Monthly Archives: January 2014

What to do in Buenos Aires? Street Art BA!

BASA

If you have visited Buenos Aires or plan to do so, you will notice a lot of things like; the extreme weather either hot or cold, the amount of people in the streets, the lovely cafes, bars and restaurants, and another amazing thing you don’t find in many other cities is the street art scene. Buenos Aires has a big artistic movement in every scope. It is a city filled with emerging young artists and home of a lot of many well known artists as well. You will notice lots of walls covered with graffiti, stencils, murals and more. Some of my personal favorites are the small hidden streets like Sta Rosa and Russel around Plaza Serrano.

Pasaje 1

Now, out of all the fun and interesting things to do in Buenos Aires, what’s another fun thing to do in city? Walk around and see the street murals! This movement has become so big that lovers of the scene launched their own project and webpage named Buenos Aires Street Art . The founders were supporters of the local street art scene and it’s artists.  The whole Project started as a hobby then it became a passion. After doing research around the city, documenting and interviewing some awesome artists and the street scene, they started doing mural project commissions.  They even wrote a wonderful book about Buenos Aires Street art.

booksSABA

It can be quite crazy because in some parts of the world this type of art would be considered vandalism and even vulgar, but in Buenos Aires it has earned its name and has been an inspiration to many “hidden” artists and a huge attraction to fellow visitors.

Street Art Buenos Aires also offers tours but if you feel like you’ve spend enough money already and you just feel like taking a walk around the city, go wander around. There is wall art in almost every neighborhood! It is such a lovely activity to do and to take advantage of.

StreetArt1

Just please do keep in mind that for safety sake you shouldn’t wander just any street.  For example in the center or San Telmo if you have your camera hanging loose, always be precautious when walking around.  Stick to the safer streets like near Plaza Serrano or Armenia, all near Palermo, where there’s always people. In any given situation just  be careful.

It’s like going to the movies, only it’s free and at home and it comes with English subtitles.

Cinemargentino logo

 Argentina as a country has a very rich background in film. Since 1962 Argentina has been submitting quality films to the Academy Awards several of which have taken the prize for ‘Best Foreign Film’. However, this can prove to be quite a feat if you A) don’t speak Spanish very well or B) don’t closely follow the film festival scene. Not to worry though! Thanks to Rita Falcón and Martín Ramos Mejía you too can enjoy all there is to enjoy within the ever-growing Argentinian film culture.

Rita and Martin of Cinemargentino

This dynamic duo of film-lovers decided to put their entrepreneurial skills to the test and launch a website where people from all walks of life would be able to experience what it is that they love so much about Argentine films. After some hard work and dedication in April of last year Cinemargentino was launched. This website offers free streaming of some of Argentina’s best documentaries, comedies, independent dramas and short films. After you take a moment to appreciate the fact that this website is 100% free (maybe send them a thank you email because how totally great is that?) allow me to put the cherry on top. Not only is it free but they also come complete with English subtitles! I’ll give you another moment to relish that little goody. Once more, in summation: great free streaming Argentine films with English subtitles. As of right now Cinemargentino features 72 different films but Rita and Martin have high hopes of reaching as many as 100 in this next year.

cinemargentino

This extensive project began when they two realized how difficult it was for the general population to keep current on new films coming out of Argentina. Specifically concerning independent films, unless you’re on the pulse with film festivals or are a regular movie goer your window of opportunity to see them can be small. Besides this, after they’re gone it can be hard to track these down on DVD. Furthermore, as one might expect, the independent film festivals are typically a more exclusive event. Even if you manage to procure some tickets it’s essentially impossible to see all the films that are screened at a film festival. There just isn’t enough time in the day. Additionally, with the high number of film schools in Argentina, more and more films are being produced each year.

Cinemargentino is a non-profit startup. Yes, you read correctly. There is no money in it for either Martín or Rita. They believe this makes it easier for them to build their collection of films. Directors seem much more open to sharing their work for free with people who do it for the love of the movies. You can also catch revised versions of some of the films with director’s cuts and enhanced definition editions.

With big plans for their future Rita and Martín are hoping to spread their love of Argentina’s movie scene with the world. If you find yourself with a free evening or are stuck inside on one of those rainy day’s in Buenos Aires check out Cinemargentino.  

My Organic Opinion

Argentina is known for its sultry tango, it’s rich malbecs and it’s melt-in-your-mouth grass-fed beef.   Every tourist knows they cannot come to this country without gorging on a delectable steak.  Unfortunately, most people are not aware of the disheartening transformation of the Argentine agricultural industry since the arrival of the US biotechnology corporation Monsanto in the late 1990’s.   If you have never heard of Monsanto, think Pinky and the Brain.  They plan to take over the world, starting with our food…

farming-before-and-after-monsanto-any-questions

But this is no news for any of us.  The agricultural industry is pretty messed up everywhere. The most important thing is for us to figure out how to feed ourselves in the the least harmful way possible.  I personally, have gone for the organic route, and thankfully there are  many others in Buenos Aires with the same idea.

I started ordering organic fruit and vegetables to my home once a week from De la Huerta a su Mesa (from the garden to your table). My fridge looks like a tiny little garden with leaves sticking out and a wonderful smell of fresh parsley explodes every time I open it.   No need for air fresheners!

You can also check out some of these organic markets around the city:

  1. El Galpon in Chacarita, a few blocks from the Subt B stop Federico Lacroze.
  2. Mercado de Economia Solidaria Bonpland on Bonpland street in Palermo Hollywood.
  3. Sabe La Tierra, located at the San Fernando Train Station on the Tren de la Costa.

I recommend the Bonpland Market for its convenience, and the fact that you can take your recycling there. But the Galpon and Sabe La Tierra are other great markets to check out for a fun trip on a Saturday.

I also recently started buying natural and vegan face creams from Nai Ellen Naturals. With a mix of sweet orange, ylang ylang and avocado and grapeseed oils it leaves my skin feeling fresh and smelling delicious! Plus I’m not questioning what I’m rubbing all over my face every night.

So there you go friends, my organic opinion.  Take care of you body, like they say- you are what you eat!

Free Things to Do in Buenos Aires: Part 1

Buenos Aires Cityscape

With more than 200 years of history, triumph and struggle Argentina and Buenos Aires specifically has cultivated a society thick with vibrant art, graceful tango and definitely some sass. This can be seen from just about any part of the city to which you venture. While there are countless things to do in Buenos Aires such as wine tasting or eating a delicious steak dinner most of these activities require that you pay. While it’s not like they ask an absorbent amount who can deny that free just feels better.

Get to Know the Museums and Cultural Centers

Number one on my list would be to check out museums and cultural centers. Buenos Aires, like many metropolitan cities offers a free day for most of its popular museums. This is a good way for you to experience not just interesting pieces of art or history but also bring you closer to portenio culture. Some of my recommended museums include: bamusuems-Malba

Explore the Politics of Downtown

Another popular topic here in Buenos Aires is politics. While for many of us it’s considered a taboo subject Argentinians tend to be very open about their feelings for the government. If this is something that interests you there are some must-see buildings located downtown. Casa Rosada, translated as Pink House, is where the President works. There is a museum inside and they offer free tours on the weekends. You might also want to pay a visit to the National Congress Building which gives free English tours Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 4:00pm.

mothers from plaza de mayo  Casa-Rosada

Also worth checking out are the Madres de Plaza de Mayo (Mothers of May Plaza) on Thursdays at 3:00pm. During the 1970’s Argentina was under a period of military dictatorship. Around 30,000 people went missing most of whom were sent to torture camps and then killed. These women, mothers of people who went missing, circle the plaza on a week in order to represent the love for their children and their desire for answers.

Street Art

street art

Street art, specifically graffiti has really taken off in Buenos Aires. If you’re really interested in this sort of thing they offer walking tours but it can be just as fun and much more cost effective to wander the neighborhoods on your own personal graffiti tour. My top two recommended neighborhoods for exploring graffiti art would be in San Telmo and Palermo. Here you’ll find lots of different styles and pieces from various artist.

Plazas and Parks are Always Free! 

Plaza Independiente

Also noteworthy in Buenos Aires are the stunning parks and squares throughout the city. It seems like you can’t go more than 6 blocks without running into a plaza or an outdoor area for sitting. You could easily spend days exploring these although be sure to get there early because on nice days they fill up quick. Some of my favorites include Plaza Francia, Plaza Armenia (on the weekends a drum circle comes to perform), Plaza San Martin and Barrancas. Palermo Woods is also a lovely outdoor space and the lake along with the rose garden and the outdoor sculptures make for a relaxing afternoon hangout spot.

Buenos Aires, meet Buena Cerveza

Being from Austin, Texas, the upcoming heart of the hipsterworld, I have certain expectations about life.  Some of these include; being able to order an iced coffee  in any coffee shop, bikers having rights and well-kept bike lanes, and  when I walk into a bar I expect to see something like this:

beerpic1

To see so many options for beer, however, is a rarity in Buenos Aires, and it’s something that I find myself struggling with constantly (or at least every weekend).  Everyone knows that Buenos Aires is the Mecca for wine-lovers, but why do beer-lovers have to suffer so much? How can a country be so trendy in regards to wine making and yet so lacking when it comes to making a good beer?? Quilmes, the Budweiser of Argentina, just doesn’t hit the spot! Despite their pretty brilliant commercials:

But luckily for all you beer-lovers out there, times they are a-changin!  I have not gone to extreme measures to search out these artisanal delicacies, but in my two years stint here in BA I’ve come across some great finds.  First to mention is Antares: http://www.cervezaantares.com/ This home brewery offers an EXCELLENT India Pale Ale, along with others such as a Kolsch, Scotch, Imperial Stout, Porter, Cream Stout, and another one of my favorites- Honey.  They have locations all over the country, and three in Buenos Aires.  The last one they just recently opened near my house in San Telmo! Drinking great beer is much more fun when I don’t have to worry about which bus to take home after…

Another incredible find was the Craft Beer Night at the Nola Chef Closed Door Dinner (http://nolachef.net/craft-beer-night-with-broeders-artesanal/). I not only ate some finger lickin’ good southern comfort food but I tried three different pints of Broeders Beer.  Broeders Artesanal (http://broedersartesanal.com/) was started by two brothers who began experimenting with malt, hops and yeast in their mothers kitchen and have grown to the point where they now produce 320 liters of beer monthly.  The brothers were at the beer night explaining how each beer was hand crafted to its delicious taste:

broeders

One last recommendation that I can personally vouch for is the artisanal beer at the Burger Joint: https://www.facebook.com/BurgerJointPalermo.  The burgers are TO DIE FOR, and the beer is a perfect accompaniment.  Try any of their burgers and fries with the curry ketchup and a cerveza roja (red beer) and you will be walking a fine line between pure bliss and foodatose.  I know because I’ve been on that fine line *many* times since they opened.

Well there you go fellow beer lovers- get out there and spice up your drinking experience! If you have any recommendations please please leave a comment, I’ve only just begun this beer search and I’d love to hear more suggestions!

A Hitchhikers Guide to Fitting In in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires Obalisco

Guidebooks like Lonely Planet and Frodor have extensively detailed to best places to eat and neighborhoods to visit and all this information might be true BUT there are some things that no matter how many guidebooks you read, you will not discover unless you A.) know an Argentine or B.) have been here before.

Anyone who knows anything about Buenos Aires can tell you that one thing all portenios are really good at is spotting a foreigner. Sure you studied Spanish all through college and sure during your semester abroad in Costa Rica they lovingly called you a gringo but didn’t mean it like that. Not here my friends, when you get  ‘de dónde sos vos’ (where are you from) you’re busted. While this isn’t the worst question you can be asked it certainly doesn’t feel great to be singled out and categorized for something as trivial as where you come from.  I can roll my R’s see!!!!!! 

Finding yourself in a new country is a big adjustment and adapting successfully to a new culture is a feat for sure. Fortunately for you I’m here to help. While I don’t condone stereotyping and or unfair generalizations of people I’m going to go ahead and make them anyway because with the following list they’re basically completely true. **This of course does not apply to all Argentinians**

therapy_closeup

Lesson 1: Buenos Aires, the world capital of psycho-therapy

Portenios are quite keen to therapy. Their free healthcare allows a certain amount of visits but anyone who’s anyone has a private therapist.  You know, one of the good doctors. Are you feeling some repressed emotions that are somehow linked to your mother’s treatment of you as a child? Perfect! Take a number and get in line.

People Kissing in Buenos Aires

Lesson 2: PDA? Ay-Okay!

Couples ranging in age from 15-75 can be seen making out on park benches or participating in some seriously heavy petting. It’s possible that this is due to their famously good looks or just that fact that they have nothing else to do in the plaza but either way you’re going to see levels of intimacy you’ve never experienced before in the comfort of your own abode. Argentina is home to some very passionate people, after all they are the originators of Tango, the dance of love and passion.

Argentina Pastries

Lesson 3: There’s a reason Argentina has so many dentists

While steak and cheese dominate the dinner scene there is no shortage of sweets in an Argentine’s diet. As you’ll find with most coffees you order for breakfast, they’re accompanied with small galletitas (cookies) and a packet of sugar that seems overly large for the cafe corto (small coffee) that you ordered. As for lunch, you’re left to your own devices, maybe a milanesa sandwich or a choripan. Time for merienda, literally translated to snack. What’s for merienda you ask? Coffee and pastries made with butter, sugar and either fruit jam, chocolate or dulce de leche which is sugar and sweetened condensed milk mixed together and heated up. Even after dinner, when you’ve heard everyone mention how they couldn’t eat another bite, when the dessert menu comes out you’re gonna need to order something.

Spiral Clock

Lesson 4: Late is great

Buenos Aires is a city built around nightlife. If you’re a fan of getting up at the crack of dawn expect that only you, the bakers and maybe the stragglers returning home from their fun night out are going to be up an movin’ . Everything happens late meaning don’t expect to eat dinner until 11pm and if you make plans to meet at 11 if you show up before 12am you’re going to be early.

Platform Shoes

And finally, as an optional bonus if you’re looking to go the extra mile, buy yourself some flamboyantly colored platform shoes, preferably suede and possibly patterned. In following these few simple suggestions you two can walk the walk and talk the talk like a true portenio.

Vegetarians in Buenos Aires

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Buenos Aires, the city of love, of lovely springs, of Jacaranda trees, of fine wines, and ofcourse, excellent meat… Out of all the places in the world a vegetarian ends up in this carnivorous city.

If you are a vegetarian and have lived, visited or plan to go to Buenos Aires, you might know that it is not quite the vegetarian paradise. Argentina is Known for having great meats and sometimes can be quite difficult to find your place if you are a vegetarian. Lucky for you, nowadays the meat-free population is becoming more and more trendy in the city of Buenos Aires. From vegan to raw-vegan restaurants, natural cafes and delis are beginning to take its toll in the city. You might ask yourself, where can I got to eat a good vegetarian meal? Here are some options, all in different barrios of the city. One fairly popular is Bio, located in the hip neighborhood of Palermo Hollywood, where all of their food is organic and offer choices like smoothies and healthy gourmet dishes. Another good choice of restaurant located in this neighborhood is Buenos Aires Verde where you can eat a nice healthy breakfast or a pleasant meal.

Bio

In other parts of the city like in Colegiales, located in between Belgrano and Palermo, there is a delightful restaurant called Kensho where Maximo Cabrera, the same owner of Bio restaurant shares his vegetarian Buddhist knowledge and offers what he calls “wake-up food”. This restaurant has really great reviews on the food and is known for its unique environment.

In a further neighborhood like San Telmo, which is more likely to find fewer options of vegetarian places, there is a good Cafe-Restaurant called Naturaleza Sabia, located in an old vintage like house, where they offer simple balanced meals and creative combinations. From veggie pastas to lentil hamburgers, chop sue and so forth.

Smoothies

Are you a vegetarian but your boyfriend/girlfriend/friends are not? Wanna both have an enjoyable meal? No problem! Most of the restaurants and delis offer a variety of good healthy green plates for us vegetarians. Places like, and one of my personal favorites, b-Blue Deli. This place has some delicious and quite big choices of natural foods, like big energetic yummy smoothies (like on the picture above) salads, vegetable tartas to teryaki plates and more. And don’t forget to ask what is the menu of the day or ‘el menu del dia’.

veggies

Planning to stay in and wanna cook a nice vegetarian meal in Buenos Aires? Don’t be afraid to buy some vegetables in a recommended vegetable store, or verduleria (you might find some surprisingly good quality economic ones!) to fill your fridge with fruit and veggies. Buenos Aires is also full of natural and organic shops called Dieteticas, mostly located in the main streets. Or if you don’t feel like looking around much, head to el Barrio Chino, located in Belgrano, there you can find a whole lot of options like all different types of seeds, like quinoa, lentils, spices, all kinds of nuts, cookies, and all of this for a relatively good price.