Monthly Archives: March 2014

Rooftop Bars in Buenos Aires

 

I don’t know about you but I’m a huge fan of rooftops. I like rooftop sunning, rooftop dining, rooftop chillaxin’ and definitely rooftop drinking. Having been born and raised in a big city rooftops have played a huge role in defining my weeknight and weekend activities. Good friends, good food, good atmosphere and great drinks can really boost a rooftop experience from fun to fantastic. The following list is a little something I’ve put together to help you enjoy the beautiful rooftop experiences littered throughout the city of Buenos Aires. As fall is well on it’s way I suggest you get your butt’s in gear and head out to enjoy these final days of beautiful outside, warm breezy weather.

 Sky Bar

Sky Bar:

Located at the city center, Sky Bar is situated on the 13th floor of a newly completed Hotel Pulitzer. Their rooftop terrace has turned into quite the central hub for those looking to relax after a long day of work. This could be due to several reasons, for starters, the views are spectacular. While there are many lovely rooftop hangouts throughout the city none have quite as splendid a view as Sky Bar. The atmosphere itself is simple but warm. The wooden décor beautifully highlights the natural feel from the surrounding plants and trees. Besides this the drink menu if nothing if not expansive. There signature drink is the ‘Pulitzer Caiparinha’ but if you’re not a rum fan, not to worry, the choices are plentiful. Thursday night it’s quite the hotspot for a local ‘after office’ where local DJ’s come out to help get the party started.

Caracas Bar

Caracas:

A little taste of Venezuela right in the heart of Palermo Soho, the rooftop at Caracas is the place to be on a Saturday after 2 am. It’s got a backyard vibe with upbeat criollo culture that you just can’t beat. While their downstairs dining area and bar are both modern and hip, up the stairs and behind the red curtain is where it’s at. The outdoor oasis is a comfortable place to go hang out with friends, get your venezuelan rum on and max out on some arepas. Bench seating with squishy cushions line the outer wall and in true hipster fashion stacked palates are used a tables (which from time to time I’ve seen transformed into dance stages because the avant-garde underground music gets your body movin’). As far as drinks are concerned there list of tragos is extensive and very Caribbean ranging from Strawberry Daquiris to Manhattans. Also they have probably the best rum selection in all of Buenos Aires.

Le Bar

Le Bar:

For a successful rooftop anything atmosphere is key. Atmosphere ranges from seating to crowds, to music, to well anything in the surrounding area. At Le Bar they’ve got all of this on a top level scale. It’s sleek and modern while still being classic but edgy. Sounds like a strange combo I know but trust me, it’s awesome. On their rooftop terrace you can sink back into beanbag chairs (how 70’s, I know!) OR if you’re like me and you’re a people watcher you can casually spy on the people below through the skylight in the floor. Besides their awesome rooftop Le Bar is widely commended for their selection of music. The schedule itself changes frequently and they’ve got something to offer for just about every kind of music lover out there.

Jah Bar

Jah Bar:

If my Argentinian friends knew I was posting about this place to the public they’d kill me. Jah Bar, one of my favorites for any given night of the week is an excellent option if you’re looking to chill out with friends. Their rooftop terrace is covered so, rain or shine you can enjoy a little bit of outside time. The music from about 9 until 11 is more relax but after 11 it picks up and the DJ’s start spinning serious tunes. They’ve created small seating areas with couches and stools so you can squeeze and many friends around a table as you’d like. As far as drink go, the caipiroska is my favorite here. My only bit of advice would be to head over early if it’s a Friday or a Saturday because it can get quite crowded on the weekends.

 

Music Festivals in Buenos Aires

Does anyone know what is happening next week?! Besides the feriado on Wednesday for Malvina’s Day?

Lollapalooza is coming to Argentina for the first time ever!!! If you haven’t heard about this 2 day festival of not stop fun- or seen all the billboards all around the city- you should probably get online right now and buy some tickets.

lollapalooza

To be honest, at first I was debating about whether to go or not, but since I’ve missed my hometown’s Austin City Limits festival for the past 4 years I thought I deserved a little live music in the fresh outdoors.  Plus, I bought them a few months ago when the early bird tickets came out, and I figured it would be something fun to look forward to.  Unfortunately I just assumed that It would be taking place on a weekend and was a bit shocked when I discovered that it was going to be on a Tuesday and Wednesday. Nonetheless I’m excited to experience a music festival Argentina style, especially since Argentines are considered the best fans in the world… (for music or soccer).  And I’ve already noticed that the concerts will be a lot later than what I’m used to.  In Austin every outdoor music festival is over by 10 pm due to park curfews, here in Buenos Aires that’s not an issue!

So, if you haven’t already looked online, you must be curious! Who is coming to Lollapalooza this year? Here’s a short list of some of the concerts you will be able to find me at:

  • Arcade Fire
  • Phoenix
  • Imagine Dragons
  • Vampire Weekend
  • Ellie Goulding
  • Juana Molina
  • Lorde

And the one I’m most excited about….Red Hot Chili Peppers!

Then I will definitely be attending some of the shows by the Buenos Aires Locals, such as Onda Vaga and La Bomba del Tiempo. Both of which are found frequently at the Konex Center.  Which, if you have never been to, you must go.

konex

Coming from the Live Music Capital of the World, one of the things I love most about Buenos Aires is how easy it is to find live music.  You can bet that there is something going on almost every night of the week, and if you need any help finding out where to go, I recommend starting here.

Take advantage of all that this city has to offer! It is quite a marvelous thing.  And maybe I’ll see you next week at the Hipodromo de San Isidro!

Apartment Hunting in Buenos Aires

apartment in BA

                 Apartment hunting in general is a huge pain in the butt.  It somehow always seems to consume and exhaust all efforts and financial obligations.  Apartment hunting in Buenos Aires might just be the worst.  Renting long-term, meaning more than 3 months, can be a huge challenge for both residents and foreigners alike.  Specifically in the case of foreigners the cheaper prices that a local would pay with a ‘garantia’ (basically a cosigner with some sort of collateral) isn’t available to people outside of the country.  This means that we’re stuck looking for furnished apartments which are usually rented as vacation apartments which automatically makes them much more expensive and on top of this the price is commonly charged in dollars.

Poetry Building Recoleta Buenos Aires Apartments Rentals

            Just for the sake of explanation, a garantia is someone who already owns property in Buenos Aires that puts themselves on the line should you completely trash your place or default on your rental payments.  On top of this, when you sign a lease with a garantia the contract on average lasts for about 2-3 years as opposed to 6 months or one year.  While this can be tricky to get around, just as with most things in Argentina, you can sometimes negotiate your way to a better deal.  Unfortunately with this way of doing things it tends to involve forking over a huge lump sum of money upfront.  The trick is to not give in to anything you don’t feel comfortable with and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.  What you have to keep in mind is that you’re both going to come out on top of this situation because they want a tenant and you want an apartment.

studio in BA

            But where to look for an apartment?  That’s a completely different story and there’s really no right or wrong answer.  If you speak enough Spanish to get by a good place to start your search would be in the rentals section of the newspaper Clarín’s website; as far as getting a good deal goes, this one will probably be your best bet.  What’s nice about this is that you can filter by location, number of rooms, or price.  Other places to look for apartments would be Craigslist Buenos Aires and CompartoDepto.  With Craigslist you might expect to do some haggling because typically the prices are listed in dollars and if you’re working on the peso that’s obviously not a great deal for you.  Other websites you can try are www.BuscaInmuebles.com and www.ArgenProp.com.ar .  These two are similar in style and you can filter what you’re looking for but keep in mind that they’re going to charge you not just a deposit on the apartment and possibly the last months rent as well but also they’re going to charge you a commission for their services.

Some other useful tips include finding a local to help you navigate the waters.  This gives you a bit of an upper hand in the sense that the landlord is less likely to overcharge and what have you.  Another useful tip that I kind of touched upon before is looking for an apartment that is rented ‘dueño directo’ which means that the owner is renting it as opposed to an ‘imobiliaria’ a.k.a. a realtor.

Best of luck to anyone undertaking this project.  I myself am in the middle of it right now and it’s a hassle for sure.  If you have any question, comments or helpful tips feel free to let us know below!

Texas BBQ vs. Argentine Asado

texaspride

The smell of meat on the grill always brings back memories of those hot summer days growing up in Texas, walking around barefoot and wearing bathing suits all day long. It didn’t matter that we never had a pool, the hose was enough to cool us off as we drank lemonade and ate our chopped beef sandwiches.  It’s interesting how smell has such an ability to bring back memories, and yet how they can also start to transform over the years. Since being introduced to the Argentine Asado when I moved here almost 3 years ago, the smell of grilled meat that used to invoke these summer memories has started to remind me of all the Sundays spent on rooftop terraces in Buenos Aires sitting around a big table talking for hours with stuffing my face with meat.

Since I am so acquainted with these two very different styles of grilling, eating and sharing meat, I’ve decided to outline some of the key differences here.

To start, what are their respective tools of the trade?

Texas Grill

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Argentine Parrilla

parilla

Which types of meat are to be found?

Texas:

  • Brisket
  • Pork Ribs
  • Turkey
  • Sausage

ribs

Argentina:

  • Bife de Lomo (Tenderloin)
  • Entraña (Skirt Steak)
  • Asado de Tira (Short Ribs)
  • Vacio (Flank Steak)
  • Bife de Chorizo (Sirloin)
  • Choripan (Sausage with bread)
  • Plus numerous other parts of the cow like kidney, intestines, blood sausage…

parillada

What else is on the table?

Texas:

  • Coleslaw
  • Potato salad
  • Baked beans
  • Corn on the cob
  • Some good ole’ plain white bread

shiner

(with pecan pie and a shiner bock, you can’t get much more Texan than that!)

Argentina:

  • Tomato, lettuce and onion salad
  • Potato and egg salad
  • Grilled Veggies (onions, potatoes, eggplant)
  • Bread (for the chori!)

choripan

And as for the special sauce??

Texas:

BBQ SAUCE! (of course)

bbqsauce

Argentina:

Chimichurri (mix of parsley, garlic, olive oil and oregano) with a whole lotta salt.

chimichurri

How Buenos Aires.

Downtown Buenos Aires

 After living in Buenos Aires for a while there are things that you become desensitized to. Just as in any city Buenos Aires has its quirks. Some of them are laughable, some of them are bothersome and some of them you can’t classify without using foul language but they all come together to make up this eccentric city that I love so much. It’s actually quite funny to think about all the things on the list because they’re things that prompt most Argentinians that I know to ask me why on earth I moved here to begin with.

**none of these are meant to be offensive in any way, they’re just cultural differences that I’ve picked up on since moving here

Let’s start with what is probably my favorite category, food and drink. Yes, sorry, some of these are overly obvious but they still count as a cultural difference.

Buenos Aires at night

Mate is preferred over coffee as an morning, afternoon or evening pick-me-up. It’s a steeped tea that’s made with yerba and it’s meant to be be shared with whoever you’re around. For those of you with excellent manners watch what you say because a habitual ‘thank you’ after you’ve been passed the mate means that you’re done and don’t want anymore.

-Meat, it’s what’s for lunch and dinner- every day. It’s practically impossible to walk more than two blocks without finding a parrilla or a traditional ‘steakhouse’. Besides this, they eat every single part of the cow. Yes, yes it might seem at little out there but trust me, it grows on you.

Buenos Aires Streets at night

-Just like in Europe they don’t eat until much later. If dinner is scheduled for 9 you’re going to start eating at 10 and on top of that you’re not going to finish until well after midnight. Prepare yourself.

Fernet and Coke really isn’t all that delicious on your first encounter. Fernet, an Italian aperitif, is an extremely bitter liquor commonly consumed at previas (pregames), boliches (clubs) or asados (cookouts). While now I don’t think twice when someone offers me a Fernet and Coke, to begin with it was a little shocking to taste (ok I’m lying if I say it was only a little shocking because well to be perfectly honest, it was down right disgusting).

-Cheap wine here is actually delicious!

-Everyone here drinks Coke and at alarming rates no less; like insanely unhealthy amounts of it. The best way for you to really experience this is to go to the grocery store and check out the 30 liters of coke or pop that they’ll buy in one go.

-Grocery shopping on Sunday nights and Thursdays is a complete nightmare. Expect to spend, I kid you not, an HOUR waiting in line at the checkout.

Now onto the more city-centered aspects of living in Buenos Aires.

-If you’re crossing the street, look both ways, look both ways after that and then with utmost caution hesitantly step out into the crosswalk. I’ve been almost killed numerous times and even though I had the right of way it was still my fault according to the drivers.

-If you have a backpack wear it on your front. Yep, it’s almost trendy here. True the actual purpose of this is in order to prevent your personal property from being stolen but it also just makes you look more like a local if you do it.

-Almost everyone has a story about a friend being robbed. Harsh reality but it happens. Be smart about where you walk and pay attention to your surrounding.

-If you’re taking a taxi and you’re a foreigner, it’s not unlikely that the cabbie will take the ‘scenic route’. I’ve lived here long enough to know my way around and even though my Spanish is quite on point they still think they can take me for a ride. More than once I’ve had to set a cabbie straight but politely asking him why he’s taking the long way ’round.

-As far as I know there aren’t actually any rules of the road down here. Yellow almost always means speed up and red is typically looked upon as more of a suggestion then a command. Also, traffic lanes, what are those? This goes for motorcycles, buses, cars and bikes.A Line Train Subte

-Someone is always trying to sell you something. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked if I want my tarot cards read. It’s particularly noticeable on the subway lines where people will walk up and down the car and actually place items on your lap so you can examine up close what they’re selling. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do anything but let it sit there and they’ll come and collect it in a matter of minutes.

-No, not all people in Argentina speak Spanish like the porteños do. Basically anywhere outside of the city is easier to understand than the language they use here in Capital (Buenos Aires).

Couples Tango Dancing

-It’s totally fine to mac on your significant other if you just so feel the urge. Guaranteed you’re not going to be the only one in the vicinity doing so.

-Sidewalks in Buenos Aires are the worst. It would, as far as I’m concerned, be better if they didn’t even have them. They’re very uneven and half of the time they’re broken up and rocky. Also, beware of sidewalk cleaning day. This is when people take to the streets with buckets and brooms and wash the sidewalks. What this means for you as a pedestrian is potentially soaking wet shoes.

-Political correctness isn’t really a thing here. The whole in the wall grocery stores, usually run by Asian people, are called ‘chinos’ just as an example.

-Speaking of stores, don’t ever expect to pay for something that only costs 20 pesos with a 100 peso bill. Argentines are very fond of their change. It’s precious to them and it’s your responsibility to have the proper amount of change when you buy something.  They will actually refuse to sell you something if you can’t pay them with the correct amount of change.

The Wild Wild Patagonian South

Recently at Reserve, we’ve been talking a lot about getting away from the craziness of the city a relaxing in the more tranquila parts of Zona Norte or in Mendoza.  I’m about to talk about a place a little bit farther, and much more remote.  So remote you can go days without seeing a sole. You got it- Patagonia.  My adventure to Patagonia took place 2 years ago, in January of 2012.  With four other friends we rented a car in Buenos Aires and drove all the way down to El Calafate and back in about 20 days.  Just to clarify, this car was no van.  So, 20 days in a cramped car was a bit extreme, but in the end it was the best possible way to travel through the south.  We had to deal with unfortunate car problems, but we weren’t constrained by bus times and other people’s schedules.  We were able to go wherever we wanted and stop whenever we wanted- to take photos, stretch our legs, or take a dip in any of the enticing lakes we came across along the way.

After a flat tire and many wrong turns, we finally made it out of the Province of Buenos Aires and drove through the night to our first stop: San Martin de Los Andes. This town was amazing.  I actually preferred it to Bariloche, the more famous city in Argentina’s Lake District.  San Martin de Los Andes is much smaller, lazier and reminded me of some town in Colorado, surrounded by mountains and pine trees.

sanmartin00

After San Martin de Los Andes we made our way through the stunning 7 lakes drive to Bariloche, then on to Esquel, El Bolson.  The stretch between El Bolson and El Chalten was completely deserted, gravel road, and the only signs of life were the occasional hare or group of wild horses. 

horses

Key travel tip here: if you travel in the high season (January-February) make sure to book a hostel in advance.  I remember reading this in Lonely Planet, about 6 hours outside of El Chalten, on New Years Eve, and any hopes of having phone service to make a reservation was out of the question.  We ended up finding a place to stay: 

el chalten2 

(here!) but it took a long time, and made our New Years quite an unforgettable one.  The first day we did the Cerro Torre hike and the second day we hiked up to Mt. Fitz Roy.  El Chalten is stunning.

el chalten

After El Chalten we left our car and booked bus tickets to Puerto Natales in Chile, and made our way over to Torres del Paine.  We arrived just days after the devastating fire that burned a lot of the park, and unfortunately not much was open. We were able to do a great hike and though it was tough, the view at the end made me forget all about the pain!

torres

From Torres del Paine we came back to the Argentine side and made our way to El Calafate to visit the majestic Perrito Moreno Glacier.  The sounds of the glacier breaking and colors of the blue ice were unbelievable!

perrito

After El Calafate, our voyage led us back up north along the coast, crossing Peninsula Valdez with all its penguins and sea lions.  This is a great place to see whales, however we were a bit too early in the year for them.

penguins

So! If you find yourself spending too much time in Buenos Aires, take a break! There are more amazing parts of this country to explore.  And Patagonia is a great place to start.

Zona Norte: The Calmer Side of Buenos Aires

Zona Norte1

Buenos Aires is a very big city. Each neighborhood is very different from one another. What they do have in common is that almost all Capital Federal is surrounded by big buildings, and in some neighborhoods they’re more than others. There are also some areas, that by law, they are not permitted to build buildings more than four stories high.

Zona Norte

In this blog I will talk about the lovely neighborhoods in Zona Norte de Gran Buenos Aires (north side of Buenos Aires) province of Buenos Aires. Around here you will see beautiful houses, another side of Rio de la Plata, yachts clubs, large green parks, smaller buildings, most of them unique and beautifully built. In each paragraph I will be you some information about the neighborhoods and how to get there from Capital Federal.

One of the most known places in Zona Norte is Tigre, located on the northeast side of the south coast of Rio de la Plata. It is one of the most go to places on the weekend. Tigre

Here you can visit Puerto de Frutos where minor locals sale all types of decor for home, gardening and personal use. You can take long walks next to the sea and even boat rides. To get here you can take the coast train or the 60 bus from pretty much anywhere. Make sure it says “A Tigre” in the front. 

Peru Beach

Another lovely place in Zona Norte (and personally my favorite in Buenos Aires) is San Isidro. To me this area is like a latino California. This neighborhood started as a little town and originally the main provider of bread, fruits and wood for the city of Buenos Aires, basically the fountain to income of the citizens. Eventually people from the city were so attracted by San Isidro’s’ beauty and moved to big houses and started transforming land into country houses. If you ever go visit in a sunny day, try going the San Isidro Cathedral and to Peru Beach, where they have some awesome activities like kitesurf, kayak, and they also provide an outdoor space to just chill out drink and eat.

 Kayac Peru

Another place to visit is Vicente Lopez, located on the northern of San Isidro. Vicente Lopez has always been a residential zone but has a variety of places to visit like; Puerto de Olivos Puerto de Olivos where the fishing Club is, el Nautico and the Yacht Club Olivos. Take a walk and around this area you will find some lovely and peaceful places to have a meal with a view of the city. paseo de la costa El Paseo de la Costa is quite new, inaugurated in the year 2000 is a big green space, where people go, exercice, ride their bikes, skateboards, you name it. On the weekends there is also a Craft Fair. And last but not least is the Quinta Presidencial, which is the residence of the president of Argentina, located almost in front of the Puerto de Olivos, it is a nice place to visit, although you cannot see the house from inside, it is very big and very impressive to be able to stand in the front door of the house. To get in any of the mentioned places in Vicente Lopez you can take the coast train and get off in the Olivos stop. The 168 bus also leaves you in front of the Quinta Presidencial.