Tag Archive | "buenos aires"

Journey Through Time: The Life of Calle Florida


“When we were children, if we wanted to go to the Calle Florida, we had to dress our very best. If we didn’t have the correct clothing we didn’t go, we were ashamed.” Sara Schindler, on her 85th birthday, remembers the elegance and class that defined the Florida of her childhood in the 1940s. Schindler was a member of a poor family on the outskirts of the city. Calle Florida, of which she speaks adoringly, was the centre of a city that, during that era, buzzed with progress and sophistication.

Today, walking along Florida’s ten blocks from Av. de Mayo to Plaza San Martín, your ears ring with a chorus of “cambio, cambio, change, dollars, reales,” The constant call for exchanging money mixes with the opera singers on street corners, multiple languages, and the odd electric-guitar amp blasting above the rest of the buzz in the centre of the bustling pedestrian street. Florida is a true quilombo, a mess of energy, style, chaos, elegance, poverty, and above all, layers and layers of history. They are all plastered one on top of the other like those election propaganda hurriedly graffitied on bus stops in the middle of the night.

The Harrods building on Calle Florida, then and now. (Photo: Lucía Hernández)

The Harrods building on Calle Florida, then and now. (Photo: Lucía Hernández)

Argentine author Delfín Leocadio Garasa wrote in his 1981 book ‘La otra Buenos Aires. Paseos literarios por barrios y calles de la ciudad‘: “On Calle Florida all historical periods are superimposed, which preserves its existence”. And it’s not just the buildings: Florida’s history also exists in the stories of the people who lived during the drastically different periods in the street’s history.

Buenos Aires in itself is a fascinating mishmash of political regimes, economic booms, crises, moments of despair, and times of prosperity. It comes as no surprise, then, that Florida, a street so expressive of the commercial and aristocratic history of Buenos Aires should fully reflect these changes. Come with me on a journey through time, from the beginnings of Florida, to its time in the spotlight, and its current movement toward the periphery of porteño culture.

Animals, Dust, and Trenches: Florida Street Pre-Independence

Florida existed long before it was named such, and long before streets were paved. When Spanish conqueror Juan de Garay, the second founder of Buenos Aires, drew his plans for the city in 1582, Florida was the first he traced. It had a commercial soul from its very beginnings: the dirt road “was the place where they began to construct the first stores that sold things in the city in that era,” describes Hector Moreno, president of the Friends of Florida Street Association.

The street – which remained nameless until it became Calle San José in 1744 – didn’t resemble the architectural and cultural mix that is Florida today. In the Boston Foundation’s history of the street, it is described as “a lot of mud, grasslands, and ponds of standing water or dust and more dust over a hard crust traversed by deep tracks and grooves from the wheels of the carts depending if it rained or was dry.”

According to the foundation, humans weren’t the only ones who navigated the street in that era: “And precisely the continuous march of loose animals—cows, pigs, oxen, horses, and stray dogs—especially at cross streets, produced deep pits and trenches where residents would throw waste and even dead animals.”

Modernisation and Multiple Names

Little by little the street became modernised. San José was the first street in the city to become “paved” and acquired the name del Empedrado (cobblestoned) when cobblestones were laid down from 1785 to 1789. It was also colloquially known as del Correo (the mail street), as the post office was located at one extreme of the street, near Plaza de Mayo.

“It had many names, because obviously, they went along changing names according to the president or who was in power,” adds Moreno.

The definitive name ‘Florida’ was set in 1822 to commemorate the Battle of Florida eight years earlier, in which the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata won a battle for independence in what is now Bolivia.

Florida continued to be the modern centre of the city in every sense except geographical (it is located in the far east). A tram was installed toward the end of the 19th century, and it became the first street in Buenos Aires to have electric lights in 1887.

As immigrants flooded into Buenos Aires’ port and European people and ideas became more and more valued, changes on Florida came quickly. Gath & Chaves, the first upscale department store in the city, was founded in 1883. In 1897 the exclusive Jockey Club was founded on Florida 102. And Harrods opened in 1914, becoming the only use of the iconic London store’s name outside of England.

In 1932 Florida was “old and narrow, but still the chief shopping street in the city,” according to an MGM travel programme produced that year.

“The presidents of that time would walk along the street,” remembers Rosita Bas, 90-year-old secretary of the Friends of the Calle Florida Association. She vividly describes the way that Argentine presidents would receive foreign leaders in the Casa Rosada, and walk them down the street, with an entourage of ambassadors and official cars until they reached the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, located in Plaza San Martín.

“At Florida 400 there was a men’s tailor shop: Rhoders. And the owner would bring his employees out onto the street with flowers when the processions passed by,” adds Bas. “And when the ambassadors passed, the flowers were always the colour of that country’s flag. Very beautiful.”

Beautiful Buenos Aires

“Everybody throngs through the narrow calle as if it were the feature street in the block party,” proclaims a 1950s Braniff International Airways tourism video titled ‘Beautiful Buenos Aires’.

In the 1950s Florida was still the commercial centre of activity in Buenos Aires. The enthusiastic narrator declares, “Practically everything that the civilised world has for sale may be purchased here and the prices are comparable to those of the world’s cosmopolitan cities, except the price of alligator bags, which are surprisingly low.”

Toward the mid- and late-20th century came a series of dramatic changes to taint Florida’s commercial and aristocratic glory. The Jockey Club was burned by Peronists in April 1953 in what the Boston Foundation called “one of the biggest tragedies of our street”. With the Jockey Club, “an era of Florida ended, and with it went valuable works of art, the exquisite real estate, and numerous volumes from the library.” Gath & Chaves was closed definitively in 1974.

The year 1971 brought a complete remodelling of the street, commissioned by the city government and supported by the Friends of the Calle Florida Association. The distinction between the road and pavement disappeared, essentially pedestrianising the street. A discrete marker in remembrance of its cobblestoned past reads: “From primitive cobblestones of the Calle Florida. Erected during the remodelling work in 1971. Buenos Aires City Government.” The marker, surrounded by a square of cobblestones, remains today, hidden behind the entrance to the subte station on Diagonal Norte.

A small patch of cobblestones remain from the historical Calle Florida (Photo: Lucía Hernández)

A small patch of cobblestones remain from the historical Calle Florida (Photo: Lucía Hernández)

Schindler, who mostly spent time on Florida during special occasions as a child, especially remembers the elegance of the clothing.

“Before, everyone used to go with starched collars and hats and fancy gloves. Not just anyone went to Florida. Now yes–anyone and everyone goes. That era was very aristocratic. It was elegant. There were bakeries, restaurants, and dance halls with orchestras. It was very, very beautiful.”

Carlos Berta, a waiter in the iconic Florida Garden at the intersection of Paraguay, echoes Schindler’s sentiment. The Florida Garden, which opened in 1962, “is the same as always. It didn’t change much. What has changed are the people.” The way they dressed “at five in the afternoon, for example, they came to have a cup of tea, the women with big hats, gloves, the men with top hats, many suits, many ties. And now, they dress very commonly. We are all dressed the same.”

Nightlife on Florida during the mid-20th century benefitted from the novelty of the cinemas on nearby Lavalle. “When the movies ended, many people came here to have a coffee. They could walk down Florida from end to end, which was safe. There was no fear,” says Berta. Today, the tourists leave as the sun goes down, and nighttime brings homeless people, brothels, and seedy bars. According to an article in Clarín, the fast-food restaurants that now occupy almost every block wrap extra food and hand it out to cartoneros and others who don’t have anywhere else to go.

Florida remains as commercial as ever, but its cultural and commercial relevance has moved to other parts of the city, such as the ever-sprawling, ultra-hip neighbourhood of Palermo.

Central No More?

Harrods is arguably the most iconic reminder of Florida’s elegant past and uncertain present. Its windows have remained empty since 1998, when economic decline and a lawsuit over the name from the London department store led the owners to close the doors.

“The first half of the ’90s was a fairly good economic period. And obviously this was reflected in the life on Florida and commerce in general,” says Francisco Muñoz, concierge from the Plaza Hotel. “In the second part of the ’90s it began to decline, we began to pay the dollars that we were spending abroad. And so, many businesses closed, Buenos Aires was very expensive for tourism in general. And Florida is a street that lives through tourism.”

The December 2001 financial crisis brought a low point for the country’s economy, and was painfully visible on Florida. “A lot of things closed, and the ones that stayed open were always less elegant, less classy, than the former ones,” says Muñoz.

A painfully visible reminder of Florida’s past is the Richmond Café, which opened in 1917 and was closed in 2011. It served as a place of meeting for the prestigious Florida Group, which most notably included writer Jorge Luis Borges. Legislation protecting buildings of historical significance required that the original façade and parts of the interior remain untouched, but do not protect the commercial nature of the building. Instead of traditional waiters serving coffee to patrons on silver platters, sports clothing clashes weirdly with elegant chandeliers and antique wooden panelling.

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Inside the former Richmond café, now a sports clothing store (Photo: Lucía Hernández)

And the changes on Florida continue. The day Antonio Capraro, owner of café and ice cream shop Vía Flaminia, was interviewed for this story, he announced that in just a few weeks his store, which has been open since 1983, would be closing its doors for good. “The majority of our clients are employees,” he explained, “and employees today can’t spend money. Before, we used to sell 8kg of coffee per day. Now we sell four.” Those very employees “used to have a much higher purchasing power than they do now. Now they don’t make enough to go out for lunch”

As for people’s appearances, Capraro remains negative. “About 1% of the people who come in are well-dressed,” in comparison with the past. Now they are “bad. Badly dressed, bad quality footwear.”

Far from the upscale department stores and cosmopolitan fashions of the past century, Florida today is the place to go for discount clothing, fast food, and to exchange money. Many are pessimistic about the street’s immediate future. Juan Seusins, concierge of the Plaza Hotel, suggests that the current economic situation and uncertain political future discourage entrepreneurs from investing in business on the street. “Everyone is sitting on their savings, waiting to see what happens,” he says.

When asked to look further into the future, he is more relaxed. “It’s all cyclical. One day it’s good, the next it’s bad,” says Seusins. “Only God knows. I hope it changes for the better. I hope that there aren’t as many people saying ‘cambio cambio’ and inviting the tourist to come and sell dollars. That is the part of the Calle Florida that I don’t like.”

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A regular day at Florida (Photo: Lucía Hernández)

Yet the president of the Friends of the Calle Florida Association is optimistic about the street’s future projects. For one, the relationship between the association and the city government is, “at the moment, excellent,” says Moreno. “We have, you could say, almost permanent contact with them—with all of the functionaries and the mayor himself, and that is very good.”

Moreno speaks in a less nostalgic manner about Florida. He also seems to see it as a cyclical process that flows with the evolution of the country. He seems resigned to these shifts. Referring to the changes in many of the historical businesses in the past few decades, he comments: “They close because the owners die and they don’t have heirs, and they are large buildings. The successors sell them. But the entire structure of the building is preserved, that is the beautiful part.”

The project to renew the streets of Microcentro and make them more pedestrian-friendly has nearly finished, “save for a couple more streets,” says Moreno. Looking to the future, Moreno and the association have a vision of Florida as not only a centre of commercial activity, but also as an open-air art gallery, promoting “art and culture with monuments, sculptures, with tonnes of paintings”. By hanging large canvas paintings in the windows of a former business that has been closed, for example, he sees it as an opportunity to showcase local artists in temporary exhibits.

Recent photo of Florida Street (Photo: Lucía Hernández)

Recent photo of Florida Street (Photo: Lucía Hernández)

Despite mixed opinions about the immediate future, people seem somewhat optimistic about the long term.

The street has come a long way since it became the first in the city to get electricity. By 1899 electric lighting had reached the fronts of buildings, and according to the Boston Foundation, “Florida is and always was a commercial street of excellence.”

Now it may be joining the contemporary era, but is no longer a leader of excellence. When it comes to wifi access, for example, only on 13th March did Florida follow the rest of the city in becoming a free point of internet access – number 281 in the list, quite far from being a pioneer.

Florida is a place of high hopes, and for some, unrealised dreams. For Capraro, his ice cream parlour “never gave the results I expected”. He had dreams of luxury and elegance upon opening in 1983, it fell short. Seated inside the luxurious Vía Flaminia, he serves me an indulgent coffee drowned in honey, and finishes on an upward note: “For me, Florida will someday have a comeback. Because it is very important, and we can’t deny this.”

Florida is no longer “the feature street on the block party.” Seeing as fashions, cinema, and nightlife have moved away, it is safe to say that not only is it no longer the feature street: at least for the moment, it seems that the party has gone elsewhere.

 

 

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Cocktails and Colour Palettes: Paint Nite Argentina


During a night out in Buenos Aires, you generally don’t have to worry about accidentally dipping a paint-covered brush in your glass of beer, or mistaking murky paint water for a cup of Malbec. But at Paint Nite events in Buenos Aires, participants are provided with an apron, canvas, painting materials, and expert artistic guidance while buying drinks and creating a masterpiece.

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At Simone Bar about to start the Paint Nite event (Photo: Lucía Hernández)

This is not your typical high school art class. “What we do is play,” says Monica de Gregorio, one of Paint Nite Buenos Aires’ artists.

I attended a Paint Nite event on a Wednesday night in Simone, an elegant restaurant and bar along the water in Puerto Madero. After the first 15 minutes of chatting, mingling, drinking, and wondering what we had signed up for, the artistic work began. Monica, our artist and teacher for the night, immediately broke the tension: “This is an event to enjoy yourself, to have a good time. If you know how to paint, great! And if you don’t know how to paint, it’s even more fun.”

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The paintings even matched the cocktails (photo: Lucía Hernández)

Using the painting ‘Circles and Stems’ as a model, Monica guided our group of 25 budding artists through the process of mixing of primary colours, creating the illusion of a lighted a background, and ensuring continuity on our canvas. She circulated throughout the room, guiding us with her knowledge and experience, but also gave us the freedom to interpret for ourselves. “Those colourful balls can be flowers, joyful spirits of the night, or if you want to think outside of the box, go for it!” Some of our painting mates had different ideas: “sperm!” shouted one enthusiastic participant.

Many of us initially agonised over our execution of the shaded background according to Monica’s instructions—did I have enough green in the “greenish grey” border? Had I left enough white toward the middle of the canvas to make sure it looked “illuminated”? Everyone looked around the room, silently evaluating each other’s painting skills and looking for validation.

After a while, however, the atmosphere changed. Whether it was the beer or the blossoming artists inside of us, the room became a centre of calm. Without realising it, each painter became focused inward on their canvas, brushes, and colour palate for the final hour of creating colourful circles to complement our stems.

Monica has been teaching painting in schools for over 25 years, and loves “to be able to do this in a non-academic environment. This is not like a painting class in school,” she emphasised. The top 40 music playing in the background, drinks alongside the paintbrush water, and the range in talent and experience of the students are certainly unique from your 7th grade art class.

How are the adults of Paint Nite different from Monica’s school-age students? “Adults have more fear. When they know they can do something, they can paint freely, but they must be awakened.”

The end of Paint Nite (photo: Lucía Hernández)

The end of Paint Nite (photo: Lucía Hernández)

People’s reasons for coming to the event varied: “My friend told me there was going to be art and alcohol, so I said yeah,” said one attendee. Others attend each week “as a form of therapy. You spend two hours with your mind blank,” commented Paint Nite’s Argentina Licensee, Genoveva Aguirre.

Genoveva, who originally worked as a travel agent, discovered Paint Nite on a trip to Boston. “Painting is my hobby, and I always liked to paint with my friends.” She turned her hobby into an occupation in May 2014, when Paint Nite Argentina was first introduced in Buenos Aires. Unlike franchises that must maintain everything identical to original brand, Paint Nite operates under a licensing model. This means that Genoveva is allowed a certain degree freedom in her execution of the events in Argentina. “Everything is exactly the same as the events in the US, but we add something a little porteño. The New York events are much calmer.”

Francisco, Genoveva’s son and assistant, commented on the beginnings of the event: “First it was mostly friends of our friends, until word of mouth took over and the event grew.” Paint Nite currently operates in three different bars in Palermo, Puerto Madero, and Martínez, and is looking to expand in the future.

“The objective is to have a different night out,” says Genoveva. I left my first Paint Nite feeling relaxed, and with some great conversations from porteños and foreigners alike, great photos of my artistic prowess in action, and a beautiful canvas painting to decorate my apartment and show off my newfound talent.

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Paint Nite attendees enjoying themselves while painting. (Photo: Lucía Hernández)

Awaken your inner artist: check out the Paint Nite Argentina website to find out about upcoming events and locations. Photos of past events can be found on their Facebook page. Events are $350 and include all painting materials and artistic instruction, drinks are extra. Take advantage of the exclusive discount for Indy readers: enter the code INDY when you sign up online and receive 30% off!

 

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Refined Tastes


Closed minds, struggles to be creative.

In the affluent neighbourhood of Recoleta, cafe Lattente didn’t work: bad sublet, stoic residents, difficulties adapting to a new culture. Talk of months spent in court fighting to regain what had been lost straightens Zehan’s smile, attention drifts towards a cloudless sky; I drift with her. “I thought we’d sell good coffee.” She lights a cigarette; inhales, exhales sharply. “There were problems.” From tall trees crisped leaves fall, settle around us. I wonder what went wrong. “New approaches met old habits,” she says.

Having arrived from Russia aged 23, by 25 she wanted to leave. A rented apartment was taken back, advanced payments kept by the landlord, belongings left by the side of the road. Zehan came home to find locks changed and her dog missing. “I was stood on the street with my things, it was hot,” she says, “no one offered me water.” Grimacing like she’s tasted blood, plumes of smoke cloud the air around us. “I mean, what is that.”

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Zehan Nurhadzar Lattente co-founder (Photo: Lucía Hernández)

Coffee is served, I thank her business partner, sip from a tall cup. Relaxed in each other’s company we converse about street art, Palermo’s vibrant community, youthful expression. “Ever find your dog?” I say.

“I don’t know what happened.”

Trying to settle, to succeed, floods came from above, a relationship strained to the point of question. Zehan met unwilling residents through legal obligation, as seems customary in Buenos Aires the process would last months. Once concluded at a financial loss, damage needed to be restored. With nowhere to stay there seemed nowhere to go, a return home to Indonesia was considered. “That period adjusted my personality a lot,” she says, “I used to think people in Buenos Aires had ugly thoughts.” We laugh a little, exchange smiles. “My father, he has his own business, three times it didn’t work out, but he kept reopening,” she says, honesty shared as naturally as her time. “I’m stubborn about what I believe in, that person before wasn’t me.”

Farmer, picker, roaster, barista; to extract flavour is to leave bitter tastes behind. I drink coffee so rich in flavour it lingers like a memory, curiosity stirs, sensory awakenings; I wish to know more about process. “The amount of oil taken from the bean should be minimal,” she says, “there’s a lot you can learn.”

On a street outside Lattente people come and people go. Motorbikes zip by on a busy road, car horns toot playfully in the distance; buenas noches replaces buenas tardes. Soon strollers will swing under a clear evening sky. I ask what it means to work alongside a youthful vanguard, competition from rival business, fresh faces. “It’s great, a lot of people come to Palermo, there’s opportunity here.”

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A saturday afternoon at Lattente (Photo: Lucía Hernández)

Ink stained, tan, summer dresses and short sleeves, customers arrive steadily until closing. Zehan plays with tired children clinging to a parent’s leg, asks about their day; tickled bellies, flushed cheeks. Interruptions become introductions. “We don’t have internet, you can understand a lot through other people.”

She’s needed in the cafe: new business cards, a stock order, jokes shared with relaxed employees. Regulars are embraced with an enthusiasm suited for celebration. I watch on through a glass exterior: tall tables, wooden stools, a comfy sofa, scents of nut, pipe tobacco, and spiced caramel drift from an opened door. On a wall behind the counter an animal picks beans from a tree; tall chalkboards advertise tastes of the day. In many ways Lattente is a common space to spend time, a place where a pen is not required in order for your name to be remembered.

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Zehan tamping the coffee grinds to make a wonderful espresso (Photo: Lucía Hernández)

Zehan returns, sits by my side. For a while we discuss the difference in attitude from Recoleta, working relationships with city residents. “Here, we talk about our coffee,’ she says, ‘a customer asked for his milk to be warmer, but we don’t heat above a certain temperature because it breaks up components that can make your stomach bad. He came back with friends and asked me to explain this to them.”

On her wrist is a tattoo of the cafe’s logo, a steaming cup ringed by red ink. “A friend did it,” she says, pointing at a tattoo shop across the road “my business partner has one too.”

Petit, warm, lyrical, embracing; partnerships are formed through casual conversation. In the coming days a chef will make organic yoghurt for the cafe. Last weekend a local baker sold fresh cannoli from a stall front of store, the week before bagels were offered to hungry locals by a travelling chef. “These people are food engineers,” Zehan says, “we work together.”

In the three years since Lattente opened its door to bustling Palermo, there have been collaborations with community, projects with city charities; a national award for her product. I ask what it means to be recognised for what she does. “They are passionate about it,” she says, “the people who gave us those awards make serious coffee.”

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Zehan showing  her Lattente’s logo tattoo (Photo: Lucía Hernández)

“How important are the baristas?”

“Very, they control the final step, but there’s a long process of nurture involved.”

Night time plots begin to thicken; passages ready to be explored. Restaurants brim with hungry bellies, pinked tourists enter bars in search of Latin flavours, dogs are walked and carried under arm, yawning locals rest easy on steps; to the sidewalk taxis deliver the latest looks. Above us water drips from potted plants; puddles form, puddles dry. Zehan hands me a postcard. “You should send it to someone, say hello,” she says.

“I’ll do that.”

We hug, laugh about how easy company can be with an initial stranger, make plans to spend time together again. Soon she will open a shop in Plaza Italia, a stop and go for busy commuters trying to make their way underground. “Things turn around,” she says.

Lattente can be found at Thames 1891 in Palermo. The cafe sells exclusively Colombian blends, and also sells ground coffee to enthusiasts. Open Monday-Saturday, 9am-8pm, Sundays 10am-8pm. For more information visit their site www.cafelattente.com or their Facebook Page

 

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Beyond your Guidebook: Expert-Led Walking Tours


On a sunny morning last week, my inner history geek and curious traveller were awakened when I joined Context Travel’s new The Making of Argentina walking tour. While meandering through downtown San Telmo, the walk examines the impact of immigration on the formation of Buenos Aires and the country as a whole. Context’s new Expert-Led Walking Tours take tourists and locals alike beyond the façades of Buenos Aires’s historical neighbourhoods to experience the city’s rich history and culture that surrounds them.

Natalia Barry (right) and the group at the National Historical Museum, Buenos Aires. (Photo: Lucía Hernández)

Natalia Barry, our guide, opened the tour in Puerto Madero with the story of her grandmother, Antonia, who came to Argentina in 1920 during the second or third wave of immigration. Natalia’s interest—both personal and academic—in the subject matter was evident. Her eyes lit up with enthusiasm as she illustrated the image of the old Buenos Aires port in the time of her grandmother’s arrival to Argentina. Armed with photos, music, tango lyrics, and stories, she made the neighbourhood come alive.

Over classic porteño coffee and cookies in the middle of the walk, we learned the history of the alfajor, a standby dulce de leche-filled treat now found in any food store or café, which came along with Spanish immigration.

Travelling through three centuries in three hours, we saw, heard, and felt the undercurrent of modernisation in the city. As we strolled along the cobblestoned Defensa towards Plaza de Mayo, we compared the simpler, more traditional colonial style of Spanish-inspired arches, and the elaborate, French architectural masterpieces that the city sought to use to mask the colonial history. We listened to three distinct styles of tango music, and analysed the moods from decade to decade.

Reading old Tango lyrics ‘El porteñito’ (Photo: Lucía Hernández)

The small size of the group walks—a maximum of six people—permits the docent to personalise the walk, respond to questions, and give participants insider tips and suggestions for the rest of their stay in the city.

Lily Heise, expansion manager from Context Travel, explained: “It’s eye-opening going on these walks sometimes, there’s always these wow moments.” It’s true: on my way back to work after leaving the walk, I found myself analysing every street corner and wondering – with new eyes – whether this corner had been constructed pre- or post European immigration.

Context offers walks in 28 cities around the world and recently started five walks in Buenos Aires. These include the history-focused The Making of Argentina walk, the more architectural Belle Epoque walk, the Evita and Peronism walk, for a more political understanding of the city, and Tango Beyond the Dance, to learn about the music pulsing through the city’s past and present. The Welcome to Buenos Aires walk rounds out the offering, giving visitors an introduction to the city and the tools to navigate the area in which they are staying.

So what makes Context’s walks different from any other traditional walking tours in the city? The walks, says Heise, “are like little seminars, a three-hour course on the subject matter, because then they’re giving you the tools to understand and to see on your own.”

Context calls their tour guides docents, as many are Ph.D. level professors and local experts in their field. The tango walk, for example is led by professional porteño tango dancers, who take participants to a hand-made tango shoe store, the bohemian La Boca neighbourhood where Tango began, and finishes in a milonga.

Last stop at Plaza de Mayo Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo: Lucía Hernández)

Docents on the Belle Époque walk are architects with extensive research in their field who “not only talk about styles and evolution of an architecture movement, but also are going to tell you more about how that fit into the era and the social implications of it. So you’re not only seeing a building, but you’re also understanding its importance to the whole history of the city,” says Heise.

What makes Buenos Aires ideal for this type of tour? “It’s a city of surprises, and there’s a spontaneity here that I think isn’t found in other places,” says Heise. This can be good and bad. During our walk, Natalia fought against the roar of morning traffic, aggressive drivers, and parks under construction along our tour route. However, this allowed her followers to see a truly authentic view of the city.

And to go even deeper, keep an eye out for the first Buenos Aires Expert-Led food walk, which is currently in the works. It will add another layer to the historical-cultural experience of Context’s walks by allowing participants to taste the creations of this cosmopolitan city.

Except the two-hour Welcome to Buenos Aires walk, all walks are three hours and give you the option of joining a regularly scheduled tour (US$60 per person) or booking a private group tour, depending on your preferences and availability. Check out Context’s website for more information and to book your tour.

 

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Undercover BA: The Holy Grail of Vintage


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Vanessa Bell is a freelance writer and trend hunter, running a bespoke personal shopping service called Creme de la Creme, as well as writing as a lifestyle, food, and fashion insider for Wallpaper*, Monocle, and other international publications. She’s lived in Buenos Aires since 2010, having visited all her life as her mother is Argentine. 

For any vintage lover, Buenos Aires is a thrifters paradise. Unlike London, for example, where even the do-gooder octogenarian volunteers have cottoned on to the vintage phenomenon and aren’t afraid to price accordingly. “It’s a for a good cause,” they always say when you baulk and quibble over the hefty price tag. Not so in Buenos Aires. Sure, vintage clothing has become coveted in recent times, there are more and more online enterprises, artfully curated shops and showrooms, but if you’re willing to get your hands dirty, your efforts will be rewarded.

Cheap as chips Aventura (Av. Rivadavia 3484) is THE place to find that diamond in the rough, if the smell of granny’s closet and dust don’t detract you. Ask nicely and platinum blonde matriarch Valeria will give you access to the backroom. I’ve unearthed precious gems here. If you’re at a loose end on a weekend, Saturday’s Dorrego Market (Plaza de Los Andes, Dorrego and Corrientes) is the perfect place for a rummage, or head to Parque Centenario in Caballito and walk around the circumference of the park to while away the day and come back with a bag full of indispensable $20 bargains you’ve convinced yourself you really can’t live without. The Galeria Quinta Avenida (Av. Santa Fe 1270) is another must, the faded glory of this vintage shopping mall is exactly what gives it its charm, with erratic opening hours and shopkeepers as colourful as the clothes they stock. 

But if you want someone else to do the leg work for you, I’ve selected five of my current favourite showrooms and vintage enterprises I personally shop from and also include in my shopping tours, with a drool-worthy selection, and thankfully not a mothball in sight. 

Holy Innocents

1) Holy Innocents

This online boutique has been honing and perfecting its look and selection for the last couple of years, producing stunning look books with pared down fabulous basics and wardrobe staples. With a regularly replenishing stock and a penchant for muted palates, this is exactly what & Other Stores crossed with Cos would look like as vintage 20 years down the line if we were afforded the luxury of time travel. In other words, impossible wish-list territory.

You browse and buy everything online from their website, and the pieces are conveniently delivered to your door by courier, with the option of next day delivery. 

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2) Vittorita

One of my vintage go-tos, sisters Pamela and Daniela scour BA’s estate sales, auctions, and far flung markets for the most delicate and feminine vintage pieces. With a seasonal collection, photographed by talented photographer Dani, this vintage showroom feels more like a label in its own right.

Run out of Pamela’s adorable little studio apartment in San Cristobal, she makes you feel at home with jazz playing and a relaxed atmosphere to try on at leisure, leaving you with the dilemma of what you can afford to take with you and what you can’t afford to leave behind. 

Appointment only.

Almacen de Lulu

3) El Almacen de Lulu 

The Almacen de Lulu is an appointment-only showroom located in a beautiful San Telmo mansion flat, think palatial entrance with white marble foyer and greenery. Lu started the enterprise several years ago when her mother, a renowned Latin American writer and journalist, decided to entrust to her the beautiful wardrobe she had amassed from her years of globetrotting.

Having clearly inherited an eye for beautiful things, Lu has gradually sourced other pieces to add to the impressive collection of daywear, party wear, accessories, and pretty much anything else in between. If you’re a sucker for vintage, this place will make you salivate like a hyperactive kid in a sweetshop. 

Appointment only.

Miel

4) Miel

Miel is the vintage enterprise of Argentine Julia ‘Miel’, whose adorable selection of vintage threads are available to buy online and at J U N T A S, a regular pop-up sale she sells at along with other local creatives. The garments are all lovingly photographed and presented as dyptichs with gorgeous scenes from nature, crystals, vintage wallpaper or other aesthetically beautiful images that capture Julia’s imagination.

The prices are insanely reasonable so if you’ve got your eye on something and planning on heading to a sale, ensure you get there early to avoid disappointment and brace yourself as there’s usually a scrum for the prized pieces. 

Buy through Facebook or at J U N T A S pop up sales

La Percalina

5) La Percalina

La Percalina really is a one-off niche boutique, run by two dedicated followers of fashion, Virginia and Alejandra, a lovingly curated homage to “moda fuera de moda” (timeless fashion). Timeless pieces span from handmade dresses from the turn of the 20th century to choice pieces from the 80s and 90s. Garments in need of reparation are restored to their former glory, and the girls painstakingly source buttons and missing elements in keeping with the style and era as well as relining and re-hemming where needed. For what feels like a museum of a bygone era, it’s incredibly affordable, with prices they would like to see if they themselves walked into the shop as paying customers.

Service here is highly personalised and the epitome of slow shopping, with Billy Holiday the musical accompaniment as each item is carefully ironed, folded, and wrapped in crêpe paper and ribbon, with cute fabric bundles of organic lavender, made from dresses that “didn’t make the cut”. 

For more insider tips, news, and updates, follow Vanessa on facebook or instagram

Posted in Fashion, Life & StyleComments (1)

Mural of the Month: Goncalvez Dias 1142


Zosen Bandido and Mina Hamada are an Argentine/Japanese urban art duo based in Barcelona. Collaborating since 2010, they connected over a shared love of abstract, free-flowing, and colourful forms and create playful and upbeat murals that reflect the artists’ cheerful personalities.

photo courtesy of Graffitimundo

photo courtesy of Mina Hamada

As part of a South American tour in late 2014/early 2015, they visited Buenos Aires and painted a wonderful wall in the new street art mecca of Barracas. The mural is painted in their signature style on the house of the area’s resident matriarch, Susana, who everyone refers to as “abu” or “grandmother”.

Susana was more than happy about the mural, as you can see in the beautiful video below.

Mina Hamada & Zosen Bandido :: Argentina 2014 from hazte1delosmios on Vimeo.

Zosen and Mina also exhibited in Club Cultural Matienzo during their stay, and left some prints and t-shirts, which can be found at Hollywood in Cambodia or Galeria UNION.

photo courtesy of Graffitimundo

photo courtesy of Graffitimundo

This article was produced in collaboration with Graffitimundo, a non-profit organisation which celebrates graffiti and street art in Buenos Aires and supports local artists. For more information on the artists, exhibitions, and Buenos Aires street art tours, visit their website or facebook page

Posted in Life & Style, The CityComments (0)

The Indy Eye: The Origin and Evolution of Urban Photography


Urban scenes have always been closely tied to photography and with offerings such as Humans of New York and now even Humans of Buenos Aires, it has become even more popular. A lot of photographers thrive in the city; capturing candid moments, jaw-dropping skyscrapers, and whatever unfolds on the street while they patiently wait on a corner.

“Street photography” is the term used to describe this type of photography and there’s definitely a wealth of opportunities for budding or pro street photographers in Buenos Aires.

Arnaud Paillard, a photography guide for Foto Ruta Buenos Aires takes us through a few things to think about when braving the streets with your camera…

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Shapes and Light

Thanks to its tree-lined streets, Buenos Aires offers a great range of light during the day, from the soft diffused light under the trees to the real hard light at noon in the newly pedestrian streets of Microcentro then softer light come evening. For those who can see them, cities offer man-made objects and shades that can be turned into very interesting shapes by photographers, using hard light to create high contrast. A street photographer will use that contrast to create lines and shapes that draws the viewer’s eye where he wants it to be.

In a few words, hard light makes everything that is lit on a street scene to become a highlight. On the contrary, everything else will stay dark, allowing the photographer to play hide-and-seek with his or her composition. Cities – with their buildings, cars, and all other human artefacts – create shadows and lines that photographers can use to compose a picture, pretty much like a painter would; simplifying and abstracting the photographer’s composition.

This trend in street photography (using hard light), providing shadows and lines to bring about the stillness of street scenes, is still relatively new, and was created by the photographers from the Düsseldorf Academy in the eighties. Inspired by the new-objectivity artistic tradition from the 20s, the photographers from the Academy refused the narration in photography composition. Their aim was not to tell a story, like the French humanistic photographers from the 30s used to do, but to express as purely as possible the state and the shapes of cities.

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People

An urban environment offers what every photographer is looking for: discretion and anonymity. Street photographers do not want to affect their subjects. They rather want to wait for the decisive moment to capture the inner beauty of their fellow urbanites.

Buenos Aires, to that extent, features a never-ending source of different faces in changing lights. When you ask any photographer why they choose to shoot in Buenos Aires, they cite of course the architecture, the avenues… But what inspires them the most is the people.

Lucas Bois, the creator of the Instagram account @peopleofbuenosaires for example, when asked why he chose such a name, said that the diversity of people in the city offers a thousand faces; always changing, always displaying new and interesting stories to capture on camera.

Street photography, at its beginning, was all about people. From Henri-Cartier Bresson’s master work to Robert Frank’s anthology, the pioneers of street photography were most interested in the inhabitants of the city. Sites by themselves were not the focus (at least the urban landscape wasn’t). What they intended to do, especially after World War II, was to display an optimistic point of view of humanity by taking pictures of the humble people of the bustling cities of the 20th century. After the atrocities of the war, those photographers wanted to convey a more peaceful image of the people. The aim of those photographers was to turn mundane street scenes into works of art, to reveal the inner beauty of the cities they lived in, and the one of their inhabitants and their humble work. They were dubbed “peace reporters”, and their movement was called humanistic photography, because its intention was to give a new faith inhumanity.

When you take pictures in the street of any city in the world, try to remember that urban photography is all about giving tributes to the beauty of the sites. On the other hand, try to remember not to steal your pictures. Try to interact with people, always smile, and keep looking for some faces and shapes to shoot.

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Foto Ruta Photography tours run photography experiences and workshops in Buenos Aires designed to encourage people to see the city creatively while learning abut photography. Foto Ruta also run tours in Santiago (Chile), London and Barcelona. Email hola@foto-ruta.com or visit www.foto-ruta.com to find out more. 

All photos by Arnaud Paillard

Posted in Life & Style, Photoessay, The CityComments (0)

18F: Reflections on the March for Nisman


Wednesday evening’s torrential downpour would normally have cleared the streets of Buenos Aires. But tens of thousands of people stood firm, determined to be a part of the ‘silent march’ organised for a month after the mysterious death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman.

“I don’t mind if it rains,” one elderly man told me as the sky over the National Congress turned a threatening grey-blue. “I feel like I need to be here to pay homage to Nisman, who had the courage to investigate those in power. There must be justice.” It was a sentiment shared by many.

Tens of thousands of Argentines defied the weather to join the Nisman march (Photo: Patricio Murphy)

Tens of thousands of Argentines defied the weather to join the Nisman march (Photo: Patricio Murphy)

The so-called ’18F’ march had the world’s media fixated on Argentina, as it has been since Nisman’s demise just days after he had accused President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of attempting to cover-up Iran’s suspected involvement in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community centre.

Yet, with some notable exceptions, this international coverage often lacks context or misses details that help provide a deeper perspective and understanding. Overlooking or ignoring the nuances of an “historic” event like 18F can lead to misinterpretation, or worse, reinforce the binary “us versus them” positions that have done so much damage to the standard of political debate in Argentina of late (with both sides to blame).

With this in mind, here are some observations and reflections from Wednesday’s march.

1. Firstly, this was a very large crowd – the exact number varies greatly depending on the source (some estimating 50,000, others putting the number at half a million), and doesn’t really matter. For a reference point, it was roughly comparable to that of the November 2012 ‘cacerolazo‘ or protests during the 2008 ‘campo crisis‘. The big turnout was expected given the repercussions of the Nisman case and several days of build up in the media, though the stoic perseverance of those marching through the storm was a clear public message of defiance. There was a dominant demographic in attendance: the urban, middle class, with a slight bias towards older generations. There were exceptions – I saw a number of younger families – and marches in other parts of the country may have been different, but the crowd in Buenos Aires could not be considered a full cross-section of Argentine society. Of course, this doesn’t discredit the demands or convictions of the people there, but we must be wary of presenting them as those of the entire populace.

Calls for a silent march were largely respected by the crowds (Photo: Patricio Murphy)

Calls for a silent march were largely respected by the crowds (Photo: Patricio Murphy)

2. The frenzied speculation of the last month was – thankfully – largely absent from the march. The organisers, led by a handful of federal prosecutors, had requested people remain silent and avoid the aggressive political chanting of other recent protests, including the day after Nisman’s death. This was well respected: people talked quietly among themselves, but aside from the occasional chant of “Justicia! Justicia! Justicia!” and a few renditions of the national anthem, the most conspicuous noise was the rain beating down on a hotch-potch blanket of umbrellas. It was, in this respect, a peaceful and respectful mass congregation, marred only by the unfortunate chant of ‘Nunca Más‘ (Never Again) – a term used almost exclusively in relation to crimes against humanity committed by the last military dictatorship in Argentina – by a minority.

3. It’s important to remember that these calls for justice took place just one month into the official investigation into Nisman’s death, early stages for such a delicate and complex case. Frustrating there are still more questions than answers, but it is underway and moving forward at a faster pace than many cases (even if not nearly fast enough for the Twitter generation). Furthermore Nisman’s own accusations against the president are now being followed up by another prosecutor, Gerardo Pollicita. To demand “Justice for Nisman” at this stage implies assumptions about him, his work, and his death, which in turn suggest a certain disregard for those charged with discovering the truth. The six prosecutors who organised the march said that it was simply to pay homage to their dead colleague, and not against anyone in particular. But others, including from within the judiciary, criticised the event for undermining and putting undue pressure on their colleagues leading the current investigations.

4. Another contradiction: the prosecutors who were received as heroes in Plaza de Mayo have long been part of a justice system that very few people in Argentina consider to be transparent or effective. To name just a few, cases such as Cromañón, Luciano Arruga, Jorge Julio López, Marita Verón, and the AMIA bombing itself, have exposed corruption, negligence, and impunity in the judiciary, yet did not prompt the same level of media or public outcry. Obviously, Nisman’s profile and the timing of his death makes this a special case. But let’s not forget that he was also part of this flawed system, and there remain concerns over his handling of the AMIA investigation over a decade, especially his proximity to the local intelligence services and US embassy officials (as revealed by numerous Wikileaks cables). This doesn’t mean that his accusations against the president are invalid nor make his untimely death any less disturbing, but it would be a mistake to ignore even the possibility that errors were made, or that there were ulterior motives at play.

Many people have already made up their mind about what happened to Prosecutor Nisman (Photo: Patricio Murphy)

Many people have already made up their mind about what happened to Prosecutor Nisman (Photo: Patricio Murphy)

5. All of this suggests that, though the prosecutors leading 18F publicly attempted to remove politics from the occasion, this was still an anti-government protest at heart. The particulars of the Nisman case (both his death and his accusations) mean it is inevitably mixed up with politics and the demands for justice on his behalf – led somewhat paradoxically by members of the judicial branch – were aimed squarely at the Executive. There is a reason that only opposition leaders participated, albeit presenting themselves as ‘citizens’ rather than ‘candidates’ (for the upcoming elections), and that the march travelled from Congress to Plaza de Mayo, bypassing the Courts. Of course, there is nothing wrong with holding a political or opposition march; on the contrary, public, non-violent demonstrations against the ruling power are a sign of a healthy democracy. But pretending this was something entirely apolitical is to willingly ignore the underlying interests and agendas of some of those involved.

6. What happens post 18F? Probably nothing new. In itself, the march was neither an attempt at a “soft coup” (as some in the government have claimed) nor a “silent revolution” (as some in the opposition would have us believe). The investigations into Nisman’s death and his own allegations against the president will continue at the pace these things move in bureaucracy-ridden Argentina. There are likely to be more twists and turns, more speculation and suspicion, more media hyperbole. And there will be repeated public calls for truth and justice, even though many have already made up their mind about what happened to Nisman, and will be reluctant to accept any outcome that suggests otherwise.

Above all, the whole Nisman saga will play out in the context of a heavily divided society and amid an ugly power struggle involving the government, the judiciary, the media, the corporate establishment, and now the intelligence services. Oh, and in an election year.

Make no mistake: it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

@marcdrogers

Lead image by Patricio Murphy.

Posted in AnalysisComments (2)

Shakespeare in the City


William Shakespeare may have written his collection of works in English, but for the next eight days, “Shakespeare is going to be porteño,” announced reporter and actress Cristina Pérez at the inauguration of the Buenos Aires Shakespeare Festival on Thursday.

Hamlet (photo courtesy of Shakespeare Festival)

Hamlet (photo courtesy of Shakespeare Festival)

This year’s festival, which opens today and runs until 28th February, was presented yesterday at the British ambassador’s residence in Recoleta. In partnership with the Buenos Aires Ministry of Culture, the British Embassy, and the British Council, director Patricio Orozco presented more than a week’s worth of theatre, film, readings, and activities throughout the city to celebrate, share, and enjoy Shakespeare in the city.

“We were attracted by the possibility of diversity that Shakespeare offers,” said Minister of Culture Hernan Lombardi at the festival’s inauguration. “Its connection to the present is what really draws people in. Shakespeare’s theatre is not elitist but rather speaks of us, the people.”

This accessibility makes it possible for all of Buenos Aires to enjoy the magic of The Bard, especially thanks to new offerings in all parts of the city. New this year are functions in Ciudad Oculta and Villa 20, in collaboration with the Romeo Foundation. These functions will allow for children who have been working in the educational programme ‘Shakespeare for all’ to have the opportunity to view theatrical productions of Shakespeare. Orozco comments that these programmes are critical because he believes that “talents are equally distributed throughout the world. We want to give them this opportunity to develop their talent”.

Michael Pennington will be reading at the festival (photo courtesy of the Shakespeare Festival)

Michael Pennington will be reading at the festival (photo courtesy of the Shakespeare Festival)

Two high points of the festival include co-founder of the English Shakespeare Company Michael Pennington’s reading of ‘Sweet William’ and Norma Aleandro’s reading of ‘Venus and Adonis’ in the Usina del Arte in La Boca. Although not mentioned in the programme, Aleandro’s reading will be accompanied by renaissance-era music by Malena Solda and Miguel de Olasso. Orozco notes, “this is the first time Aleandro reads Shakespeare.”

Throughout the festival, troupes from both Argentina and Uruguay will present works including ‘Hamlet’, ‘The Women of Shakespeare’, and ‘Oh! Celo’, a clown adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic ‘Othello’.

The events are not limited to theatre productions: screenings of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ with Orlando Bloom, ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’, and Kevin Spacey’s production ‘Now. The Documentary’ will take place in the Paco Urondo Cultural Centre in downtown. Conferences and workshops include ‘In Dialogue with Michael Pennington’ on 26th February at the Centro Cultural de la Cooperación, and ‘Celebrating Shakespeare’ at IES Lenguas Vivas on 23rd February.

The festival proposes offerings for younger audiences as well, including ‘Romeo and Juliet, a Work in Progress’ and ‘How Tired I am this Midsummer Night’.

How Tired I am This Midsummer Night (photo courtesy of Shakespeare Festival)

How Tired I am This Midsummer Night (photo courtesy of Shakespeare Festival)

For those looking to bring their love for Shakespeare outdoors, the ‘Shakespearean Bicycle Ride’ on Sunday and ‘Shakespearean Walk’ the following Saturday will allow participants to read aloud works of Shakespeare whilst appreciating the city’s architecture and the beautiful late-summer weather on foot or by bicycle.

For the first time since the festival’s beginnings in 2011, “we will no longer be able to say that we are the only Shakespeare Festival in Latin America” comments Orozco. This year’s festival serves as a launchpad for the upcoming Uruguay Shakespeare Festival, due to be held from 3rd-7th March in Montevideo.

“The family continues to grow,” he says. On the topic of growing families, Orozco dedicates the festival to his newly born son, his “little Hamlet, who often contemplates the question to sleep, or not to sleep.”

All events are free and will take place in theatres and cultural centres across the city beginning tomorrow, Friday 20th February. All events will be in Spanish, with the exception of the film screenings and Michael Pennington’s reading of ‘Sweet William’, which will be read in English with Spanish subtitles.

Check the Festival’s Facebook page or website for a full list of events, and to reserve free tickets. And if all tickets are sold out? Despair not: often those without tickets are able to gain admission to events in a line outside the theatre, in the event that ticket holders do not show up.

 

 

Posted in Film, Literature, The Arts, Theatre, TOP STORYComments (0)

Undercover BA: Picks for 2015


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Vanessa Bell is a freelance writer and trend hunter, running a bespoke personal shopping service called Creme de la Creme, as well as writing as a lifestyle, food, and fashion insider for Wallpaper*, Monocle, and other international publications. She’s lived in Buenos Aires since 2010, having visited all her life as her mother is Argentine. 

I am constantly inspired by the multi-faceted nature of this city and the many hidden spots waiting to be unearthed. Thanks to an innate inquisitiveness and the nature of my work, I am constantly discovering new projects and enterprises. Some have been under my nose all along on some sleepy backstreet, at others the paint is still drying, from an exciting bar on the eve of its inauguration to the showroom of an emerging designer in their first week of trading, discovered through word of mouth or close friends.

Here is a pick of some of favourite new discoveries and recommendations to kick off 2015:

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A place to lay my head 

Arroyo Hotel is a design paradise and oasis of calm in an otherwise bustling area of town on the Retiro/Recoleta border. The proprietors have not scrimped on anything here, contracting the WOW factor team to collaborate with the interior design and decor, and it shows. The results are a visual feast, with a specially commissioned tropical mural by artist Eloisa Ballivian taking centre stage in the lobby. The family-run hotel spans over 10 storeys and 77 rooms, with filmmaker Javier Nir and his sister Fabiana at the helm. The perfect spot for a well-earned pamper without having to leave the city. 

Arroyo Hotel – Suipacha 1359, Retiro. 

image-2 cropWhere I go to write and for the perfect sugar fix

ANIMA cafe has been open for little more than a year, and has quickly gained a loyal following despite its inconspicuous frontage and location in a quiet part of Barrio Norte. From neighbours in the surrounding area to those in the know, word on the street is that the city’s best cupcakes are found here. And it’s hardly surprising given owner Inés Maisano’s success trading for three years in London’s Upmarket, where she perfected her baking skills. Upon returning to BA she spotted a niche in the local market and began taking private and corporate commissions for cupcakes and baked goods. If sweet treats aren’t your cup of tea, the range of infusions from Tealosophy available may well be, with tasty breakfast and savoury lunch options also available.

ANIMA, Peña 2665, Recoleta. 

image-3Amazing deli sandwiches

Butcher’s is the ultimate pitstop for lunch, with take-away options available both during the day and at night. Unpretentious in its approach, Butcher’s has a concise menu with a selection of sandwiches and salads. The spot on coleslaw and homemade crisps as accompaniment raise the bar, yet all options remain under triple figures. The decor was all made to measure, with a beautiful communal table fashioned from wood and metal with exposed lighting as the centrepiece, and a few surrounding tables suitable for an intimate meal as a couple. 

Butcher’s – Costa Rica 5863, Palermo.

image-6Most exciting new Buenos Aires fashion discovery

I discovered VERNNA by chance two weeks ago on FB, one of my key tools for keeping up to speed with new showrooms and emerging labels. Here FB is king and most new designers tout their businesses via this channel. VERNNA is a label that offers limited edition robes and capes as well as hand-crafted wooden fans. Barbara Vernengo (founder of the label) creates versatile pieces whose use is determined by the client – I love a garment that invites the user to be daring and experimental and I expect my VERNNA cape will become a staple come autumn. At present she sells by appointment only from her flat, having started out a matter of weeks ago, but there are plans to open a showroom and sell in Panorama boutique in the coming months.

 

image 7 cropFavourite spot for furniture

I am a sucker for mid-century furniture, and Millefiori ticks all my decor boxes. I am fortunate to live in a lovely rationalist building on Congreso plaza with high ceilings and parquet floors and I am about to embark on redecorating and furnishing it slowly, so this shop is on my list to source pieces from.

The selection is meticulous, with an emphasis on restoring pieces to their former glory, offering everything from covetable vintage educational laminates (a personal weakness) to crockery, keepsakes and of course, beautiful furniture. With no website, their FB page has regular updates of new products and sale offers. 

Millefiori – Freire 814, Colegiales.

image-4 cropWishlist 

My wishlist for each season grows day by day, I try and limit myself to one amazing piece a month but my self restraint often wavers. These shoes are from local BA shoe designer Santesteban, a sneak peek of the forthcoming A/W ’15 collection and are a homage to Delauney with a nod towards 70s Pucci. Offering both a court and stiletto heel these are the perfect shows to compliment and lift a pared down monochrome look, which is more and more the style I adopt in this city to counter the bling, leopard print, and stud trends that stubbornly refuse to die – my philosophy is less is more!

Santesteban – Av Alvear 1883, Shop 40, Recoleta.

For more insider tips, news, and updates, follow Vanessa on facebook or instagram

Posted in Fashion, Food & Drink, Travel, Underground BAComments (0)

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24th March marks the anniversary of the 1976 coup that brought Argentina's last dictatorship to power, a bloody seven year period in which thousands of citizens were disappeared and killed. Many of the victims passed through ESMA, a clandestine detention centre turned human rights museum

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