like.

Te Mataré Ramirez
Gorriti 5054
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Tel: 4831-9156

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May 1, 2011 at 5:01 pm Comment (1)

The MALBA – Museum of Latin American Art

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Modern Art

“Well, this sucks”. We had just arrived in Mataderos, hoping to partake in the fun of its Sunday fair, but rain had forced its cancellation. Moping over a pitcher of Quilmes, we mulled over our options. “We’re on the other side of the city, but how about we catch a bus and go to the MALBA?”

Malba

You don’t really realize how big Buenos Aires is until you take a bus from Mataderos to Palermo. That mother took two hours. But it was an entertaining ride and, by the time we arrived at the MALBA, the sun had come out and was gleaming off the magnificent building. Designed by young Argentine architects from Córdoba and financed with private funds, the MALBA opened its doors in 2001.

Even if there hadn’t been any art inside the MALBA, it would have been fun to wander around. But there was plenty of art. The permanent Constantini collection is comprehensive; it seemed like every major Latin American artist of the last couple centuries was represented. I’m no expert in the field, but recognized many of the names: Frida Kahlo, Xul Solar, Fernando Botero, Diego Rivera. The collection was laid out chronologically, and a couple interesting temporary exhibits rounded things out. The size of the museum was perfect; small enough to see comfortably in an hour.

We finished our afternoon on the terrace of the museum’s cafe. By now, there wasn’t a cloud left in the sky, and the canceled Feria de Mataderos and our marathon bus ride seemed like distant memories. Amazing how a good museum can so quickly take your mind off any troubles. MALBA is one of the few must-see museums in Buenos Aires.

Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Art Factory Hostel

Malba Arte
Malba Art
Frida Kahlo
Sexy Art
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April 30, 2011 at 10:18 pm Comments (3)

Get Your Burger Fix at The Office

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Perfect Burger Cook Books

I’m not sure why a restaurant would want to call itself The Office: a word with horrendous connotations for most of humanity. When we lived in Valencia, Spain, there were two: The Office and La Oficina. And both were great! Almost as though they were trying extra-hard to prove that offices don’t have to suck. Buenos Aires’ The Office, in Palermo, adheres to that trend.

The Office

The Office is an USA-style bar and grill in the Cañitas section of Palermo, serving up a wide range of burgers, along with staples like chicken wings, cheese fries, ranch dressing, onion rings and nachos. The main draw is an incredible terrace, perfect for mild evenings, where there’s a big screen showing classic films every week.

We were invited by the owner to try out the burgers: finally, a big, hearty, US-style burger in Buenos Aires. I must have been unconsciously jonesing for a taste of home, because I devoured my burger in no time flat. Not even sure I bothered to chew. I went with la clásica, while Jürgen had a BBQ Bacon burger that was insanely topped with onion rings. As an appetizer, we ordered a generous portion of chunky guacamole. I had no room for dessert, but the brownies looked so delicious. Just as Bruce Banner unwillingly becomes the Hulk when angry, when mild-mannered, fitness-conscious Mike Powell sees a brownie like that, he transforms into something unholy. With a furious grunt of angered impatience, I ordered the brownie and mampfed it down in one terrifying gulp.

As you might expect, The Office is popular with US expats, but it’s also well-represented by porteños especially during movie nights. If you’re in Palermo and find yourself in need of a burger-fix, check it out.

The Office
Arevalo 3031
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
2050 3942

Quesadilla
Fat Burger
Brownie
Feast is Over
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April 30, 2011 at 8:44 pm Comments (2)

Las Pizarras – Go to the Head of the Class!

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Pasta Recipes

When I consider the word chalkboard, my head instantly seizes up with all sorts of negative connotations. My brain thinks “school”, my nose remembers the stale stench of erasers being pounded together, and my ears… the unbearable screech of a bad piece of chalk scraping uselessly against the slate. Awful.

Las Pizzaras

Pizarra is Spanish for “chalkboard”, so when I discovered that we were on our way to meet friends at Las Pizarras, I went into a semi-catatonic shock. NO|FORK|CHALKBOARD|NO|FORK|NO But there was no reason to fear; the restaurant provided one of the most pleasant dining experiences we’ve had in Buenos Aires.

From the moment you ring the doorbell, and the door is opened, Pizarras is all about charm. The dining area is small and the menus are found on the huge chalkboards which cover the walls. The wine card was right above us, desserts behind us to the left, and entrées across the way. It was a novel way to present the menu, and blended seamlessly into the thoughtful, tasteful decor of the restaurant.

The food was delicious. I stuck to seafood, with an appetizer of razor clams (navajas) and a main course of shrimp risotto. Juergen went with pumpkin soup and steak, and the girls we were with had pasta dishes. In the end, we all ended up sharing off each other’s plates; it’s really a mark of a great restaurant that I couldn’t say which of our meals was the best. All of us left full and happy.

The prices weren’t even bad, especially for a chic restaurant in the middle of Palermo. Make reservations, and head over to Las Pizarras. You won’t be sorry. And if you even think about being “that guy”, who thinks it’s funny to stand up on his chair and drag a fork against one of the chalkboards, know this: I will hunt you down. And I will find you.

Las Pizarras
Thames 2296
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
All the restaurants we visited in Buenos Aires

Pizzaras Menu
Pizarras Palermo
Pizarras Restaurant
Pumkin Soup
Navajas
Risotto
Entaña Bife
Fresh Pasta
Fresh Ravioli
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April 28, 2011 at 3:18 pm Comments (2)

Basilica Espíritu Santo

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The Cathedral in Oviedo, Spain

Walking through Palermo’s charming Plaza Güemes, on the way to a lunch meeting, we couldn’t help but take a peek inside the imposing Basilica Espíritu Santo.

Sex in the City Girls

Built in 1907 by the immigrant Italian community, the basilica has an austere, grey exterior, absolutely void of ornamentation. The style is Romanesque, with two tall spires that tower over the plaza. The interior is a bit less dour, with decorative elements imported from Europe, such as granite columns from Austria and French stained-glass.

When we decided to go into the basilica, we were already about ten minutes late for our meeting. But the doors were open! And it looked so cool… surely, our appointment could wait a bit longer. We finally showed up nearly twenty minutes late, nervous and apologetic, but we needn’t have worried. The woman we were meeting wasn’t yet there herself. Punctuality in Argentina is a very fluid concept.

Location on our Buenos Aires Map
History of Argentina

Basilica-Espiritu-Santo
Jesus Feet
Iglesia Palermo
Holy Argenina
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April 20, 2011 at 8:49 pm Comments (0)

Off to the Races!

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Bet on Horses

At The Horse Race

The mare’s name was “Kill Me Now”. Without a doubt, this was the horse I would be betting on.

Minutes later, bet slip crumpled in my clenched fist, I was at the railing, screaming at the top of my lungs: “KILL ME NOW!” “Please kill me now!! Come on, come on KILL ME NOW! It would make me so happy.”

We didn’t win a thing the whole day long, but when you’re only making three-peso bets, it hardly matters. Jürgen and I always have a good time gambling, and the Hipódromo de Palermo was a great place to do some light wagering. Constructed in 1876, the complex is huge, with a lovely neoclassical central tribune. We kept to the free seats, and spent a little time wandering around, checking out the horses.

Equestrian activities are a big part of the Porteño social life, from racing to polo, and also a strange game called pato, which used to involve ducks, before the advent of all those bothersome animal rights organizations. If you’re in the mood for a fun day at the track, horse races are a frequent occurrence in the summer, until early May.

Hipódromo Argentino de Palermo
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Keeneland Horse Track

Hippodrome Buenos Aires
Hippodrome
Best Horse Bet
Sad Looser
Super Sad Looser
Horse Race Buenos Aires
Blind Jockey
Panik Horse
Pferde Rennstrecke
Argentina Horse Race
Horse Track
Betting Buenos Aires
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April 19, 2011 at 11:25 pm Comments (6)

A Tour of Buenos Aires’ Best Graffiti

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Nuevo Mundo: Latin American Street Art

Like all great metropolises, Buenos Aires has a thriving street art scene. We took a tour of some of the best graffiti the city has to offer.

Graffiti Tour Buenos Aires

The three-hour tour is organized by Graffiti Mundo, and on a Saturday afternoon we joined a sizable group in Palermo. Our guide was a friendly Australian girl who’s been a peripheral part of the scene for years. She personally knew a lot of the artists whose work we would be introduced to, and was full of colorful stories from the volatile underground world.

Part of what makes Buenos Aires’ scene so special is its relatively high level of social acceptance, permitting artists to work during the daytime on large, complicated pieces. Huge fish creatures splayed across empty walls, wrestling tigers, cutesy anime girls and unique combinations of stenciling, spray and painted art. We learned the names and styles of certain artists, and saw what happens when goodwill between groups dissolves: usually, the best revenge is had by painting over each other’s works. Disappointment once briefly darkened our guide’s cheery demeanor, after she discovered that one of her favorite pieces had vanished. This constant threat of disappearance is frustrating, but also part of what makes street art so compelling.

The tour was both on foot and via bus, and took us to some corners of the city we’d have never otherwise seen. We went into the warehouse studio of an artist named Ever, to check out some of his upcoming work, and ended up at the Post Street Bar: a cool joint whose interior decoration was provided by street artists.

At the end of three hours, we were exhausted, but had a decent understanding of Porteño graffiti. The tour cost $90 apiece, and takes off every Saturday. Reservations essential.

Graffiti Mundo’s Website
Tel: +54 9113 683 3219
Location of Post Street Bar
Street Art we liked in Valencia, Spain

Graffiti Tour
Cute Graffiti
Urban Monster
Gualicho Graffiti
Urban Art Animals
Palermo Architecture
Monster Tower
Gabaio Zoo
Graffiti Monkey
Urban Art Buenos Aires
Stencil Graffiti
Gabaio Stencil
Tagged
Madres de Mayo
Mill Buenos Aires
Art Buenos Aires
3 in 1 Face
Art Buenos Aires
Bat Art
Blark
Bock Frau
Boy Stensil
Bush Mikey Mouse Ears
Colabo Art
Elk Art
Gay Carlos Gardel
Graffiti Palermo
Graffiti Fight
Graffiti Photography
Jaz Art
Pig Art
Tegui Restaurant
Jungle Men
LOLz
Rhino Art
Zumi Art
Rodez Art
Self Tag
Street Rats
Stencil Portrait
Tur Bo
Wolfy
Ever Artist
Graffiti Eye
Graffiti Tools
Graffiti Guide Buenos Aires
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April 18, 2011 at 9:40 pm Comments (5)

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Our Introduction to Polo - Argentina vs. England
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