Buenos Aires is divided into many neighborhoods, or barrios. Here is a brief overview of the ones we found the most interesting!
by Travelny2 on April 25, 2008
Puerto Madero is a relatively new neighborhood in Buenoas Aires. It is your classic example of a waterfront redevelopment and in recent years has become one of the social and cultural hubs of the city. When we were there (about three years ago) there were many skyscrapers going up on both sides of the river so I imagine that by now the barrio has really come into its own. Puerto Madero is close to both downtown and the Casa Rosada near the river. Just have a taxi drop you off anywhere in Puerto (because the neighborhood is so new public transportation to the area did not really keep up with construction) and spend a couple of hours just walking up and down the waterfront and taking in the sights. The neighborhood features dozens of restaurants and shops in addition to offering a good nightlife and cultural scene. There are two notable landmarks along the waterfront of Puerto Madero. First is the Fragata Sarmiento which is a fairly large historic wooden ship that they have permanently docked alongside the pedestrian walkway. I don't really know what the historical significance of it other that its age is but it was pretty cool to take a look at and as far as I remember you could even board it and walk around. The other notable landmark is the La Puente de la Mujer bridge. It connects the east and west sides of Puerto Madero over the waterway and was designed by Santiago Calatrava. As with much of his work, the bridge looks more like a suspended moving sculpture. Walk out onto the bridge and get some great pictures of you or your family. We knew some people who lived in Buenos Aires and they took us to a restaurant in Puerto called Aires de Patagonia. The food was phenomenal. This was probably the most expensive meal of our trip and still only cost about $25 each. Dress casual but in nice clothing if you choose to go here. There are many other great looking restaurants in the immediate area including a Cabana Las Lilas which is one of the most famous parillas in BA. Stay away from Hooters and TGI Friday's. Food in BA is too good to waste your time on places like this. They are more of an American novelty for locals. Puerto is a great place to visit but a couple of hours should be plenty to walk around so you don't need to budget a whole day here. It is a great place to have a meal though so I would recommend trying to coincide a trip to the area with lunch time or come back for dinner on a differnt day. Definately shouldn't be missed though if you have a sufficient amount of time in the city to see everything you want to!
La Boca is probably the most visually entertaining barrio in Buenos Aires. All of the buildings are relatively low lying and small but what is interesting is that each is painted a very bright color. On many building each portion of the very same building is painted a different color all the way down the street leading to a neighborhood that almost looks like a collection of legos piled down both sides of the street. The main street is lined with tourist shops and vendors selling an array of goods. People also dance tango and perform in the streets for tips which was fun to watch. While La Boca is a great place to visit it is not known for being one of the safer neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. The people are generally friendly and kind but it is a poor neighborhood and it is not usually recommended to venture off of the main street which is called Caminito. Walking along Caminito is perfectly safe it is just important to be on guard, aware and keep your eyes out. As long as you aren't being stupid you will be just fine. We met a girl from the states when we were down there that was studying abroad who had gone to Boca with her digital camera hanging from her arm on a string. She said a 5 year old kid came up to her, kicked her, ripped the camera off her arm and ran away down an alley. It was kind of funny in retrospect and indicative of the crime that occurs in La Boca. You don't have to worry about violent crime just petty theft for the most part. Be aware of your wallet and don't leave your camera dangling when you are not using it. There is also a fairly good chance you will see a march or protest going on in the area. We walked right by one where there was a crowd of a few hundred people with banners chanting down the street. We just walked right by, they won't bother you. There are a few interesting landmarks in the Boca area that are worth checking out. The first is the Avellaneda Bridge. You will pass this bridge on the way into the Boca barrio. It is kind of ugly looking to be honest but what is notable about it is that it was designed by the same guy that did the Eiffel Tower. You can definately tell by looking at it that it has the same style of iron work and is really evocative of the supports of the Eiffel. The second landmark in Boca is the Bombanera Stadium where the La Boca Juniors soccer team plays. They are the cross town rivals of River Plate over in the Palermo area. To see the stadium you have to venture off the Caminito which is not "recommended" but we did it and never felt threatened or in danger. As you approach it is will just pop out of the neighborhood like a giant wall in front of your face all of a sudden. The houses literally go almost right up to the edge of the stadium unlike those in America that have acres of parking surrounding the structure. There wasn't a game going on when we were there but there was still a really cool souvenir shop open right next to the stadium that sold all kinds of stuff with the team logo. Boca is definately worth a visit just keep your guard up and you'll be fine.
Recoleta is one of the largest barrios in the city and quite possibly the most expensive. It is located off of Libertador as you approach downtown. This area is perhaps the most prestigious place to live in the city and many of the apartments have doormen and are clearly luxury units based simply on the lobbies and facades of the buildings.In the United Nations Park you will find the Florialis sculpture. This sculpture is a giant flower blossom that opens and closes throughout the course of the day. If you happen to drive by it multiple times you will notice that it never appears to be in the same position twice. Although you will likely drive past it at some point or other on your trip it is definately worth a walk over to the park to see it close up. One of the main attractions of Recoleta is the Recoleta Cemetary. This cemetary is not like those you usually see in the United States where graves are marked by a plaque or a small headstone. The tombs here are all market by large above ground mausoleums, many of which are made of marble and house whole families of deceased individuals. The Recoleta Cemetary is free to enter and really interesting. Although the tombs are very expensive many of them are not well maintained and it is very common to see coffins sticking out of crumbling niches in the walls, holes in the floors leading down to burial chambers etc. There are cats everywhere, presumably keeping the rat and mouse population under control as I'm guessing the open crypts provide great living opportunities for all of these creatures.The Recoleta Cemetary is also the final resting place of Eva Peron (aka Evita) There are not signs pointing to her tomb but the cemetary is not extremely large and if you wander around for half an hour you are bound to stumble across it at some point or other. You will know it when you see it because it will have considerably more flowers adorning it then any other. People still come to pay their respects.Recoleta is also known for its shopping and restaurant scene. Avenida Alvear is the Rodeo Drive of Buenos Aires and you will find many international brands here. Recoleta also has one of the best nightlife scenes in the city and there are a couple of blocks with literally one bar after another most of the way down the street. Some of the larger discos are in this area and many of them are three stories tall with multiple bars and dancing. While Recoleta is known for being expensive there are still many dining options at very reasonable prices and bars didn't seem to be more expensive then anywhere else.
Tigre is a fun day trip to take from the city. We decided we wanted to stay in the city instead of traveling around Argentina in order to really be able to enjoy Buenos Aires but wanted to see something else at least for a day. Tigre was the perfect opportunity to do that. It is only about 45 minutes away from Barcelona by train but feels a whole world outside the city when you get there. The best way to get to Tigre is to board the Tren de la Costa which I believe you pick up at the Retiro Terminus (I just tried to look up the exact location online because I'm not positive but when you get there just ask someone and most people will know for sure) Tickets were not very expensive...probably around $5 or so. It is nice to look out the window as you're going through the BA suburbs to see all the different type of neighborhoods and get a sense of real Argentine life outside the urbanity of the city. The train ride is pleasant and you can even fall asleep if you want without worry of missing your stop because Tigre is at the end of the line. Tigre is a small city located on the Delta of Rio de la Plata before it empties to the port and the Atlantic Ocean. You will want to buy a ticket for one of the commuter launches. These are wood boats that lie very low in the water. All the people that live in the delta must commute by boat to and from Tigre. There are no roads for the people to get to and from their homes as they literally live in a marsh. The delta is a maze of waterways with people's homes propped up on the banks. It's funny, instead of driveways people have docks with staircases leading out of the water. Tickets to get on the boats are very cheap (as is everything in BA...) and they will drop you off at a variety of stops. There will always be more boats coming by to pick you up, you just have to wait at the dock like a bus stop. I think they come by every 15 or 30 minutes so just time accordingly. We got off at a stop that had a little bar/restaurant. The lady and her little kid running the restaurant were both very nice and very very friendly. You could tell they were excited to have customers. We ordered food....which was gross but we felt to bad to leave it sitting on the plate when they were clearly trying so hard to serve us so I ended up wrapping it in napkins and putting it in my pocket so they'd think we ate it. Bottom line, I recommend just ordering some large beers at these restobars in the delta and relaxing. Skip the food and wait until you get back to Tigre. I had to ride the boat home with a veal parmesan sandwich stuffed in my pocket.Going to Tigre was a fun experience except for the boat which was a little too close to the waterline for comfort although they are obviously perfectly safe. Also the water in the harbor in Tigre is filthy and black and disgusting with a ton of garbage floating in it and it smells really bad but once you get into the delta everything looks much better.
by Travelny2 on April 28, 2008
San Telmo is a neighborhood located past Puerto Madero on the other side of Avenida Mayo and the Casa Rosada. The highlight of the neighborhood is the flea market that is hosted every Sunday. The flea market is what makes San Telmo worth the trip so if you happen to be in Buenos Aires on a Sunday I would highly recommend stopping by. It is a great cultural experience and there are lots of antiques, local crafts, artwork and other knick-knacks up for sale. We took a cab down to San Telmo from the Palermo area. On a Sunday, if you ask a cab driver to take you to San Telmo they will basically drive you right to the plaza where the flea market takes place so you don't really have to worry about exact directions. One thing to note about going here however is that we had an essentially impossible time getting a cab back where we came from. This never happened anywhere else in our whole week and a half in Buenos Aires but we could not for the life of us get a cab out of San Telmo. We couldn't even find one in San Telmo for about a half an hour and then decided to start walking. Once we got to the main street that runs toward Puerto Madero about 50 cabs probably drove by us over the course of the next hour and not one would stop. We to this day don't know if cabs refuse to pick people up in that general area or what the deal was but you may want to ask someone (a concierge for instance) before you go. We ended up walking a few miles until we found a subway stop. The flea market in San Telmo itself was a great experience. There is an alley leading up to the square that people were selling homemade crafts in. There was a wide assortment of jewerly, scarves, and other handicrafts at rock bottom prices. Handmade earrings were about $2. I picked up some service utensils crafted out of wood for a couple of bucks. There is a large cathedral along this alley that is worth taking a peek in and when we were there there was also live music. As you get into the main plaza you will find at least 100 booths and tents with people selling pretty much everything you could imagine. A couple of notable Argentine items that are widely available for sale are mate bowls and leaves (a tea made by pouring hot water into a ceramic bowl filled with tea and then sipping it out of a straw) and antique soda bottles which are made out of glass with seltzer dispenser taps. On the far side of the plaza leading out the other alley there is a concentration of booths focused on paintings and photographs. Particularly interesting were the three dimensional paintings of Buenos Aires' famous magazine kiosks. The level of detail was incredible as they literally had "titles" on all the miniature magazines. There are numerous restaurants and antique shops with pricier goods immediately surrounding the square so if you are in the market for lunch or some upscale antique wares this is a great place to go for that as well.
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