Buenos Aires: The city I’m in love with!

I had never ever thought I would say this, but Buenos¬†Aires is my new love, even above NYC! It is a kind of city that you fall in love with, then dream about it for days and then finally decide to pack your bags and move to it ūüėČ ¬†It’s a very special place, beautiful, resilient and creative. It’s an astonishing metropolis similar to Europe, but with an edgy Latin American twist to it.¬†Porte√Īos (the city’s residents) are passionate, opinionated and very friendly. However, to know them as well as the city better, knowing Spanish is a must ~ you don’t need to be fluent in it, but at least know the basic phrases and if that sounds too complicated to you, then Google Translate is your best friend.

The Eats:¬†Argentina is known as the beef capital of the world and on an average, in a year Argentineans consume 154 pounds per person compared to 89.8 pounds in the US! So if you are in Argentina, get ready to loosen your belt, eat a steak the size of your head and fall straight into the carne coma heaven. Some restaurants to check out are: La Brigada – for an Argentina feast of liver and glands & the famous Beef de Chorizo – the server cuts the beef with a spoon in front of you!¬†and El Litoral – for Parilla (grill). ¬†For breakfast and/or mid afternoon coffee and snacks – do visit Cafe Tortoni and Coma En Casa,¬†to have the Argentina croissants known as medialunas and the¬†dulce de leche¬†(it’s said to be the national flavor of Argentina) coffee.¬†In the sticky heat of the summer, lines can form out the door at Buenos Aires¬†heladerias (ice-cream parlors).¬†The most popular flavors are¬†dulce de leche¬†along with another Argentine classic, sambay√≥n, which is made with egg yolks, milk, cream, sugar, Marsala wine and sometimes whisky. Cadore, in the city centre is my favorite! The Argentine cuisine also has an influence of Italian food on it, hence, the vegetarians need not worry, as you will find pastas and pizzas everywhere, and really good ones! – yes I’m talking about Guerrin Pizzeria ūüôā

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Tango:¬†Buenos Aires is the birthplace of tango, and a¬†visit to the city is incomplete without taking in¬†dinner and a tango show.¬†You’ll also find endless venues for perfecting your moves, from salons to milongas (dance events) to cafes to glamorized¬†shows, on every single day of the week. The shows usually start at 11pm and go on till dawn. We visited a milonga in the San Telmo district area and it was mind blowing – right from watching the people grove to the music from late nigh to early morning, to the gestures that are exchanged between the men and women willing to dance together! Tango shows are also offered at most of the restaurants in San Telmo and La Boca areas during day as well as night time. Restaurants open at 9pm, bars at midnight and clubs at 2am ‚Äď at the very earliest. So if you are in Bueno Aires, take a cat nap, down your coffee and be prepared to stay up all night ‚Äď this is a city that never sleeps!

Argentina Tea Culture:¬†Argentina is well known for the cultivation and consumption of mate, made with the leaves of the local yerba mat√© plant. It is known as the “national infusion” drink in Argentina and is rich¬†in caffeine.¬†It is usually served in a shallow, hollow, dried calabash gourd along with a straw known as bombilla made of silver, steel or stemmed cane. A warning to the germ-phobic: Mate is shared from the same cup, using the same straw, person to person. Why?¬† Sharing mate with a buddy or a stranger is all about friendships (Ah!) Oh! and there are rules –¬†When drinking mate, never say “thank you” and never stir the straw.¬† Both are considered rude.¬†When drinking mate, first a gourd is packed close to the brim with the dried leaves.¬†The brewer adds near-to-boiling water and a few moments later, you take a slow, steady sip from the straw and enjoy!

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Stopovers:¬†Buenos Aires is the city known for its architecture and rich culture. Head over to their art-rich site¬†La Recoleta Cemetery¬†which is also the resting place of many notable political figures and elites from Argentine history. If you are an antique aficionado, then San Telmo is the place for you – especially the Sunday fair. Also, a great location to buy some Rhodochrosite, the famous Inca Rosa Gemstone of Argentina.¬†For an evening stroll, head over to Puerto Madero, where dazzling city lights illuminate the port. La Boca is the perfect place to click some colorful pictures! When you are tired of meandering down the bustling Avenue Libertador, take respite at the city’s tranquil rose garden Paseo Del Rosadal. ¬†An architecture lover, would fall in love with Teatro Colon, the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral and El¬†Ateneo Grand Splendid –¬†just like I did ūüôā The city houses the executive mansion and office of the President of Argentina known as Casa Rosada – a beautiful pink stone structure. A gift to the city by the Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano, the Floralis Generica¬†was designed to move, closing its petals in the evening and opening them in the morning. Last but not the least, try booking a hotel or airbnb close to Florida Street in Buenos Aires downtown. Its the most convenient location to be at plus you can enjoy a ton of street performances, do some street shopping and have some freshly squeezed orange juice – trust me you will never ever have the bottled ones again!

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Overall, the city of Buenos Aires has made a great architectural and cultural impact on me and I would definitely recommend a visit to anyone and everyone! For a video tour for my trip, check out this video on Vimeo!

 

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Travelgram from El Aeteno Grand Splendid

Named as the second most beautiful bookstore in the world, El Aeteno Grand Splendid is one of the best known bookshop in Buenos Aires!

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This bookstore was originally a theatre with a seating capacity of 1050 and staged a variety of performances including some well known tango artists.

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Chairs are provided throughout the building, including the still-intact theatre boxes, where customers can dip into books before purchase, and there is a café on the back of what was once the stage.

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The ceiling, the ornate carvings, the crimson stage curtains, the auditorium lighting and many architectural details remain! A must visit for all book and architecture lovers.

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Travelgram from Teatro Col√≥n

When you are in a city, which is known, to have one of the five best concert venues in the world, you definitely got to check it out! Though we didn’t have time to experience one of their shows, we did see the splendor up close and get in on all the behind-the-scenes action with the theater’s extremely popular guided tours.

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These 50 minutes whirlwind tours take you up and down innumerable staircases and through a number of rooms and halls. The Golden Hall with its enormous columns and mirrors was my favorite one!

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Our tour guide took us through the eventful 18-year building process which involved the death of one architect and the murder of another! After all this drama, the sublime Italianate structure was finally inaugurated in 1908.

 

The Colón has only one flaw: the acoustics are so good that every mistake can be heard.

The eclectic architecture, which was the typical construction trend in the early twentieth century, combines the characters of Italian Renaissance, alternating the detail, solidity and grace of German and French architecture.

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The theater’s¬†sumptuous building materials‚ÄĒthree kinds of Italian marble, French stained glass, and Venetian mosaics‚ÄĒwere imported from Europe to create large-scale lavishness.

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The workshops are located in the three basements of the building and extends below the Avenue July 9. It has a practice theater which is a replica of the main one!

The seven-tier main theater is breathtaking in size, and has a grand central chandelier with 700 lights to illuminate the 3,000 mere mortals in its red-velvet seats.

A visit is enough to realize that the magnitude, magnificent acoustics and opulence earn the Teatro Col√≥n¬†a place among the world’s top five opera theaters.

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Travelgram from La Boca

La Boca¬†is one of the most¬†picturesque, historic and artsy neighborhoods of Bueno Aires,¬†famed for its colorful houses, tango and soccer team.¬†La Boca means ‚Äúthe mouth‚ÄĚ, as it is¬†the mouth of the river Riachuelo, it was the first port, the entrance for¬†all vessels coming from Europe and the place where all immigrants found their shelter in Argentina.

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The centerpiece is the cobblestone strip, El Caminito, or little walkway. It acquired a cultural significance because it inspired the music for famous tango “Caminito” back in 1926. You can see restored ‚Äúconventillos,‚ÄĚ shared homes made of wood and corrugated zinc and painted in bright primary colors.

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The pedestrian lane features an outdoor fair where artists sell their wares and tango dancers prance along the sidewalk in between photo ops with tourists. It’s a great place to shop souvenirs, handicraft items and paintings. And of course, there’s a lot of bargaining!

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There are a ton of restaurants in the neighborhood, but no nightclubs, since the neighborhood is described as ‘seedy’ after dark. (P.S: it is a safe place to visit during the daytime, just take cabs to and from your destinations). You will see¬†a lot of open-air tango on display to entertain the patrons at the outdoor cafes.

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Banchero Pizzeria¬†which opened in 1932 and claims to be the creator of Buenos Aires style ‚Äúfugazza‚ÄĚ pizza, topped with cheese and onions, is a great place to stop by for a quick snack. The restaurants there don’t accept credit cards, but they do accept a lot of different currencies!

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La Bombonera is of course the stadium that is to the world famous Boca Juniors. It‚Äôs possible to do tours of La Bombonera, but the best way to see it is during a game. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to witness one, hmm, may be next time!

The cobblestones, colorful corrugated-iron houses and artists’ studios, makes La Boca postcard perfect!

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