Perfecting the art of life in Buenos Aires

p21216541¨Buenos Aires is at first glance, a most civilized ant hill. It has all the elegance of the old world in its building and streets and in its people all the vulgarity and frank good health of the new world¨

-Paul Theroux in The Old Patagonian Express

Indeed BA is a new old world city. The architecture and layout of its streets and parks and buildings are reminiscent of old world Western Europe but the attitude is certainly free-spirited and no doubt South American.

These days with the falling peso, Buenos Aires is sort of a poor man´s Paris with a twist of tango and pleasant-weather friendliness. And while Paris is modernizing with the rest of the West, prohibiting the once ubiquitous cafe-smoking culture, BA still retains the anything goes relaxed ambiance. How does Buenos Aires achieve La Dolce Vita on the other side of the Atlantic? Is it the perfect weather? The gorgeous people? The delicious food? The fact that I can afford the priciest wine on the list? Any and all of the above. It took a few days to get over my initial culture shock as I settled into my comfortable digs in the Palermo neighborhood (equivalent to NYC´s Nolita or Paris´Le Marais)- but my shock quickly turned from an uncomfortable challenge to a welcome change.

Nothing beats a city where a decent bottle of wine is the same price a bottle of water. Usually what comes along with it is a culture that values long, wine-involved lunches, plentiful food, dinners that start near midnight, and nightlife until the wee hours of the morning. It seems Argentines have perfected the lifestyle and carpe-diem-ed on this beautiful city.

a giant piece of steak, 18 tapas, and a perfect malbec...less than USD$20 a person

a giant piece of steak, 18 tapas, and a perfect malbec...less than USD$20 a person

or you can opt for the 4 peso ($1.10 USD) choripan...I swear it fulfills all daily nutrional requirements

or you can opt for the 4 peso ($1.10 USD) choripan...I swear it fulfills all daily nutrional requirements

I love a walkable city. I love waking up with the feeling that the day is mine and embarking on an unplanned day with only a vague destination. The point of the walk is not reaching the destination, however, it´s the discovery along the way and running into the unknown, turning whichever corner piques my interest or crossing whatever street the hectic traffic allows. I usually wander some absurd distance that I don´t even realize until my legs get sore and I have to look at a map to figure out how to get back, and then I make the journey home on a different route, through diverse ´hoods, from residencial to business, touristy to dodgy.

Here are some of my findings from my strolls:p2031511

New York, London, Berlin- all runners up but none come close

The street art in Buenos Aires beats any in the world: New York, London, Berlin- all runners up but none come close

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La Boca is an old Italian neighborhood. Full of culture and color and music and energy, it is deemed ¨dangerous¨ by more posh portenos...perhaps the Harlem of Buenos Aires

La Boca is an old Italian neighborhood. Full of culture and color and music and energy, it is deemed ¨dangerous¨ by more posh portenos...perhaps the Harlem of Buenos Aires

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San Telmo is a ´hood of the days of yore...tango on the cobblestone streets and antique shops galore

San Telmo is a ´hood of the days of yore...tango on the cobblestone streets and antique shops galore

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Cafe Tortoni, where the likes of Jorges Luis Borges once chilled. See what I mean by a new world Paris?

Cafe Tortoni, where the likes of Jorges Luis Borges once chilled. See what I mean by a new world Paris?

My other favorite thing to do in a great city is people watch. Here´s what I found and recorded.

My other favorite thing to do in a great city is people watch. Here´s what I found and recorded.

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Cementerio Recoleta is a world celebrity cementary with the likes of Eva Peron, Carlos Pellengrini, and every other character from Buenos Aires´history´s tombstone. The ginormous tombs were fantastic but even more fantastic were the intricate cobwebs that were probably started as far back as when the tombs were built.

Cementerio Recoleta is a world celebrity cementary with the likes of Eva Peron, Carlos Pellengrini, and every other character from Buenos Aires´history´s tombstone. The ginormous tombs were fantastic but even more fantastic were the intricate cobwebs that were probably started as far back as when the tombs were built.

The futbol matches are as crazy as the rumors. Being a referee in Buenos Aires must top the list of the most dangerous jobs. They don´t sell alcohol at the matches to avoid drunken riots and you are locked in the stadium until the teams leave so you can´t sabotage any players.

The futbol matches are as crazy as the rumors. Being a referee in Buenos Aires must top the list of the most dangerous jobs. They don´t sell alcohol at the matches to avoid drunken riots and you are locked in the stadium until the teams leave so you can´t sabotage any players.

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Buenos Noches Buenos Aires!

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~ by ceciliabien on February 15, 2009.

One Response to “Perfecting the art of life in Buenos Aires”

  1. Poor man’s Paris. Never thought about it like that. These pictures have a nice way of capturing a more mysterious, culturally rich city.

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