The rebirth of Buenos Aires
Many describe it the Paris of South America but in realty this description is a little restricted.
Because Buenos Aires - the ideal city for writer Jorge Luis Borges, who can’t conceive its
origins, “I consider it as eternal as water and air”, he writes in Quaderno San Martin, the writer who,
above all others, has given the city its own literary imagination – lacks a precise physiognomy. It is
like a mutating creature, which reflects onto itself a reality that is hard to define; one that is
suspended and incredibly fascinating. It is one of South America’s largest cities, home to the
biggest port on the continent and delimited on the east side by Rio de la Plata, the widest river in the
world. An entire ocean separates it from the Old World and more than 2,000 kilometres separate it
from other urban centres. In its 200 squared-kilometres is 40 percent of the Argentinian population, and the city counts almost 13 million people. It is like something that is alive and that changes and continues
to re-invent itself. Its buildings are a cornucopia of styles, every one distinct from the next
yet, at the same time, complementary. The turning point that marked the city’s revival occurred
following the huge crisis that hit the Argentinian capital in 2002: an economic implosion that
culminated in the collapse of its bonds and then its currency. A collapse from which the city
has now bounced back, with its head high, thanks mainly to an important cultural and artistic
impetus. Exploring Buenos Aires, and all of its contradictions, is a rather impossible feat, especially
in only a few days. Here, however, are a few suggestions on what to do and what to see.
Plaza de Mayo is the political centre of the city, where the headquarters of the President of the Republic is located. To immerse yourself totally in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the city, your best bet is to meander through the neighbourhoods of San Telmo, the artistic district; and Palermo, which is today divided in Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood. Here you’ll find a wealth of small shops selling clothes, home decor and music that are managed by independent designers.
If you go early the morning or at lunchtime, stop at Oui Oui (Nicaragua 6068) for a coffee or for brunch. Then visit the Malba (Avenida Pres. Figueroa Alcorta 3415, www.malba.org.ar), which features an important permanent collection of Latin American artworks. After that, go to La Boca, where the Fundaciòn Proa (Av. Pedro de Mendoza 1929, www.proa.org) dedicates exhibition space and gives visibility to young and international artists. Among the private galleries, the best-known ones are Ruth Benzacar (Florida 1000, www.ruthbenzacar.com) and Braga Menèndez (Humboldt 1574, www.galeriabm.com). With South American blood flowing through its veins, Buenos Aires is a city that expresses itself best at night. From the Microcentro in Palermo to the Recoleta in Costanera, the capital city is chock-full of locales that are perfect for an aperitif or for dinner, like Ocho7Ocho, which is hidden behind the facade of a home (878 Thames, Palermo Soho, www.878bar.com.ar) and Don Julio (always in Palermo Soho, Guatemala 4691 and Gurruchaga), a great place to try a plate of asado a la parilla.
Buenos Aires nightlife reaches its peak at about 2 or 3am and continues until dawn. Where to go? To catch a rock concert or dance to techno music, go to Niceto Vega (www.nicetoclub.com) and La Trastienda (www.latrastienda.com). If its tango you long for, must stops are Al Confiterìa Ideal (www.confiteriaideal.com) and La Catedral (Sarmiento 4006, y Medrano).
There is a lot of Italian influence in Buenos Aires, especially in the city’s kitchens, where Italian and Argentinian culinary fusions reign. Among the most popular hot spots are Amici Miei (Defensa 1072, www.amicimiei.com.ar), Bice (Alicita M. de Justo 192, www.bicebuenosaires.com.ar), Circolo Massimo (Libertad 1264, www.circolomassimo.com.ar), Da Orazio (Cuba 2220, www.daorazio.com), D’Oro Caffè (Perù 159, www.doro-resto.com.ar), Filo (San Martin 975, www.filoristorante.com), La Stampa (Migueletes 880, www.lastamparistorante.com), Marcelo (Alicia Moreau de Justo 1140, www.marcelorestaurante.com.ar), Piegari (Posadas 1042, www.piegari.com.ar), San Babila (Roberto Ortiz 1815, www.sanbabilaristorante.com.ar).