April 27, 2015

Things to do in Buenos Aires: Neighborhood of La Boca

0 Comments


Immigrants - Painting by Romulo Macció
La Boca is the oldest, most colorful, and most authentic neighborhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca is mostly a working-class neighborhood and it is known throughout the world as the home of Boca Juniors, one of South America’s top football clubs.

Mass settlement in La Boca began in 1840, with an influx of immigrants from Genoa, Italy. Coming from a port city, it was natural for the Genoese to settle along the Buenos Aires waterfront. The new arrivals constructed tenements made of scrap metal and painted the shacks with bright leftover paint to liven up the one-time wasteland. The Genoese proudly brought their unique identity to La Boca, and one of their old traditions was to paint the outside of their homes with the leftover paint from the shipyard – as nothing else was available or could be afforded. Here are the main attractions:


La Usina del Arte

Symphony Concert Hall - La Usina del Arte
From factory to symphony

Dubbed “the new home of culture” by Mayor Mauricio Macri’s administration, the Usina del Arte, an abandoned red brick electric factory near the Riacheulo, has been scrubbed up and turned over to the arts.

And culture fans have plenty to be excited about: boasting Buenos Aires’ first symphony concert hall, music, art, dance and theatre are just some of the plans on the agenda for the centre, which will also be home to the Buenos Aires’ Philharmonic and National Symphony Orchestras.

The complex is just between Puerto Madero and La Boca district. So it is possible that this space will work as a cultural corridor between the two and it will enhance the neighborhood.

The complex, designed by Juan Chiogna, was built between 1914 and 1916 by Martignone e Hijos and continued to produce electricity until the early-1990s. This was when Carlos Menem’s administration privatised utilities, and after its doors closed, the building was abandoned. From outside, the building is quite spectacular, standing out from its run-down surroundings. From the clock tower where the bell would be rung to call electricity workers in for their shifts, to the Romeo and Juliet-like balconies where orders would be called to workers in the front courtyard, each and every historical detail has been preserved.

Inside the grand, luminous entrance hall, many original parts of the building were also restored, such as the iron-cast staircases that wrap round the side areas of the structure as well as some of the old tiled flooring on the ground floor.

The Usina del Arte is currently not open on a daily basis to the public. However, from now until December, free guided tours are carried out on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, highly recommendable for those who have yet to visit the building. It will also be open for specific performances until the end of the year.

The Usina is open at specific times for concerts, for details check the CityGovernment’s culture website.*

The Museo del Cine, created in 1971, is now located in the building adjacent to the Usina on Caffarena 49. It is open from Monday to Friday 11am-6pm and on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays from 10am-7pm.
 
 
 

El Obrero
Just across from La Usina del Arte, there is an old traditional restaurant where you can eat like a real “porteño”. You shouldn’t look for refined or exotic dishes but for plentiful and simple dishes of the porteño cuisine. This bar opened in 1954, used to feed workers who worked at shipyards and garages near it. Visit El Obrero for an authentic and memorable lunch. It is really worth it. Address: Agustín R. Caffarena 64.
 
La Boca Soccer Stadium
 
Visit the Legendary Boca Soccer Stadium and its Museum.

Boca Juniors is one of the biggest soccer teams in Argentina and happens to be one of the clubs that the soccer great Diego Maradona played for. Club Atlético Boca Juniors was founded in 1905, and has been known as the club for the working class. Their official nickname is Los Xeneizes (The Geonese after the Geonese Italians that founded the club).

Their stadium, La Bombonera, is not so surprisingly located in the La Boca barrio. It is possible to get tickets to most games and be a part of a truly Argentine experience.

Everything is intertwined and indivisible: not only is La Bombonera a part of a neighborhood which witnessed its creation but it also defines its identity. It was on this port suburb that football and Argentina were born.

Settled inside the football field building, this museum (with access through a gift shop with a wide variety of blue and yellow souvenirs) opens up through a long corridor where the pictures of all premier division players who have defended the T-shirt since 1931 are on display. This is how worship of the past begins.

At the end of the corridor, inside a huge football ball-shaped room, we could live the 360-degree experience of going into the football field and stepping on the lawn of La Bombonera in a unique spectacular audio-visual event.

Museo de la Pasión Boquense
Brandsen 805, Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Ciudad de Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 11-43621100

Fine Arts Museum of La Boca

Once a residence and studio of the artist Quinquela Martin, this museum has a collection of early 20th century Argentine artists.Benito Quinquela Martin, an abandoned orphan who was adopted by a Genoese immigrant couple in La Boca, was the man to take action. He had become the most significant painter in Argentina, with his dramatic paintings of the port of La Boca, and achieved worldwide recognition.
 
But as La Boca was his inspiration, and had provided him with family, friends and shelter after having been orphaned at an early age, he felt he owed the barrio something in return. Quinquela Martín is considered the port painter and one of the country’s most popular painters. His paintings show port activity, vigor and harshness of daily life in La Boca port. He had to work as a child carrying bags of coal and these experiences influenced his artistic vision obras.


The permanent exibit consists of works of figurative Argentine artists from the late nineteenth century to today. Also includes a collection of figureheads, unique in Latin America, represented by interesting pieces from the late nineteenth century. In the room Sivori, temporary exhibitions of great masters of Argentine art, renowned contemporary artists and emerging artists perform; linking heritage with contemporary production works. The third floor is currently the House – Museum Quinquela where his great works and personal belongings are exhibited.

Museum of Fine Arts Quinquela: Av. Pedro de Mendoza 1835/1843.
Tuesdays - Fridays; From: 10 am to 18 pm, and Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 11 to 18 hs. Closed on Mondays.

Tango Dancers - Caminito  Street

Quinquela Martin, the creator of “caminito” street

In 1959, Quinquela Martin and his artist friends created the street of Caminito, as a means of recreating the way old La Boca used to look – a reminder of where everyone had come from, not just in La Boca, but Buenos Aires, and Argentina, because this barrio and its port had been the gateway for many immigrants into this city and country (up until Puerto Madero & then Puerto Nuevo were built as replacements in the early 1900s), who then went on to make Buenos Aires and Argentina what they are today.
 
 
What Quinquela Martin did was to rescue bits and pieces of the original immigrant conventillos that were being torn down and replaced, and used them to create a concentrated conventillo community around this small street, in what is essentially an uninhabited open-air art and history exhibit, and officially the world’s first outdoor pedestrian museum. There are also Tango dancers in the street and you can pose with them and just give them ten to twenty pesos. . Many artists also show off their work on the sides of the main street.
 
Staircase at PROA
 
Proa

Once you tire of the fútbol at La Bombonera and of the Maradona impersonators at Caminito you can head over to Fundación Proa at Pedro de Mendoza 1929. It’s an excellent modern and contemporary art museum that hosts international art exhibitions and has a gourmet café with river views on the third floor. It’s open from 11am to 8pm, Tuesday to Sunday.

Handcraft market

If you visit Caminito on weekends, you will also be able to go shopping at the Feria de la Ribera arts and crafts market, which starts at the front of Caminito and goes around in front of the Riachuelo river. Here you will find handmade crochet,scarves and shawls, traditional mate gourds and bombillas (the metal straws used for drinking mate), jewellery and lots of other interesting craft pieces, all at reasonable prices.


And if you work up a hunger after traipsing around Caminito and the feria, we strongly recommend an authentic Italian Pizzeria nearby in La Boca Banchero Pizzeria (Suarez 396 ). The restaurant also happens to have been a favorite of Benito Quinquela Martin, the architect of Caminito, so it is a fitting end to the outing – and delicious too!
 
Historical Bridges in La Boca - View from Caminito
 
Safety in La Boca

As in most places where a popular tourist attraction sits in the middle of an economically disadvantaged neighborhood, La Boca can be dangerous for visitors who stray off the tourist path.

 

April 23, 2015

Great Things to do in Buenos Aires: Neighborhood of San Telmo

0 Comments
Evita's Jewels - Reproduction by Goldsmith Toledo

San Telmo is the oldest neighborhood of Buenos Aires. Today San Telmo reflects all of this history while continuing to move forward. Blessed with cobblestoned streets, a crumbling, faded grandeur, an amazing weekly street market and many good places to eat and drink, San Telmo is a Buenos Aires barrio that simply cannot be missed.
 
In order to properly enjoy San Telmo, you really need to go there on a Sunday. That’s when the antique market turns Calle Defensa into the funnest place in town. There are hundreds of stalls, lots of street performers, and more opportunities to buy souvenir mate cups than anyone could possibly need! It’s a really good time.
 
 
Evita JewelsCollection by Marcelo Toledo
 
We strongly recommend a visit to the Studio and Workshop of Marcelo Toledo.
The argentine goldsmith exhibits the jewels collection from the “Evita” musical at his Studio and Workshop in San Telmo. Marcelo Toledo has reproduced the jewels worn by María Eva Duarte de Perón, better known as Evita. To such end he researched into public and private photo archives and, after having met several times with the Duarte family, he obtained the authorization to replicate, for the first time, the most valuable jewels of the Argentine First Lady.
The famous argentine goldsmith, who was chosen to reenact the Evita jewels for the musical that was performed by Elena Roger and Ricky Martin in New York. Address: Humberto Primo 462, San Telmo.

Evita's Jewels Collection - Reproduction by Goldsmith Marcelo Toledo in San Telmo.
                        
Calle Defensa
 
If you plan on walking down Calle Defensa, consider going early when the crowds aren’t as massive, be prepared to be surrounded by thousands of people, wear comfortable walking shoes, and keep an eye on your personal belongings.
 
Zanjon de Granados
 
Its mysterious hallways and tunnels date back to the 1500’s and were discovered under layers of constructions from other historical periods.
One of the more unique places in BA is this amazing urban architectural site. A series of old tunnels, sewers and cisterns (built from 1730 onwards) were constructed above a river tributary and provided the base for one of BA’s oldest settlements, which later became a family mansion and then tenement housing and some shops. It's best to reserve ahead for tours.
Zanjon de Granados - Old Tunnels in San Telmo.
 
The Zanjón is the realized dream of Jorge Eckstein, who found these ruins in 1986 after purchasing land for a business project and then spent years renovating them into what you see today. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the city’s history; meticulously reconstructed brick by brick and very attractively lit, this site also contains several courtyards and even a watchtower. There are a few relics on display in the various halls and rooms, but the highlights are the spaces themselves. El Zanjon de Granados; Address: Defensa 755.
 
Zanjon de Granados - Main Entrance on Defensa Street.
 
Bar El Federal
Stop for a cup of coffee at one of the charming traditional bars of San Telmo.
 
Bar el Federal is one of those old establishments that everyone has to visit at least once while in Buenos Aires. Established in 1864 as a pulpería (local store), the store eventually became a brothel-bar before being turned into the café found there today. The antiques, hardwood floors, and old-fashioned counter make you feel as though not much has changed in its 150 years.
El Federal: Address: Carlos Calvo 559.
 
Mercado de San Telmo
Whether you’re looking for a vintage leather coat, an old Elvis record or fresh produce to cook up for dinner, a trip to San Telmo isn’t complete without taking a stroll through the Mercado de San Telmo. This market was built in 1897, to serve as a large, centralized fruit and vegetable market.
The Tuscan-style building, constructed by the prolific Italian architect, Juan A. Buschiazzo, has a beautiful interior structure with a wrought iron and glass atrium. At the time, it was the first private market and of its kind in the area and it helped to secure San Telmo’s reputation as a fashionable and convenient place to live for wealthy residents.
 
Antique Store at Mercado de San Telmo
Today there’s not just produce to peruse but antiques, second-hand clothes and curiosities. To the dismay of shopkeepers, the market is not as central to the social fabric of the neighborhood as it once was — it is often quite dead during the week, but it does get busier on weekends, especially when tourists visiting the nearby San Telmo Antiques Fair stroll through.
 
 
The produce here is usually of very high quality, although the prices tend to have a gringo-mark-up that makes them a bit higher than neighborhood vegetable stands outside of the market.
The San Telmo Market is open every day of the week from 10 a.m. until sundown, although each stall has their own hours. Multiple Entrances: Defensa 961; Estados Unidos 460; Bolivar 950; Carlos Calvo 461

La Panaderia de Pablo ( By Pablo Massey )
 
Panaderia de Pablo - By Pablo Massey
This eatery is a delicious option for Sunday Brunch!
As is to be expected of a Pablo Massey venture, the menu is elegant and concise, with a special emphasis on bruschettas, sandwiches, and fresh salads (check out the Caesar), with a rib-eye steak placed judiciously for foreigners hankering after Argentinian beef. Equally good are the desserts- the lemon tart with creme praline being the pick of a very fine selection.
Address: Defensa 269
Aldo’s
Aldo’s is actually an eaterie within a wine store that is located in the Moreno Hotel. And it is pleasant on the eyes as well. It’s interior design was created by Juan Santa Cruz, the same designer who created the incredible worlds of Gran Bar Danzon and Isabel.
 
 
Aldo's Winery and Resto on Moreno Street.
 
ALDO’s is a dream for wine lovers and is a great place to check out on a night where your quench for thirst outweighs your hunger. With a wine list that contains more than 500 labels which was chosen based on blind tastings completed by a team of sommeliers, the choice of wine is guaranteed to be excellent. And the price is great too; the bottles are sold at retail prices. Address: Moreno 376.
Address: San Juan 328.
 
San Telmo Fair
Feria de San Pedro Telmo (San Telmo Fair) Feria de San Telmo in Plaza Dorrego is the quintessential Argentinian antiques market and is a great place to look for glass sifones (siphons), tea cups and saucers, old kitchen utensils, and antique jewelry. While this market, due to its popularity, is a little higher priced than other antique fairs further away from the city, the prices still seem pretty reasonable.
 
La Tratienda
La Trastienda is an old and spacious building that is a must if you are visiting San Telmo. This place is a setting for the most unusual things in the city and is frequented by national and international artisits. It is decorated in a wide variation of styles. At the end of the week you can have pizza and watch a good show at this place in a friendly environment. The night club starts at one o'clock in the morning with a wide variety of music.
 
La Trastienda Club
Go for some live music to La Trastienda, a small intimate music theatre with great acoustics where local and international talents play jazz, classical, reggae, blues, and rock.

Address: Balcarce 460. Phone Number 4342 7650.
 
Art Walk in San Telmo

Discover the local art scene by taking a San Telmo Art Walk- The tour, lasting four hours will show you graffiti, street art, private Art Collection and museums of this colorful neighborhood which so many artist are inspired by.  The walk starts at Café San Juan on Tue-Thur at 2 pm. Book in advance. Contact us for more information.
 
 
Art Tour inside a Private Collection in San Telmo.
 
 
 
 
 
 

April 22, 2015

Great Things to do in Buenos Aires: Neighborhood of Retiro

0 Comments
                               

These days, like Recoleta, Retiro is famed for its wealth which is noticeable in the wide leafy boulevards such as Avenida del Libertador and Avenida 9 de Julio. Furthermore, the architecture of this neighborhood defines an era of splendor and finesse.

Things to see and do

The barrio of Retiro is one of the nicest in the city for walking and offers some fantastic photo opportunities. At the barrio’s heart is Plaza San Martin, a popular hangout for local workers during their lunch breaks. The plaza houses two significant monuments; one dedicated to San Martin himself and another to commemorate the fallen heroes of the Malvinas War.
 
Within a short walk from Plaza San Martin are some of the finest examples of architecture present in Buenos Aires. Palacio San Martin on Arenales street is arguably the most celebrated and is today used as the offices of the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Relations. Originally home to the Anchorena family, tours are available of this Beaux Arts palace.

Brunch at Farinelli

The location is great: A bright, sunny corner of quiet Retiro with giant windows that are ideal for people-watching while you sit down and get settled. I like some booth action, but there are large tables in the middle that accommodate groups a bit better, though once the place is packed there isn’t a lot of room to spare. Fresh blooms from Florería Atlántico adorn the countertops and the day’s spread of fresh goodies – fruit salad, croissants, and the Bloody Mary bar (score!) – are poised to make your mouth water.

 
Lunch at Farinelli's
                            
So here’s the deal: Sunday brunch takes place from 11am-4pm only, with reservations available only for the 1pm time slot. Let’s not even mention the scene at 3pm – Tables bursting with hipsters and families alike, and sad people outside being told that they couldn’t be guaranteed a table before things wound down.

Address: Arroyo corner of Suipacha Street.

Admire the fabulous San Martin Palace
 
Palacio San Martin was designed by architect Alejandro Christophersen and boasts marble staircases, grandiose dining rooms and a garden containing a chunk of the Berlin Wall. A small but good museum displays pre-Columbian artifacts from the northwest, along with some paintings by Latin American artists. Free tours happen at 3pm on Thursdays (bring ID), but can be suspended at any time.

Originally built for the powerful Anchorena family, Palacio San Martín later became the headquarters of the Foreign Ministry; today it’s used mostly for official purposes.
Address: Esmeralda 1231.
 
Cour d' honneur and Main Staircase - San Martin Palace.
                        
Take a tour of the magnificent Paz Palace
Once the private residence of José C Paz – founder of the still-running newspaper La Prensa – this opulent, French-style palace (1909) is the grandest in BA. Inside its 12,000 sq meters are ornate rooms with marble walls, salons gilded in real gold and halls boasting beautiful wood-tiled floors. The pièce de résistance is the circular grand hall with mosaic floors, marble details and stained-glass cupola. Nearly all materials came from Europe and were then assembled here; there’s also a modest garden out back. Address: Santa Fe Avenue 750.
 
Magnificent Dome - Palacio Paz
 
Guided Tours:
In Spanish: Wednesday to Saturday, 11.00 am
Tuesday to Friday, 3.00 pm
In English
Thursdays 3.30 pm
 
Gardens - Palacio Paz
                            
 
Dating from 1921, this museum is in an old mansion of the neocolonial Peruvian style that developed as a reaction against French influences in turn-of-the-19th-century Argentine architecture. Its exceptional collection of colonial art includes silverwork from Alto Perú (present-day Bolivia), religious paintings and baroque instruments. There’s little effort to place items in any historical context, but everything is in great condition and well lit, and the curved ceiling in the main salon is beautifully painted. There's also a peaceful garden.

Also known as the Palacio Noel, after the designing architect, the museum building and its collections suffered damage (since repaired) from the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy, which at the time was located at Arroyo and Suipacha. The space where the embassy was located has since become a small memorial park; you can still see the outline of the building on a neighboring wall.

                          
 
 
Have lunch at El Federal

This traditional corner eatery is something of a neighborhood institution. You’ll find Argentinian comfort food – simple pastas, steaks and empanadas – as well as higher-end specialties like Patagonian lamb, ñandu milanesas (cutlets of the emu-like, flightless ñandu ) and northern river fish served here. Elaborate desserts top things off, and a rustic wooden bar adds charm.
Address: San Martin 1015. Retiro

Try the best Pizza of Downtown  

Filo
Filo Just off Plaza San Martin, this is a popular lunchtime haunt that fills up with workers from the nearby financial district who come to feast on pizza, pasta and salads. Opened in 1993 by six friends fed up with Argentina’s Italian cuisine, Filo has since succeeded in creating a cult following with those with a penchant for mushroom risotto, salmon carpaccio, tiramisu, and the like. Address: San Martin 975.

Pizza Piola
 
An Italian franchise, gone global, which first opened in Buenos Aires in the early 90’s. Pizza Piola claims to have revolutionized the Buenos Aires pizza scene and that local food critics talk of before Piola and after Piola pizza. Address: Libertad 1073.


Floreria Atlantico - Flower Shop and Bar
 
One of BA's hottest bars, this basement speakeasy is located within a flower shop, adding an air of mystery and likely a main reason for its success. Hipsters, artists, chefs, businesspeople and expats all flock here for the excellent cocktails, whether they're classic or unique – and the lack of gas lines means all of the delicious tapas and main dishes are cooked on the parrilla grill.


Dinner at Floreria Atlantico


If you're a gin lover, note that the owner, Renato Giovannonni, produces and sells his own brand – called 'Príncipe de los Apóstoles' – aromatically infused with mint, grapefruit, eucalyptus and yerba mate . Reserve ahead for dinner.
Address: Arroyo 872.
 
To Bear in Mind...
  • Retiro is also the starting point of Florida and Avenida Santa Fe, both of which are important shopping streets.
  • Just around the corner on Esmeralda street is the Estrugamou Building, a French Baroque residence commissioned by Alejandro Estrugamou who was a member of an elitist Argentina family.
  • Whilst in Retiro, be sure to check out the Kavanagh Building, an impressive 120-meter-high Art Deco skyscraper that stands out amidst the array of modern architecture that has since sprung up around it.
 
 
 


Private Walks and Group Bookings
 
Ideas tours are available for private bookings. Private tours can be arranged for a weekday or weekend, day or evening. We can provide multiple in-house trained guides for a more enjoyable outing. Walking tours are great for team building, special events, and entertaining clients. Contact Us for more information.