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For 91 Days in Buenos Aires

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We lived in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina and the world’s 7th biggest city, for three months — from February to May, 2011. It was still summer when we arrived, and after a chilly winter in Savannah, GA, we were happy to explore our new temporary home in shorts and sandals. By the time we left, the temperatures had cooled down, but we were still enjoying brisk, sunny fall days.

Buenos Aires

Three months is a long time and, by the time our stay in Buenos Aires came to an end, we had a pretty good handle on the city. Not even a lifetime would be sufficient to see and do everything in this metropolis, but we got out onto the streets often as possible, mixing the touristy sights with more unknown highlights.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of our favorite things in Buenos Aires. For more, check out the comprehensive list of posts — or start at the beginning of our journey and read about the city in the order we experienced it. We hope that our experiences and pictures are of as much interest to tourists planning a trip, as to life-long porteños looking for a new view of their home… and anyone else who’s interested in Buenos Aires: one of the world’s most fascinating cities.

Food

We ate a lot during our time in the city, thanks to an incredible exchange rate (six pesos to the euro). Argentina is known for its steaks, and some of our favorite parrillas (grills) were the hip Desnivel in San Telmo and Las Cholas in Palermo. Pizza is another highlight, and the city is stacked with historic, wonderful pizzerías: El Cuartito, Kentucky Pizza, Banchero and Las Cuartetas. If in doubt at the pizzería: order fugazzeta!! For healthier, more upscale fare, check out Abuela Pan, Pizarras or the incredible Caseros. Don’t dare skip out on the city’s famous ice cream. And if you want to know where our absolute favorite meal was, during our whole three months, that’s easy: La Boca’s El Obrero.

[The full list of restaurants we visited]

The Barrios

Buenos Aires is split into 48 official barrios. We lived in San Telmo, where the city was founded, and which is one of the most popular with tourists. The other main barrios of touristic interest are La Boca, Montserrat, San Nicolás, Retiro, Recoleta and Palermo. Each one offers enough to occupy a couple days, and is worth experiencing in full. But we also made it to some other, less well-known neighborhoods, such as the fascinating Barracas and the elegant Belgrano “R”. We spent a day in the classic, and strangely overlooked barrio of Caballito, and often went to modern, odd Puerto Madero for jogging. During our time here, we made a couple day trips outside the city as well — one to Tigre, an awesome village north of the city on the Paraná Delta, and across the Río de la Plata to Colonia, Uruguay.

Festivals, Sports and Culture

Every weekend, there was something new going on, and we just scratched the surface of the cultural and sporting activities you can see in Buenos Aires. Toward the top of our list was soccer — we had a great time at San Lorenzo, and a frustrating experience at Boca Juniors. We were also introduced to polo, here — the British had a strong influence on the sporting scene of Argentina. We lived right on top of the weekly San Telmo Fair, a wonderful Sunday collection of neat crafts and crazy people, and also made it to the Feria de Mataderos, celebrating Gaucho culture. More out of obligation than anything else, we visited a tango show at El Querandí (and loved it), and also took a tour of the city’s best graffiti. And we were lucky enough to meet a couple local artists: Alfredo Genovese, who specializes in the porteño art of fileteado, and Chancha Via Circuito, an awesome producer whose mixes of cumbia and other Latin American beats have been landing on Best-Of lists throughout the world.

[Here’s the rest of the cultural highlights we hit]

Museums and Buildings

As befits one of the world’s biggest cities, Buenos Aires is bursting at the seams with incredible museums and gorgeous buildings from its golden age at the turn of the century. We absolutely loved the modern art museums of PROA and MALBA, and were pleasantly surprised by both the Carlos Gardel and Evita Museums. The highlight, though, was probably the Isaac Blanco Museum of Latin American Art, set in a stunning neo-colonial palace. The list of stunning buildings in this city is too lengthy to fully detail, but our favorite tours included the Casa Rosada, the palaces of Paz and Barolo, the National Library and, above all, the incredible Teatro Colón.

[Even more buildings and museums]

Parks, Plazas, Pictures and More

There aren’t enough green areas in Buenos Aires, particularly in the inner barrios. But Palermo makes up for it, with its incredible set of parks, including the Bosques and the Botanical Garden. We spent a lot of time there, but even more in the Reserva Ecológica of the Costanera Sur (because we lived closer!) Other favorite areas included the amazing Recoleta Cemetery, the Plaza de Mayo and Palermo Soho’s ultra-cool Plaza Serrano. Jürgen’s camera was a constant companion, and he took innumerable shots of the city, the best of which have been collected into a number of photo-reportages, which offer a singular perspective of the city. Overall, our time here was exciting, surprising and often adventurous — never more so than when riding the crazy buses, or visiting an insane asylum to watch a radio program with an interesting concept.

Everyone’s Buenos Aires experience is bound to be unique. We hope that you enjoy reading our 120+ posts, as much as we enjoyed researching and writing them. Please leave us comments or get in touch with us if you have questions… and make sure to follow our journey to the next location: Bolivia – For 91 Days.

– Accomadation in Buenos Aires: HostelsHotelsApartments

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May 15, 2011 at 3:20 pm Comments (2)

The Obelisk and the Avenida 9 de Julio

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Selection of Buenos Aires Travel Guides

Avenida 9 de Julio, which cuts north-south through the city is one of the world’s widest avenues. Where it intersects Calle Corrientes, the city’s most emblematic symbol shoots grandly into the air: the Obelisk of Buenos Aires. The phallus-shaped monument is the perfect symbol for a country that so proudly basks in machismo.

Obelisk Buenos Aires

My, that’s quite an impressive… monument you have there, Argentina! Reaching 67 meters in height, the obelisk was built in 1936 by German engineers to celebrate the 400-year anniversary of Buenos Aires’ founding. Throughout the years, it’s been the scene of protests, vandalism, concerts and speeches. During Isabel Perón’s tyrannical presidency, a banner was hung on the obelisk that read “Silence is Healthy”. Ostensibly a message to keep traffic noise down, it was actually a thinly veiled warning that it might be smart for political opponents to keep their trouble-making mouths shut.

Biggest Street in the World

Crossing the street to get to the obelisk is an exercise in bravery. The Avenida 9 de Julio, at 140 meters of width (460 feet), is insane, with four separate lights to get across the street, and about 20 lanes of traffic. Well, “lanes” is an abstract term, as nobody pays the slightest bit of attention to the lines painted on the pavement. Cars weave in and out, passing perilously close to one another at speeds that make you sick. Velocity is the name of the game for pedestrians, as well: if you want to get across the avenue in one go, you have to jog.

Loud, crowded and stressful, I wouldn’t want to spend a whole day near the avenue, but every time I had to cross it, I became energized. With the obelisk towering high overhead, and cars zooming recklessly by on all sides, it’s tough not to be impressed.

Location of the Obelisk on our BA Map
Hotels, Hostels and Apartments in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires Obelisk
Avenida Julio 9
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May 5, 2011 at 5:48 pm Comments (0)

Abuela Pan – Bread and Healthy Eating, Granny-Style

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Vegetarian Cookbooks

Towards the end of our time in Buenos Aires, with too many great restaurants left to visit, we went on a binge. Parrillas, pizzerías, cafés, morning, noon and night. “Jürgen”, I said during our last meal, pork grease dripping repulsively off my chin. “This is getting disgusting. Tomorrow, let’s heat something healthy.” Abuela Pan, your time had come.

Abuela Pan San Telmo

A tiny restaurant on Calle Bolivar in San Telmo, Abuela Pan serves up wholesome, vegetarian lunches every day. There are just a few tables in the dining room, so it’s recommendable to show up early. In a city filled to the brim with beef and pizza, a healthy meat-free alternative is a breath of fresh air, and unsurprisingly, Abuela Pan fills up quick.

For $26 (US$6.50), you get a choice between three meals which differ daily. Abuela Pan prides itself on cooking without chemicals, trans-fats or frying. Their bread is freshly baked every day and prepared with organic flour. For my main course, I ordered raviolis filled with basil and mozzarella, and Jürgen got a rice-burger. The portions were large, everything was delicious, and we both felt pleasantly full afterwards. And we’d finally done something healthy for ourselves, which clearly justified a few more trips to the parrilla.

Even if you’re not in the mood for a whole meal, stop in for their wonderful fresh breads sold behind the counter. Loaves like theirs are difficult to find in Buenos Aires.

Abuela Pan
Bolivar 707
Tel: 4361-4936
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Gaucho Stories

Bread Pan
Fresh Bread
Pumkin Spread
Veggie Ravioli
Veggie Burger
Man Reading Newspaper
Bistro Buenos Aires
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May 1, 2011 at 11:15 pm Comments (4)

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)

The National Museum of Fine Arts

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Organize your Buenos Aires Trip here

We confidently strode up the stairs of an impressive neoclassical building, convinced that it was the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Passing between the massive gray Doric columns, a guard brusquely informed us that we were actually at the University’s Law School. He shoved us off toward a nearby clump of dark red clay, which had been been molded into the form of a building.

Museu-Nacional-de-Bellas-Art.

In this neighborhood of refined elegance, the museum definitely stands out. It was built in 1870 as a drainage pumping station, and converted for use as a museum in 1933. The building’s age is evident; inside, paint is peeling off the walls and the air is impregnated with the unmistakable atmosphere of slow decay. Exhibits were poorly lit, trash was strewn carelessly about the floor, and the visitors, laughing loudly and using cell phones, weren’t treating the place with any respect. Overall, it was a far cry from what we expected of the country’s premier fine arts museum.

Still, the museum holds an astounding collection, which we spent a couple hours taking in. The first floor features masters from all over the world, including Cezanne, Rembrandt, Guaguin, Van Gogh and Monet. But we most enjoyed the upper floor, which serves as an excellent primer to the history of Argentine art. There was a healthy blend of the classic and modern, featuring artists mostly unknown outside of the continent. We loved Guillermo Kutica’s mattresses made of maps, and were puzzled by the mystical, post-modern works of Xul Solar.

By the end of our visit, any complaints we’d had about the building had faded from memory. It helped that entrance to the museum is completely free, making it difficult to gripe at all. Still, once the city has a little extra cash on-hand, another round of refurbishment for this otherwise excellent museum might be in order.

Location on our Buenos Aires Map

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April 15, 2011 at 10:23 pm Comment (1)

Floralis Genérica

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I can count on exactly one finger the number of times I’ve stood before a flower sculpture and thought to myself, “Now that is really fucking cool”.

Floralis Generica Buenos Aires

The Floralis Genérica was a 2002 gift to the Argentine people from Eduardo Catalano, an architect best known for his audacious home in Raleigh, NC: one of the few modern structures to earn the praise of Frank Lloyd Wright. Catalano’s 28-meter steel and aluminum flower, planted in Recoleta’s Plaza de las Naciones Unidas, opens its petals every morning at 8am, and closes again at dusk.

Meant to represent all the flowers of earth, thus the name Genérica, the daily opening also symbolizes the eternal rebirth of hope; especially poignant considering that the statue was unveiled just one year after Argentina’s devastating economic crisis. It’s stunningly beautiful. Placed in the middle of a small pond, the light shimmers and reflects from the water onto the steel. Hills and paths lead around the flower, offering views from various angles.

I would be willing to bet ten grand that nobody with a functioning camera has ever visited the Floralis Genérica and walked away without taking a picture. Considered it, but then thought to themselves, “Nah”. That seems impossible.

Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Best Prices for Hostels in Buenos Aires

Floralis-Generica
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April 12, 2011 at 9:48 pm Comments (0)

Caballito – The Middle of the City

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Explore Buenos Aires

The geographic center of Buenos Aires is Caballito, a charming neighborhood with large green spaces, and well served by the Subte. Although it’s not on the top of the normal tourist itinerary, this barrio has enough highlights to make it worth a trip.

Centenario Buenos Aires

We began our excursion at the perfectly round Parque Centenario, designed by master urban planner Carlos Thays (also responsible for the Jardín Botánico). Though the park looked cool enough, we happened to arrive at the same time as a massive thunderstorm, and sought shelter in the Natural History Museum.

Nature History Museum

Along with approximately 39,403 screeching Argentinian rugrats, we drip-dried while looking at fossils, animal replicas and fish. The focus was on on native Argentine fossils and dinosaurs, such as the giant glyptodon, and it was fascinating to see the differences between prehistoric life here, versus in the USA. Their prehistoric monsters seem cuter, somehow. Though we hadn’t planned on a visit, the museum was a fun place to escape the rain. But if you’re allergic to children, you might want to stay away.

Once the downpour ceased, we walked along Avenida Rivadavia, a boisterous shopping street. It was a nice alternative to the more famous and ultra-touristy shopping zones in Retiro, with stores of comparable quality. And it was relieving to be surrounded by Argentines who weren’t continually shoving Tango Show fliers into our faces. We walked past the Parque Rivadavia, and browsed the offers at a second-hand book market. I bought an old Superman comic for a few pesos, and then sat down for a drink in El Coleccionista, a bar notable which still serves as a meeting place for different groups of collectors.

Book Market Buenos Aires

Fully rested, we ventured onto the other side of Calle Rivadavia and into the Mercado del Progreso. Behind its wonderful art deco facade is a lively goods and produce market, which has been a staple of the neighborhood since 1889. It was cool but we didn’t spend much time inside; the day was getting late, and we didn’t want to miss out on an historic tram ride.

The Tranvía Histórico de Caballito offers free trips around a small section of the neighborhood. Until 1963, trams had been one of the primary modes of transportation in Buenos Aires, linking the city’s 48 barrios to one another. Out-of-use tracks are still visible in between the cobblestones of many of the older streets, and the Asociación de Amigos del Tranvía seeks to remember this history by operating one last route. It’s a fun ride; a quick 20-minute trip into the romantic past.

Tram Ride Buenos Aires

The tram skirts around a section of Caballito known as the Barrio Inglés, long one of Buenos Aires’ most fashionable residential areas. The small area occupies just a few blocks, and has somehow survived intact into the present day. Built in the late 1800s as homes for British train executives, the Georgian- and Victorian-style houses are gorgeous, and cost a small fortune. This is one of those areas in Buenos Aires where vigilant security guards will watch your movements carefully.

Enjoy our pictures of Caballito! We’re making an effort to explore some of the less well-charted areas of Buenos Aires… if there are other great neighborhoods which not many tourists get to see, let us know!

Ducks
Stone Beast
Bird Argentina
Bird Collection
Flamingo
Insect Collection
See Stern
Skull
Blubber Beast
Simon Bolivar Buenos Aires
Lady and Sons
Beer Snack
Qiulmes
Market Buenos Aires
Malinesas
Market Caballito
Tracks Buenos Aires
Yellow Tram
Old Tram Buenos Aires
Tourist Tramway
Tramway Argentina
Tramway
Tramway Historico
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April 11, 2011 at 7:55 pm Comments (4)

Plaza Serrano in Palermo Soho

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Places to stay in Buenos Aires

In 1994, Plaza Serrano was renamed to honor the famous Argentine author Julio Cortázar, but locals will look at you in confusion if you ask for directions to Plaza Cortázar. Everyone still knows the lively, circular heart of Palermo Soho as Serrano.

Red Tree Buenos Aires

Plaza Serrano is one of the hippest spots in the Buenos Aires, especially on weekends when local craftmakers set up shop, selling the kinds of trinkets familiar to anyone who’s ever been to a street market: hemp bracelets, jewelry, bags and the like. We grabbed an outdoor table at one of the many bars, and amused ourselves by contrasting Palermo’s populace to that of San Telmo. Whereas San Telmo definitely has its share of Yanks, everyone at Plaza Serrano was from the States, tourists and “locals” alike. Even the waiters. Even the hippies selling tie-dyed Marley shirts. We might as well have been in Brooklyn.

After getting a couple beers we explored the cool shops around the plaza. We walked into one that was a combination bar/clothing store, with goods splayed across pool tables and each dining booth occupied by a different merchant. You could order a drink, then shop around at your leisure. Every other store was just as fun, and you could happily spend hours aimlessly circling Serrano.

Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Shopping in Buenos Aires

Plaza Serrano
Buenos Aires Calling
Baby Boomer
Billiar Shop Buenos Aires
vTazz
Weird Store
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April 11, 2011 at 4:00 pm Comments (0)

Boutique Hotel Buenos Aires: Bonito

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Boutique Hotel Bonito Buenos Aires
Bonito Hotel

Looking for a small hotel with an individual touch? Then you might want to check out the Boutique Hotel Bonito. Near Plaza Congreso, this hotel is ideally located to explore the entirety of the city … from here, you can easily reach any spot in Buenos Aires. Hip, stylish, and I especially love the idea of a common living room.

Five beautiful rooms on the 3rd floor of a four-storey antique building located in the traditional neighbourhood of Montserrat. They are all equipted with a private bathroom, minibar, air conditioner, jacuzzi or scotch douche, LCD TV, and a safe. Our living-room, integrated with a bar, is ideal for relaxing and meeting, also open to cultural events, music seasons, film, lectures and private parties. A tasty and abundant breakfast service is offered, served when requested.
Attend by the owner, artist and designer Bonito it is a unique and special place. Where, you can feel the warmth of a home, the independence of a private room and the service and attention of a five-star hotel.

More information and rates: Bonito Boutique Hotel
Hotel Bonito on our Buenos Aires Map
More accommodation options on our Buenos Aires Index

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April 7, 2011 at 5:23 pm Comments (0)

The Barfy Burger and Other Random Pictures

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Pictures were taken with this camera

Barfy Burger

“Well, I just don’t know why our burger brand don’t seem to be catching on English-speaking countries!” Ha… I have to confess, I was tempted to try one! Buenos Aires is full of fun little oddities, some of which I hope to capture in my photography. Enjoy another set of Pukey Pictures!

Buenos Aires
Transformers Buenos Aires
Roboter House
House of a Million Eyes
Best Empananda
Buenos Aires
Glücks Tropfen
Buenos Aires Market
Sad Playground
Wave Building
Sport Buenos Aires
Running Evita Peron
Tunnel of Light
University Buenos Aires
Walking Tour Buenos Aires
Pegasus Buenos Aires
Lady Boots Buenos Aires
Design House Buenos Aires
Dream House Buenos Aires
Fine Line
Buenos Aires Architecture
Cat Walk
La Moderna
Buenos Aires Radio
Corrientes Buenos Aires

Places to stay in Buenos Aires

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April 4, 2011 at 5:12 pm Comments (4)

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For 91 Days in Buenos Aires
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