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For 91 Days in Buenos Aires

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Buenos Aires Travel Books

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)

Retiro Train Station

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Buenos Aires Style: Exteriors, Interiors, Details

The most important train station in Buenos Aires in the Estación Retiro, found within walking distance of Plaza San Martín. Three train lines converge here, taking passengers to destinations like Tigre, Tucumán and Córdoba.

Estacion Retiro

Buenos Aires in the early 20th century must have been the world’s most exciting city, awash in wealth and optimism. All over town, buildings of astounding elegance were sprouting up, from the Teatro Colón to the Palacio Paz, and in 1909, construction began on a train station in Retiro. With French stylings and a steel frame built in Liverpool, the Estación Retiro was representative of Buenos Aires’ European obsession. The iron roof was the largest of its kind and, upon completion, the station was considered the world’s most beautiful.

The northern side of Estación Retiro is a serious no-go zone. For some reason, the city’s most infamous shantytowns, its villas miserías have risen up here. We’ve been tempted to explore them, some amazing and heartbreaking photographs are sure to be had, but every porteño we’ve floated the idea by has suggested, and even made us promise, that we would stay away.

Estacion Retiro on our Buenos Aires Map
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Retiro Architecture
Salon Retiro
Train Tickets Argentina
Boleteria
Ceiling Flupps
Trains Buenos Aires
Retro Retiro Lamps
Retiro Hall
Stell Retiro
Evita Train Station
People Waiting for Train
Prison Train
Retiro Platforma
Train Bumpers
Red Light
Dusty Bells
Salida Retiro
Leaving Buenos Aires
Slum Buenos Aires
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March 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm Comments (7)

Riding the Bus

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The Rough Guide to Argentina

After watching a few barrel at breakneck speed down San Telmo’s tiny cobblestone streets, more inclined to use their horns than breaks when approaching an intersection, we concluded that buses must be the fastest way to get around Buenos Aires. And funnest.

Argentina Bus

The BA bus system is incredible, intimidating and comprehensive. Regardless of where you are or where you’re going, there’s usually a bus that will deliver you directly at your destination. Over 300 lines weave through the city, all operated by private companies (Bus #29 is run by Pedro de Mendoza C.I.S.A, for example). You’d think a citywide bus system would require central planning, but the privatization works here. The colectivos, as buses are known here, run frequently and even if you’ve just missed the #152, chances are another is right behind it.

Before hopping on your first colectivo, it’s worth your time to get a crash course from a local: the drivers are not patient, and would rather kick you off than answer questions. The Guia “T” is indispensable. A guide that details every bus in the city, it provides charts and maps to help you figure out which number you should take. The Guia T is the Bible of Buenos Aires. Study it. Worship it.

Basically, it goes like this: you’ve done your research in the Guia T, and know that #93 will you take you to the Recoleta Cemetery. Find the bus stop, and keep an eagle eye out for a #93 racing recklessly down the street. Wave it down as early as possible. The bus should stop, but I’ve seen them simply slow down and open the doors. Either way, as soon as those doors open, jump inside. Hesitate for just a second, and the bus will be on its way without you.

Once you’re on the bus, you tell the driver exactly where you’re going (an intersection is best), then pay the indicated fare. Right now, a full fare is about $1.25 and you pay the machine with coins, which can be difficult to find in the capital. In fact, the most troublesome part of taking the bus is scrounging up enough change; vendors are reluctant to give their monedas away. I’ve had people give me a $2 bill rather than a $1 coin, more willing to lose profit than relinquish their precious metal.

Once you’re on the bus, hurtling down BA’s busy streets and watching the buildings pass by, the stress was worth it. In the short time we’ve been here, it’s been a lot of fun — getting familiar with “our” lines, learning to jealously horde our change, and consulting the Guia “T” as we stare wide-eyed and happily out the window, on our way to whatever adventure the day holds in store. I bet by the end of our three months here, we’ll have joined the ranks of weary and wise passengers, silently heaping scorn upon happy foreigners like our current selves, so ridiculously proud of themselves for a thing like riding the bus.

Well screw you, Future Us! Stop trying to ruin our fun.

Great Hotels in Buenos Aires

Sexy Bus
Night Bus Buenos Aires
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February 22, 2011 at 9:48 pm Comments (4)
For 91 Days in Buenos Aires
For 91 Days