Thursday, May 31, 2012

Subte Etiquette

This article is way overdue. Though I doubt it will yield any effect, I feel better knowing that somewhere out there, should anyone ever want to find it, there will be an article explaining how humans should act when taking the subway. I'm no international subway expert, but compared to the other subway systems that I have used in cities around the world, the Buenos Aires Subte is absolute savagery. The following are a list of suggestions, which I hope will be miraculously translated and widely circulated, to make riding the Subte a tolerable if not enjoyable experience.
1. Avoid taking the Subte during rush hour if possible. Millions of people actually need to be on the subway at that exact time, so if you're going shopping or sightseeing, please don't do it between 7:30 and 9:30 am or 5 and 7 pm. This rule is especially important for backpackers, families with baby carriages and other parcel carriers.
2. When waiting in line to buy a ticket or charge your Sube card, have your cash and Sube card in your hand, so you don't waste everyone-in-line-behind-you's time digging through your bag. Again, this is especially relevant during rush hour when people who are already late to work panic realizing they have no more credit.
3. When walking through subway stations, corridors and stairwells or using the escalator, make like highway traffic. Stay to the right when you are moving slowly, leaving the space on the left available for people who are moving more quickly.
4. When waiting on the platform for the train to arrive, do not sit on a bench for the duration of the waiting period and then push to the front when you hear the train coming. That is rude. When you sit on the bench you voluntarily put yourself at the back of the line for entering the train.
5. When the train arrives, do not stand directly in front of the doors. Stand parallel to the train on either side of the doors allowing all of the people to get off before you get on. The door is not on a timer. The conductor is watching, and if he sees people exiting and others waiting to get on he will not close the doors.
6. While boarding the train, keep in mind that you are surrounded by people not cows. Remember the idea of personal space and try to maintain a certain level of respect and order. This includes not shoving the people in front of you with the full weight of your body and even trying to resist such a force when it comes upon you. While you may need to be shoulder to shoulder, it is not necessary to have your body fully pressed against someone else's from head to toe. Though it may be uncomfortable resist the urge to constantly fidget as it will likely cause a ripple effect through the entire train car.
7. Quickly offer your seat to any toddler, pregnant women or elderly person. Don't make it awkward and offensive by looking around to see if someone else will first.  Additionally, do not close your eyes at stops to avoid doing this, while keeping them open when the train is moving. If you want to commit a random act of kindness, feel free to also offer your seat to people who are carrying heavy backpacks, are ill or generally look like they need to sit down.
8. Do not deface or tear down maps of the subway routes. Some novices may need to use them. 
9. Keep disruptive, annoying and disgusting behavior like phone calls and coughing to a minimum.  
10. If at any moment in the Subte experience, including in the stations or in the trains, you notice someone being pickpocketed do try to warn them. A nudge, nod of the head or suggestive "cuidado" would be greatly appreciated by the passenger about to lose their wallet, cellphone, computer, etc.
11. When exiting the train refer to number 4. If you were sitting, do not get up and push to the front to exit the train first. The people who were standing for the entire ride deserve to get off first.
12. When possible, exit the platform area through a wooden turnstyle or open emergency exit door so you don't block the way of people trying to get on. Likewise, when getting off a train try to move aside for those trying to catch it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Argie Munchies

I don't always find good snacks in Argentina, but when I do I become obsessed with and never deviate from them.
Here is a run down of my favorite Argentine snacks. All of these should be available at your local higher end supermarket. The prices are rough averages as of today. They may increase greatly by tomorrow, as is the trend with food prices...
Be sure you're not fooled by other brand names of the same product, or different flavors from the same brand, buying smoked instead of cheese flavored palitos can really ruin your day.
 Krachitos (cheese balls/puffs/sticks)
 Pehuamar palitos (cheese flavored crackers)
 Sublime (chocolate pudding with an almond & hazelnut flavored swirl) A$R 4
 Fruitgran avena y pasas (crunchy oatmeal raisin cookies) A$R 8
Rocklets bananita (banana-flavored-candy coated chocolates) A$R 3

Other favorite foods that aren't pictured include:
Orange juice - Puro Sol A$R 18 per liter
Water - Glacier A$R 5 per 2 liter bottle
Beer (budget) - Quilmes bajo cero A$R 8 per liter
Crackers - Criollitas A$R 8 per 5 tube pack
Yogurt - Griego A$R 4

Friday, May 25, 2012


Not only did arteBA present an array of national and international contemporary art talent, but the [combination viewing/gallery/art conference] event itself provided an inviting social atmosphere where all were welcome to spend as much time as they like.
I'm not one for analysis or depth when it comes to art though (or wine tasting, or most things for that matter);  so, I'm sure I didn't appreciate the works for their full meanings being that meaning is the essence of modern art. Forgive the superficiality, but I just like what I like, in this case what looks cool to me. These pictures are a collection my favorite works which I was able to photograph decently.
I unfortunately didn't take note of all the artists names, which I'm sure is a mortal sin in the art world. (I'm not too experienced as a gallery goer.) So, if anyone know who the artists are please comment!
(The names that I do have I was able to find in the brochures and publications for the events.)

 Los Carpinteros

Julio Le Parc

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

BsAs Roller Night

Move over soccer, Argie's got a new favorite sport. Ok... maybe I'm exaggerating, but rollerblading and to a lesser degree roller skating are becoming seriously popular. Palermo has been packed for a while now, but Puerto Madero is becoming a new favorite weekend spot to skate. Plus, Romario's pizza delivery people are being joined by the masses, using roller blading as the new green means of transportation. In fact, you'll be hard pressed to go a day in Buenos Aires without seeing someone on roller blades, whether for sport, fun or transportation.
This past weekend though (May 12 2012), the life blood of the rollerblading subculture was assembled in one place, at the first Buenos Aires Roller Night. This festival/race combination event was held in Puerto Madero (perhaps the only place in the entire city with well paved roads). The main event was a pair of 15K races, one for men and one for women. There were over 1,800 participants, though the vast majority (probably around 80%) were women. The event also had a stage with music, drummers sponsored by Nextel and several promotional tents.
The crowd was assembling more than an hour before the race with tons of skaters socializing and showing off, as well as many non skating spectators and 4-legged supporters. A group of 282 men raced first, followed by 1,183 women. The winners were incredibly fast with exceptional technique, lapping many other competitors, twice. The first man finished at 31:18 and the first woman finished at 37:00
In general, it was a successful event with cool onda, a great turn out and I think something likely to become a highly anticipated event in the roller world. Although, not everything turned out perfectly...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Arte BA

This Friday (May 18), is the opening day of the 21st edition of arteBA, an annual contemporary art festival held at La Rural. This event is a pretty big deal. I mean not only does it attract hundred of thousands of visitors, but it even has it's own iPhone application.
The goal of the festival is to incorporate Argentine art into the world market by exposing new artists, as well as showcasing already well known ones. Organizers also attempt to break the mold of an uptight gallery event by having a variety of elements including interactive events, prizes and corporate sponsors to make the event more of a celebration than a simple showing. The festival runs until the following Tuesday (May 22). The tickets are A$R 50 and can be bought ahead or at the door.
For complete information visit the event's website.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Villa 31

Retiro is a barrio of Buenos Aires which acts as a border between the upscale and downtrodden. On the South and West sides it's bordered by Puerto Madero and Recoleta respectively, but deeper inside past the bus station and across the train tracks, it's another world. Within half a mile of the Four Seasons and Patio Bullrich (one of the most upscale shopping malls in the city), lies the villa of Retiro. Known as Villa 31, this shantytown is built alongside the train tracks and under the highway. It is a self contained city with dilapidated homes built from found materials, window shops selling grocery items and even local bars. In many cases, there is no street access from outside, no paved roads inside, no sanitation system and no official electric hookups. Villa 31 is only one of hundreds of villas which exist in Buenos Aires, scattered under freeways or along the backsides of towering buildings, once against demonstrating the dichotomy of the city.
For more information about villas in Buenos Aires, contact me about my college senior research paper.

Taxi toys

Does your taxi have this many toys inside? It's like getting in the Cash Cab... almost.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Not Bruno Mars

This might be cool, but don't be fooled by a quick glance. This is not Bruno Mars.
*If you're interested, the actual event is the opening of a new club of Argentine folk singer Bruno Arias. The event is next Saturday, May 19 at Paraguay 918.

Friday, May 4, 2012

La Panadería del Pablo

The Sunday feria in San Telmo is, in my opinion, one of the very best things in Buenos Aires. Hundreds of artisan tables, thousands of intermingled native and foreign visitors, millions of products and a hefty bunch of street food vendors. But if street artisan and bohemian aren't two words you're fond of when talking about cuisine, La Panadería del Pablo (269 Defensa) is probably what you're looking for. This panadería though, is much more than a bakery. The minimalist modern diner decor, open kitchen, bomb brunch menu and quiet green terrace, make it one of my favorite cafés in the city, and the ideal place to dip out of the feria's madness and relax.
The interior of the restaurant has a mix of tables and booths, including a double-sided, extra-long booth bench with low marble topped tables, which can accommodate 8 on each side. Tables close to the kitchen give you a perfect view of the stove top excitement, black mosaic pizza oven and the window, if you're into that kind of thing. There is diner style decor throughout such as old fashioned napkin holders and red and white gingham table cloths, but also modern elements including low hanging silver lamps which accent the trim of the wooden bar, exposed piping and concrete columns. There is also a beautiful covered terrace out back, which is landscaped with a variety of lush greenery.
The menu has a split personality. There is the traditional café side which offers pastries, desserts, coffees and beverages. There is also a food menu which offers what I would describe as Argentine/American fusion, with offerings that can serve as breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. Some things that I haven't tried, but that sound amazing are bruschetta with salmon, avocado and cream cheese (A$R 45), ensalada griego/greek salad (A$R 55) and cous cous (A$R 40). The hash brown with salchicha is also probably great if you eat pork, porker!
From what I have eaten, I've never eaten bad. The first time I just had medialunas and coffee. Enjoyable as it was, there's not much to say about good medialunas and a legit cafe chiquito. The second was papas bravas (A$R 35) and margarita pizza (A$R 55). This is where the real obsession set in. Papas bravas are potato chunks which are boiled and then fried. You know crunchy and mushy is the best combination. Normally I'm a Heinz addict, but here I didn't even ask for the ketchup. That's because these potatoes are served up with a side of spicy tomato sauce and garlicky-ish aoili with some chopped up green spice (Chives? Do they have those here?) on top. The pizza was piedra style (flat dough) and literally covered in fresh green basil leaves.
The third visit (which was only 5 days after the second), was when I became addicted. This time it was the fishcake with bread to start. I don't know how it happened, but on the second visit I was gypped on the bread, and man do I know now what a rip off it was. Yeah it's a bakery so this should be obvious, but there's a million bakeries with less than stellar bread. This is the bread of bread, the best bread I've eaten in Buenos Aires. It's soft, airy and amazing. The triangle one had a good chewy crust, and the sliced one was pure fluff with just a hint of rosemary (90% sure, could've been a different spice). The fishcake was also quite good, crusty outside and mushy inside (there it is again), made with what to my palate seems to be tuna. It was served with a lime (not a yellow lemon called a lime) and a mayonnaise based (obvio, amigo) aioli . It also came with a side salad of green and purple leaves and purple onions that was dressed with a creamy and tangy vinaigrette.
If all this delish isn't enough for you, here are 5 more reasons why this restaurant is the shit. 
1. The mini grocery wall sells not only their amazing breads, but also other fine food items like olive oil, olives, organic honey and imported coffee and tea.
2. They give you those table hooks to hang your bag.
3. They have an impressive wine selection. Who said vino tinto isn't good for brunch?
4. WiFi
5. They let me sit alone at a table for four because there are no booths for two.