Do you know what historic corner this is? Does the installment of a North American chain cafe here signify the beginning of the end for San Telmo‘s unique character? Let us know on the Wander-Argentina Facebook page.
Archives for March 2012
Wander Argentina offers exciting, safe and affordable tours to Argentine soccer games.
– Transport and accompaniment to the game.
– Tickets to the game (even for games in which only ‘club members’ are normally provided access)
– Expert explanations: bilingual guides explain the ins and outs of the game, translate chants and provide insider details on players and clubs
– Accompanied return from the stadium
Terms of online booking:
– Specific game days and times are usually not decided until a few days before the game. If game time is not confirmed upon booking please be flexible.
– If for some reason you cannot attend the elected game, please inform us as soon as possible. We will work with you to arrange to see another game.
-Price is determined by the cost of the match tickets
Buenos Aires is the birthplace of many a prominent writer, but it takes a visit to fully unveil the enduring love of reading in South America’s city of books.
Godfather of Argentine literature, Jorge Luis Borges famously said, “Let others pride themselves about how many pages they have written; I’d rather boast about the ones I’ve read.”
And read is what the Argentines do — on the bus, in the park, and in the myriad bookstores that are as plentiful as pharmacies and supermarkets in the capital city.
And literary sustenance for the soul in Buenos Aires is not limited to an insubstantial diet of romance novels and bestsellers — though those can certainly be found — but consists largely of dense literary and philosophical works of the likes of Foucault, Nietzsche, Arendt, Shakespeare, Joyce, as well as the Argentine heavy-weights — Borges, Julio Cortázar, Ernesto Ernesto Sábato and José Hernández.
It is impossible to meander through the Buenos Aires without noticing the abundance of bookworms.
“Just look around on the subway and count how many people have a book,” says Florencia Basile, of La Porteña Books in Belgrano. “From ages 20 to 60, people read a lot here — there is a culture of reading.”
Buenos Aires’ Main ‘Book Streets’
Wrapped in plastic to discourage sneak previews and summer rains, tomes grace the shelves of street side dispensaries, subway station kiosks of all the metro lines, and some of the grandest bookstores in the world, such as the opulent former theater, El Ateneo.
One testament to Buenos Aires’ love of literature can be find right in the heart of Palermo, at Plaza Italia. Right outside the Plaza Italia subway stop visitors can find 40+ stalls of new and second-hand books to take on the train, because reading a book on public transport is much safer and cooler than playing on your cellphone.
Corrientes Avenue, the main thoroughfare of Buenos Aires’ theater district, is a also favored destination for late-night book browsing. Where else in the world can one peruse the shelves at 3:00 a.m.?
Latin American’s Literary City
Argentina leads Latin America in publishing, with over 20,000 titles released in the country per year. Buenos Aires is blessed with over 800 bookstores, the majority of them independently owned.
In 2011 UNESCO awarded Buenos Aires the title of ‘World Book Capital,’ in recognition of its many high quality projects and activities involving books and reading.
For those already so inclined, embrace and enjoy wandering the aisles of books and the streets of ready-made benches. For all others, let the Latin American bookworm bite and take a taste of the sumptuous, if old-fashioned, world of paper and print.
• For those who don’t read Spanish, or need a break from second language overload, a modest selection of imported foreign titles are found scattered in kiosks and bookstores, and a few all-English bookstores, such as Kel and Walrus Books.
• Even if you don’t read Spanish, you don’t’ want to miss Buenos Aires’ most famous bookstore, set in an old theater, El Ateneo.
→ Check out our Literary Tour of Buenos Aires
or book the Buenos Aires Private Literary Tour online now
— Alana Fichman
*update: this is an old post. Although a lot of the information is the same, please see this year’s post on the St. Patrick day celebrations.
The British in Argentina may not be too popular these days, but Argentines are happy to help the 500,000+ strong Irish descendants in the country party every March 17th.
The Irish community‘s yearly St. Patrick’s Day celebration falls on a Saturday this year, which means the party in Buenos Aires promises to be huge — weather permitting.
Before the festivities begin, terrorist victims from Buenos Aires’ Jewish community will be remembered with a wreath hanging ceremony at the parade’s starting point, on the corner of Arroyo and Suipacha Streets. The Israeli embassy once stood on this corner until it was obliterated in a 1992 terrorist attack. The city’s Irish contingency — who also came to Argentina to escape religious persecution — will honor their fellow immigrants to mark the tragedy’s 20th anniversary.
Afterwards, the Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations will continue as they do every year with a parade at 7:00 p.m. on the same corner. The green march of elves, leprechauns and fairies will end at Plaza San Martin, where there will be music and dance performances featuring Irish-flavored rock groups such as the Gaiteros Tartan Army, The Kilt, and Mac Manus, and Irish dance troupe, Celtic Argentina.
Afterward the party continues in local pubs such as Down Town Matías, Druid Inn, John John and The Kilkenny.
St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, March 17
6:00 p.m. — Gathering and wreath-laying ceremony, Arroyo and Suipacha Streets/Retiro
7:00 p.m — St. Paddy’s Day Parade beginning at Arroyo and Suipacha Streets
7:30 p.m.-through the evening — Celebration in Plaza San Martin/Ave. Santa Fe and Florida Street/Retiro
• Down Town Matias — Reconquista Street 701
• Druid Inn — Reconquista Street 1040
• John John — Reconquista Street 924
• The Kilkenny — Marcelo T. de Alvear 399
Historic and elegant, Las Violetas café, patisserie and restaurant is an essential stop on any Buenos Aires café tour.
Now over 125 years old, Las Violetas remains extraordinarily popular. Every weekend afternoon tea-hungry diners form an orderly line outside its curved-glass doors to wait for one of the marble-topped tables.
Declared a Buenos Aires’ Heritage Site in 1998, Las Violetas is one of those Argentine institutions that refuses to die. Twice restored, and at one point practically abandoned, its struggles and subsequent revivals are emblematic of Argentine history itself.
The Felman and Rodriguez families founded the illustrious café, with its French stained-glass windows, ornate woodwork and Italian marble columns, in 1844.
Refined literary and political figures such as Carlos Pelligrini, who later became Argentine President, attended the grand opening. Other notable people who have rendezvoused here include tango great, Osvaldo Pugliese and politician, Felix Luna.
Uruguayan jockey and renowned sweet-tooth, Irineo Leguisamo was a regular at Las Violetas as noted by the cake bearing his name. A favorite on the menu today, the ‘Leguisamo’s’ mouthwatering ingredients include dulce de leche, meringue and almond cream.
Others had to visit more discreetly. The abuelas (grandmothers) of the Plaza de Mayo famously held meetings, disguised as birthday parties, at the café in order to plot retrieving their kidnapped or ‘disappeared’ grandchildren.
Las Violeta’s Revival
In the late 1990s, Las Violetas was hit hard by a combination of economic factors and was shut down for three years. The building was restored in 2001, and looking grander than ever, reopened that same year.
Bustling yet sophisticated, white-jacketed waiters serve food on silver platters while visitors struggle to choose from a vast array of delicious cakes and pastries. Aside from their famed sweets, other options include savory snacks, an extensive wine list, cocktails and beer, plus a range of restaurant dishes thrown in for good measure.
Featured are the typical Argentine plates such as a tenderloin steak with mushrooms, grilled chicken, and some fish dishes such as simple hake, salmon with roquefort cheese and a three-colored vegetable pureé, and the ‘Martin Carrera salmon,’ served with shrimp, mushrooms and bacon. In a nod to the many foreign tourists, Las Violetas also features an American-style breakfast with bacon and eggs.
One classic yet pricey tea-time favorite is the María Cala, a cake, sandwich and pastry platter piled high with tempting goodies accompanied by fresh orange juice and tea, coffee or hot chocolate.
A better option for those looking to soak up the Las Violetas ambience without spending a fortune is an aromatic tea or coffee with a medialuna (croissant) or three. Penny pinchers should note that hot drinks come with a sweet treat, so there’s no need to order separately to sample a bite-sized cream or dulce de leche (sweet milk spread) laden pastry.
Those after a longer-lasting souvenir can step through a separate, yet equally ornate doorway to a crowded shop bursting with pastries, candies and ostentatiously wrapped gifts.
Las Violetas is open around the clock on the weekends and also has a delivery service, but this isn’t recommended for first timers. The building, complete with colorful stained-glassed windows, Italian marble floors and gossiping grannies is an essential part of the Las Violeta’s charm. —Rosie Hilder
Av. Rivadavia 3899
• Cafe and Confitería hours:
Sun -Thurs: 6 a.m. – 1 a.m.
weekends & holidays: open 24 hours
Panadería (pastry shop) hours:
6 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily
•Credit cards accepted
•Getting there: Castro Barros stop on the subway’s A line.
*Note: There are two prices on the café menu. Las Violetas is more expensive after 4 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. It’s no coincidence that the costlier menu coincides with the perfect time for a spot of afternoon tea.