South America > Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is generally an easy city to get to know and to make friends with.

The layout itself is very welcoming with wide avenues and lots of trees, parks and small plazas that beg of you to come and sit and have a break. The public transportation is efficient and dirt cheap – the subte is definitely the way to go. But if you need to move around after 22:30 there are a million different busses.

As you read everywhere the city is very European looking with old beautiful buildings reminiscent of France. As they are very old you sometimes overlook it though as many have decayed quite a bit. But then again many are still standing strong and are often painted in beautiful and/or strong colors.
One of the most eye catching elements is the often very ornamental decoration abundant on shops and restaurants throughout the city; everywhere you see intricate old school hand painted signs and decorations. Even on the busses.

It enhances the feeling of vintage which is definitely strongest in the neighborhood of San Telmo. Here you find a wealth of antiques shops, small caf├ęs full of locals wearing suspenders and cardigans, parrilladas serving excellent grilled meat at great value and bars with live local music every night. But also more trendy cafes and bars with young alternative people. The atmosphere is relaxed and you can end up spending quite some time just drinking coffee and eating medialunas (a slightly more bready version of a crossaint) in the small cafes.
Our local regular cafe - great for coffee and medialunas!

San Telmo is also where you can find the classic outdoor tango shows. These I feel a rather ambiguous about. On one hand the tango is mesmerizing and very impressive. But it is difficult not to get a feeling of it being just a tourist trap. Especially after having been in the neighborhood La Boca!

The tourist part of Boca consist of roughly 5 small connected streets full of nothing but tourist shops full of either soccer or tango related merchandize. A million people with cameras get dumped there by busses every minute.  Someone is constantly trying to get you to eat overprized food and old men line up to have pictures taken of them with young women in tango dresses swirled around them in a tango pose.
This is not pleasant in any way. But the worst part about it is walking through the actual barrio of Boca and seeing how the area suddenly changes from a huge run down barrio where it is advised not to go at night for tourists to 5 streets of tourist hell. The tourist part of Boca is like a snow globe. It is a tiny world that has nothing to do with reality and the dreams it conveys are made of cheap plastic.

I sincerely hope that there is a vibrant underground authentic tango scene hidden somewhere from the surface to balance all this out.

One of the areas we spent most time in was Palermo. If San Telmo feels like old Europe Palermo reeks of new Europe. The subdivisions of this barrio are called Soho and Hollywood, and it is much like going around a cool fashion area of a European capital. There are a million shops, restaurants and clubs. It is gourmet, its cool, its handmade and high fashion and the average age is probably 20 years younger than in San Telmo.
It feels a little bland though to travel to the other side of the globe to feel like you could be back in Copenhagen again. But at night Palermo turns up the charm when the cafes and restaurants light up the streets and fill up with people eating and drinking way into the hot night. Then you feel far from home again.

But none of this is why we were there so much. Palermo and the neighboring barrios are the places to go for painting in the street. It already has a lot of artwork in the streets and a lot of shop facades are completely covered by local and foreign artists.

There was an abundance of small spots to paint. And to our luck the waste management system is not the best leaving small piles of trash on many street corners which made it surprisingly easy to find a bucket or crate or even the dumpsters itself to reach higher when painting. It was also a good food source for the many street dogs around.

When painting, people were in worst case uninterested but many stopped to have a look or take photos. They seemed to be quite used to the idea of people painting randomly in this area. As the sun was out most of the time it was pretty chilled - although disturbed for a bit by a fall from a dumpster.
Contrary to widespread belief that it is not legal, which was demonstrated when we were politely told by a police officer to please stop painting in a park near Independencia Subte station.

The metro or Subte is generally the place with the most paint in Bueos Aires. Not on the actual station but on the trains! Coming from a country where painting on trains can result in fines in amounts that could buy you a flat in Copenhagen, it is quite extreme to see that probably 90% of the trains are covered in graffiti. And not just 90% of the number of trains but of the actual outside of all the trains we took.  

An area I would have liked to see more of was Almagro. This area seemed to have a cool vibe and less touristed than other areas we were in.
We went there to see an electro cumbia concert with El Remolon at a venue call Ciudad Cultural Konex. The venue was super cool! It was an old industrial complex with a big open stage in the yard and a smaller stage in one of the buildings, but the building was open one one end and led to a bar. They only served 2 different drinks – vodka/red bull and the argentine favorite (which taste a lot of cough syrup) fernet/coke - but then you get plastic cups with 1 liter of it for 50 pesos (roughly 55 kr)!!!
The venue served food - a concept all Danish venues should adopt! We went for the street food sold by a local guy out of a flamenco box outside instead, and it was awesome! The street food is generally very good here, although you get enough of empanadas after a few days.

Buenos Aires is a cool place to be for Argentineans and for Europeans alike - maybe this is why we randomly ran into old friends from Ireland here! Thank you so much for the homemade meals and the company!