BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK: DISCOVERING BUENOS AIRES, PART II

Even if full of tourists, the Sunday San Telmo Flea market along Calle Defensa doesn’t lose its charm. A never-ending street where you’ll find all sorts of items, as well as street food. If you need to buy presents, or have some room for cool souvenirs, this is the place to go to.

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However, the heart of the feria is Plaza Dorrego, where musicians, tango dancers and antiques vendors fill every corner, more or less carefully observed by curious tourists.

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For a nice break to rest from all the walking and to escape from the crowds, make sure you head to the lovely Mercado San Telmo, an iron and glass structure made by Juan Antonio Buschiazzo, who is also behind the construction of the Cementerio de la Recoleta. Both kiosks Coffee Town and Merci are worth a stop, to enjoy some good coffee or fruit juices. If you’re also in the mood for some art galleries, you might consider visiting the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Buenos Aires (MACBA, entry fee 60 ARS / 3.19£ / 3.63€, for students 40 ARS / 2.13£ / 2.42€; on Wednesdays 40 ARS, free for students) and Museo de Arte Moderno Buenos Aires (20 ARS / 1.06£ / 1.21€, free on Tuesdays). The two museums are next to each other.

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After visiting the tourist-overwhelmed streets of Caminito, the main attraction of La Boca, jump on the bus 20, if you’re still looking for interesting art exhibitions and some well-deserved air con (if you’re travelling in summer). The bus will drop you right in front of the Usina del Arte, a former electrical power plant recently converted into an arts venue. When I visited the place, a fabulous photographic exhibition of Henry Cartier Bresson was being hosted. In his long life, Bresson travelled all over the world and witnessed some major historic breakthroughs. Some of his work, commissioned for a long time by Magnum Photos and all in black and white, can be found here.

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Highly picturesque and hipsterish neighbourhood of Palermo is the place I would like to live in, if I ever moved to Buenos Aires. Street art, cute little cafés and bookshops, art galleries, cool bars and clubs can be found here, and if you’re feeling any kind of nostalgia of Shoreditch, this is where you’ll find some comfort.

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If you’re in search of a coffee, my pick would be Libros del Pasaje, on Calle Thames, or Paul French Gallery on Calle Gorriti. On the same street, Nola is ideal if you’re thirsty for a beer and some pub food – what in Buenos Aires call chanchada, the equivalent of greasy and fattening delicacies. At the weekend you can also go to Plaza Armenia’s feria – considerably smaller than San Telmo’s, but with more stylish products.

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In Palermo you can also visit the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA, entry fee: 100 ARS / 5.32£ / 6.06€; students: 50 ARS / 2.66£ / 3.03€)  operated by the Fundación Costantini, an NGO created by the Argentinian business man and art lover Eduardo Costantini. The aim of the foundation to promote Latin American art, and the museum hosts the permanent collection Verboamérica, which explains through art the latin american society and the problems linked to the fast growing metropolis, migration and indigenous identity, as well as other temporary exhibitions. 

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To conclude my Buenos Aires favourites I would recommend a visit to Puerto Madero, to visit the Colección Fortabat, a private collection of paintings. The owner, María Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat commonly known as Amalita, was an art collector, wife of Alfredo Fortabat, one of the most famous entrepreneurs of Argentina and founder of Loma Negra, the country’s leader maker of cement.

Most of the paintings are by Argentinian artists, but there is also a section dedicated to European art, with works of Dalí, Alma Tadema, Pietier Brueghel the Younger, Turner and many more. The  odd building was designed to admire the art works with natural light, every floor presenting one big open space (Entry fee: 80 ARS / 4.25£ / 4.85€ ; Students: 40 ARS/ 2.13£ / 2.42€; Wednesdays: 40 ARS, free for students; Free guided tour from Tuesday to Sunday at 3 pm and 5 pm).

Getting around

Travelling around Buenos Aires is not an easy task and can be quite confusing for a tourist – no timetables are available and the city is huge. What’s easy however, is the SUBE, the Oyster-equivalent card for public transport, that you will need to pay for your fares on the metro, trains, buses. You can’t buy tickets from drivers or pay for a single fare without the SUBE, so make sure this 25 ARS (1.33£ / 1.51€) investment is one of the first things you do in Buenos Aires. Unless you can afford regular taxi journey (Uber is also available in the city), you will often use the bus. A single journey costs roughly 6.5 ARS (0.34£ / 0.39€), depending on the distance you cover. Here’s the link to the interactive map of the city.

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