Life in hostel#5

The last stop in my 9 months journey was in Santiago de Chile, where I spent 3 months of (almost) winter. This was, by far, the most challenging hostel of all.

Let`s start with the positive part: I was living close to the city center, in a bohemian borough, I was getting paid (not much, but enough to get through) and my boss was really nice, but a bit chaotic.

On the downside, the weather was cold since it was winter. Compared to European weather it was nice and warm, but unfortunately I did not have my winter gear with me, so I had to get around with the things I had on me. Which proved to be more difficult than I originally thought, since the hostel wasn`t heated and sometimes it was warmer outside than inside. I found out the hard way that hot water bottles can be a lifesaver, especially during the night.

The FIFA world cup was taking place in Brazil, so that`s where all the tourists were travelling to. Because of the high prices in football tickets and accommodation, few of them could afford to visit other countries in South America. As a result, the hostel was most of the time half empty. Not just my place, but the entire city was lacking tourists. Things were a bit boring, especially around the hostel.

My fellow travelers working in the hostel were not as friendly as my friends in Argentina. To be more precise, they were friendly and helpful, but they were busy with their stuff and didn`t have much time left to hang out. There was a French girl living in the hostel with her boyfriend and they were spending most of the time in their room. The other girl was also French, but she was constantly skyping with her boyfriend back in Germany. Luckily, other colleagues arrived from Canada, Mexico and Chile, so things got a bit more animated.

There were two other permanent members in charge of breakfast and cleaning, one weirder than the other. There was a younger guy in his 30s, always unhappy with something, always mumbling  and quarreling. He once tried to start a cocktail business in the hostel, selling drinks to clients without the boss’s consent. One of the clients told my boss how good the cocktail was and he got told off. My biggest issue was the noise he was making in the kitchen preparing breakfast, right next to my room. It’s not nice waking up each morning at 6am, in the sound of slammed cupboards and dashed dishware, so I started using ear plugs.  However, he was nice when he was smoking pot, and this was happening rather often.

The  other one was weird looking and socially awkward, sometimes even freaking customers off. I always compare him with Lurch from the Addams Family in my mind, although he isn`t as massive. A lean man in his 50s, with wispy hair, gray eyes and an overall dusty appearance. The hostel was constantly receiving bad reviews and complaints about him smoking in the shared dorm or just being weird. However, the boss only fired him only after he punched a guest in the face, who happened to be the cousin of the lousy guy. Throughout my stay, I was worried he might snap one day and burn down the place.

The best thing about my stay here was the fact that after a month and a half I received my own room and bathroom. Even if it was really small and crowded, it was exactly what I needed after several months of living in shared dorms.

The time spent in Chile was’t the highlight of my journey, especially since I was facing some personal problems. I sometimes think that maybe I wasn’t able to appreciate the people around me enough, because in the end my boss helped me with some issues and even threw a goodbye party for me. From time to time, I miss my little room and the  time I spent there.

traveller-s-place-hostel
Source: TripAdvisor

Valparaiso – walking up and down a city-scaled museum

Valparaiso is located on the South Pacific coast, about 2 hrs away from Santiago de Chile. It used to be one of the main ports in the Pacific, but the opening of the Panama Canal affected the economy of the city. Nonetheless, the city continues to be one of the most important seaports in the South Pacific, as well as a flourishing cultural and educational center.

During its golden age it was known as “Little San Francisco” and “the jewel of the Pacific”. The beautiful buildings in the city center and the imposing constructions in the port stand as a testimony of that period, fact which included the historic quarters in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.

Valparaiso - historiric quarter

Valparaiso - historic quarter

Fine Arts Museum

Valparaiso - historic quarter

Fine Arts Museum

Valparaiso - historic quarter

Valparaiso - historic quarter

Valparaiso - historic quarter

Valparaiso spreads around steep hillsides. If you are not willing to take the stairs, you can try the 26 functional funiculars. But some of the stair streets will definitely worth the effort.

Valparaiso funiculars

Source: moon.com

Valparaiso funicular Ascensor

Source: http://www.mackeyinc.com The Artilleria funicular has been serving the city since 1893

Or why not slide down?

Valparaiso sled

In the last years artists have been taking over Valparaiso, transforming a decaying city into a vibrant and colorful destination. You can wonder the streets for hours, getting lost in the chaotic maze and discovering enchanting details at every corner. It feels like a spell has been put over the city, giving the houses a life of their own.

As is the case of many other cities, street art becomes a mean of talking about important issues, such as multiculturalism, ethnicity, human rights or the environment, not just a way of creating beautiful images.

Valparaiso street art

Valparaiso street art

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Valparaiso street art

Valparaiso street art

Valparaiso street art

Valparaiso street art

Valparaiso street art

Valparaiso street art

Valparaiso street art

While here, you can also visit Pablo Neruda`s home, La Sebastiana. The poet dedicated an ode to the city that inspired him. The Fine Arts Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the Naval Museum and the Cultural Park  are also worth a visit. The Cultural Park was built on the site of a former prison.

Valparaiso Cultural Park

Source: http://www.plataformaarquitectura.cl – Cultural Park

Valparaiso Cultural Park

Source: radio.uchile.cl – Cultural Park

Even though I consider the old city an enormous open air museum, just one part of the center is considered one.

Valparaiso open air museum

Source: redbellavista-v-region.blogspot.com  – Open air museum

Valparaiso open air museum

Source: http://www.juntoalbarrio.cl – Open air museum

As one might expect, most restaurants serve fish dishes and sea food. Surprisingly, the city is associated with another typical Chilean dish: the chorillana. The city takes proud in having the best chorillana in the country.

To sum up, if you have a few days in Santiago, Valparaiso is a must-see destination that will take you out of this world.

 

Street Art in Santiago de Chile

I believe that street art tells a lot about a community`s philosophy and spirituality. This is why I like to wonder the streets and to listen to what the images have to say.

Just like in Sao Paulo,  street art reveals a hidden face of Santiago and Chile through a wide range of messages and ideas, from fantasy-related themes to more serious issues such as poverty, ethnicity and ecology.

The paintings completely change the way the building look like, giving you the impression that you are walking into a fantasy world.

The most famous neighborhoods are Barrio Brasil, Barrio Yungay, Bellas Artes and Bellavista.

Discover Santiago through street art!

Barrio Brasil & Barrio Yungay

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Bellavista & Bellas Artes

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Things to do in Santiago de Chile

Santiago is definitely not the most beautiful city in South America, but its unusual charm starts to grow on you once you have a view of the Cordillera, once you set foot on the San Cristobal hill or once you start discovering its many secrets.

The first building I saw was the Central Station. There were many many people in a hurry, so it was a bit intimidating. But after getting over the first impression, I started discovering Santiago little by little and I began to feel like home. For over three months this was my home, and from all the cities I`ve visited in America it was the one that reminded me most of my home town, Bucharest.

estacion_central

Estacion Central Source: miviajeporchile.cl

Dont`t miss out on these thing while in Santiago!

 

A. STREETS AND NEIGHBOURHOODS

Barrio Brasil

A lovely neighborhood where you can wonder the streets, admire the street art, relax in small intimate squares and visit several museums. Plaza Brasil is the perfect place for eating, partying or enjoying a football match.

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Source: santiagochile.com

 

Barrio Bellavista

This colorful neighborhood is known for the street art. At night things tend to get a bit crazy as this is the official party district.

 

Las Condes & Providencia

The business center offers some good examples of contemporary architecture. The Costanera Center (300m) is the highest building in Latin America and the second tallest building in the Southern hemisphere, which is amazing given the fact that Chile is severely affected by earthquakes.

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Barrio Paris – Londres

Bohemian streets paved with cobblestone that start from the Colonial Museum.

Barrio_Paris-Londres

Source: en.wikipedia.org

 

City Center

The city center spreads along the Alameda boulevard, which is nowadays named Avenida Libertador Bernardo O`Higgins.

The central area starts from the Moneda Palace, follows the main boulevard up to the Santa Lucia Hill and goes North to the Plaza de Armas . Many old churches can be admired, as well as imposing institutions and elegant mansions.

Iglesia San Ignacio Church

San Ignacio Church

The Moneda Palace is the presidential palace. The name remembers that coins used to be produced here between 1814 and 1929. Is is in here that the former president Allende was killed in the 1973 military coup.

La Moneda

La Moneda

The oldest building in Santiago is the San Francisco church. The original construction ended in 1613, but the church has been rebuild several times afterwards.

Iglesia San Francisco Church

San Francisco Church

Biblioteca Nacional - National Library

National Library

The Plaza de Armas is the center point of the historical city. It is also the place where you can visit the History Museum.

History Museum Plaza de Armas

History Museum, Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas

Iglesia Santo Domingo Church

Santo Domingo Church Source: http://www.skyscrapercity.com

The streets in the city center offer interesting examples of colonial architecture. So go discover Monjitas, Agustinas, San Antonio and Bandera.

Paseo Huerfanos is the ideal street for shopping and for admiring street performers. Unfortunately, after 10 o`clock it gets kind of shady.

Paseo Huerfanos

Paseo Huerfanos

 

B. Culture

More info about museums, galleries and cultural centers in this older post:

https://simonadinescublog.wordpress.com/2015/08/09/museums-in-santiago-de-chile/

 

C. SHOPPING & FAIRS

Chileans are crazy for shopping, whether it`s a flea market or  expensive stores.

I was surprised to notice that during week-ends people go for walks in the malls and not in parks. So if you happen to pass through  a shopping center on a Saturday or Sunday it will be almost impossible to move or to buy something as the places are overcrowded with people.

However, compared to other south-american cities, Santiago lacks the doze of authentic souvenirs. You can find genuine creations in the south of the country, but be prepared to pay a pretty penny.

 

Santa Lucia Artizans` Market

This permanent fair is located right across the street from the Santa Lucia hill. You can find some authentic products, such as hand-knitted ponchos and accessories, or hand-made instruments, but most stores sell kitchy souvenirs.

Source: nathtrip.wordpress.com

 

Bio-Bio Market

This huge flea-market is the ideal place to find practically anything you want. Their motto is “Name it and we have it”, so you can find anything you think of in here. Beware of pickpockets.

Source: santiagodiy.wordpress.com

 

Temporary fairs

These are tricky to find if you`re new in town because these fairs just appear over night and then disappear as if nothing happened. I once spent one hour looking for a food market in a pretty small perimeter.

There is a big event in the Yungay neighborhood and in the Forestal Park, but aside from these popular events you have to ask around.

 

 

Costanera Center

I don`t enjoy visiting shopping malls, but I believe that the Costanera Center is worth a visit. It`s not everyday you get to visit the tallest skyscraper in South America.

 

Mercado Central

Having a 6435 Km long coastline, in Chile it is always easy to get seafood. For the ones who are dying to try oceanic fish, shellfish and other seafood specialties, the Central Market is the place to be. Whether you feel like eating at one of the many restaurants, browsing for fresh products or watching the skilled vendors, this market will make an impression on you.

santiago-central-market-mercado-central

Source: twandjo.wordpress.com

Mercado-Central

Source: a-perfect-escape.com

Fish-Market-at-Mercado-Central-de-Santiago

Source: davidcolemanphoto.photoshelter.com

 

Tirso Molina

Located across the river from the Central Market, in Tirso Molina you`ll find fruits and vegetables at the first floor and cheap restaurants with typical dishes upstairs.

Source: davidcolemanphoto.photoshelter.com

 

La Vega Central

These markets are basically arranged in a straight line (Mercado Central – Tirso Molina – Vega Chica – Vega Central). La Vega Central is the cheapest and the largest of them. In here you can find all sorts of products, from fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, dry fruits and dairy.

Vega-Central-Santiago-Chile

Source: ultimateguidetochile.com

 

D. PARKS AND NATURE

Santa Lucia (629m)

The hill located in the center of Santiago is a remnant of a volcano. It is decorated with statues, forts and fountains. From here you can admire the city and the San Cristobal hill.  However, it can be dangerous, especially after dark.

The hill played a key role in the Spanish Conquista as it was being used as a lookout.

 

Cerro San Cristobal (863m)

To get a better view of the mountains and the city you just have to climb the San Cristobal Hill. You can go there by car, bike, walking or hiking.

Located on the top of the hill, the statue of the Immaculate Conception guards the city. It can be seen from afar due to its height (14m).

 

The Andes

The Andes have an amazing effect over the way we perceive the city. Sometimes you find yourself  walking through a dull neighborhood and all of a sudden you see the Andes at the end of a street and the colors around you just seem to change. It also helps a lot with orientation.

Unfortunately, pollution sometimes dims the colors of the mountains, so it`s best to admire the landscape right after the sunset or after the rain. You`ll be amazed!

 

E. STREET ART

More about street art in this earlier post:

https://simonadinescublog.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/street-art-in-santiago-de-chile/

 

F. NIGHTLIFE

I believe that there`s a party animal hiding even in the most peaceful Chileans. Just go to any bar and watch how decent looking people wearing business clothes transform after a few drinks.

Barrio Brasil and Barrio Bellavista offer the most options for drinking, eating, dancing and chilling, so these are definitely the places to be if you`re new in town. If you have friends in Santiago, ask them to take you to a less touristic place, there are many hidden bars and a rich underground culture.

La piojera

This is one of the oldest bars in Santiago as it opened its doors in 1896. It was originally the hangout place for people with low incomes, but it`s becoming more and more popular among tourists, hence the high prices. Even if it`s located in a bad neighborhood, at least five presidents have passe

oors and it`s been the favorite place of famous artists, such as Pablo Neruda.

 

Terremoto

“Terremoto” is Spanish for earthquake, but for Chileans it`s the name of a surprising drink  made of white wine, pineapple icecream, granadina and fernet. It may not seem strong at the first sips, but eventually it will make you dizzy and it will give you a hangover the next day, so don`t exaggerate!

 

(Mi)chelada

This Mexican recipe is very popular in Chile, but they make it a bit differently. Just add lime juice to your beer and spread salt on the top of the glass like you would do with tequila and you get a completely different taste!

Source: imbibemagazine.com

 

Pisco (Sour)

This is originally a Peruvian recipe, but it has become the national drink that can be found literally anywhere. To get the sour effect just add lime juice.

 

Wine

Chilean wines are world-wide famous and taste delicious. Chile is the  fifth largest exporter of wines in the world, and the ninth largest producer, so if you have time to spare while in Santiago you can go visit the vineyards close to the city

Museums in Santiago de Chile

During my trip many advised me to avoid Chile from various reasons: it`s too expensive, there`s nothing to see there, it`s not “South American” enough, there`s not much going on there and the food tastes awful.

However, I decided to go with my gut and I stayed for three months in Santiago. The time spent there proved that all the rumors were untrue, except for the one about the prices. This is what determined me to use the future posts as an opportunity to go back through the things that made me fall in love with the city in the first place. In the end, how could a city located at the foothills of the Andes be dull?

From an architect`s point of view, I can say that Santiago is definitely a captivating place from which all could learn some valuable lessons. I believe that the museums are one of the most memorable assets of this city. For those who still think that there`s nothing to do here, consider that the museums listed below are just a few of the many options the city has to offer.

For more information, check this webpage:

http://www.800.cl/?id=1093&c=1563&r=664&esp=1563&p=0&t=Todos+los+Museos+en+Santiago

1. Gabriela Mistral Center

http://www.gam.cl/

Opened in 2010, this cultural center defines itself as a center for the arts, for culture and for people. Also, it aims to be a meeting point between audiences and creators and it hosts events related to theater, choreography, music, visual arts and cinematography.

Occupying a surface of about 22.000 square meters, the center includes a library, a recording studio, a space for temporary exhibitions and many classrooms for theater, dance and music.

What stroke me was the fact that people were actually using this space. And I`m not referring to  the tourists, I`m talking about the locals who come here to interact in the opened squares or in the main  lobby and about the teens who practice their choreography outside.

The center publishes a monthly brochure from which you can find everything about the events taking place; ask for it at the info point.

Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral, Santiago de Chile

Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral, Santiago de Chile

Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral, Santiago de Chile

Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral, Santiago de Chile

Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral, Santiago de Chile

Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral, Santiago de Chile

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Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral, Santiago de Chile

The main square is opened to the public, becoming a point for meeting and interaction.

2. Museum of Memory and Human Rights – FREE access

http://www.museodelamemoria.cl/

The museum commemorates and honors the victim of the military dictatorship that occurred between 1973 and 1990, which led to 3000 victims and 200.000 forced into exile.

This is a good opportunity to  learn about Chilean history and culture. Even today the society is still traumatized by the past events and knowing more about the recent history helps one understand more about the people and their  lifestyle. As one might expect, the pictures and testimonies are quite shocking.

Museo de la Memoria y de los Derechos Humanos, Santiago de Chile

Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos, Santiago de Chile

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Museos de la memoria y los Derechos Humanos, Santiago de Chile

Museo de la Memoria y de los Derechos Humanos, Santiago de Chile

Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos, Santiago de Chile

Museo de la Memoria y de los Derechos Humanos, Santiago de Chile

Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos, Santiago de Chile

Museo de la Memoria y de los Derechos Humanos, Santiago de Chile

Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos, Santiago de Chile

Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos, Santiago de Chile  FOTO: DAVID VON BLOHN Source: ellibero.cl

Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos, Santiago de Chile
FOTO: DAVID VON BLOHN
Source: ellibero.cl

3. Pre-Columbian Art Museum – FREE access on Sundays

http://www.precolombino.cl/

Located in the center of the city, the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art is a great way to learn about the history and culture of the indigenous tribes in the Americas. Although in some South American the indigenous heritage is ignored and many artifacts have been lost or destroyed, Chile takes pride in this unique collection that speaks about their ancestors.

It is fascinating to visit this museums as it tells the stories of cultures very different from ours with day to day objects, with musical instruments or objects used in rituals and burials.

Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Santiago de Chile

Interior courtyard – Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Santiago de Chile

Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Santiago de Chile

Main staircase – Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Santiago de Chile

Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Santiago de Chile

The underground rooms – Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Santiago de Chile

Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Santiago de Chile

Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Santiago de Chile

This artifact reflects the ingenuity on the Inca civilization – as they did not discover writing, this was the most efficient method of counting their resources. Each knot represents a unit for a natural resource (for example 1 knot stands for 100 cows) and the color of the thread represents the resource (for example yellow thread for corn plantation).

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Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Santiago de Chile

4. Matucana100 Cultural Center 

http://www.m100.cl/

Located close to the Quinta Normal Park, this cultural center is dedicated to theater, music, dance, visual arts and cinema. It defines a space for reflection, debate and education.

Centro Cultural Matucana 100 Source: http://voyageaddicted.com/

Centro Cultural Matucana 100
Source: voyageaddicted.com/

Centro Cultural Matucana 100, Santiago de Chile

Centro Cultural Matucana 100, Santiago de Chile Source: http://www.martinhurtado.cl

Centro Cultural Matucana 100, Santiago de Chile Source: www.martinhurtado.cl/

Centro Cultural Matucana 100, Santiago de Chile
Source: http://www.martinhurtado.cl

5. The National Museum of Fine Arts – FREE access

http://www.mnba.cl/

Located in a beautiful historical building, the museum offers a rich collection of paintings and sculptures. Check the temporary exhibitions, there`s always something worth seeing.

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago de Chile Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago de Chile
Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago de Chile Source: www.skyscrapercity.com

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago de Chile
Source: http://www.skyscrapercity.com

6. Museum of Contemporary Art (Parque Forestal)

Many locals don`t know that right behind the Fine Arts Museum you can find the MAC that always hosts interesting and many times interactive exhibits. Expect to find an interactive installation in the main lobby, which will allow you to play and experiment.

MAC Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Santiago, Parque Forestal, Santiago de Chile Source: en.wikipedia.org

MAC Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Santiago, Parque Forestal, Santiago de Chile
Source: en.wikipedia.org

MAC Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Santiago, Parque Forestal, Santiago de Chile Source: www.georgesrousse.com

MAC Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Santiago, Parque Forestal, Santiago de Chile
Source: http://www.georgesrousse.com

7. Museum of Contemporary Art (Quinta Normal) – FREE on Sundays

The Quinta Normal is the equivalent of the Museum Quarters in Wien. You can find here the MAC, the Natural History Museum, the M100 and the Museum of Memory.  If you arrive here on a Sunday you can enter for free to all these museums and you can enjoy the park that is particularly lively during those days.

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo MAC, Quinta Normal, Santiago de Chile Source: www.uchile.cl/

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo MAC, Quinta Normal, Santiago de Chile
Source: http://www.uchile.cl/

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo MAC, Quinta Normal, Santiago de Chile Source: www.mastraviesa.com

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo MAC, Quinta Normal, Santiago de Chile
Source: http://www.mastraviesa.com

It is interesting that some Chilean artists are working inside the museum – during some days you can watch them while they are working and even talk to them. Their work is a bit scary, but fascinating.

More info here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cristobal_Le%C3%B3n_%26_Joaqu%C3%ADn_Coci%C3%B1a

8. Sculpture Park – FREE access

While walking along the Mapocho river from Bellavista you`ll find a charming park with contemporary sculptures.

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Sculpture Park, Santiago de Chile

Sculpture Park, Santiago de    Chile

Sculpture Park, Santiago de Chile

Sculpture Park, Santiago de Chile

Sculpture Park, Santiago de Chile

9. The National History Museum – FREE access on Sundays

Located in the heart of Santiago, in Plaza de Armas, the museum presents the country`s history.

National History Museum, Plaza de Armas, Santiago de Chile

National History Museum, Plaza de Armas, Santiago de Chile

 

10. The National Museum of Natural History – FREE access on Sundays

Although the building is beautiful, the collection is not that impressive, aside from a few exhibits.

National History Museum,  Santiago de Chile

National History Museum, Santiago de Chile

As you may have realized by now, the cultural life in Santiago is very intense – basically there`s always something worth seeing. And, of course, the same goes for the underground culture, of which I will talk in later posts.

Over the Andes

Last stop in Argentina: Mendoza

Mendoza is a medium-sized city (around 1 million inhabitants) located close to the Chilean border, at the foothills of the Andes mountains.

The region is famous for its wineries or bodegas. It is the largest wine-producing area in South America and it is one of the nine cities included in the worldwide network of Great Capitals of Wine. There are many wineries close to the city and also many travel agencies that organize daily tours, so I believe it`s worth trying this original experience. Some of the wineries illustrate refined examples of contemporary architecture.

Bodegas Mendoza Rural Credits: casas.mitula.com.ar

Bodegas Mendoza Rural
Credits: casas.mitula.com.ar

As I was in a hurry to get to Santiago, I only had one day in the city, which gives you enough time to visit the center, to take a walk in the park and to admire a great view of the mountains. But visiting the surroundings takes longer, so you should book a few days if you plan to visit the enchanting wineries, the olive trees plantations or other nearby destinations.

The most tourist-friendly street is definitely “Paseo Sarmiento”, a pedestrian street with many terraces, restaurants and cafes, as well as many wine stores where you can purchase the famous local wines. This street connects the main boulevard, Avenida San Martin, with the main square, Plaza Independencia, surrounded by beautiful old buildings. This is basically the heart of the city, where people go to relax, to socialize and, of course, to drink mate. And as people from Argentina love to shop, this is where they organize artisans` fairs.

Artists protest on paseo Sarmiento

Artists protest on paseo Sarmiento

Credits: 41isfc2014mendoza.weebly.com

Credits: 41isfc2014mendoza.weebly.com

Credits: www.tripadvisor.com

Plaza Independencia
Credits: http://www.tripadvisor.com

From the square I walked to the main park, Parque General San Martin, located a few blocks away. The park is huge and it is crossed by several roads, but you can enjoy the view of the lake, the flowers, the trees and the Andes in a peaceful setting. It is also the perfect location to go for a jog or a bike ride. Mendoza is a very green city, with many green areas and with old trees that  border the streets.

Parque General San Martin

Parque General San Martin

As always, my CS host made the experience unforgettable. He invited me on a hike to a nearby mountain to take photos of the full moon, but unfortunately the rain didn`t allow us to take the trip. However, we drove out of the city up to a panoramic point from where we admired the city illuminated by the moonlight. It was the perfect place and moment to say goodbye to Argentina.

It`s funny that 3 months later I returned to Argentina as my Chilean visa was expiring and again I arrived in Mendoza on a full moon. Now each time I see the full moon I think about Mendoza and my CS host.

Many travelers use this trick when their touristic visas expire because each time you exit and re-enter a South-American country you receive  a new 3-months visa. But this doesn`t apply to all the countries, so check with the authorities before planning your trip.

The border between Chile and Argentina is by far the strictest frontier I`ve passed. They take all the baggage out of the buses, then scan everything and re-check the bus and the bags with police dogs. You also have to fill a form with information about your stay and the baggage you are carrying. You are not allowed to pass with seeds, plants, animal products or other objects of vegetal or animal origin (for example the ones used for handcrafted jewelry). Also, if you are carrying several products of the same type (like 3 bars of soap, for example), they will assume that you are going to sell them and they confiscate the “merchandise”. The atmosphere is a bit intimidating as you have to enter a room and sit in a line in front of metal tables where they check the hand luggage, but as long as you don`t have anything to hide you shouldn`t worry.

The road connecting Mendoza to Santiago crosses the Andes at a maximum height of 3200 m. At this height the picks are covered in snow all year round and the weather is highly unpredictable, so buying a bus ticket can be tricky. If it`s raining in Santiago or in Mendoza it means that there is a snow storm in the mountains and that the roads are closed for at least 12 hours. The most interesting part about the road is that you can see Mount Aconcagua (6962 m) from a distance.

. From Mendoza the mountains seemed very white , but as we got closer to the top I realized that only the higher picks  were actually covered by snow. I was expecting a view similar to the Alps, but the truth is that after we passed several beautiful lakes at the base of the mountains, the landscape became rocky and dry. For me it looked more like a dessert and I even noticed a few cacti. I couldn`t help but imagine Coyote and the Road runner chasing around.  The fact that the movie “7 years in Tibet” was shot here should give you an idea about the general atmosphere.

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One of my last memories about South America is a sunset view of the Andes from the airplane. From there you can admire the strength and beauty of this mountain chain that seems endless.

Must try in Argentina

MATE

Mate is a plant that grows in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and some parts of Brazil. It is the source of the famous mate beverage. Even though it is called “yerba mate” the plant grows into a tree that can reach up to 15 m.

Source: en.wikipedia.org

Source: en.wikipedia.org

The plant has an energetic effect similar to coffee, and it is rich in antioxidants and iron. Just like coffee it can be addictive. Usually people in Argentina have mate at least once a day, especially in the morning.

Source: noti-rio.com.ar

Source: noti-rio.com.ar

The dry herb, sometimes mixed with other herbs such as mint, is placed into a recipient called mate. It can have many shapes and it can be made of wood, leather, plastic, metal or even sylicone.

A metal pipe is inserted. After hot water is poured inside, the pipe allows you to drink the infusion while filtering the herbs. This procedure is repeated several times, depending on the cuantity and the cuality of the herbs. Sometimes people add sugar if the herbs are bitter.

There is a philosophy of sharing behind this ritual. All people have to drink from the same envase, so you have to wait for the other person to finish before you can drink. There’s either only one person that poures the hot water for everyone, or the person who finished prepares the drink for the next person. Even nowadays people gather to enjoy mate, in parks or plazas.

Useful tip: If someone offers mate you say thank you only when you’re done and not each time you drink the infusion.

DULCE DE LECHE

The dulce de leche tastes similar to caramel. It is made by slowly heating sweetened milk. You can also buy it in Brazil or Chile, but I prefer the one made in Argentina or Uruguay.

It is served with pancakes, cakes, chocolate, biscuits … practically anything sweet and it tastes delicious.

Source: razafolklorica.com

Source: razafolklorica.com

ALFAJORES

The phrase that best describes this dessert is cookie sandwich. An alfajor is made of two round biscuits joined by a dulce de leche or jam filling, usually covered in dark or white chocolate. You can try the home-baked alfajores ones or the you can buy them in the regular stores, where you can purchase the ones produced by Milka or Oreo.

EMPANADAS

Empanadas are made by folding a piece of  dough or bread around the stuffing. The empanadas can either be fried or baked  the  that can be fille with cheese, ham, vegetables or fruits.

They are ideal for a quick snack, especially since you can find them at every street corner.

 BARBEQUE – “parilla” or “asado”

The fact that the argentine beef is famous all around the world is no coincidence. However, in Argentina you can find all sorts of meet in any restaurant and everywhere around town at cheap prices.

In my country we often eat beef and saussages, but the ones I`ve tried there were, in fact, a lot better.

WINE

The wine in Argentina is also world – renowned, especially the one from Mendoza. However, chileans claim that their wine is better and, sadly, I have to agree. Argentina began to export wine only after 1990, but it is now the 5th producer in the world.

FERNET

This black, bitter beverage is a liquor made of herbs and it is very popular in Argentina. Every bar in the country sells fernet. The most famous brand is Fernet Branca. Usually the drink is mixed with Coca-Cola or soda beverages, but some people prefer it plain.

Things to do in Cordoba

After spending five weeks in the capital, I headed North to Cordoba, the second biggest city in Argentina (around 1.5 million inhabitants). I spent here almost 4 weeks.

The region is famous for the capital city and especially for its surroundings. I recommend planning a few days in this part of Argentina that has so many things to offer: amazing views, trekking and climbing paths in the Small Sierras, wineries, old charming cities, monasteries and many other attractions.

La Cumbrecita  Source: turismo-argentina.net

La Cumbrecita Source: turismo-argentina.net

Alta Gracia Source: miartenfotos.blogspot.com

Alta Gracia Source: miartenfotos.blogspot.com

Cordoba is an important universitary center, so most people who live here are young. For the same reason the nightlife is amazing! Unlike other universitary cities, Cordoba is great during summer time as well!

In the center you’ll find beautiful churches and other historical buildings, as well as many shops. There are also some good museums that worth being checked out! If you’re there on a week-end, don’t miss the Arts Fair!

I believe that 2-3 days are enough to experience a bit of everything in Cordoba: history, culture, nature and nightlife. If you’re planning to visit the surroundings, some of the main attractions are located close to the capital, so you can organize one-day trips.

Below you’ll find a list of the places and events you shouldn’t miss while you’re in Cordoba. Some of them are included in the “Man-made marvels of Cordoba”.

 

A. Streets and neighbourhoods

1. Nueva Cordoba

This is the new students’ neighbourhood. Everything is new and well-organized, the buildings look very well and, most importantly, it’s all very safe. It’s easy to notice that the planners had in mind the principles of functional mixity typical to modern urbanism when they designed this borough. You can find stores, coffee shops, restaurants, parks, works of art, hostels, health institutions and gathering places homogenously spread in the area, usually on the first floor of the housing buildings.

It is the first time that I prefer a modern borough to the historical area. I was lucky to live in Nueva Cordoba, so I got to see how comfortable it is to have everything close and accessible! Not to mention the pleasure of being able to walk alone on the street after night fall!

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2. City Center

Even though the city center is quite small, there are many attractions. There are a few beautiful churches and other historical buildings that worth a visit, such as the old Cityhall or the Jesuitic Block.

The San Martin Square is an important meeting point where you can listen live music, buy souvenirs and exchange blue dollars.

There are a few pedestrian streets full of clothing stores that you can browse for hours, but you won’t be able to find important brands here. There are also coffee shops and book stores. However, this part of the city is practically dead on Sundays.

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3. Universitary City & City of Arts – worth visiting if you’re staying longer

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

The campuses are interesting to visit from an architectural/urbanistic point of view. The principles of functionalist planning can be easily seen in the general layout, as well as the architectural style and principles specific to the period. There are wide empty spaces between the buildings that aren’t used much, especially during the cold season. There aren’t dorms or other utilities for the students, just the faculties, administration offices, the central pavilion and a cafeteria. I guess it’s pretty dangerous walking alone after dark, especially as the streets aren’t well illuminated.

However, there are some new buildings and installations in the public space that transform the overall appearance. It’s also interesting to see students interacting.

Sometimes they organize concerts or parties in some of the pavilions. And you can always participate to free cultural events in the City of Arts.

 

B. SHOPPING & FAIRS

People from Cordoba take their shopping seriously, so if you’re a shopping addict you’ll have plenty of places to shop.

The most expensive stores are located in the malls. Paseo de los Olmos and Paseo del Buen Pastor are the most popular and they worth a visit. Both malls located close to the city center are places of gathering, so you’ll always see people hanging out here.

In Nueva Cordoba there are some exclusive designer stores, as well as medium-priced stores that you can also find in the city center. The cheapest stores are located right outside the city center.

 

4. Artisans’ Fair – Paseo de las Artes : Sat, Sun & Holidays from 5 to 11 PM when it’s not raining!

This was definitely my favourite event of the week! Many artisans from the region gather here every weekend to sell their latest creations. You can find everything here, from jewelery to paintings and decorations, musical instruments, toys, clothing, antiques and mate!

What I like about this fair is the fact that it’s a mixture between art, decoration, music and cuisine. There are musicians that gather here to play (they usually expect money), as well as musical instruments sellers that promote their merchandize by playing.

Also, you can buy empanadas and other warm snacks, coffee or tea from ambulant sellers. Some ladies that sell home-baked cookies  and other treats occupy a few stands at the entrance, so you can try some delicious desserts for very low rates.

Around the fair there are many bars and restaurants that sometimes play live music. Don’t forget to check the art galleries and antique shops in the area.

In conclusion, I believe it is the perfect place to spend the evening as it can offer a complete experience – shopping, art, food, drinks, live music and party!

 

5. Municipal Market

Source: misfotosecuencias.com.ar

Source: misfotosecuencias.com.ar

The market located close to the city center is the best place to buy cheap fruits and vegetables, as well as meat and fish. Eating barbeque is an important part of the Argentinian culture, so you’ll see a lot of people buying here. Also, you can try the small restaurants inside the market.

 

C. Culture

 

6. Palacio Ferreyra – Museum of Fine Arts – free on Wednesdays

Old mansion of a nobleman transformed into a museum. Interesting to notice the mixture between the original architecture and the modern installations.

 

7. Emilio Caraffa Museum – free on Wednesdays

I wasn’t able to visit this museum as I postponed my visit to the very last day, when it was closed because they were bringing in a new wxhibit. However, the mixture between new and old is very interesting!

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8. Museum of Natural Science – free on Wednesdays/ worth visiting if you’re staying longer

I’m not particularly interested in science, but I enjoy visiting museums. Not necesarily for the exhibition, but to notice the architecture, the entrance and the way the spaces connect.

 

9. Cabildo museum – free on Wednesdays

The old Cityhall located right next to the Main Cathedral hosts temporary exhibitions.

 

10. Teatro del Libertador

 

11. Paseo del Buen Pastor

This shopping mall was created through the conversion of an old women’s jail. I don’t like the modern part, but I think it is a good example of how old unfunctional buildings can be converted and used nowadays. This part of the city is a meeting point for many people, especially for the youth. Each night you can admire the singing fountains every half hour!

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D. RELIGIOUS ARCHITECTURE

Cordoba is considered the city of churches. Just a few hours spend in the center will make the reason obvious.

 

12. Jesuitical Block

This region was one of the first places where the jesuitic missions were established. You can also visit these missions in smaller towns from Cordoba, such as Alta Gracia.

This breathtaking building located in the heart of the city has been included in the World Heritage by UNESCO. The construction started in 1640. It encloses a church, a chapel, a national college, the National University of Cordoba (first in the country) and the university’s museum.

The last time I went inside a group of musician were practicing and the acoustics are amazing. The combination between the architecture and the music create a magical effect.

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13. Cathedral of the Capucin Monks

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14. Main Cathedral

Located right next to the main square, San Martin, this church cannot be missed. Notice the pavement in front of the building that is a projection of the main facade. Visit the inside and don’t forget to surround the entire building, the back side is extremely interesting as you can notice the materials that have been used in different moments!

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15. Other churches

Once you get to Cordoba, make sure to go to an info point to collect your free map. You’ll find everything you need to know there, including the names and localization of the most beautiful churches in the center.

 

Source: my-ciudad.blogspot.com

Source: my-ciudad.blogspot.com

Source: www.taringa.net

Source: http://www.taringa.net

 

E. NIGHTLIFE

Take advantage of your stay in one of the most animated cities in Argentina ang go out! There are various bars and discoteques, some of them with life music, so you’ll definitely find your kind of place. So if you want to go to a concert, go dancing or enjoy a conversation in a quiet bar, Cordoba is the place to be!

 

 

 

 

Life in hostel #4 – Cordoba


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As time goes by I realize that even though life in hostels is more or less the same everywhere, every experience is unique. I am now used to sharing a room with 5-7 people, used to not having storage room, personal space or intimacy. All these things that were so important in my former life seem to be a small price to pay for the privilege of seeing the world. Hand-washing my clothes is now a routine. Before, shopping for supplies and cooking were a bourdain, but now I see this as a chance to relax, to share with friends  and to learn about different cultures.

For personal reasons I wasn`t feeling too happy when I left Buenos Aires, so I really needed some time for thinking, as well as the company of friends. I was lucky enough to find the perfect balance in Cordoba. So far it`s been the most intense part of my travel as I was forced to face some truths about myself. The lazy life at the hostel and the quiet city gave me the chance to reflect a lot. And I had the chance to meet some wonderful people who listened to me, adviced me and distracted me when I was feeling blue. It`s a big deal to meet people who will act as if nothing happened when they see that you`ve been obviously crying and who won`t try to distance themselves from you because of this.

Two of my colleagues from Buenos Aires knew the place and assured me that it was the best hostel ever and that I was going to have the time of my life there and that I will soon forget about my troubles. But a week after I got there the owners sold the place and the vibe of the place suddenly changed. It was a period of change for everyone, but I believe that things worked out fine in the end.  I know that things will change, but I hope it will continue being a good hostel.

The truth is that people who live/work/spend a lot of time in hostels can be judged more like characters than real persons.

As it happens I`ve met a lot of characters  in this hostel. It is the first time that I meet pairs of characters, just like in comical plays.

First there was the group formed by the 3 ex-owners, each of them with a different personality, but forming a balanced trio: the messy party-gower that would set the mood in the evening, the control-freak that would organize everything to the last detail and the neutral one that would sort out the differences between the first two.

Among the volunteers there was a couple from France that always seemed trapped in a fantasy world that only they understood. I really don`t know how they found each other `cause they always gave me the impression that they are the male and female version of the same person.

There was a pair formed by two american guys, also living in a separate, yet more approachable world. They would cook together, go out together, be in the reception together, watch sports together and go to bed in the same time, carrying on with their lives as they were the only two people on the planet.

Another match made in heaven is formed by my two best friends in Cordoba. Always enthuziastic about anything, always full of energy and good vibes and always ready to have a good laugh. I think they both came to this city from different parts of the world `cause they were destined to meet each other. As a friend used to say, spending time with them is like  watching a live comedy show.

Although these trios and duets were the best part of the hostel, I met some memorable individual characters.

The guy who bought the hostel is a senior Canadian citizen who`s always lived in isolated areas, who`s never stayed in a hostel before and who doesn`t speak Spanish. Even though he`s got nothing to do with managing a hostel, I like him because he`s a good person and he used to make me pancakes in the morning.

Also the guy who has been travelling for 2-3 years who lived in the same room with the volunteers became a close friend.

Or the German guy who was always on his computer. It seems more easy to connect with him now that I left and we can chat online than it was to communicate while we were in the same room.

And one of my favourites, a former soldier who leaves in an isolated room in the back yard. His funniest moment was when he was hiding from the Immigration services who came to the hostel for an inspection. This is how we found out that his visa expired two years before. I think that the inspectors were actually looking for illegal workers, but it worked out fine in the end.

This was a good opportunity for me to see how travelling alone affects me. I have noone to rely on like the others did, so I always have to take care of myself. I have to get out there in order to make friends, I have to socialize and to communicate as I cannot  escape in a company of a guaranteed friend.  On the other side, I know that all the friends that I meet on the way will soon be out of my life. I know that it`s temporary, so I enjoy it more.

Normal things like talking to my family became the highlight of my day. Even though this is by far the most socially active period of my life, I`ve never felt so alone. It`s hard to be on your own for so much time, always changing places. But I remember a time when I was surrounded by friends and family when I would feel that no one understood me and that no one could relate to me. I now feel that I`m on the right way, even though it`s a lonely road.

I feel grateful for the time spent here, as I do about all the people that I`ve met, every situation I`ve faced and all the places I`ve visited. Travelling for long periods of time is not always easy, as it seems for the people you`ve left at home. I believe that the moment I`ve left Argentina, that coincided with the celebrating of 6 months away from home, represented a milestone for me. I had to rethink my situation and my goals, and in the end I chose to carry on with my journey.

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Things to do in Buenos Aires

When I arrived in South America I thought I wouldn’t find a city that would equal the European architecture and culture, but I was impressed to learn that Buenos Aires can easily be compared with some of the most beautiful cities from Europe. Argentina’s capital combines the characteristics of a multicultural center with the personality and identity of a latin city.

This map is all you need to get around the city and to find whichever address, transportation method or landmarks:

http://mapa.buenosaires.gob.ar/

The Government’s official site can also come in handy when you’re trying to find something to do:

http://www.turismo.buenosaires.gob.ar/es

Also the official site of the gringos from Buenos Aires can help:

http://www.gringoinbuenosaires.com/category/culture/architecture/

If you want to be up to date with everything that`s going this site will be extremely helpful:

http://agendacultural.buenosaires.gob.ar/

 

Here`s a list of the things you should do in this city. These are just some suggestions, but the capital offers unlimited options, so you can find the right things for you.

 

A. Streets and neighbourhoods

 

1. Plaza & Avenida de Mayo

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This street intersects the 9 de Julio Boulevard and it connects the Congress House with the Government`s House, passing through Plaza de Mayo.

Most manifestations take place in this part of the city. As my building was facing this street, I witnessed several syndical protests in just one month. The most interesting event was the National Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice on March 24th when thousands of people marched to commemorate the victims of the military dictatorship.

Plaza de Mayo is the socio-politic heart of the city. If people are going to protest, this is where they are going to meet. It is probably best known for the association of women that was formed during the dictatorship (1976-1983), Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo. More than 30.000 people disappeared during these 7 years. Their relatives would gather in front of the Government`s House to ask about their faith and, as they couldn`t form stationary groups, they started marching in circles. The mothers that are now in their 80s still gather once a week as their questions haven`t been answered yet.

Source: libertadorhoy.com.ar

Source: libertadorhoy.com.ar

 

2. San Telmo

Most hostels, restaurants, bars and cafes are located in San Telmo. It’s one of the oldest boroughs in Buenos Aires, so most buildings are very beautiful, though not necesarily well mantained. Some areas can be dangerous at night. The best part is the San Telmo Arts Fair on Defensa Street. While you’re there, don’t forget to take a photo with Mafalda at the intersection with the Chile Street.

 

3. Boca & Caminito

Source: es.wikipedia.org

Source: es.wikipedia.org

Boca is the italian part of the city and one of the most dangerous areas. It is known thanks to the homonym football team and for hosting the open air museum Caminito. But you can also visit the Cinematography Museum and the Art Factory.

Caminito is a very touristic part of the city, as one would expect. The houses are painted in bright colours, the trees are covered in knitted multicoloured threads and you can admire (and buy) various pieces of art, such as statues or paintings. If you don`t get to spend the week-end in Buenos Aires, this is the best place to buy souvenirs. Also, if you are passionate about football this is the place to go!

The restaurants offer representations of tango, but you can admire the dancers without paying from the street. Also, you can take photos with the tango dancers. The overall atmosphere is very boheme and carefree.

A visit to Caminito shouldn’t take more than a few hours. The few commercials streets are safe, but outside this perimeter there isn’t much to see, so don`t wonder around much.

 

4. Recoleta

I believe that this exquisite neighbourhood is the most beautiful part of the city. The elegant streets show examples of gorgeous architecture and host most of the embassies and consulates. I never got tired of discovering the charming squares, streets, houses and exquisite stores.

If you`re looking to spend a “cultural” day, Recoleta is the the right place for you! You can visit the famous cemetery, the cultural center, the Fine Arts Museum, the Palais de Glace Museum, the MALBA Museum, the Architecture Museum, the Railway Museum and Floralis, the iconic statue.

Like all the important boroughs from the capital, Recoleta hosts a weekley fair in Plaza Francia. The cafes in the area are more expensive.

 

5. Palermo

Source: sobreargentina.com

Source: sobreargentina.com

Palermo is one of my favourite parts of Buenos Aires. It’s known for the design shops, the cafes and restaurants, most of them located around the Cortazar Square, where an artisans’ fair takes place during the week-ends. The small park Compañia del Oriente (ex Armenia) is an ideal place to relax and it also hosts a small fair on week-ends. Close to Plaza Italia you can find cheap used books.

Palermo is best known for its beautiful parks that are referred to as the lungs of Buenos Aires.

 

6. Puerto Madero

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This is the best example of urban rehabilitation that I`ve seen! This part of the city used to be dangerous, like any other slum with industrial buildings facing the canals. But they cleaned the canal and they transformed the barns into universities, museums (The collection of Art Amalia Lacroze) and high-class residencies It is now a pedestrian area with many restaurants and cafes. Both tourists and locals enjoy this promenade. The elegant bridge, as well as the boat transformed into a museum, are the main attraction points.


7. Florida Street

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Best place to exchange blue dollars in Argentina. In order to keep the inflation under control, the citizens don`t have the right to exchange dollars in banks, so they buy it from tourists. The rate you get on the street is far better than the official one, but you have to be careful with the fake notes! So the best option is to go to Argentina with cash and not to use your credit card. In order to benefit from this situation, there are people who cross to Uruguay just to withdraw dollars.

There are literally tens of people on this street exchanging  dollars, euros or reals. One friend came up with the idea of playing a drinking game while passing on this street. You just have to take a shot each time you hear the word “cambio” and you’ll be wasted in two blocks.

You can also buy tango or theatre tickets and book any kind of tour. You could stop by the commercial center to admire the interior.

 

8. 9 de Julio

Huge boulevard in the middle of the city that will be impossible to miss. The overly photographed obelisk can serve as a landmark. Don`t forget to stop by the Colon Theatre.

 

B. Culture

 

Buenos Aires has a lot of museums, cultural centers, theatres and galleries, so the cultural life is very active. If you check the cultural sites you`ll find that there`s always something going on, both in the main locations, as well as on the underground scene.

The city hosts important concerts and music festivals and you can always listen to live music. The “Bomba del tiempo” is a percution show that takes place every week.

Here you can find a detailed list with all the museums: http://www.turismo.buenosaires.gob.ar/es/article/museos-de-buenos-aires

 

9. MALBA – Museum of Latin American Art Buenos Aires

This is the best example of contemporary architecture I could find in Buenos Aires. The permanent collection is good and the temporary ones are usually interesting, so it`s worth a visit (at least see the foyer).

 

10. MACBA – Museum of Contemporary Art Buenos Aires

Source: arq.clarin.com

Source: arq.clarin.com

 

11. MAMBA – Museum of Modern Art Buenos Aires

Source: buenosaires.for91days.com

Source: buenosaires.for91days.com

This museum is located right next door to MACBA, so you can visit both!

 

12. Fine arts Museum – free entrance

Source: wander-argentina.com

Source: wander-argentina.com

Interesting collection of European art, completed by examples of Latin american artists and temporary exhibitions.

 

13. Recoleta Cultural Center

Source: disfrutarbuenosaires.com

Source: disfrutarbuenosaires.com

Located right next to the Recoleta Cemetery, this cultural center always hosts some interesting exhibitions and events.

 

14. Recoleta Cemetery – free entrance, free guided tours

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This is the most important cemetery of the city, where you can find the tombs of many personalities. The tombs and crypts are decorated with beautiful statues. Most people just enter to take pictures of Evita`s burial place.

 

15. Government`s House – Casa Rosada – Casa Rosada

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The Government’s House, also known as the Pink House due to the colour of the facades, is probably Buenos Aires’ most emblematic building. Home of the presidents, this building has witnessed memorable events, culminating with the bombing in 1955 when the army raised against Peron. But it is better known for the public appearances at the balcony: this is where Peron spoke his last words as president of Argentina, where Galtieri gave the motivational speech about taking over the Malvine Islands or where Maradona celebrated the gaining of the World Cup in 1986.

 

16. Museum of Architecture

As I procrastinate I didn`t have time to visit this museum, but I think it`s interesting. From outside it looks great!

 

17. English Tower

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18. Floralis Generica

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Iconic statue for the city. The petals close after nightfall.

 

19. Colon Theatre

Source: buenosairessvp1.blogspot.com

Source: buenosairessvp1.blogspot.com

The building is rather massive seen from outside, but the main concert hall can leave you breathless!

 

20. Usina del Arte –Art Factory –  free entrance, free guided tours, free concerts

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The Government offers free guided tours to this old factory that has been converted into a museum. You can visit it only on some specific hours during the week-ends. It was very interesting to hear about the history of the place, especially because the guide was very passionate about his job, but I think the space is being underused. Basically you are entering a huge empty factory where they only have one art installation.

On the other hand, they have two beautiful concert halls where they organize weekly concerts. Usually you can enter for free.

The same building hosts the Museum of Cinematography.

 

21. El Ateneo

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Most beautiful library I`ve seen, located in an old theatre. It is a very good example of a functional conversion that maintains the cultural atmosphere of the original building. The café of the library is located on the scene. From the balconies on the first and second floor you can admire a memorable view.

 

C. Shopping & Fairs

 

Buenos Aires is all about shopping! You can find anything you wish for at very good prices if you know where to look!

Even though the argentine peso is almost worthless in other countries, from inside the country you wouldn`t tell that the things are going that bad. There are coffee shops and restaurants all over the city, especially in the touristic sides, but it`s very common for the locals to eat out or to have coffee in the city. Also the high number of stores indicates that there are people who are buying. On the other side there are many homeless people and beggars, but sadly that`s pretty common in South America.

Avenida Santa Fe is a long boulevard with kilometers of stores of all types. Corrientes is the best place to buy new and used books and also musical instruments. Palermo is known for the designer-stores, as well as Recoleta. In Boca you can buy souvenirs and jerseys. Go to Rivadavia if you`re looking for bargains. Go to Belgrano in the Asian City to get exotic food or typical objects.

The possibilities are endless, especially if you have enough time. But what I really like about Buenos Aires is the arts fairs that prove the creativity and ingenuity of the people. There is a fair or a flee market in every big neighbourhood, but I only chose to describe the more touristic ones.

 

22. San Telmo – only Sundays

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

This is the most important artisans` fair that everyone will recommend. It goes on for 11 blocks on the Defensa street up to the Dorrego square, so you can spend hours browsing. There are also many street artists playing music, joggling, animating puppets or performing other unexpected activities.  If you turn left at the Dorrego square and walk for a few blocks, the music will lead you to  a courtyard where some bands play live music. Here is where people gather to dance chacarera, the traditional folk dance.

At the fair you can find anything related to art, decorations, clothing, jewelry, accessories, mates, musical instruments or toys. It`s like going for a treasure hunt in search for the perfect souvenirs!

 

23. Palermo Fair – Plaza Cortazar – Saturdays and Sundays

This is a quieter and more intimate version of the San Telmo Fair. After browsing you can stop for a drink or dinner in one of the many bars that surround the square. Very close you can find a smaller fair in the Compañia del Oriente square that occurs in the same time.

 

24. Recoleta – Plaza Francia – Saturdays and Sundays

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This fair is a bit fancier. You can find antiques and silver jewelry, other than the things you can find at the other fairs. It is nice because there are many people sitting on the grass, drinking mate and chatting.

 

These three fairs are similar. If you have time, it`s nice to check them all. If not, I recommend the San Telmo fair because it more varied and more crowded.

 

D. Parks

 

Most parks are located in Palermo. This side of the city encloses the main green spaces from Buenos Aires and this is why the Palermo Woods are considered the lungs of the capital. Generally speaking the city lacks green spaces and play areas for children, so most parks are overpopulated. It can`t be considered a “green city” as the water from the river is polluted (so much that they can`t fish) and the ozone layer is particularly thin in this part of the world

 

25. Natural Reservation

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This reservation located behind Puerto Madero recreates the original aspect of the pampas before it was invaded by the Spaniards.  You can admire the wildlife and the plants. There are 2 or 3 swampy lakes, so the mosquitoes will eat you alive if you`re not using protection. Ideal to go for a run or for a bike tour. It’s amazing how a little bit of nature can disconnect you from the city – I was shocked every time I could see the skyscrappers raising above the vegetation, even though I was aware that I was in a big city.

 

26. Rosedal – free entrance

Source: www.jardineriaon.com

This gorgeous park can be considered a huge garden that displays various roses from all around the world.

 

27. Botanical Garden – free entrance

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Beautiful garden full of cats. You can admire the museum that exhibits temporary collections, the statues, the greenhouses and, of course, the plants. There is also a small yard filled with multicoloured flowers  dedicated to observing butterflies. This is the best escape during a sunny day.

 

E. Outside Buenos Aires: Tigre & Tigre`s Delta

 

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Tired of the crowded city? Visit this satellite town located at just one hour away by train from the center. The ticket is less than 1 dollar.

In the city you can visit several museums and a touristic fair where you can find all kinds of souvenirs and home-made goods. It is a very romantic and quiet town that makes you forget from the first steps about the fuss in the big city.

In here you`ll find many agencies selling boat tours on the canals of Tigre`s delta. The length of the trips varies between a few hours and a few days, depending on how much you`re going to visit. You can also chose to go camping and I`m not sure about fishing, but I think you can do that as well.

 

F. Churches

 

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Source: heraldicaargentina.blogspot.com

Source: heraldicaargentina.blogspot.com

Buenos Aires can be proud to show examples of very rafined architecture and the churches are no exception to this rule.

The most famous one is the Iglesia del Pilar from Recoleta, located right next to the cemetery. The most memorable examples are located in the microcenter, especially in San Telmo and Montserrat.

 

G. Notable bars

 

Souce: roundwego.com

Souce: roundwego.com

In Buenos Aires you will find a lot of bars, cafes and restaurants, but some of them really do stand out and contribute to the porteño culture. The authorities elaborated a list of the most important bars that are protected by law. In order to be on this list, a bar has to fulfill at least one of several criteria. Some of the oldest bars in the city are considered cultural heritage, alongside the ones that have an interesting design or architecture. Moreover,  some bars on this list have a political or cultural significance and they are representative for the identity of the city.

Most notable bars are located in the city center, in San Telmo and Montserrat. On this site you can find the official list:

http://www.turismo.buenosaires.gob.ar/es/article/bares-notables

You can get a map of the notable bars at the touristic info points and start your own treasure hunt!

 

H. Tango

 

Source: travel.nationalgeographic.com

Source: travel.nationalgeographic.com

Buenos Aires is the capital of the most complex dance in the world. You can watch live shows in theatres, restaurants, cafes and especially milongas. If you’ll visit Caminito you’ll notice that most restaurants offer live shows and that many costumed dancers offer to take photos with you (in exchange for money). There are also many tango schools in case you decide to learn a few steps.

For me it seems that most professional performers dance automatically, without joy. This is why I would rather go to a non-touristic milonga and watch amateur performers. They might not dance perfectly, but I believe that they put more soul into the gestures.

 

I. Football

 

In Argentina football is a religion! In order to understand a bit of the Argentine culture you have to watch a live match. Everyone will tell you that it’s not so much about the game itself as it is about the atmosphere in the tribunes where you can observe the passion of the supporters.

Most touristic guides will recommend the “Bombonera” Stadium, located in Boca. But watching a game at the rivals’ stadium, the River Plate,  can be equally entertaining. Everywhere in Boca, especially in the touristic side, Caminito, you’ll find stores selling jerseys and other related souveniors. You can even take photos with statues of famous players. Also you can visit the museum of “La passion bocuense” or the stadium, but it is probably more convenient to go watch a game.

Warning: don’t wear jerseys of the rival team, River, while you`re in Boca and don’t engage into endless football related conversations with the locals! They’ll never let you let you leave!

 

J. Where/What to eat

Source: lolovera50.wordpress.com

Source: lolovera50.wordpress.com

In Buenos Aires you`ll find thousand of places where you can eat a proper meal or have a snack. The most visited areas of the city are practically invaded by restaurants due to the large amount of tourists. However, when it comes to diversity there aren`t so many options and if you`re a vegetarian you`re gonna have a bad time.

If you want to have a quick snack, the empanadas or the choripan  are the best option because they can be found everywhere at low fares.

If you want to try the famous barbeque, there are hundreds of steak houses where you can also try the world renowned Argentine wines. Most of them are located in the center, in San Telmo, Av de Mayo, Florida or Lavalle. Another option is to have dinner in Puerto Madero, but the rates are a bit higher.

When you’re done with the meat you can try the international cuisine, especially the Peruvian and the Mexican one. If you’re looking for a cheap meals try the ¨Kilo restaurants¨, where you pay for the wheigh of your food.

If you’re going to a fair, such as the one in San Telmo, you’ll have to keep yourself from buying all the goods ’cause temptation is everywhere. There will be people selling everything from barbeque to snacks (pan relleno, empanadas, nachos), tarts, cakes, pancakes and warm and cold beverages.

 

I’ve heard many tourists saying that Buenos Aires is ¨just another city¨, but I completely disagree. It is one of the most diverse cities I’ve been in and I would enjoy living here.