Happy voices and laughter are wafting up to our 13th story Airbnb as I wake up from the heavy jet lag induced sleep. It is 7 am on Saturday morning and it is not that people in Buenos Aires get up early on weekends, they never went to sleep yet. It is still the continuation of the city wide party that started Friday night. The Portenos, as the inhabitants of inner Buenos Aires are called, really take the Latin partying to another level.
For once it is actually helpful for early birds like us, to have jet lag, so we can keep our eyes open for the late dinners and other fun activities planned by our new Argentinian friends.
Our trusty Servas International, the peace building organisation we have told you about many times before, comes into play again. Our main Argentinian contact is Ana. As we have exchanged plenty of emails and WhatsApp messages I know she is a glass artist, and a great organizer. (We will join her and Servas Argentina on a group trip at the end of our stay). Her husband is a screenwriter and film critic so we have fun discussions of art and movies. When we are not discussing the challenges of Argentine economics, their and our politicians, and life in general.
It is a rather strange, but auspicious coincidence that we have chosen our Airbnb not only in the same Palermo Soho neighborhood, but only a few blocks away from Ana’s home. It is great, because we will see each other more than once. The morning after our drinks and dinner together I am walking through absolutely deserted streets to Ana’s studio for an Intro to Glass class. I am joining her regular students and feel a bit intimidated, but as there is no glass blowing involved I quickly find a chair
and settle into choosing and cutting some glass pieces.
“It is not so much the artistic accomplishment,” says Ana, “it is more the experience of creative process, and totally clearing your head for a few hours!”
Then she bursts into laughter, her wild laugh cascading around her head, just like her black jaunty curls. It is a nice surprise when a day later she brings me the pieces “baked” in her studio oven.
Art is everywhere in Buenos Aires: in and on museums,
in galleries, and on any available flat surface, large
You will also find art in any public square, where a myriad of craftspeople and artists set up shop.
I can’t resist and buy just one beautiful hand carved necklace. It won’t take any space in my luggage, I will keep it around my neck!
It should come as no surprise that a simple ice cream window display can turn into art!
Even the public works are colorful. We loved this rainbow pedestrian bridge
leading to a park full of relaxed people enjoying their sunny Sunday, listening to music lying on the grass.
We tried our best to avoid tourists and touristy places. We did not go to visit Evita’s grave in Recoleta cemetery (we did 20 years ago and figured it hasn’t changed). Neither did we stand under the Casa Rosada balcony where she gave her famous speech. We were quite satisfied with this rendition.
We only drove past the famous Teatro Colon, but did go into two well known museums: MALBA (Museo de Arte Latino Americano)
and Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Both were wonderful and both held a special surprise. Besides grand works of art from Latin America and Europe they each also had a small, well curated room of pre Colombian art treasures.
We have a soft spot for “primitive” art! We love to see how these old patterns have been passed down through the centuries (the same textiles the figure is dressed in are still woven today) and how these striking, powerful human figures influenced modern artists.
Upon recommendation of our new friends we found a small Fundación Proa in La Boca, and were delighted to walk through a fun exhibition by British sculptor Anish Kapoor. You all know him for his reflecting Bean/Cloud in Chicago. Even though we like modern art we are often baffled by many contemporary pieces that fail to speak to us. (Perhaps you can relate?) But Kapoor is whimsical and thoughtful and engages the viewer on many levels.
Walking back through the colorful streets of La Boca
we can’t help but wade through the throngs of tourists, so we make the best of it by taking their photos.
Getting away from the crowds we come to a more serene environment of the old Buenos Aires
We feel transported back to Europe.
Especially when at the end of the day we find ourselves in front of a classic white Catholic church.
Ah, but the night is still young! How about a tango lesson? Courtesy of another Servas member Jorge, a tango teacher, who invites us to his home studio in fancy Retiro area. Mirek begs off due to his bad back, but I put on a brave face and shake off my two left feet.
Not willing to take advanced lessons 😉 we instead agree to meet next evening at Plaza Dorrago for some tango action. First we get a drink (ok, actually a bottle of Malbec) at a tango restaurant with a show put on by a friend of Jorge,
then we go out to admire the courage of regular folks– tango aficionados, young and old, that regularly come out in droves to practice their steps in the square late into the night.
Tango is synonymous with Buenos Aires, so it is encountered in many shapes and forms throughout the city, be it traditional
or more contemporary.
What else is synonymous with Buenos Aires and Argentina? Beef steak, of course. We surely will get more than our fair share of it on this trip,
and certainly must agree that
P. S. Traveling in Argentina is at times challenging, not in the least for weak WiFi, so putting together our blog posts requires additional patience and time. Your words of encouragement and remarks in comment section are therefore even more appreciated.