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Buenos Aires, City of Faded Elegance » Tourism

Tourism

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Family, Kids, & Fun in Buenos Aires

This blog has been quiet for the last couple of weeks while my sister Karen and my 16 year-old twin nieces visited Buenos Aires. Here’s a photo of Kaitlyn and Kacie in Parque Lezama:

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Even though they were here for 17 days we still didn’t have a chance to do a lot of the things I had planned. It reminded me of the superficial nature of tourism, that as a tourist you only scratch the surface of a city. Here’s a little summary of their visit:

Day 1: Arrive early morning in Buenos Aires on LAN flight from Miami. Spend day wandering around San Telmo, visiting several churches and Plaza de Mayo.

Day 2: Take the free city tour by bus around Buenos Aires. The tour wasn’t very good but it ended in Belgrano so we had we a good lunch in Barrio Chino. Actually, the bus trip back to San Telmo on the 29 was a much better tour of the city.

Day 3: A day of fog and walking…wandered around Puerto Madero, saw a good exhibition of Molina Campos works at UCA, walked around the microcentro. Since it was Thursday we headed to Plaza de Mayo to see the Madres. Then pizza for lunch followed by a stroll down Av de Mayo to Congreso. After that it was a hike over to Abasto where I left the girls on their own to do some shopping while I attended a book reading group. Afterwards we took the subte back to San Telmo. This was a long day.

Day 4: Recoleta cemetery, then over to Bellas Artes, then over to see the Flower, then the 17 bus home.

Day 5: I collapse with the flu! The girls spend the day in San Telmo.

Day 6: I stay in bed while everyone else heads out on Sunday to the Feria de Mataderos.

Day 7: I remain ill, so the girls explore La Boca then take a taxi over to do some shopping on Florida street and explore Plaza San Martín.

Day 8: This was a Tuesday and I have forgotten what happened this day, probably more shopping and exploring by the girls on their own. My flu is slowly getting better.

Day 9: The girls go to the zoo with Ceci’s mom. (I’m still under the weather). They really liked the zoo.

Day 10: I stay home resting while the girls go shopping in Once with Ceci. In the evening they go to a folclore concert with Ceci’s parents.

Day 11: The girls take the ferry to Colonia for a day trip. I stay home resting for the weekend.

Day 12: I’ve recovered from the flu and we board the bus to Iguazu Falls.

Day 13: Arrive in Iguazu, spend the afternoon exploring the Argentine side of the park.

Day 14: A full day in the Argentine side of the park at Iguazu Falls.

Day 15: Take a bus over to the Brazil side of the park, view the wonderful panorama of the falls from the Brazil side, then head back across the border, then board the bus for the overnight trip back to Buenos Aires.

Day 16: Arrive back in Buenos Aires, a rainy day so we just stay home resting. Late in the afternoon, while I’m sleeping, the girls head out and visit the national history museum next to Parque Lezama.

Day 17: The final day. It’s sunny, thankfully. We hop on the 39 and I take them to El Ateneo on Santa Fe, then we walk around Recoleta, wandering down Av Alvear seeing the fancy buildings, then cross over 9 de Julio. Visit the Isaac Fernandez Blanco museum, wander around Plaza San Martín, stroll down Florida street, cross Plaza de Mayo, then walk down Defensa back home. Have a late lunch at a restaurant next to Parque Lezama then it’s time to take the taxi to Ezeiza. Traffic to EZE is horrible but we make it on time and they fly off to the U.S.

It was a fun trip. It was the first time that my sister or the twins had ever been outside of the U.S. They seemed to have really enjoyed it. I wish I didn’t get sick but they managed fine on their own. Fortunately, I recovered enough to go to Iguazu with them. Their visit reminded me just how much there is to do in Buenos Aires.

Back from the coast

Just returned from a week on the Argentine coast. Stayed in a small village called Dunamar, which is on the other side of Tres Arroyos, about 8 hours by bus from the Retiro station in Buenos Aires. There are a lot closer beach towns but we accidentally discovered this place last year and decided to return again for my birthday this month. Only about 15 families live in Dunamar throughout the year. There are just a few dozen houses in Dunamar and I’m told that they are all already booked for January. Dunamar was founded in the 1950s by Ernesto Gessell, brother of the guy who founded the coastal resort town of Villa Gessell. In a way, Dunamar is a very tiny version of Villa Gessell. Located in a woodsy area with a broad beach that is deserted during the off-season. It’s one of those lovely beaches where you can walk for kilometers and not see anyone. Plus, you can see both the sunrise and the sunset on the same day. All very nice and relaxing.

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The drawback to Dunamar is that it’s located right next to the horrible beach town of Claromecó, which has a lovely name but is rather blah. But, Claromecó has a wonderful lighthouse.

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I’ve been to the top of many lighthouses and have always enjoyed them. But, somehow, the wide, open nature of the spiral staircase in this particular lighthouse really affected my vertigo and I had to backtrack my way down before getting to the top. There’s also an incredible echo within the lighthouse. That stairway is beautiful but not for those with a fear of heights.

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And here’s the house that we rented in Dunamar for less than 100 pesos a night (off-season rates).

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A shocking discovery

Walking along the beach at dusk one evening we came across something that really startled us. In the distance we saw an object in the surf. At first, I thought it was a person or a dog but as we got closer we didn’t see it anymore. So, we figured it was nothing or we hoped that it was nothing since we didn’t see either man or animal get out of the water and onto the beach.

Then we saw it again, bobbing in the waves. It looked, initially, like a black garbage bag but one that was really large. We stared at it for a few seconds. My imagination ran away. What large item could be in this garbage bag? Honestly, the thought that came to me: a body. Then the bag started moving. For just a second, the thought came to my mind that the person was alive. I felt like I was in some opening scene of CSI. Then, with relief, we realized that it was a seal or something. Turns out that it was really fun to watch the fellow move along the shoreline. He would catch the waves and surf towards the beach then swim back out.

Later, walking along the beach, we see this huge object on the horizon. We get closer and closer, thinking that it’s another sea animal but this one wasn’t moving. We were afraid that he was dead, having beached himself. But then he got up and walked a few steps before collapsing again. We inched closer for a better view.

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Back in Dunamar, someone told us that it was a lobo marino. That translates to sea wolf but I think these animals are known sea lions in English. The photo doesn’t really give a good sense as to the massive size of this fellow…think small car.

Down in Peninsula Valdés you expect to see all sorts of things like this but I didn’t expect it this far up the coast. Last year we didn’t see anything of the sort around Dunamar. But this year was an enjoyable surprise.

Finally, here’s another sunset to close out this post. There are a couple of more interesting things I’ve learned on the trip that I’ll share later.

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Shopping for shoes in Buenos Aires

I’m blogging about shoes?

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Yep, looks like I am. Ceci came back from a day of shopping in Once. In the ’90s she had a clothing store in that neighborhood, so she knows where all the good buys can be found. She was delighted to find this pair of shoes for a hundred pesos, a little more than thirty dollars. She tells me that back in Miami at Bal Harbour that shoes like this go for more than three hundred dollars.

Borges on San Telmo & the southern barrios

It’s the weekend so it’s time for the tourists to descend upon San Telmo for the antique fair. San Telmo is actually much nicer during the week when it is not so crowded. I’m reminded of something that Borges had said about San Telmo and the southern barrios of Buenos Aires.

This is from the lecture titled Blindness; unfortunately, I only have the English translation of this particular lecture:

For everyone in Buenos Aires, the Southside is, in a mysterious way, the secret center of the city. Not the other, somewhat ostentatious center we show to tourists — in those days there was not that bit of public relations called the Barrio de San Telmo. But the Southside has come to be the modest secret center of Buenos Aires.

When I think of Buenos Aires, I think of the Buenos Aires I knew as a child: the low houses, the patios, the porches, the cisterns with turtles in them, the grated windows. That Buenos Aires was all of Buenos Aires. Now only the southern section has been preserved. I felt that I had returned to the neighborhood of my elders.

I know that some of these words are not quite how it is expressed in Spanish but it will have to do, for now. For instance, “Southside” is likely “el Sur” in the way that Borges wrote when he referred to this area.

Almost thirty years after Borges gave that lecture, people still don’t make it to many of the southern barrios other than San Telmo and the ultimate tourist trap that is Caminito in La Boca. Of course, nothing is like it was a hundred years ago. It’s debatable even if it was in 1977 when Borges gave this lecture. Of course, by that time he had been blind for twenty years and, perhaps, was fortunate not to see, literally, the changes. Yet, the southern barrios do have a certain feeling not found in Barrio Norte or Palermo.

Bar Británico is closed

It’s a sad day in my barrio. Four blocks from my apartment is, or was, one of my favorite, old spots in the city, Bar Británico. Located in San Telmo at the corner of Defensa and Brasil, Bar Británico was one of the classic cafes of Buenos Aires.

I just returned from walking by the now closed Británico . Police are standing in front of the doors and all the furniture has been removed. It’s now just an empty shell. I didn’t even want to take a photo, preferring to remember it as it was before. On flickr you can see these photos that others have taken of this wonderful place. And be sure to look at this great photo.

Británico has been fighting to stay open for months over a dispute with the new landlord. We signed a petition earlier in the year, along with 20,000 other people, and the case has been in the courts. The city also has tried to mediate a solution between the property owner and the tenant. The end came finally this month when a judge ordered the bar to be closed. This morning the police arrived to enforce the court order. The Clarín has an article about the closing, as does La Nación. [both in Spanish]. Several news crews were around so there should be coverage on the Buenos Aires TV stations tonight.

The bar has been run for almost fifty years by three guys from Galicia. They are José Trillo, Manolo Pose and Pepe Miñones. At almost any given time you could go into the Británico and see one of them, now old men, serving the beer and food to customers. José Trillo says that now that the bar is closed that he will return to Spain.

The problems started when the former landlord died and the property was inherited by his son. The son Juan Pablo Benvenuto, seeing a prime real estate opportunity, didn’t want to renew the lease and rented the corner property to another person.

True, Bar Británico didn’t have the splendor of the Tortoni and hadn’t renovated itself like 36 Billares but the Británico had an antiquated character that kept it a popular place. While its competition across the street El Hipopótamo is a nicer cafe, we preferred to take our foreign visitors to the Británico.

The new tenant plans to open a cybercafe on the corner, as if the neighborhood really needs another one? How boring, you would think that with all this trouble that they could come up with something more creative.

Update: The rumored cyber never opened, yeah. Bar Britanico re-opened some time ago and I’ve returned as a regular patron. It’s not quite the same as the old Britanico but it’s close enough.

Walrus Books

Update: Walrus books now has a Web site, go to www.walrus-books.com.ar

Walrus Books, my favorite English language bookstore in Buenos Aires, has just opened their new store in San Telmo. I had the pleasure today of being the first customer in their new location at Estados Unidos 617, near the corner of calle Per̼, opened Tuesday thru Sunday, 10am Р8pm.

Formerly operating out of their apartment in Palermo, Geoffrey and his wife are still in the process of stocking the new store but soon expect to have a selection of about 1,500 books. The space is charming and cozy, a comfy place to spend time browsing among the shelves. The customer service is outstanding and Geoffrey can always recommend a good read.

Most of the books are used, so the prices are very good. There is a large selection of contemporary literary fiction, classic literature as well as mystery and suspense novels, along with solid offerings of Latin American literature translated into English. The traveler should know that Walrus Books also has some travel guides such as Lonely Planet.

If you’re a local then Walrus Books is definitely the place to buy your English language books. If you’re just visiting Buenos Aires, then Walrus Books is a good place to stop in and buy a book for those lengthy bus trips or that long plane ride back home.

This sounds like an advertisement, I know. But it’s just an unsolicited endorsement from a happy customer. Indeed, their new store is dangerously close to where I live… need to adjust my budget, less bife and more books.

Easter Holiday in Miramar

We spent the long holiday weekend in the coastal resort town of Miramar, which is about 50 km west of Mar del Plata. We went with a group of friends, one of whom – celebrating a birthday this weekend – has a summer home in Miramar.

While there was a record number of people traveling around the country this weekend, 2.3 million is the latest figure I read, you would never know that in Miramar. From the looks of it, Miramar appeared to be at only about 20% occupancy, which was fine by us. We really enjoyed the quiet nature of being away from Buenos Aires.

Miramar is a typical oceanfront town with high-rise apartment buildings on the coast. We stayed in one of those buildings and it was a remarkably nice apartment. Strong waves pound the coast and there were a number of surfers. The drive from Mar del Plata to Miramar offers some very nice scenery. I wanted to visit neighboring Mar del Sud, just 15 km from Miramar, but didn’t have the opportunity. Miramar has a nice walkway along the beach for enjoying the ocean views. I actually gotten to the point where I now prefer the beach on a cold, blustery day rather than warm, sunny ones. (I lived too long in Miami).

Miramar has a number of stores, if you’re into shopping. The place looks like it gets quite busy during the summer but the off-season is very tranquil. The nicest aspect of Miramar are the charming stone houses. While Miramar isn’t my favorite place on the coast (I actually prefer even smaller, more woodsy places), Miramar is a nice small, family-oriented town with good beaches and there is a forested area on the western edge of town. Also, there’s the unusual Bosque Energetico, which I will blog about in a future posting. I’ll also try to put up some photos from Miramar later.

The drive back on the autopista from Mar del Plata was incredibly congested. At one point the two-lane road north became four lanes as people drove on both shoulders of the road. But those impatient drivers got a surprise when they ran into the police blockade issuing citations.

We finally got home about 1 am after leaving Miramar at 5pm. We were in two cars following each other. At one point we got separated and had to wait at a Shell station for our friends to catch up. It was fortunate that we waited for them. Later, just as we went through the final toll booth before Buenos Aires, the car with our other friends broke down. So that was another long wait.

I slept late this morning, only to be awaken by a group of drum banging piqueteros marching down my street, welcoming me back to life in Buenos Aires.

Bar El Federal

Last week a friend of a friend was in town. He was staying in San Telmo, so we took him over to Bar El Federal for dinner. Located on the corner of Perú and Carlos Calvo, El Federal is one of those classic bars and cafés of Buenos Aires. Indeed, El Federal is one of the most picturesque places in the city. Yet, that also means that it is full of tourists. All around us everybody was speaking English. If it wasn’t for all the tourists, I probably would go to El Federal often. The prices are still very reasonable, no more than any other café in town. It’s surprising that they haven’t raised the prices with all the tourists that are in there. The food was decent but the service was incredibly slow. It took thirty minutes for the waiter to take our order; however, it was only that waiter’s second day and they were busy. We had a leisurely evening planned anyway, so it was okay.

El Federal does have a beautiful bar. Photos just don’t do it justice. So, I would say that tourists definitely should consider El Federal as a place for stopping. (Plenty of other good, old bars in San Telmo which I need to cover in another post). Locals who have never been to El Federal should visit it at least once. Also, there’s a quaint little bookstore deep inside the café. Most of the books are used and overpriced (compared to the bookstores on Corrientes) but it’s interesting to browse for a few minutes.

30 things to do when visiting Buenos Aires

I’m often asked by tourists for a list of things to do in Buenos Aires. So, here’s my list of things tourists should try to do while visiting Buenos Aires. Most of these also can be found in any guidebook to the city but I listed the things I liked. It’s ordered in no particular manner. Some items could have been collapsed into a single entry or expanded into multiple ones.

Originally written in January 2006. Check current guidebooks for updated times and prices.

1.San Telmo: On a Sunday morning San Telmo sometimes seems close to being a tourist trap but the antique fair and the atmosphere still make it worth a visit. I live in San Telmo and if you want to avoid the crowds then come on a weekday. The fair is only on Sundays but San Telmo is worth wandering around on any day of the week. Some of the restaurants around the plaza are overpriced and not very good but stop in at Bar Dorrego on Defensa for a snack. San Telmo: On a Sunday morning San Telmo sometimes seems close to being a tourist trap but the antique fair and the atmosphere still make it worth a visit. I live in San Telmo and if you want to avoid the crowds then come on a weekday. The fair is only on Sundays but San Telmo is worth wandering around on any day of the week. Some of the restaurants around the plaza are overpriced and not very good but stop in at Bar Dorrego on Defensa for a snack.
2.Recoleta Cemetery: Must be one of the great cemeteries of the world. Fascinating to wander among the tombs. Recoleta Cemetery: Must be one of the great cemeteries of the world. Fascinating to wander among the tombs.
3.Teatro Colón: The city’s great opera house. Performances are relatively inexpensive but if you’re not into opera or classical music then, at least, take a tour which will show you not only the beautiful auditorium but take you backstage. Teatro Colón: The city’s great opera house. Performances are relatively inexpensive but if you’re not into opera or classical music then, at least, take a tour which will show you not only the beautiful auditorium but take you backstage.
4. Tango at the Ideal: I don’t dance and I’m not a fan of the fancy tango shows for tourists but I do enjoy watching others dance, particularly ordinary people. The Ideal is one of those old style places with tango dancing on the upper floor. In the afternoons, after the tango lessons, the place will be filled with a mostly older crowd. Even if you don’t go for the dancing, the Ideal is a gorgeous place to eat or have coffee. Tango at the Ideal: I don’t dance and I’m not a fan of the fancy tango shows for tourists but I do enjoy watching others dance, particularly ordinary people. The Ideal is one of those old style places with tango dancing on the upper floor. In the afternoons, after the tango lessons, the place will be filled with a mostly older crowd. Even if you don’t go for the dancing, the Ideal is a gorgeous place to eat or have coffee.
5.Madres de Plaza de Mayo: Thursday afternoons at 3:30, the mothers of the disappeared still march every week inthe plaza. After their march, which lasts thirty minutes, the madres gather in front of the Casa Rosada for a short speech. It’s worth staying and listening. Madres de Plaza de Mayo: Thursday afternoons at 3:30, the mothers of the disappeared still march every week inthe plaza. After their march, which lasts thirty minutes, the madres gather in front of the Casa Rosada for a short speech. It’s worth staying and listening.
6.Café Tortoni: the oldest and most beautiful of the cafés in the city. Mostly a tourist spot now but still worth the visit. Café Tortoni: the oldest and most beautiful of the cafés in the city. Mostly a tourist spot now but still worth the visit.
7.Plaza San Martín: a nice shady area in the heart of the city. Plenty to see and do around there so the plaza makes for a nice place to take a break. Go up to the top of the English Tower for great views and then take a look inside the old train station. Borges lived just a few steps from the plaza. Plaza San Martín: a nice shady area in the heart of the city. Plenty to see and do around there so the plaza makes for a nice place to take a break. Go up to the top of the English Tower for great views and then take a look inside the old train station. Borges lived just a few steps from the plaza.
8.Stroll down calle Florida: not the best shopping and you’re likely to be hounded by touts trying to sell you leather jackets or other overpriced goods but the pedestrian street still has an energetic appeal to it. There are some great buildings in the area. An easy one to explore, since it’s a shopping mall, is Galería Pacifico; the top floor is a cultural center that usually has very good exhibitions. If you’re hungry then the Richmond is an interesting place to stop; it’s one of the places that Borges frequented. Stroll down calle Florida: not the best shopping and you’re likely to be hounded by touts trying to sell you leather jackets or other overpriced goods but the pedestrian street still has an energetic appeal to it. There are some great buildings in the area. An easy one to explore, since it’s a shopping mall, is Galería Pacifico; the top floor is a cultural center that usually has very good exhibitions. If you’re hungry then the Richmond is an interesting place to stop; it’s one of the places that Borges frequented.
9. La Boca: Oddly, it’s one of the least desirable neighborhoods in town but it’s also the most touristy. Actually, it’s only one small area of Boca that has found its way into practically every book’s photograph of Buenos Aires. I do think that the picturesque small street of Caminito is a tourist trap (and the tour buses lined up there seem to prove it). The colorful street was the idea of artist Quinquela Martin, whose paintings I think are superb. His nearby house and studio are now a museum of his works and should definitely be visited. La Boca: Oddly, it’s one of the least desirable neighborhoods in town but it’s also the most touristy. Actually, it’s only one small area of Boca that has found its way into practically every book’s photograph of Buenos Aires. I do think that the picturesque small street of Caminito is a tourist trap (and the tour buses lined up there seem to prove it). The colorful street was the idea of artist Quinquela Martin, whose paintings I think are superb. His nearby house and studio are now a museum of his works and should definitely be visited.
10.Fúbol! While we’re talking about Boca, if you’re a football fan (or soccer to those in the US) then a game at Boca is a must. If you’re not a fan of the sport, then you can probably skip this one though it’s still an interesting experience. Fútbol! While we’re talking about Boca, if you’re a football fan (or soccer to those in the US) then a game at Boca is a must. If you’re not a fan of the sport, then you can probably skip this one though it’s still an interesting experience.
11.El Ateneo: Simply one of the most incredible bookstores in the world. Located at Av Santa Fe 1860 in a splendidly restored old theater.El Ateneo: Simply one of the most incredible bookstores in the world. Located at Av Santa Fe 1860 in a splendidly restored old theater.
12.Manzana de las Luces: historic tunnels under 18th century Jesuit buildings. Manzana de las Luces: historic tunnels under 18th century Jesuit buildings.
13.Palacio San Martí­n: Only a hundred years old but once a massive home for one of Argentina’s wealthiest families. Guided visits on Thursday and Fridays. Palacio San Martín: Only a hundred years old but once a massive home for one of Argentina’s wealthiest families. Guided visits on Thursday and Fridays.
14.Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano Isaac Fernándes Blanco: nice small collection of Spanish-American art in a lovely neocolonial house. Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano Isaac Fernándex Blanco: nice small collection of Spanish-American art in a lovely neocolonial house.
15. Plaza Carlos Pellegrini: the plaza itself is nothing but there are some fantastic buildings here, particularly the two that are now the Brazilian embassy and the French embassy. Walking down Av Alvear towards Recoleta provides a glimpse of the luxurious life in Buenos Aires. Plaza Carlos Pellegrini: the plaza itself is nothing but there are some fantastic buildings here, particularly the two that are now the Brazilian embassy and the French embassy. Walking down Av Alvear towards Recoleta provides a glimpse of the luxurious life in Buenos Aires.
16. Palermo Parks & Botanical Gardens: very nice green spaces and a decent zoo. Palermo Parks & Botanical Gardens: very nice green spaces and a decent zoo.
17. Palermo Chico and around: more examples of massive houses. Nice area for walking and looking at the architecture.
18. Museo de Arte Decorativo: not necessarily a great collection by any means but a good opportunity to visit what was once one of the country’s grandest single-family homes in the early 20th century. Museo de Arte Decorativo: not necessarily a great collection by any means but a good opportunity to visit what was once one of the country’s grandest single-family homes in the early 20th century.
19.Palermo Viejo: Many people love this area. It’s not really my favorite but worth a visit. Borges was born here though it surely has absolutely no resemblance to the Palermo of his childhood. Still, it’s worth the visit. Palermo Viejo: Many people love this area. It’s not really my favorite but worth a visit. Borges was born here though it surely has absolutely no resemblance to the Palermo of his childhood. Still, it’s worth the visit.
20.Subte A line: the only subway line in the city that still has the old wooden cars. Board at Peru station and ride out to the Castro Barros stop where you can visit one of the city’s wonderful cafes: Las Violetas at Rivadavia 3899 Subte A line: the only subway line in the city that still has the old wooden cars. Board at Perú station and ride out to the Castro Barros stop where you can visit one of the city’s wonderful cafes: Las Violetas at Rivadavia 3899
21.Av Corrientes: browsing the many used bookstores on Corrientes in the evening is one of my favorite activities. A crowded street, some decent places to eat, and some very tacky theaters. Zival’s on the corner of Corrientes and Callao is a good place to pick up tango CDs. Av Corrientes: browsing the many used bookstores on Corrientes in the evening is one of my favorite activities. A crowded street, some decent places to eat, and some very tacky theaters. Zival’s on the corner of Corrientes and Callao is a good place to pick up tango CDs.
22. Av de Mayo: the best architecture in the city. Start at Plaza de Mayo and walk towards Congreso. There’s an entire book that discusses nothing but the architecture of this avenue. Take your time and enjoy the scenery. Av de Mayo: the best architecture in the city. Start at Plaza de Mayo and walk towards Congreso. There’s an entire book that discusses nothing but the architecture of this avenue. Take your time and enjoy the scenery.
23.Xul Solar Museum: My favorite museum in Buenos Aires. MALBA is a close second but there’s something mystical about the watercolors of Xul Solar. He’s not very well-known outside of Argentina but I consider him to be a great artist. The museum is in his former home and is itself an excellent renovation, worth visiting if you have any interest in museum spaces. Xul Solar Museum: My favorite museum in Buenos Aires. MALBA is a close second but there’s something mystical about the watercolors of Xul Solar. He’s not very well-known outside of Argentina but I consider him to be a great artist. The museum is in his former home and is itself an excellent renovation, worth visiting if you have any interest in museum spaces.
24.MALBA: Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires supposedly has one of the best collections of contemporary Latin American art. The modern building is another great example of architecture for museum spaces. MALBA: Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires has one of the best collections of contemporary Latin American art. The modern building is another great example of architecture for museum spaces. (Ok, in my life in the US I was involved with a couple of library renovations so I pay much more attention to library and museum spaces than the average person!)
25.Mataderos: I don’t think many tourists make it out to Mataderos for the Sunday fair. It’s quite a ways out but for those interested in life in rural Argentina and gauchos then it makes for a nice outing. Mataderos: I don’t think many tourists make it out to Mataderos for the Sunday fair. It’s quite a ways out but for those interested in life in rural Argentina and gauchos then it makes for a nice outing.
26.Clásica y Moderna: a charming, romantic little cafe, dark wood, quaint bookstore in the back, live music in the evenings. Find it at Callao 892. Clásica y Moderna: a charming, romantic little cafe, dark wood, quaint bookstore in the back, live music in the evenings. Find it at Callao 892.
27.Daytrip to Colonia in Uruguay: board the ferry for the trip to the small, historic Portuguese town of Colonia del Sacramento – a World Heritage site. Daytrip to Colonia in Uruguay: board the ferry for the trip to the small, historic Portuguese town of Colonia del Sacramento – a World Heritage site.
28.Estancia: Visit an estancia around San Antonio de Areco, spending the night if possible. I usually recommend El Ombú. When we were there two years ago we practically had the place to ourselves. Depending upon when you visit, you might not be so lucky but it’s still small enough that you should find it very enjoyable. There are also many other estancias located around the pampas. Estancia: Visit an estancia around San Antonio de Areco, spending the night if possible. I usually recommend El Ombú. When we were there two years ago we practically had the place to ourselves. Depending upon when you visit, you might not be so lucky but it’s still small enough that you should find it very enjoyable. There are also many other estancias located around the pampas.
29.Boedo: one of the barrios in the southern part of the city that doesn’t get much attention. Boedo is particulary important in the history of tango and literature. Several nice restaurants and cafes in the area. Boedo: one of the barrios in the southern part of the city that doesn’t get much attention. Boedo is particulary important in the history of tango and literature. Several nice restaurants and cafes in the area.
30.Asado and Parrilla: If you’re lucky and know someone living here, you may get invited to asado at a local’s home. Otherwise, you have to try one of Argentina’s famously huge steaks at a parrilla in the city. Generally, I avoid any restaurant that has a stuffed cow at the front door. The small parillas in the barrios are often better than the fancier restaurants but it’s a hit-or-miss effort. I’ve always had a good bife de chorizo at Chiquilin (Sarmiento 1599), a very traditional restaurant. While I don’t go there anymore ($8 pesos for papa fritas is ridiculous), I still recommend it for tourists with US dollars or Euros to spend. Asado and Parrilla: If you’re lucky and know someone living here, you may get invited to asado at a local’s home. Otherwise, you have to try one of Argentina’s famously huge steaks at a parrilla in the city. Generally, I avoid any restaurant that has a stuffed cow at the front door. The small parillas in the barrios are often better than the fancier restaurants but it’s a hit-or-miss effort. I’ve always had a good bife de chorizo at Chiquilin (Sarmiento 1599), a very traditional restaurant. While I don’t go there anymore ($8 pesos for papa fritas is ridiculous), I still recommend it for tourists with US dollars or Euros to spend.

Journey to Uruguay

It has been almost three months since I moved to Buenos Aires and now it’s time for my first visa run out of the country. This time I’m going to Uruguay. I’ve takenthis route before, two years ago on my first visit to Argentina.

It’s about three hours across the Rio de la Plata to Uruguay. We opt for the slower ferry rather than the higher priced catamaran that crosses much faster. The river itself is broad, a huge bay separating Argentina from Urugay. The immediately noticeable characteristic of the river is its dark brown color, barely a glimpse of blue or green in the water. Considering the rubbish nature of industries along the Argentine coast, one might guess at first that the river is heavily polluted, which is likely true. But the distinctive brown coloring comes from the sediments in the soil of the rivers that flow into the Rio de la Plata.

Drifting steadily away from the river front, Buenos Aires falls into the distance. The few modern skyscrapers with corporate logos, such as Sun Microsystems, mix with the more historic buildings, the classic railway station, and the 19th century immigrants “hotel” that housed European immigrants who arrived on this shore. The immigrants kept coming by sea even well into the mid 20th century. Ceci’s mother told us about her own arrival by ship from Italy, after World War II.

The ferry itself is very comfortable, dozens of tables surrounded by cushioned chairs. Other parts of the ferry include a game room, several large windows surrounded by lounge chairs, an upper exterior deck, a duty free shop, the first class cabin, and the typically overpriced cafeteria.

A large share of the travelers are tourists, many English speaking and of the young backpacking species. They all have their well worn Rough Guides and Lonely Planets, which they study religiously, plotting strategies for sightseeing and hosteling.

You can take a fast ferry straight to Montevideo. But it’s almost just as easy to take the cheaper ferry to Colonia and then the bus operated by the ferry company onto the Uruguayan capital, which is about two hours away once you land in Colonia.

Colonia del Sacramento is a wonderfully charming 17th century Portuguese town. Back in March 2003 we spent a Wednesday wandering the cobbled streets of Colonia. This time, however, we’re skipping Colonia.

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