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Belgrano “R” – Resplendent, Residential, Revoltingly Rich

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Hello boys and girls, and welcome to Belgrano “R”. Let’s play a game! Everyone think of an “R”-word that describes this lovely neighborhood!

Residential? Yes that’s right, Bobby. Very clever!
Rich? Indeed, how true! Gold star for Judy!
Ridiculous? I suppose that works too, Jürgen, though I don’t much care for that one.
Fascist? MICHAEL! Sigh, that doesn’t even begin with “R”… and put your fist down, you irritating little twit. There will be no populist uprisings in Belgrano “R”!

British Buenos Aires

The northern barrio of Belgrano is split into a few sub-neighborhoods, two of which are known as “R” and “C”. The letters come from the names of the train stations “Rosario” and “Central”, but most porteños assign different meanings to the abbreviations: Belgrano “R” for residential, and Belgrano “C” for China. We’d already checked out China Town during the New Year celebrations, and returned recently to explore the more upscale section of the barrio.

With broad, tree-lined streets and Victorian-style homes, Belgrano “R” is easily the most dignified neighborhood we’ve seen in Buenos Aires. This section of town was settled by wealthy British expatriates, and the gates and well-maintained gardens are clearly reminiscent of England. After a good lunch at Jolie Bistro, near the train station, we set off to explore. With sunlight filtering through the leaves of the trees, and so many fascinating houses to photograph, we couldn’t have been happier.

But the joy didn’t last long. The very first time Jürgen hauled out his camera, in front of a house which might as well have been a castle, a portly security guard shouted at us from behind the gate. “¡No es museo! ¿Que quieren ustedes? ¡Esta es una residencia privada!” Geez, we just liked the house. Sorry to have been impressed by a building clearly designed to impress people.

This scenario repeated itself throughout the day. Private security guards were set up on every corner of Belgrano “R” in tan-brown boxes that resembled phone booths. Every time Jürgen started taking pictures, some blustery guard would run over to us and start asking questions. I suppose that’s their job and, once their curiosity was satisfied, they always allowed us to continue, but it was awfully annoying. Even when we weren’t taking pictures, the guards kept a careful eye on us. “Strangers”.

Still, Belgrano “R” is a beautiful neighborhood. There’s clearly a lot of money here, and perhaps the exaggerated security measures are necessary. Anyway, enjoy the pictures… I think in the end, it was worth the hassle.

Estacion Belgrano R on our Buenos Aires Map
Hotels in Belgrano

Casa Azul
British School Girl
Buenos Aires British High School
Jolie Bistro
Jolie Belgrano
Chicken Belgrano
British Fence
Security Buenos Aires
Angel Boyz
Super Rich
Cuba Embasy
Belgrano
Casa Verde
Purple Flower
Mansion Belgrano
English Ingles Belgrano
Film Set Buenos Aires
Security Belgrano
Wrapped Car
Casa Rosada
White House
Strange Architecture
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April 16, 2011 at 11:08 pm Comments (12)

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)

Pizzería Banchero in La Boca

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Another great pizza place in Buenos Aires: El Cuartito

“Hey, what do you feel like eating?” Every time I’ve been asked that, every single time during the course of my entire life, the answer has been “pizza”. Even when it was 8am. Even when I was 18 months old. It’s the only honest response: there are other things I should eat, things which might even taste better. But pizza is what I want to eat. Always.

Serving Pizza

So you’re asking me what I want to eat? Well, I know we just had pizza last night, but there’s another famous pizzeria right across the road, there. We really should try it out. Everyone says we should try it out. Don’t look at me like that; it’s totally coincidence that we happened to end up in front of Pizzería Banchero at lunch time. I totally didn’t plan that.

Banchero is a classic spot in La Boca, established in 1932 by Juan Banchero, the son of a Genoese baker who had emigrated here at the turn of the century, along with thousands of his countrymen. The restaurant quickly became a hit, and a couple branches have even opened elsewhere in the city. It’s immediately apparent why Banchero is so loved among porteños — the prices are great, the atmosphere is casual and comfortable, and the pizzas are astounding. We ordered a fugazza, made with a crunchy, airy crust and topped with onions and mountains of cheese. Delicious. Plus, the service was great; our impeccably-dressed Paraguayan waiter was as friendly as could be, taking time to explain the pizzas to us and make recommendations.

If you’re in La Boca, and have survived the tourist hordes of El Caminito, treat yourself to a great pizza in a time-honored joint that locals love: Pizzería Banchero. And don’t worry about all that cheese. Diets are for later, and firm bellies are over-rated, anyway. That’s what I keep telling myself, as we continue to tick Buenos Aires’ “must-eat” pizzerías off our list.

Pizzería Banchero
Suárez 396 y Brown
Tel: 4301-1406
Location on our BA Map
The Art of Making Pizza

Pizzzaria Banchero
Pizza La Boca
Pizza Waiter
Fanta Buenos Aires
Beer Snack
Fugazza Pizza
Fugazza
Cheesy Pizza
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March 3, 2011 at 11:14 pm Comments (0)

The Santa Rosa de Lima Basilica and Southern Balvanera

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Start Drinking Mate!

Before we began our exploration of Once, we spent some time walking around the southern end of Balvanera, and happened upon the Basilica Santa Rosa de Lima, on Avenido Belgrano. Built in the Roman-Byzantine style in 1926, this church is most impressive for its mammoth cupola. Santa Rosa was a Peruvian catholic from the 16th century, who would become South America’s first saint. She died a virgin at the age of 31, after having predicted the exact date of her death.

The basilica was the most dramatic building we saw in southern Balvanera, but we had a great time walking around this rather un-touristy section of the city. It’s the kind of place where you can get a massive salami sandwich for pocket change, and where English is nowhere to be heard. Enjoy the pictures!

Santa Rosa de Lima Basilica on our Buenos Aires Map
Hostels in Buenos Aires

Basilica-Santa-Rosa-de-Lima
Awesome Church Buenos Aires
Dome Buenos Aires
Religion Buenos Aires
Peace Dove
Reflection of a Church
Stained Glass Buenos Aires
Santa Maria
Maria Balvanera
Columns
Massive Church
Yellow House Buenos Aires
Cage House Buenos Aires
Sado Maso Buenos Aires
Coto Buenos Aires
El-Encuentro-Pizzeria
German House Buenos Aires
Lucky Shoe
NYC Buenos Aires
O Buenos Aires
On The Menu
Pink House Buenos Aires
Weird Cross
Bar Carlitos
Bar Balvanera
Salami Snack
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March 2, 2011 at 4:06 pm Comments (0)

Taking the Bus Home at Night

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91 Days in Savannah, USA

Bus Call

Our favorite mode of transportation in Buenos Aires is the bus. But we already mentioned that. This weekend, we took a late ride home on the #64, after an evening exploring Palermo Soho. I started taking pictures out the window, to make the time pass faster… and man, did that work! BsAs is interesting enough by day, but at night the city gets even stranger and more wonderful. The following pictures were all taken during that one bus ride home.

Buenos Aires Rough Guide

Bus Curtain
Bizarre Buenos Aire
Biking Buenos Aires
Bachelorette Party
Dude
Face of Buenos Aires
Bus
Ice Cream Buenos Aires
Kiosk
Nail Work Buenos Aires
NIght Life Buenos Aires
Taxi Buenos Aires
Pedistrians Buenos Aires
Walking Home
Waiting For The Bus
Trash Picker
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February 27, 2011 at 9:14 pm Comments (2)

Once: Shopping, Synagogues and Naked Presidents

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Fun Gift Ideas

The neighborhood of Balvanera is so large that, when talking about it, residents usually split it up into a number of unofficial sub-barrios. There’s Congreso and Abasto, but we spent a sunny Saturday exploring Once (OWN-say).

Billboard Argentina

Once takes its name from the September 11th Train Station. No not that 9/11, but that of a 1852 revolution which resulted in a short period of independence for the State of Buenos Aires. Though the train station itself is rather dull, the adjacent Plaza Miserere makes up for it. This buzzing plaza is the heart of Once, ringed by vendors selling everything from postcards to panties. We bought a Super Pancho (hot dog) for a buck and sat down in the Plaza to take in the flavor of the neighborhood. Once has a hot-doggy flavor.

At the center of the Plaza Miserere is the massive stone mausoleum of Argentina’s first President, Bernardino Rivadavia. Inaugurated in 1932, the mausoleum is flanked by two statues of Rivadavia, one of which presents him in the nude, nether regions precariously covered by a flag. I doubt George Washington was ever portrayed this way. Clinton, perhaps.

From Plaza Miserere, we walked north on Avenida Pueyrredon, where shopping is the name of the game. The sidewalks were packed, and every shop was advertising special deals. Considering that they weren’t exactly boutiques of the highest quality, such as those of Retiro and Recoleta, I was surprised to still find prices more expensive than in the States. No bother: with the stress of the crowds, we had quickly lost our shopping fever and made an escape into the side streets.

We found a bar in a quiet section of Once, and sat outside with a large bottle of Quilmes to indulge in a little people-watching. Huh, look at that, an Orthodox Jewish family. And another one. Odd. And there goes a couple young guys with payots and yarmulkes. Turns out that Once is the section of Buenos Aires where European Jews, mostly Russian, settled in the early 1900s to escape persecution. Kosher shops and synagogues abound here and, since it was a Saturday, the Jewish families were all on their way to worship. It was a unexpected vision of the city, underlining how diverse Buenos Aires truly is.

Once on our Buenos Aires Map
Bar Notable Books

Plaza Misere
Pancho Buenos Aires
Super Pancho
Hotel Buenos Aires
Ads Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires Bus Stop
Bus Stop Buenos Aires
Naked President
Metal Shoes
Evil Dwarf
Statues Buenos Aires
Sexy Panties
Via Once Center
Once Buenos Aires
Jewish Neighborhood
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February 25, 2011 at 7:39 pm Comments (3)
Belgrano "R" - Resplendent, Residential, Revoltingly Rich
For 91 Days