& Language Trainers
Notable favorites include the “Footsteps Of The Dictators” tour, which takes you to the clandestine detention centers from the Dirty War that lasted from 1976-1983. This was a very dark time for Argentina’s history and it is difficult to find people willing to discuss it at length. Take note that this tour is not in any way edited down for younger audiences. If you’re interested in a lighter more vacation-esque look at the city, consider the Caballito tour, which takes you through one of the oldest food markets in the country. Whichever you choose, the tour guides –passionate and willing to answer any and all questions– will take good care of you
A breath of fresh Aires
Article by Sharon Salt.
I don’t wake up early on Monday mornings, and certainly not in winter, and certainly not to venture out of the house. (God forbid!) But last Monday, I woke up with the sun, had my coffee, and ventured over to Caballito for a historical walking tour. To my delight, it was easily the best part of my week.
The tour was arranged by El Otro Porteño, a new startup founded by Ariel Eiberman. It aims to get expats out of their Palermo and San Telmo comfort zones and into lesser-known neighborhoods, the kinds of places even Porteños only know if they live there, including landmark but lesser visited cafe, Las Violetas:
Case in point: A friendly Australian introduced himself at the beginning of the tour and told us, “All my friends in Palermo were like, ‘Why are you going to Caballito? What’s in Caballito?’” And it’s true — if you don’t know what’s there, you’re unlikely to have a reason to go. To be fair, I had been to Caballito before, but maybe three times tops, and always to visit a friend. I never thought to explore it. So, just like the friendly Australian, I was glad to be discovering so much of its history and so many of its secrets with people who know its ins and outs so intimately.
Our guide, Elisa, was a Buenos Aires native who had relocated to Caballito from another neighborhood some years ago. Not only was she buena onda, but the breadth and depth of her historical knowledge consistently impressed me. She even corrected a few popular stories with the real explanations, admitting that she knew the truth because, as a history buff, she had read the original documents.
From the statues of Parque Rivadavia and the stalls of Mercado del Progreso to the stained glass of Las Violetas, we visited a variety of sights. We stopped at the most beautiful (and interesting) church I’ve ever seen, which also happens to be where Pope Francisco was baptized and also where Carlos Gardel sang as a boy. We took a walk through the English neighborhood, too, which boasts some pretty nice white houses with little yards and iron gates. (I have since been inspired to start a savings account for one of these babies.) For me, though, the highlight was stopping by La Catedral, a popular milonga – who would’ve thought I’d ever get to see it in the light of day!
I also left with the address of a side-by-side barbershop and bar, both of which double as mini-museums. According to Elisa, neighbors sing there in the early evenings as a kind of casual peña, and anyone who wants to stop by is welcome. I, for one, definitely plan on doing so! With Elisa, I truly felt like I was getting insider knowledge, and this is why I won’t divulge any of it here. (It’s her secret to share, so you’ll have to go on the tour to find out!)
And it’s true, too, that much of Caballito remains unknown to the casual tourist, expat, and even some locals. As of last week, Elisa was unaware of any other tours in Caballito, and at Mercado del Progreso, for example, a woman stopped us to ask whether we were price-control inspectors working for the government. Elisa explained that we were on a tour, and the woman said, “Why? What is there in Caballito?” But after the morning was through, it was apparent that the answer is, simply, “So much!”
The fantastical adventures of Colin and Francesca
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
After feeling a little stir crazy in the house, and only having been out of the area once to go to the movies (it was Francesca’s first Star Trek experience), we decided to go to a walking tour of the lesser known Caballito area
We crossed the busy roads and entered the market. Elisa said this is where she buys her groceries from. It is amazing that the market place is so old – the original art deco structure shipped from London is still standing inside. What really separated this from other markets we had seen in South America was how the produce was actually something we might buy. Normally it is either arts and crafts (too touristy), weird local produce (too complicated) or just gone bad (too third world). This market actually had good, cheap produce that you can eat! They were a bit cagey about photographs in here – it is a business place, not a place for tourists to gawk and get in the way – but we got some good shots…
After leaving the colorful market we headed up the road to a peluquero. Apeluquero is a traditional gaucho grocery store cum tavern. Originally it was like a general purpose store like in the Wild West movies….What was special about this peluquero was the fact that it was still open regularly, old school style, and it had a hairdresser attached to it where only men can get hair cuts, and all the equipment is a living museum. All the equipment is really old, but all still works, and they are still open for business.
we headed over and down the road to the English district that Francesca an I had heard about somewhere before…
It is a beautiful area though, and really reminded me of Maida Vale in London – lots of big mansions, eclectically placed together, but mostly in neoclassical style.
We all hopped on the bus and went to another part of the area to visit the Basílica de San Carlos Borromeo y María Auxiliadora (Basilica of Mary Help of San Carlos) where the current pope was baptized.
The front doors were pretty grand and hinted at the beauty inside.
Once we went inside we were treated to a pretty sight – lots of marble, golden chandeliers made from Morano glass and huge stained glass windows all from Italy. The pillars were colored red and white and there was a huge organ at the back which is the showpiece of the church – it was built with acoustics in mind. We learnt that the church takes a siestabetween 12 noon and about 4pm (the reason the tour starts so early!), and the famous tango singer Carlos Gardel sang here in the choir in his childhood.
Francesca’s favorite part of the church was the orange and pink marble which we found on the ground floor. This church is wonderfully decorated and really odd for being so off the tourist trail.
Our penultimate stop was a famous café called Las Violetas, or the violets, where many people come to have a coffee and hang out with friends. … This café was far superior to the other more famous Café Tortoni which gets most of the tourist traffic.
A milonga is basically a nightclub that people go to, normally until 5am or 6am in the morning, where men and women dance tango all night. For some of these people tango is more than a passion, it is there raison d’etre.
We did not get to see it at night during a full on milonga, but seeing the artwork and all the decorations in the cold light of day was an amazing experience, especially juxtaposed against the ordered and classical church we had just visited.
A blog about this city by the staff of Fierro Hotel
explore on an Off the Beaten Path Tour with Elisa and see where it takes you!
explorá los recovecos menos conocidos de la ciudad con Elisa en uno de sus Off the Beaten Path tours.
Las comunidades virtuales de viajeros crecen en la Web
Hidden treasures of Buenos Aires es el nombre del tour de tres horas que ofrece Elisa D en su página. Con ella, los turistas pueden conocer rincones de la ciudad que por lo general quedan fuera del circuito turístico clásico. “Los que viajan quieren conocer los barrios que no están preparados para el turismo, por eso el primer tour que armé fue Caballito through the ages“, cuenta Elisa. Para formar parte de la red, tuvo que presentar una propuesta además de participar de una entrevista vía Skype con gente de la empresa, en la que demostró su inglés y sus conocimientos de historia, arte y arquitectura de la ciudad. “Para mí es buenísimo porque es una forma de aprender de quienes me contratan y es un incentivo para seguir estudiando,” explica Elisa