Buenos Aires

Parks and Plazas Abound in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Plaza San Martin

Plaza San Martin

By Roy Heale

Splendid parks and plazas abound in Buenos Aires enabling both locals and tourists to enjoy relaxing green spaces in the heart of this mecca. Varying in size and scope, these urban retreats all offer a unique perspective on the history of Buenos Aires and often feature statues and memorials to prominent Argentine political or military leaders.

Large Mature Trees

Large Mature Trees

One of my personal favorites is the Plaza San Martin located in the Retiro neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Situated at the northern end of pedestrian Florida Street, the park is bounded by Libertador Ave. (N), Maipú St. (W), Santa Fe Avenue (S), and Leandro Alem Av. (E). With a history dating back to the 18th century, today the park is encircled by many historic moments in Argentina’s history.

Great Ombú Tree

Great Ombú Tree

Some of the Plaza’s past includes the 33-story Art Deco Kavanagh Building which was completed in 1936, Plaza San Martín’s great Ombú tree, the monument to José de San Martín—the plaza’s namesake—and the monument for the fallen in the Falklands War. Three architecturally significant mansions facing the plaza surviving today include the Beaux Arts San Martín Palace (today the ceremonial annex of the Foreign Ministry), the Second Empire Paz Palace (today the Military Officers’ Association) and the Neogothic Haedo palace (today the Secretariat of Environmental Policy).The plaza in 1909 was the site for the inaugural of both the first premier hotel in Argentina (the Plaza) and of the new National Museum of Fine Arts (the latter was later moved to Recoleta).

Second Empire Paz Palace

Second Empire Paz Palace

The large, aged trees provide excellent shade on a Buenos Aires hot sunny day, and the pathways and park benches offer a wide variety of perspectives to enjoy year round.

Ritz Hotel Entrance

Ritz Hotel Entrance

On the southwest corner of the Plaza, the Torcuato & Regina Bar-Bistro is conveniently located to enjoy the sidewalk cafe tables plus the huge windows provide a perfect view for relaxing and indoor dining, or simply meeting friends for drinks. Close to the downtown business district, many historic sights, and the bustle of the Florida Street pedestrian mall, it is also the perfect respite for a break from strenuous activities affording time to stop and smell the roses in an otherwise frenetic day.

 

Torcuato & Regina Bar-Bistro

Torcuato & Regina Bar-Bistro

 

So find a good book or your favorite magazine and head to Plaza San Martin for a relaxing time in the hub of Buenos Aires and perhaps go shopping afterwards on the renowned Florida Street pedestrian mall.

MALBA in Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

MALBA, Buenos Aires, Argentina

MALBA, Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

 

By Roy Heale

Just on the eastern edge of the Palermo Woods and close to the Alcorta Shopping Mall, is the home of MALBA—the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires. Whether you are an art officianado or just interested in Latin American culture, this is a must visit when in Buenos Aires. The modern, stunning grand entrance and three storey atrium, create a bright environment to display these unique artworks.

The Atrium

The Atrium

MALBA – Fundación Costantini opened its doors on September 21, 2001. It is a not-for-profit institution featuring the permanent exhibit of the Costantini Collection, and also a dynamic cultural center, that constantly updates art and film exhibitions and develops cultural activities.

The Costantini Collection consists of a selection of more than five hundred works, including drawings, paintings, sculptures and objects by artists from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela.

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The mission of MALBA is to collect, preserve, research and promote Latin American art from the onset of the 20th century to the present. This also involves educating the public to foster their knowledge in Latin American artists, in the diversity of cultural and artistic holdings in this region, sharing this education with both with the national and the international community.

The Museum’s objectives are to reinsert Latin American art in the world setting, to address cultural and educational needs of the public, to exhibit a broad Latin American art collection and to generate artistic exchange with other cultural institutions. These objectives are achieved by the promotion of the most important national and international artists, by the promotion of the knowledge in Latin American art, by the creation of an overall program in educational services, and by the promotion of professional curatorial.

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Since its opening to the public in 2001, one of the museum’s principal institutional objectives has been the permanent display of most of its artistic patrimony, offering to visitors innovative lectures and different approximations to the history of art in Latin America.

From the first modern and avant-garde movements to the more contemporary productions of the late 20th century, the collection’s exhibits vary according to the dynamics of the Annual Program of Acquisitions and to the generous donations received from artists, their family members, and private collectors.

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Useful Information:
Museum Hours:
Thursday through Monday and Holidays from Noon to 20:00Hrs.
Wednesday from Noon till 21:00 Hrs.
Closed Tuesday.
Admission: (Shown in Argentine Pesos)
Adults: $32.
Teachers and Seniors: $16.
Students: $16.
Children under 5: Free.
Wednesday:
General: $16.
Students: Free.

MALBA Cinema:
General: $25
Students and Seniors: $13
Subscription: $114. Students and seniors: $58

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Contact Information:
info@malba.org.ar
Avenida Figueroa Alcorta 3415, Buenos Aires, Argentina
+54 (11) 4808-6500
www.malba.org.ar

Evita Treasures in Palermo Museum

Museo Evita

 

By Roy Heale

Nobody knows for sure at what point Maria Eva Duarte de Perón became known as Evita and similarly when she became a gay icon. But everybody knows that Evita became a legend in Argentina’s social politics and world renowned during her short thirty-three year life span (1919-1952). Immortalized by the 1978 Andrew Lloyd Weber musical Evita and later by the Hollywood movie of the same name starring Madonna, Eva Perón’s life story is mythical. In the city of Buenos Aires there are many monuments and highlights reflecting her life’s achievements and the Evita Museum shares her momentos with visitors.

If it were possible, Evita probably was watching over her beloved Casa Rosada the night in July 2010 when the Same-Sex Marriage Act was signed into law by a female president of Argentina—Cristina Fernández de Kirchner—reflecting upon her earlier contributions to this momentous occasion.

Museum Entrance

This is a true rags-to-riches story of how a young fifteen year old girl from a small rural village in Argentina heads to the big city of Buenos Aires in 1934 where she creates for herself a life of political power and influence which changes her country forever. The young Eva Duarte was a stage, radio, and film actress before meeting her future husband Colonel Juan Peron in 1944. The couple fell madly in love, married in 1945 and Juan Peron became president of Argentina in 1946. As the First Lady of Argentina she ran the Ministries of Labour and Health, championed woman’s liberation, created her own Foundation, fought for the poor, defended equal rights for all, and founded the Female Peronist Party. The Argentine Congress gave her the official title of “Spiritual Leader of the Nation” and she received a “Head of State” funeral despite the fact that she never held such a position. Without a doubt she earned her legendary status and left a remarkable legacy for all to admire and respect.

With such a colourful history to explore the Evita Museum offers a fascinating look at her life. From her involvement with the CGT (Argentina’s main labour union), to her outstanding speeches at the May’s Square Balcony of the Casa Rosada, her Mausoleum at the Recoleta Cemetery, and the National Library which was her one-time residence, this city is full of fascinating tidbits and representations of her life.

The Evita Museum in Palermo is housed in an early 1900s Italian Renaissance style mansion. This edifice was once a shelter for women and children with no resources, opened in 1948 by the Eva Peron Foundation. Today this magnificent building is home to the largest and most important collection of Evita memorabilia, one of her cars, historic black and white news film clips, her personal furniture, a bottle of her perfume, personal effects, clothes, and more. The Evita Museum opened on July 26th 2002 on the fiftieth anniversary of Evita’s death.

Evita's Dresses

The historic edifice is located on a quiet tree-lined residential avenue at 2988 Lafinur Street in Palermo close to the Botanical Gardens. It forms part of the cultural tourist trail of the City of Buenos Aires (together with the Decorative Art Museum, the National Fine Arts Museum, the Palais de Glace and the Latin American Art Museum). It is open Tuesdays to Sundays (and holidays) from 11 AM. to 7 PM and last admission is about half an hour before closing.

The walls of this building once echoed with the strong voice of Evita and the joyful voices of the women and children who found refuge in it. Now it houses the Museo Evita, a living museum where people can come to know, understand and appreciate the life of the most important woman of Argentine history.

The Original Kitchen

You can also enjoy gourmet meals in the museum restaurant which also has a beautiful garden courtyard for outdoor dining in the warmer months.

For More Information Visit: www.evitaperon.org

A Sunday Afternoon at the Feria de Mataderos

Zamba Folk Dancers
By Roy Heale
Many visitors to Buenos Aires are already familiar with the well known markets in San Telmo, Palermo, and Recoleta. But if you want a real South American experience, be sure to visit Mataderos to see the gauchos—Argentine cowboys—and their families, who come from the countryside with unique displays of horsemanship, handicrafts, live music, folk dancing, and delicious foods at the Feria de Mataderos. In 2011 this Fair of the Argentine popular handicrafts and traditions celebrates its 25th Anniversary.
This is one of the best-kept secrets in Buenos Aires, a weekly event that takes place during the spring, fall, and winter months on Sundays, from about 11am and until around 8pm—during January there is no Feria at all, and then in February and March they hold a down-sized version on Saturdays nights, starting at about 6pm.
Unique Vendors

All the fun of the gaucho fair takes place in one of the poorest sectors of the capital. Mataderos, and its neighboring barrio of Liniers, were once where cattle traditionally arrived from around the country, were slaughtered, and then shipped out as meat to other parts of the capital. The name Mataderos literally means slaughterhouses – and the area is also often called Nueva Chicago, because of the cattle-killing heritage it shares with America’s ‘Windy City’. For this reason there is an interesting mix of cultures  including gauchos, porteños, plus migrant workers from Bolivia and Paraguay. The fair represents this colorful combination of traditions, dancing, and handicrafts.
To get to the fair from other parts of Buenos Aires is about a 45-minute-plus adventurous bus ride on one of the following colectivos: 55, 63, 80, 92, 117, 126, 141, 155, and 180. Of these, the 55 and the 92 are the ones that bring you the closest, with the others you may have to walk a little bit. Just ask the bus driver to let you off at the fair (if you are following your map, with the 55 and 92 buses, the exact intersection you need to get off at is Av. Directorio and Av. Lisandro de la Torre).
Inside the Museum Criollo de los Corrales

Once you have arrived you can spend a few hours taking in the gaucho culture by watching the locals perform their folk dances known as zambas, accompanied by live musicians on a nearby outdoor stage. The zamba—not to be confused with the extremely different Brazilian samba—is a pleasure to watch. It is danced in pairs, a staged routine of flirtation in which the man and the woman dance toward each other and then quickly whirl away, waving scarves or handkerchiefs in flirtatious gestures. The dancers wear traditional Argentine costumes from the countryside, often in bright colors. When the men break into rhythmic step dances—which is similar to tap dancing with gaucho boots—  it is very impressive.
Stage Entertainment

With the live band playing folk music on accordions, traditional bombo legüero drums, folk guitars, and vocals, this is a true fiesta, a street party, and people might grab you by the shoulder and laughingly try to pull you into their dancing circle. Participation is the name of the game here and you will feel the friendly Argentine spirit instantly.
Some of the best local Argentine food specialities are available at the outdoor parillas and vendor’s booths. Try the BBQ beef or chorizo (sausage) on a bun, fresh fruits, empanadas, and more! Plus the market vendors offer a wide selection of cheeses, meats, wines, pickles, and local produce at low prices.  There are also many inexpensive restaurants—most with outdoor seating—offering up delicious Argentine regional treats such as locro, asado, tamales, and torta frita.
Traditional Meats Cooking on a Parilla
Street vendors proffer plenty of  local handicrafts, and often these will be some of the best deals in Buenos Aires. Specialities of the Mataderos fair are leather goods, stone and silver jewelry, novelties and good-luck charms molded from clay or other natural materials, key chains, wind chimes, and unique items that make great souvenirs or gifts. Usually the price the seller gives you is what you are expected to pay, although if your Spanish is good bargaining is a possibility.
Perhaps the most fun, interesting event at the Feria de Mataderos is the Carerra de Sortija—the “Race of the Ring”. This usually starts at about 3.30pm along a stretch of the road Av. Lisandro de la Torre, and it is when gauchos race their horses at breakneck speeds towards a small ring hung onto a raised metal frame overhead. Each time a gaucho is successful in spearing the ring, the crowds go wild.
So round-up some companions and spend a Sunday afternoon at the  Feria de Mataderos to experience provincial Argentine culture and relaxation. Enjoy the colorful music and dance, wonder at the gaucho horsemanship, try some of the foods, take some awesome photos,  and don’t forget to find a singular souvenir to take home as a memory.
For Further Information Visit: http://www.feriademataderos.com.ar
Local Handicrafts

Beatles Museum in Buenos Aires

Beatles Memorabilia

By Roy Heale

It may not be the traditional Liverpool surroundings for the Fab Four, but the recently opened Beatles Museum in Buenos Aires boasts an amazing collection of memorabilia. Created by 53-year-old Rodolfo Vazquez the museum features thousands of items related to the famous foursome from England. The Beatlemania collecting obsession began for the Argentine accountant when he was just 10 years old.

 

Rodolfo Vazquez

 

“With the song ‘In My Life,’ on the Rubber Soul album I fell in love with the Beatles,” Vazquez told The Associated Press. He holds the 2001 Guinness World Record for owning the world’s largest collection of the legendary rock band’s memorabilia. At that point, Guinness noted that he had 5,612 items in the attic of his home in Buenos Aires. His hoard has grown to more than 8,500 records, gadgets, puppets and games since then, more than 2,200 of which are on display in the Beatle Museum that just opened this year at Paseo La Plaza, 1660 Corrientes Avenue 1660, in an area of the capital city where tourists throng. Museum visitors will be able to view items like a check signed by drummer Ringo Starr, a large collection of album covers, toys, figurines, and a brick from The Cavern Club, where the band was discovered in the 1960s.

 

Museum and Cavern Club Entrances

There are Beatles museums in Liverpool, England, and Hamburg, Germany, that display memorabilia along with objects from the band members’ lives, and other private collections as well. But this storefront museum stands out for the sheer quantity of pieces, carefully arranged in display cases and on the walls. There are objects for all tastes: a box of condoms with the name of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, a wig that says it adjusts to any head size, and signed pictures of the four musicians. Vazquez also keeps accumulating objects, either buying or trading for them with other collectors around the world.

 

The Fab Four

 

The Beatles broke up in 1970, but there’s no letup in interest about the band: When their song list was added to iTunes last year, more than 2 million individual songs and 450,000 copies of Beatles albums were sold in the first week.

 

Although the Beatles never performed in Argentina, people here seem to have a soft spot for them, ensuring that cover bands have regular gigs. Many such bands play in Vazquez’s “The Cavern Club,” a bar next to the museum named after the Liverpool nightclub.

 

Vazquez claims he doesn’t know the total value of his private collection, which also includes record covers, autographs, toys, original pictures, concert programs, and cups and plates with Beatle images. Other rarities are four music boxes with figures of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Vazquez even has certified copies of their birth certificates. Rarities include  a hunk of the stage of Hamburg’s Star Club, a strip club where the musicians worked as the house band, at that point with Pete Best as drummer. A pair of drumsticks signed by Best, who was replaced by Ringo Star in 1962, is
in the Buenos Aires museum.

 

There’s also a piece of the floor of Strawberry Fields, a Salvation Army orphanage near
Lennon’s boyhood home whose name inspired the 1967 psychedelic rock tune “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

 

Getting the chance to show his treasures to fellow fans is immensely satisfying to Vazquez
and thousands have already rushed to the museum to relive Beatlemania at its best!

http://www.thecavern.com.ar

Paseo La Plaza, 1660 Corrientes Avenue,
Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

JARDIN JAPONES PALERMO

 

 By Roy Heale

In a city of thirteen million people you might think it is hard to escape the urban noise and bustle, but residents of Palermo in the heart of Buenos Aires are fortunate to have large parks and woodlands close at hand. One of the smaller parks within this green space is the Jardin Japones—Japanese Garden—where the Feng Shui influence creates a tranquil escape under the shadows of high-rise towers.

 Under the care of the Japanese Cultural Foundation of Arentina these gardens have been in existence since 1969 to create a peaceful oasis for visitors to enjoy year-round. The park was created to honor a visit by one of the Japanese princes of that era. It includes a pavilion with a traditional Japanese tea-house, cultural center, library, and Oriental souvenirs. Plus of course the gardens are landscaped with lakes full of fish and ducks, footbridges, walkways, greenhouse, and ornaments encompassing Feng Shui traditions. A leisurely stroll around the grounds will prove to be a very calming and tranquil relief from the busy city.

 Children can enjoy feeding the fish—mostly large Carp—in the ponds or attending an origami folding class in the cultural center. Throughout the year Asian cultural fairs and festivals take place in the grounds.

 The garden is located at the intersection of Avenue Berro Adolfo and Avenue Casares opposite the Plaza Alamenia—German Plaza. The park admission is a very nominal two dollars towards the expenses and administration which provides several hours of enjoyment. During the summer the park hours are Monday to Friday 10AM to 6PM and Saturday and Sunday 10AM to 7PM and check their website for winter hours.

 Although the park is enjoyable throughout the year it is alive with colors during early spring and late fall. It provides a colorful garden for all the family to enjoy amidst the Palermo woodlands and parks.

 It’s just another of the many reasons why Palermo is a popular residential community in the heart of Buenos Aires.

 For More Information Visit: www.jardinjapones.com.ar

HELPFUL TIPS FOR THE BUENOS AIRES NOVITIATE

Photos and Story By Roy Heale

On your first visit to Buenos Aires—also known as the Paris of South America—you are likely to be impressed by the character, style, and friendliness of this enormous gay mecca. Hopefully you were able to spend some time in Spanish language classes before you left home. If you didn’t, then be sure to carry a pocket dictionary as many portenos—as the locals are affectionately called—speak little or no English. However, they are welcoming and friendly to visitors, so with your dictionary, some sign language, and a smile on your face, communication becomes easier.

 This very large, populous city can be overwhelming at first and will likely dwarf your own hometown. The best way to begin your visit is with a guided tour of the city in order to orient yourself with the diverse neighborhoods. A personal gay tour guide—fluent in English—costing approximately US$100 for a full day tour will probably customize the route to include your own interests. For those on a lower budget the “Hop On-Hop Off” City Tour Bus provides an excellent three hour round-trip route of major attractions and communities for around US$8 and allows you to embark or disembark at twelve different locations.

 Once you are familiar with the city you will discover that the LGBT community resides in several different neighborhoods rather than one gay village. A little research will also reveal that the nightlife doesn’t begin until well after midnight but continues until dawn. Also, dinner is a late night affair which often begins after 10PM and in fact many restaurants don’t open for dinner until much later than you may be used to at home.

 Although credit cards are widely accepted throughout Buenos Aires there are always exceptions. For example some restaurants only accept them for payment of dinners and most do not allow you to add the tip onto the credit card bill. Always have ample cash with you to pay for your meal or leave a gratuity. However, this amount of money will be much less than you might expect for dining out in many other countries.

One of the most important handy pocket guides to LGBT Buenos Aires is the GMAPS360 local map and gay guide to all that this city has to offer. Copies are available at numerous locations around the city or online at www.gmaps360.com for research before you leave home.

 Enjoy the lower cost of living in Argentina and have a wonderful time in this gay-friendly city. Chances are you will be back for many happy returns like so many other gay travelers who have already discovered that Buenos Aires is the gay capital of Latin America.