Gringo In Buenos Aires contributor Emily shares her collection of notes about Things to Do In Buenos Aires!
Things to Do -Finding Inspiration in Buenos Aires
Firstly – ever dreamed of being a superstar and performing in front of thousands of people? Well, I have just discovered the ‘Buenos Aires Flash Mob’ group today and very soon you too could be part of this fashionable, fun and free craze. A flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time (e.g. pillow fight or dance), then disperse…all for the purposes of entertainment, satire and artistic expression. Ok, so you won’t be on a stage in front of screaming fans, but it’s a seriously cool thing to be part of and the next one should be pretty fun so check it out by visiting their Facebook page.
Next up is a place that oozes creativity, and is definitely somewhere that needs discovering as it’s easy to walk right past it and not even notice (I did 4 times before I found the address!). So why not visit El Patio Del Liceo, Santa Fe 2729, and be inspired by local artists; everything from hats made of ribbon, to photography and even some vintage clothing thrown into the mix. Truely a hidden creative gem… and if you are a budding artist needing some creative workroom space, there even cool spaces to rent.
If celebrating traditional cultures floats your creative boat, then how about a day time ‘do’? Circulo de Aragon de Buenos Aires is a community venue in Palermo that holds a huge array of events; only last Saturday I went there for the first time and enjoyed a mixture of music, circus performers and comedians all held together beautifully by a hilarious Master of Ceremonies – and a giant parilla to boot out the back, where of course I couldn’t resist a yummy Choripan (for those of you yet to discover this popular snack it is quite simply grilled Chorizo in bread!).
Music buffs ahoy – it is said that an open jam session can be heavenly as the rules of following written music are removed. So why not see how it makes you feel and go along and play or simply open your ears to some creative sounds that are made up on the spot; either way a unique experience. You can hop, skip and stroll along to Boris Club de Jazz in the trendy area of Palermo Hollywood on Gorritti 5568, every Sunday in October from 8pm, to listen to The Boris Big Band followed by an Open Jam Session.
Things to Do – Great Volunteer Opportunities in Buenos Aires
What ever the reason us Gringo’s are here in Argentina, I bet somewhere amidst your complex answer is something related to making a positive change in your life or in someone else’s? It seems an impossible task and therefore one that many of us give up on, simply because we feel we can’t make a difference…but I beg to differ, and here’s some tips on how…
Ok, so this recommendation is from a very real, recent experience.
Last weekend I, along with 2,000 other volunteers, helped build houses for families who currently live in shacks in what are known as ‘villas’ (pronounced ‘veeshas’). In reality these villa’s are slums that have no services – for example rubbish is simply burnt or left to rot in the same area where children play. We worked in the mud for 3 days, though I can’t complain about that as these families live in it every day. The weekend was organized by an organisation called Un Techo Para Mi Pais. You don’t need any experience and unlike many volunteering opportunities it is incredibly cheap; you simply pay a contribution to the costs of the food and transport (between AR$45-100 for 3 days). So if you want to give something back to this wonderful country that you are currently exploring, this is definitely a very tangible and life-changing way of doing so; in addition you get Spanish practice for free as everything is in Spanish! P.S. It does say it’s for people aged 18-30yrs old, but I am older than that and they were very happy to have me. So if you can work hard and sleep on a hard floor for 3 nights you’ll be just fine.
Maybe you would prefer to volunteer a bit more regularly, and help people in similar circumstances as yourself – yup good old travellers! There is an organisation called South American Explorers, that has just opened their new office in San Telmo, and they are looking for volunteers to man it. If you feel you could share your experience with others or simply help find out answers to questions that their members have, then email the manager Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org . The office is open 2-6pm, Monday to Friday and is at Piedras 1178, San Telmo. You can always just drop by for a chat even if you don’t want to volunteer!
Or you can also help hand out meals to homeless people on Monday and Tuesday nights, via an organisation called ‘Manos que Ayudan’. If you want to find out more then email email@example.com and spare a couple of hours for those in need. I know someone who did this last week, and he felt it was very worthwhile and as there were many Argentinian volunteers another great way to connect with locals from this city.
Things to Do – Curing Homesickness in Buenos Aires
First off, why don’t you organise your very own intercambio at your flat or at a friends place (this is like speed dating but with language; there are people invited who want to practice Spanish and others who wish to practice their English, pair people up and set a time limit of 10min in English and 10 min talking in Spanish and then the pairs swap partners). I held my very first one on Wednesday and not only did it help improve my Spanish (a huge reason why I am living here) but the English speakers also had some time to reminice about home and the things we miss and love. If this seems like a good idea but too much effort, then you can also go along to great intercambio events with Spanglish; you even get a free drink thrown in for the $AR40 entrance fee. I have met some great people at these events who I am still friends with.
For those of you who miss that European arty feel, I recently discovered a fantastic cafe in San Telmo called La Poesia, Chile 502. As soon as I sat down it was easy to imagine I was in a little cafe you might walk into in Paris or Barcelona. The atmosphere is lovely with people reading books and tapping away on laptops whilst drinking coffee or beer of course. It’s perfectly comfortable sitting on your own as well as in a group; last night I tried the food and (ok – so this isn’t very European!) I ordered a Sandwich de Milanesa with ham and tomato; but it was huge and probably enough for two people (though I still demolished it alone!) and only AR$20! They also have cheese plates and wonderful meats – now one of my favourite places!
Next up is a suggestion of how to mix with other expats; yes I know most of you want to immerse yourself in Argentinian culture and language, but for those days when you want to speak your mother tongue or simply network with some other foreigners, then how about attending a social event through www.internations.org.
Things To Do – Shopping In Buenos Aires
I adore second hand clothes as they promote re-using something before recycling and it, and it also means fashion is open to all budgets. I also adore shops that have a personal story – someone who not only thinks of the ‘dollar’ but also of promoting a culture of appreciating strange and unusual objects in life.
So here goes…
My absolute number one place in Buenos Aires (and I am proud to say that even now I find plenty of Argentinians that don’t know about it) is the ‘Juan Perez Outlet’. The main store (which of course is wonderful is Marcelo T. De Alvear 1439). But this gem is the outlet shop where all the items that don’t make it into the standard vintage shop get sold at ridiculously low prices (I bought a beautiful silky jacket for AR$5 and an embroidered white shirt for AR$15!). It is on Godoy Cruz 2749, on the corner of Sante Fe, a few doors down from MacDonalds and beware as it doesn’t look like a clothes shop; it is orange and has bars on theoutside but don’t be put off! It is a bit jumbled inside and you have to dig (literally) to find the star buys but it is well worth it and perfect for those Gringos who want to remain unique even when they are away from home and on a tight budget. There is plenty for men and women, but it only opens on Mondays and Saturdays so get there for about midday and happy hunting!
Next up is Galeria 5ta Avenida on Santa Fe 1270 – basically a ton of shops conveniently in one place. This Galeria specialises in second hand, vintage clothing as well as some new pieces. If you fancy a browse then this is perfect, as you are also on Santa Fe to get your fix of shops with new clothes. A guy friend got a gorgeous leather jacket here for AR$180 – bargain! When I arrived in Buenos Aires in August I was freezing and I was lucky enough to find a pair of decent Levi’s for AR$40. The only slight annoyance I have with this place is that shops don’t have set opening times – so I have been there when lots of them are open and other times when very few are open. In my experience it’s best to go towards the end of the week around 6-7pm for the best selection.
Next up is a unique shop with a wonderful story behind it. At first glance, Divina Bolivia on Costa Rica 4670, appears to simply be yet another trendy, arty shop in Palermo, but this week I discovered the real story as this is a family affair. The owners brother, an artist in his own right, designs cool t-shirts and other pieces for the store and his Mum designs and makes bags- amazing. The shop is a feast for the eyes (the giant photographs on the walls are worth a visit in themselves) and there is menswear, womens wear (my pick are the floral shirts including some in Liberty prints), books, homeware and even some awesome childrens clothes. It is easy to lose yourself here and the staff are friendly and very chatty. In addition the location is perfect as it is next to a pretty park and some great bars and cafes – a perfect afternoon right there! So if you fancy treating yourself or that someone special in your life, I highly recommend visiting this kooky and inspiring shop.
Next up are the Sunday markets in Parque Centarnario; I went for the first time last week with an English mate. It is a bargain hunters dream and I came away with some running trainers for AR$40 (second hand but barely used), a retro skirt for AR$15 and a pair of trousers for AR$1!!! It has a friendly vibe and is a relaxing way to spend a few hours (and pesos) on a warm afternoon. There is also great food and a pretty lake to sit around, when you have had enough of looking at the seemingly endless stalls and rugs on the floor scattered with oddments.
Things To Do – Eating Late in Buenos Aires
It is becoming increasingly common for me to eat dinner after 11pm or even midnight; for example last Monday, after finishing volunteering for the night, a friend took me to Romario in Palermo Hollywood for a well deserved pizza. Now I have tried quite a few places but this is the best I have tasted here. Beautiful stone-baked base with super delicious topping (we got the Napolitana with fresh basil). A complete treat and completely normal at 1am on a Monday and the great news is that this restaurant is a chain and has 12 to choose from across the city.
Things To Do – Dance Tango In Buenos Aires
Then on Tuesday I returned for the 3rd time to a stunning, kooky and incredibly friendly tango place – La Catedral on Sarmiento 4008. It usually costs $25 for a class and to stay and dance for the whole night in the milonga. I adore this place; they have yummy empanadas for only $3 each and the wine is very well priced. If you like your decor a little on the dark & interesting side then check this place out – there is even a giant heart hanging high above in the ceiling, but think realistic not red and Valentine’s like?! The class was fun (as always) and very sociable as you don’t need to come with a partner because the teachers ensure everyone changes who they dance with, so a perfect way to meet people. I was lucky enough to dance with some guys who were pretty good and so I got whisked round the dance floor and we didn’t leave until about 3.30am. Great value and such an experience – every week!
My first and favourite place for learning Tango is DNI tango on Bulnes 1011. I wish I had discovered it sooner but that can’t be helped; the building is old and beautiful and there are 3 floors including a cafe and shop downstairs. The classrooms have high ceilings and are filled with light and the teachers are some of the best I have ever experienced – it also has a really friendly vibe with all sorts of other activities for the students, and at $25 pesos per class you can’t go wrong. The other place is La Viruta which is a well known place in Buenos Aires. It is not beautiful and the building and dance room is quite frankly ugly, but again the classes are well organised and after your first class for $29 pesos, you can buy a book of 4 tickets for 4 classes for only $70 pesos. I went here last Friday to the milonga in the evening and it was packed – and I even had the pleasure to watch a very old couple have the dancefloor to themselves to dance a birthday ‘set’; adorable!
Things To Do – Eat Sushi in Buenos Aires?
Next up is Sushi – But I have never seen so many Sushi restaurants or take-away places in one city before, so clearly Argentinian’s love their Sushi. Therefore I wanted to find a place to try it – but instead of staying in the centre of the city I ventured out to a gorgeous neighbourhood called San Isidro. It’s close to the river and is well worth a visit on a sunny or even not so sunny afternoon. I managed to get the bus there for all of a couple of pesos, even though it took about 50min (gotta love how cheap public transport is here) and enjoyed some wonderful looking and tasting Sushi in a family run restaurant called Yoko’s Sushi Bar & China Grill on Av. Del Libertador 15431. And to top it off, with one of the best Caiprinha’s ever!
Things To Do – Searching For Good Food In Buenos Aires
Finally, on Friday night, following some Spanish practice at my friends house (learning verb endings in a very high school manner!), we were both craving Indian food. So we jumped online and found the address of what is apparently the number one rated Indian restaurant in Buenos Aires; however it later came to light that this review may have been a couple of years old…but my friend failed to mention this until we have been searching for the place for well over an hour. So by midnight, after trudging the streets and talking to lots of bemused people who knew nothing of this lusted after restaurant, with heavy hearts we gave in and instead walked into a restaurant on the corner of Puerrydon and Cordoba called Pertutti’s.
Honestly, I did not hold out any hope of a good dinner but by that point we just needed sustenance. However, I was proved completely wrong. The extras (like garlic pizza bread slices and gourmet bread basket) were delicious, and there were even random little swiss-roll things filled with scrambled egg as an appetiser. We both enjoyed some delicious pasta and all up including drinks and coffees the bill came to a respectable $130. I will definitely be returning…so don’t always judge a restaurant by its garish lighting or rather dull decor. By 1.30am we had finished and I sauntered home feeling quite surprised at how my body clock seems to now be set on Porteño time.
Things To Do – Staying Healthy in Buenos Aires
Yup – that’s right, exercise people; healthy eating and overall well-being – the perfect word in espanol would be ‘equilibrio’. So here goes for a well-rounded session of advice on how to counterbalance the hedonistic side of this city…
First off is an activity which is fantastic for your health, is free (very important to me!) and also enables you to discover the city…jogging. Okay – don’t scream at me all at one; seriously it is a perfect thing to do at about 7pm (sun is on its way out) to see all the other Porteños out and about and you could even listen to a local radio at the same time on your music iPodMP3thang to enhance that Spanish experience. A great tool to help you is now available in Buenos Aires; it’s called Map my Run – a free website and according to them the ‘worlds fastest growing online fitness community’; it allows you to literally map your run, cycle, walk etc and see how far you have ventured as well as giving you the opportunity to ‘make friends’ with other runners in the city to share routes and even partner up for a jog. Bueno no?
Here’s a suggestion from an Argentine girly friend; something a little more relaxed for the mind as well as the body. There are free yoga sessions in various open spaces across the city with Metodo de Rose .
Next up is something fun…playing Ultimate Frisbee with Couch Surfing. I have been to this once and it was a wonderful mix of Argentinian’s and foreigners. Therefore another free way to stay healthy but also a wonderful way to meet people as Couch Surfing is incredibly popular here (not just for staying on someone’s sofa!?) but as a social network, so why don’t you sign up now? P.S. In case you were wondering there are also tons of parties through this website.
For those of you who are a tad more adventurous – why not try kite surfing or windsurfing? I took enormous pleasure in returning to eat at Yoko’s Sushi Restaurant in San Isidro (I am getting addicted to this place as it is perfection every time, and it helps it’s in such a leafy suburb – all that healthy oxygen with so many trees!)… afterwards I took a relaxing walk (past some gorgeous houses that I absolutely cannot afford) to the river and ended up chatting to the super friendly owner of Peru Beach. This place is a hidden gem; my friend and I whiled away a few hours sitting by the river, drinking a cool beer (and we could have ordered some yummy snacks but we were stuffed on sushi!) whilst watching others do amazing sports..
Things To Do – Dancing – Besides Tango In Buenos Aires
I mentioned dancing and I don’t mean traditional, classic tango or even some latino inspired salsa. Nope – last night (and for the past few Sundays) I have gone to an amazing place called Club One on Alsina 940. I have checked out the webpage and it seems a bit out of date, but then they are always packed to the rafters so why bother with promotion I suppose! I don’t know about the other nights, but Sunday is ‘mas o menos’ a gay night and the vibe is friendly and fun, all set in a gorgeous 3 story high building, completely open to the roof which is a stunning piece or light arcitecture – you will know what I mean when you see it. The other up side is that unusually for BA, it is busy by 10.30pm so its possible to rage it up for a few hours and still be tucked up in bed by 2am. Last night the music was amazing and my friends and I partied hard (great exercise you know) and yet still left at 1.30am. Sunday nights here are something not to be missed but remember there’re no point turning up here at 4am as it will be closed!?
Things To Do – Bookstores in Buenos Aires
If you’re a bit put off by pumping speakers and sweaty bodies, how about something completely different – literature. This is simple recommendation but simplicity can be hard to find and is often very satisfying when done well. There is a bookshop come cafe on Thames 1762 called Boutique Del Libro. It’s on a hip street in a very cool area of Palermo Soho and it somewhere to while away the hours sipping coffee surrounded by the worlds great (and not so great) authors – very relaxing.
Things To Do – Days Trips from Buenos Aires
Finally travel – I visited Colonia last week and I am now officially part of the group that loves it. First off the 3 hour ferry ride was magical and we were even treated to an impromptu choir performance by a group travelling on the ferry. Seriously it brought tears to my eyes listening to the beautiful combination of their voices. We arrived in glorious sunshine and it was a world away from Buenos Aires. Small cobbled streets with virtually no traffic and one story buildings – adorable. We realised it was very touristy due to it almost being like a film set in the old part of town; too perfect! But actually I revelled in the fact there was no rubbish or dog poo in site and at every turn was a new and even cuter cafe to try out. The one downside is cost – I was surprised by how expensive it is to buy lunch, but my hot tip is too look out for handmade signs in the street saying ‘Tortas Fritas Aqui’. I spotted a fluorescent orange one stuck to a tree and asked the lady who was relaxing in a deckchair what this meant. She promptly said she made them in her house for only $10 Uruguayan pesos -so I ordered two not really knowing what I was going to get. We relaxed and waited a few minutes and when she returned she had two freshly cooked delicious, what can only be described as fluffy, crispy, bread, doughnut things. No grease and utter perfection. Next time I would be prepared and have bought some cheese from a shop so that I could make a yummy hot sandwich and have a very cheap lunch in a pretty plaza. If that doesn’t inspire you nothing will! We rounded off our day sitting on a stunning beach and discussing life, and then returned in only 50mins on the fast boat. Really wonderful experience.
Things To Do – Summertime In Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is wonderful, but like all big cities it can feel claustraphobic when the gas gets turned up – so last week I did something about it and escaped; like made a run to the sea and the countryside. Here’s a run down of my recommendations from my travels and other things to do to refresh yourself.
So last Monday there was a bit of umming and arhhing about whether to hit the road, and finally it was no longer ‘manana’ but ‘hoy’ and we chucked a few (too many) bags into my friends car and started driving towards Monte Hermosa. After an enoyable 7 hour drive (seriously the flat plains that you drive through are simply stunning especially with a sunset, so if you can leave Buenos Aires at about 3.30pm and you will experience the same views), we arrived in the seaside town of Monte Hermosa. Now, its not the most beautiful of places but it has charm, friendly people and a gigantic beach – miles and miles of open sand and lush water. We spent hours of fun swimming, playing beach tennis and generally running up and down from the sand dunes as though we had just been let out of a cage (the city I guess?). There are plenty of places to stay so why not pop there for a few days if you have the time and want some refreshing sea air?
Next up – Sierra de la Ventana. Incredibly you only need to drive 140km from Monte Hermosa to this town and all of a sudden you are nestled in the hills enjoying an altogether different experience. We were only there for the day and we enjoyed practicing our golf swing for only $5 pesos for 30 balls (cheap is not the word!), fishing (we purchased a fishing rod for $17 pesos and managed to catch a fish!) and some amazing jamon crudo and cheese from a great local shop. This town is adorable and there plenty of accomodation to choose from, but we didn’t actually sleep there as we started to head back to the city that night feeling suitably in holiday mode with sand and grass in every bag!
Now that i’m back in the city I want to do something here that is refreshing in a different way, and if you didn’t know already the Polo is on! So that’s my next tip – why not enjoy a chilled Fernet and Coke in the shade whilst watching horses and their skilled riders thunder past. I’ve been told numerous times that Argentina have the best players in the world so I will be heading to see a match very soon in my sundress and big sunhat of course! Matches are at weekends only in the Campo Argentino de Polo in Palermo and you can find more info by visiting www.aapolo.com
Things To Do – Buenos Aires Parks
Next up is a random but brilliant recommendation – a sandwich in the park. It literally was a large hut in the park, just off Avenida Dorrego, opposite a sports and riding centre, and for $15 pesos I had the most amazing ‘sandwich de carne’ with the most exquisite selection of salads you could ever wish for.
Things To Do – La Feria de Matederos
La Feria de Matederos has been running for over 20 years and is based much more around the gaucho culture, so there is a great emphasis on meats, cheeses and other wonderful local foods. Also the other big attraction is the music – my friend and I spent a fantastic day there and even enjoyed a parilla with the 8 other people we went with – how Argentinian!
Things To Do – Wine in Buenos Aires
And finally if you are a wine lover then I can share a secret with you about an amazing family run place called La Cava, on Jufre 201. I was taken here by some Porteño friends for a wine tasting night on a Thursday and it was such an experience, so much so we are going again this Friday. The wines were of course amazing but the real star attraction for me is the owner who is gruff gentleman who certainly speaks his mind – with everyone! I was not on the booking for the wine tasting and he made it very clear what an inconvenience it was to add one more chair to the table – but still he did it and we enjoyed a great evening (though all the explanations for the wine are in Spanish!). The other star of the night was his wife, who served people her delicious empanadas which were quickly gobbled up alongside the vino! Highly recommended- a little gem in a big city.