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Bar (Notable) Hopping

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The city tourism board’s initiative to honor a set of sixty bars and cafés as bares notables provided us with a cheat sheet of places to hit up. Buenos Aires has a historically strong café scene, so the competition to end up on the list must have been fierce, and those who won a spot should be the crême de la crême. Every once in awhile, we would just randomly pick out a few and go “bar notable” hopping.

Clásica y Moderna, Recoleta
Clasica y Moderna

Argentinians love reading almost as much as coffee, and the restaurant/bar Clásica y Moderna has decided to capitalize on both. Past the main salon, patrons of the bar can visit a small but well-stocked bookshop. Sounds weird, but somehow it fits perfectly. With its huge glass windows, the book store blends in seamlessly with the rest of the bar’s decor.
Clásica y Moderna
Av. Callao 892
Location on our Buenos Aires Map

La Giralda, San Nicolás
La Giralda

More a chocolatería than a bar, La Giralda is heralded for having the best churros in the city. Found between bookshops on Calle Corrientes, this relaxed, brightly lit café has been a favorite hangout of intellectuals since it opened in 1970. We loved its tiled floors and marble tables, and the fact that six waiters were running around taking care of guests, where one would have done quite nicely. We were on our way to dinner, and weren’t in the mood for churros and chocolate, but we did try one of their heavenly alfajors. A neat place.

La Giralda
Av. Corrientes 1453
Location on our Buenos Aires Map

Bar Oviedo, Mataderos
Bar Oviedo

Of course we were gonna go to Bar Oviedo! After all, we initiated our For 91 Days travel project in Oviedo, Spain. We were there on a rainy Sunday when the Feria de Mataderos had been cancelled, so no one was in the best spirits. I asked the waitress about the connection to the Spanish city. “I don’t know. It’s just the bar’s name”. And when it came time to order, I tried about twenty things on the menu. “Out of that. Sorry. Nope, none of that either”. I settled on a sandwich of dry bread with a single piece of cured ham inside. Oviedo has some charm, but you really have to search for it.

Bar Oviedo
Av. Lisandro de la Torre 2407
Location on our Buenos Aires Map

Cool Gang
Notable Buenos Aires
Book Bar Buenos Aires
Milk Bar Buenos aires
Bar Notable
Sidra Argentina
Bares Notables
Beer Bar
Sandwich Buenos Aiers
Alfajores
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May 6, 2011 at 12:17 pm Comments (0)

La Poesía – A Great Place to Read, Drink and Relax

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Classic: Read some Borges at La Poesía

With its shelves stacked with books, soda bottles and photographs from years past, La Poesía is a bar beautiful enough to truly deserve its name.

La Poesia

The café was originally opened in 1982, to celebrate the end of the military dictatorship and provide a place for Buenos Aires’ intellectuals, authors and poets to congregate and discuss their renascent democracy. It was immediately popular, especially known for its sessions of Poesía Lunfarda, but the bar was closed after just six years. In 2008, the same couple who own Bar Federal restored the Poseía to life and helped reestablish it as a staple of the San Telmo scene.

I was in the place all the time, usually with a book. It has an atmosphere conducive to reading, with tango music playing softly in the background and a good selection of drinks. Unfortunately, the wait staff isn’t always the friendliest. One girl in particular always greeted my arrival with a frown and an attitude; I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what I’d done to her. And once, a waitress directed me to a table with a power outlet, watched me set up my computer, provided me with the Wifi code, then took my order. The internet didn’t work and when I pointed that out, she was like, “Yeah. It’s been out all day”. But, couldn’t you tell I wanted to use it? I even asked you for the access key! “Yeah. Well, you never asked me if the internet worked“.

Regardless of the occasionally brusque service, there’s plenty to enjoy at La Poesía. Leave your computer at home, and take a book. A book of poetry, if you must.

La Poesía
Chile 502
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Coffee Culture

Bar Notable
Books Poesia
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Facturas Buenos Aires
Salami Buenos Aires
Side Eye
Malinesa Sandwich Poesia
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May 3, 2011 at 8:48 pm Comments (2)

The International Book Fair

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Books for only 1 Dollar

One of the world’s biggest book fairs takes place in Buenos Aires. We visited the 37th annual Festival Internacional del Libro, which brought together a million readers and 500 publishers from over 50 countries.

International Book Fair Buenos Aires

Hundreds of stands selling books on every conceivable topic fill up the massive Sociedad Rural complex near Plaza Italia. Everything is in Spanish, but you can find any kind of book you’d want. We even found a stand from Bolivia, which would be our next destination, and picked up a couple of novels set there. Every year, the fair draws famous authors for conferences and workshops, and there are daily various concerts, book signings, activities for children, and countless other things to do. Entrance is $20 (US$5) per person, and worth every cent.

For logistical reasons, I’ve made the switch to an e-reader. I’m a fairly voracious reader, and lugging around books while we travel doesn’t make sense. Besides, our grandchildren will look at books the same way we look at vinyl records. Nostalgic and cool, but not the primary way they’ll ingest the printed word. Better to get with the times, I’ve reasoned, and actually, I find reading on a tablet pretty enjoyable. Still, finding myself in a convention hall, surrounded by tens of millions of dead-wood books made me happy. I could have spent all day there.

Feria del Libro’s Official Website
Location of the Sociedad Rural on our Buenos Aires Map
Buenos Aires Books

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May 3, 2011 at 1:48 pm Comments (4)

La Guia “T” – The Buenos Aires Bible

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Bus ride at night in Buenos Aires

It’s a book which should be within reach at all times. It’s studied and consulted, especially during times of trouble. Without it, this illuminating guide, this constant companion, life would be even more a struggle. And yes, I worship it. The Guia “T”.

Guia T

Honestly, when you get to Buenos Aires, you’ll want to pick up a Guia “T”. If you plan on taking the bus while here, the guide is indispensable, but it’s good to have in any case. A more thorough, useful map of the city doesn’t exist. One of the most common sights in Buenos Aires is a person with their nose buried in the Guia “T”.

I always had my well-thumbed copy with me, and should I have carelessly forgotten it at home, I’d go back to retrieve it, even if we were 10 minutes away. I don’t care. With the city broken into 36 quadrants, an exhaustive list of every street spread across 20 pages, and the routes of all 200+ city bus lines, this guide makes life much, much easier.

You can get them at any kiosk for about 10 pesos, and it’s the best money you can spend.

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May 2, 2011 at 9:11 pm Comment (1)

The Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookstore

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Link: We just published our first Travel Book

Argentinians are a famously literary people. In coffee shops, parks, on the bus and even while walking down city streets, their heads are often buried in a book. So it’s only fitting that Buenos Aires can lay claim to one of the world’s most incredible book stores: the Ateneo Grand Splendid.

Ateneo Grand Splendid

Soon after we arrived, Jürgen asked what I wanted to do first in Buenos Aires. “ATENEO ATENEO!” I squealed instantly, clapping my hands and making a mess in my pants. Then the squealing again. A guidebook photograph of the theater-turned-bookstore had lodged itself in my heart, and I was determined to visit as soon as possible.

First, let’s admire that name. There’s no pretense of modesty in christening your theater the Grand Splendid. Built in 1919 by an Italian architect in the eclectic style, the theater entertained Buenos Aires for a decade with top-tier tango concerts, before it was converted into a popular cinema. In 2000, the building was leased by a publishing house and found new life as a bookstore.

The conversion from theater to bookshop has proved nothing short of magnificent. The painted ceiling, detailed balconies, and stage are all intact. The private boxes are now small reading rooms. The stage is a café, where you can sit and peruse the books you’re considering buying. And though it occupies three floors, there’s not an overwhelming selection. The shelves fit perfectly around the theater’s original shape, and comfortable chairs are scattered throughout.

The Ateneo Grand Splendid is a bookstore in which to spend a leisurely couple hours. Choose a couple books and get cozy in a theater box. And if you get weary of reading, just look around; there’s plenty to feast your eyes on.

Location of the Ateneo on our BA Map

Short Term Rental in Buenos Aires

Ateneo Theater
Ateneo
Grand Splendid
Buenos Aires Bookstore
Buenos Aires Tourists
Books Buenos Aires
Hanging Out Bookstore
Tourismo Buenos Aires
Reading Buenos Aires
Balcony Reading Room
Ateneo Balcony
Ateneo Lamp
Old Tango Theater
Bookstore Theater
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February 9, 2011 at 12:23 am Comments (29)
Bar (Notable) Hopping
For 91 Days