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San Telmo’s Market Hall

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Occupying a good chunk of the block sketched out by Estados Unidos, Defensa, Carlos Calvo and Bolivar, the Mercado de San Telmo is a place which locals and tourists visit in almost equal numbers. The latter to buy antiques and souvenirs, the former for their day-to-day groceries.

Telmo Dome

Since we precariously straddle the line between tourist and local, we use the mercado for both purposes. A number of veggie and meat stands compete for business in the center of the market, surrounded by antique shops that extend down long hallways. Prices for cool souvenirs, second-hand clothing and random trinkets are noticeably cheaper than at the Sunday antiques market. I picked up an old Carlos Gardel album for twelve pesos, and on that very day, saw the same album being sold for 60 outside.

The souvenir shops are a somewhat newer addition, capitalizing on San Telmo’s reputation as the best antiques hunting ground in the city, but the market has a history stretching back to 1897. It was inaugurated a couple decades after the Yellow Fever epidemic which devastated San Telmo, and the new center of commerce was greeted enthusiastically by residents. Ever since, the mercado has been an integral part of the neighborhood. In 2001, it was even declared a national historic monument.

When you go, take your wallet and take your time. It’s almost inconceivable that you’ll walk out without buying something. If you’re in the mood for meat, check out our favorite stand: Puesto 54. With incredible prices and friendly cleaver-wielding butchers always willing to explain the various cuts, it quickly became our go-to place for beef.

Mercado de San Telmo
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Shopping Buenos Aires
Mercado San Telmo
Butcher Buenos Aires
Cuts of Meat Argentina
Chorrizo Buenos Aires
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Antiques Buenos Aires
Sombreros Buenos Aires
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April 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm Comments (4)

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.

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Shopping in Buenos Aires

Plaza Serrano
Buenos Aires Calling
Baby Boomer
Billiar Shop Buenos Aires
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April 11, 2011 at 4:00 pm Comments (0)
San Telmo's Market Hall
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