Voulme 3: 24 Hours in Buenos Aires

mailife - - Contents - Words & Im­ages by PRIYA DARSNI

Fiji and Ar­gentina strength­ened their al­liance in Jan­uary 2018 with a 90 day visa-free travel agree­ment for Fi­jians want­ing to ex­plore the cul­tural cap­i­tal of South Amer­ica. Eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble via a stop-over in Auck­land, maiLife will be tak­ing read­ers on an ex­plo­ration of Ar­gen­tine food, tra­di­tions, places, peo­ple and land­scape in up­com­ing is­sues. In vol­ume one, I in­tro­duced the dif­fer­ent bar­rios (neigh­bour­hoods) of Ar­gentina’s cap­i­tal city. Ideally, you would have set aside three to four days to ex­plore Buenos Aires but for those who may be time poor, let’s go on a deep dive into the cul­tural me­trop­o­lis with my take on a twen­ty­four hour itin­er­ary. All you need is a sub­way card, com­fort­able walk­ing shoes, an um­brella (just in case) and a cam­era on hand to cap­ture the beauty of the city! 0800 hours: Rise and shine with a cor­tado — this is a smaller, sharper, stronger ver­sion of a flat white and lo­cals will knock back mul­ti­ple in the course of a day. A shot of es­presso with a dash of milk and small peak of foam, there is no bet­ter way to get ready for the ad­ven­tur­ous day ahead. There are lo­cal cafes on ev­ery block in Buenos Aires, but cof­fee in this city is best served with old school charm — check out the Petit Colon cafe ad­ja­cent to Teatro Colon for smooth cor­ta­dos and an as­sort­ment of pas­tries.

0900 hours: An easy swing around the cor­ner will bring you to the en­trance of Teatro Colon, the world’s fifth best opera house over­all and the

world’s best opera house for acous­tics. Head over to the concierge desk and pur­chase theatre tour tick­ets with a guide in English — this op­tion is a lot more af­ford­able than a ticket to watch a show at the opera house. Teatro Colon is a land­mark for the Ar­gen­tines and rep­re­sents the rich Eu­ro­pean im­mi­grants who funded the lav­ish ar­chi­tec­ture of Buenos Aires. In­side you will find gold ban­is­ters, sculp­ture lined hall­ways and mar­ble floors with high ceil­ings cov­ered in im­pres­sion­ist art. The main theatre it­self is im­pres­sive if you are for­tu­nate enough to visit dur­ing theatre sea­son when the stage is set up for a pro­duc­tion. Be sure to look to­wards the bot­tom pan­els on the side of the stage —be­hind the me­tal bars is where re­cent wid­ows of more than 100 years ago would watch shows be­cause it was for­bid­den to be seen in pub­lic dur­ing the mourn­ing pe­riod. On Fri­day morn­ings, you can line up to buy tick­ets for the re­hearsals which again is a much cheaper way to ex­pe­ri­ence Teatro Colon.

1100 hours: Across from Teatro Colon you will see the Tri­bunales build­ing with a plush park filled with dog walk­ers at this hour. The sight of one dog walker hold­ing ten to twelve dogs on a leash is a com­mon one in Buenos Aires and rep­re­sents the ur­ban strug­gle for many Ar­gen­tines. In a city packed with high rise apart­ment build­ings, dog walk­ing is a thriv­ing in­dus­try which al­lows man’s best friend to be out and about while their own­ers are at work. At the park at this hour, you will find the Buenos Aires Free Walks tour guides in or­ange t-shirts. This is a great way to get a two hour ori­en­ta­tion of the city with tales from his­tory, pol­i­tics and high so­ci­ety. Free walk­ing tours are tips­based so at the end of the tour, sim­ply tip the guide as you see fit.

1300 hours: After two hours on foot, you will be fam­ished! Jump onto the sub­way and head to Plaza Italia sta­tion in the Palermo neigh­bour­hood of Buenos Aires. A short walk from the sta­tion will bring you to a fa­mous lo­cal Ar­gen­tinian BBQ restau­rant called Don Julio. This estab­lish­ment has been around for as long as lo­cals can re­mem­ber and the long lines sprawl­ing across the street are their seal of ap­proval. I have tried to get a ta­ble at Don Julio’s for din­ner many times but have never been given a wait­ing time of less than three hours! Lunch is usu­ally less busy, which means you can take your time en­joy­ing your meal. There are a few dishes you must or­der at any Ar­gen­tinian BBQ place, and es­pe­cially at Don Julio — a cut of steak, chorizo, fried pota­toes in gar­lic and pars­ley, grilled pro­v­o­leta cheese with fresh toma­toes and basil. Or­der a bot­tle of mal­bec wine, which will cost less than a tenth of what you would pay for it at home and if you have space for dessert, be sure to try the dulce de leche flan. 1430 hours: Take a leisurely stroll through Palermo, along nar­row cob­ble­stone al­ley­ways lined with the most stun­ning street art. The Ar­gen­tine gov­ern­ment pays lo­cal artists to paint the city with beau­ti­ful street art rep­re­sent­ing pop­u­lar cul­ture

and some­times rooted in po­lit­i­cal ac­tivism. Over the years, Palermo has be­come fa­mous for its street art where artists build on each other’s work in­stead of cov­er­ing it up.

1530 hours: Jump back onto the sub­way and head to Reco­leta, home to the world-fa­mous Reco­leta Ceme­tery. The huge stone walls cov­er­ing more than five hectares holds 4691 burial vaults of the most rich, noble and fa­mous fam­i­lies ever to live in Ar­gentina. Here you will find the grave of Eva Peron, fondly known as Evita and of­ten cited as the Princess Diana of Ar­gentina. The buri­als in the ceme­tery are works of art with fam­i­lies of­ten com­mis­sion­ing large sculp­tures and spir­i­tual pieces from Italy and France. You could spend hours get­ting lost in this ceme­tery, which re­sem­bles an open air mu­seum more than a grave­yard. To make the most of your ex­pe­ri­ence, do some re­search on­line be­fore­hand and pick out the fa­mous buri­als to un­der­stand the sto­ries be­hind some of the re­mark­able plots. There are a num­ber of Airbnb experiences in the city now which will of­fer pri­vate tours and sto­ry­telling at Reco­leta Ceme­tery as well as guided tours in English when the weather per­mits.

1700 hours: The ceme­tery shuts around this time and Ar­gen­tines will start flood­ing the streets for happy hour. This is a good time to wind down with a ver­mouth and soda, rest your feet and do some peo­ple watch­ing. Reco­leta is the rich­est neigh­bour­hood in Buenos Aires so the peo­ple here are a stark con­trast to those you would have seen dur­ing the day — you will see old ladies draped in pearls and Chanel, walk­ing their poo­dles along the wide av­enues. A lux­u­ri­ous old man­sion in this neigh­bour­hood is now the Em­bassy for the Vatican City in Ar­gentina, gifted by one of the rich­est Ar­gen­tine women in his­tory. Dur­ing her life­time she was the big­gest in­di­vid­ual donor to the Vatican and left her prop­erty in their name when she died.

1900 hours: Ask any Ar­gen­tine and they will tell you that the eas­i­est way to pick out a tourist is to peek through restau­rant win­dows be­fore 10pm. Lo­cals in this city rest after work be­fore head­ing out for late din­ners so you will typ­i­cally see restau­rants filled to the brim be­tween 10pm and mid­night. It is the charm of Buenos Aires, but is also a cus­tom that I have never been able to master. Head over to Pizze­ria Guer­rin for din­ner and join the line which ex­ists at all times of day. Pizze­ria Guer­rin is a cor­ner­stone estab­lish­ment in the city and is con­stantly pump­ing out piz­zas from the mo­ment they open in the morn­ing till well into the hours of the next morn­ing. The his­tory of im­mi­gra­tion in the city meant that much of their cui­sine finds its roots in Italy and there is no bet­ter place to try the ‘muza’ than at Pizze­ria Guer­rin. Muza is the lo­cal name for a moz­zarella pizza, how­ever, the way Ar­gen­tines do pizza is dif­fer­ent to any other — a thick, fluffy base topped with a thin layer of to­mato paste and a thick layer of cheese. The cheese will be ooz­ing out from all sides and a sprin­kle of chilli flakes and herbs is all you need for per­fec­tion. Or­der a drink of moscato and soda to ac­com­pany your pizza and en­joy the Guer­rin ex­pe­ri­ence of stand­ing at the bench, eat­ing muza and drink­ing moscato. The lo­cal del­i­cacy, em­panadas, are also avail­able at Guer­rin and done very well. Or­der a pollo em­panada frito (fried chicken em­panada) and watch the Guer­rin men freshly fry your pas­try filled with salsa chicken.

2130 hours: As your day is wind­ing down, the Ar­gen­tines are just rolling out into town for din­ner. Walk past the Obelisco, a 68m his­toric na­tional mon­u­ment which stands in the mid­dle of the main av­enue be­fore head­ing home. For those who have any en­ergy left, the night is just start­ing! Jump again onto the sub­way and head back to Palermo, the heart of this city’s nightlife. Find your way to Frank’s Bar in Palermo Hol­ly­wood — here you will need to present a pass­word to get in and this is where the fun lies. Ev­ery week, Frank’s will re­lease a new pass­word through clues on their Face­book page — solve the clue, say the pass­word to the door­man and you will re­ceive your nu­mer­i­cal code. Punch the code into the tele­phone booth which the door­man will point out to you and watch the back wall swing open into the speakeasy bar. Be pre­pared to pay high dol­lar for cock­tails at Frank’s, but this cosy, moody estab­lish­ment is well worth the ef­fort and price.

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