Mom says the blog is boring since I haven’t posted in weeks, so it’s her fault I’m writing this instead of doing homework!
Since I’ve returned from my week away in the west of Argentina (pictures of the trip to San Juan and Mendoza are here) things in BA have been pretty rosy! The time away from the city was perfect: we strolled through the moonscape desert of Parque Nacional Ischigualasto, pushed our car across a dried out lake bed in Leoncito, gave a nod to those Andes that separate us from Chile (Andes and lake bed pictured above), and sipped Malbec at a bodega familiar in Mendoza. While I headed back to the city with still a bit of reservation, this week has been wonderful. I’ve stayed pretty close to home in Belgrano, acclimating myself to city life again. So here is a list of some wonderful places, restaurants, and people I have found in this city so far. And may I continue to make more and more lovely discoveries!
Belgrano. Of course! Now that I’ve lived here for about 2 months (63 days to be exact) I am so comfortable in my barrio. Sure, I still love the old architecture and bohemian scene of San Telmo, but Belgrano has truly won my heart. One of the best things about Belgrano is that there’s really no tourist presence besides the scattered university students. Since it’s such a trek from el centro, Belgrano is not really mentioned in the guide books. It maintains a real relaxed, family vibe, since it’s a mostly middle-class neighborhood and there’s a ton of schools.
Favorite Ice Cream:
Persicco. While good, hard American ice cream still reigns supreme in my mind (just ask Clark—I’m still trying to get him to bring a cooler full of Ben & Jerry’s as his carry on when he comes to visit in July) the best Argentine helado I have tried in BA is definitely at Persicco. Persicco has 4 locations around the city, but I’m pretty sure the one in Belgrano is the best. On the corner of Juramento y Cuba, it is right in front of the Plaza Belgrano, which fills up on weekends with a funky crafts market. The café has a great terrace on the second floor that overlooks the plaza and the Redondo, the huge domed roof of the beautiful church next door.
It’s got wireless internet and offers a full café menu so it’s a nice place to study too. My favorite flavors so far are Chocolate Amargo (bitter chocolate) with Dulce de Leche Casero con Brownie. Considering the fact that I don’t even like actual dulce de leche, I think my devotion to Persicco’s ice cream version is remarkable. Persicco is a little expensive, but totally worth it. And before mom sent my trusty French press and a pound of ground coffee, it was the only place where I could find an America-sized mug of plain black coffee.
Burgio Pizzeria on Cabildo y Monroe. This is real, Argentine style pizza. Thick, fluffy crust loaded with an inch thick layer of gooey cheese (broiled and crunchy on top), and topped with things like onion, tomato and spices, or ham and cheese (of course). This is not a snack. This is lunch AND dinner. And it’s soooo good. I went to Burgio for the first time this weekend, drawn in by the crowd of middle-aged men eating their slices while standing up at the counter in the front. When I tried to stand and order my slice, I was ushered towards an area with tables and chairs where all the other women were seated. This place really is a time warp! Two slices and two beers later, I left with a buzz, a full belly, and the fortitude to walk both off. Coincidentally, I ended up walking to Persicco. I just seem to end up there... every day...
Favorite place to grocery shop:
La Calle Juramento. All my favorite shops are on this street, and it’s just 3 blocks from my apartment. There’s Verde Brote, the natural foods store that sells dried fruits, vegetables, beans, some spices, canned black beans (which are truly a novelty in this city) and tostito style corn chips (for the celiacs, remember?). A block up from there is the Feriado Modelo Belgrano, and indoor market style place with butchers, fresh fish, veggie stands, some prepared foods, and a kick-ass place that has all sorts of imported cheeses. One of the veggie guys even sells all different kinds and colors of Andean potatoes! Great place, but they close at 13hs and open back up at 18hs, which can be a heartbreaker if you forget. Just a few steps away is the COTO, which after a rocky start to our relationship, is now my grocery store of choice. The first time I went I was short on cash so I stocked up on a few more things and tried to use the credit card. Turns out you need your passport to use a credit card in the COTO, so they turned me down and I stormed out. But now that I know, I always bring cash and it always has good prices and mostly everything in stock.
Favorite yoga studio:
Fundación Indra Devi. I’m pretty sure this place, mostly my instructor, Norma, is saving me here in BA. After my first class with her, Norma gave me a huge, warm hug. It made me realize I had not been hugged since I left my parents at security in the Providence airport. Now I get Norma hugs 3 times a week! The classes are wonderful; I stretch and twist alongside women of all ages and abilities. The studio has such a relaxed, unpretentious vibe, unlike the “bougie”, new-age place I checked out in Palermo. And it’s been there since 1988 so it’s well-loved, lived in, and the instructors know what they’re doing.
Favorite subway stop:
Jose Hernandez on the D-line. This is where I get off when I’m headed home and tired, usually on Thursdays after a full day of class. Usually, I get off at the Juramento stop so I get a bit more of a walk in on my way home. But I like Jose, because around midday there’s always a reggae band just hanging out, playing all afternoon. There’s also this really random display case supposedly to show off BsAs culture, but it’s always ironically empty. Hm.
The 67. I pick it up right on Avenida Cabildo, the main street that runs 4 blocks from my apartment. For those of you coming to visit me, the 67 will most likely be gloriously transformed into Mary Kate’s low-budget BsAs bus tour!!! Well, if I have enough monedas to spare, of course. I take the 67 to my Castellano class up on Castex in Palermo, and some times to the center too. It runs down Sarmiento and Libertador, the streets that line the Palermo parks and botanical gardens, and goes right past the Malba (favorite museum) and the big metal flower structure that opens and closes every day. Then it heads down to el centro, parallel to 9 de Julio, right by the obelisk. What a ride.