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How to Stay in Shape in Buenos Aires Part 1: Outdoor Edition

Run a marathon while learn spanish in buenos aires

Everybody who visits Buenos Aires is aware of all its good steaks, tasty empanadas, silky helados (ice-cream) and melt-in-the-mouth rabas (fried calamari), and so do I! I have been living in this city for 3 years so far and since I don’t (and will never!) have the intention to miss all the good food and drinks I have to come up with a plan to keep my weight in a healthy state. After having started looking, I was amazed at how accessible they are and the quantity of activities you can easily find all over Buenos Aires to keep you in shape.

So, the first and most typical activity to do is RUNNING. Simply put on your running shoes and exercise outfit, and off you go. Buenos Aires has a lot to offer for people who just want to have a run. There are the Bosques de Palermo and the Recoleta area which have their running tracks, then there’s the Reserva Ecológica (Ecological reserve) in Costanera Sur (close to San Telmo), and also the many parks and plazas around town in an urban landscape where you will not only have fun jogging but also experience the city in a different way.

In case you do not have a running partner but would love to have some company while working out, you will probably find some meet up running clubs that suit your needs on the webpage of the Club de Corredores. A lot of half marathons and marathons, especially in the summer months, take place all around the city. If you run in the Palermo parks, you will no doubt see a lot of promotion for these kinds of running activities. Another way to have fun and explore the city running is the Urban Running Tours. A professional trainer and experienced runner will meet up with you at your preferred time and will guide you through the city streets running, telling you interesting facts of the sites as you pass them by. They run different tours focusing on different parts of the city every day and they can plan tours according to your needs as well. See their website for more information.

If you are a person who loves to be on two wheels, there are also a lot of possibilities to BIKE in Buenos Aires. The city has put in a lot of effort in the past few years encouraging cycling and converting Buenos Aires into a bike-friendly city. While there’s still room for improvement and you should definitely take notes from our Tips on Biking Safely in Buenos Aires, the city has really come a long way to provide us with many bike lanes with traffic lights, conveniently intertwine throughout the city and all the major parks for leisure biking.

Part of the effort from the Buenos Aires city government is running the Public Bicycle Sharing Program, which is now also available to tourists. (Go here for registration instructions for tourists). Even though this public bike service is free of charge, they do have their limitations as they are not available all the time and have a maximum of 1 hour per rental.  As cycling becomes a more prominent activity, so do bike rental businesses which offer more flexibility on when and where you want to have a ride. Many of the popular city bike tour companies, like Biking Buenos Aires and La Bicicleta Naranja, offer different city tours as well as bike rentals. There are also companies focus on rental service only like Che Bikes which has longer term rental than others. For those who want to buy a bike, you can easily purchase a new (usually expensive) one at any bike shops you find in town, or try these websites to find a bargain on an used one: Mercadolibre.com.ar (our local ebay-like site), Craigslist or these Facebook groups: “intercambio de bicicletas” and “compra/venta/canje argentina fixed gear”.

If challenging your body to the limit is your thing (including being screamed at while doing this), then there is Bootcamp Buenos Aires for you. You can check out their different schedules and meeting points on their website here, and also sign up there. You will meet up with other people and your instructor will hunt you through the Palermo woods or the Recoleta neighborhood and try to give you the worst time of your life – ENJOY!

Last but not least, we of course can’t put to waste all the beautiful outdoor green space in Buenos Aires without some outdoor YOGA. You can find yoga lessons take place in the Bosques de Palermo (on a nice sunny day) and in different parks in the city on the weekends and they are free to participate. Follow this link to see the schedule and organizers of the free outdoor yoga classes that are currently available during these summer months. For the rest of the year, join “Yoga Gratis en Buenos Aires” Facebook group to keep updated.

Don’t forget to check back in for our Part 2: Indoor Edition on How to Stay in Shape in Buenos Aires.

Happy Working out!

Vamospanish

Free Outdoor Summer Events in Buenos Aires

movie in Palermo parks Buenos Aires

Photo by Gustavo Correa, from Festivales de Buenos Aires FB.

Foreigners who are visiting Buenos Aires in January and February are most likely escaping from the cold weather in the northern hemisphere; thus, feeling the sun and being outdoor as much as possible is always high on the agenda. Last week, we have already given you some beach ideas around the city, but you may ask, how about after the sun sets, what are there to do to stay outside? Good news, there are actually quite some great options other than just grabbing a bite at a nice restaurant´s patio.

From now till February 8, a city-wide summer festival called Verano en La Ciudad is offering up a bunch of activities in the evenings. Stages and seatings have been set up at various outdoor locations, like parks and plazas, at different neighborhoods in the city where you will get to enjoy live concerts, theatre, milonga, circus performaces and movie screenings.

If you are more of a fan of the classic arts, then head over to Teatro Colón because they are bringing their shows outdoor! Well, not exactly a live performance, but they will be showing some of the best international opera, ballet and symphony productions on a big screen at the Plaza Vaticano which is right next to the theatre. This will take place from January 15 to February 7, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm.

All of the aforementioned events are free of charge. Seats are first come first serve so go early! For more information and the schedules, visit their corresponding websites:

Verano en La Ciudad

Festival de Música en Plaza Vaticano

Now, let`s hope the weather will cooperate and cause no interruption to our outdoor fun!

Vamospanish

How to Get a Beach-like Experience in Buenos Aires

buenos-aires-urban-beachesTalking about beaches, we have good news and bad news. Let’s start with the bad one first: Buenos Aires does not have beaches. Yup, you heard it, as misleading as it appears on the map sitting right next to the water, which is our Rio de la Plata, this city does not have beautiful beaches unfortunately. However, the good news is that there are many nice ones close by, where the closest one is just a few hours away (See map below, click to enlarge). These beach destinations are also where you can find many porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) vacationing and escaping the heat of the city during January and February, our summer months.
Visit-beaches-while-study-spanish-in-buenos-aires

Of course not everyone get the time to go to the nearby beaches, our city government also thought about that and here is another good news. 2 man-made sand beaches will be open to the public from January 9 to March 1, 2015 at Parque de los Niños in the north end of the city and Parque Roca in the south end. This idea of ´beach in the city´ is actually inspired by Le Paris Plage along el Seine in Paris. Even though you won´t get to go into the water, these beaches will have a nice Rio de la plata view and also well-equipped with beach chairs, beach umbrellas, cabana beds, wifi zone, showers to cool off, football/beach volleyball courts, reading lounge, wave pool etc. Futhermore, there will also be aerobic classes, dance classes, live music shows etc. on selected days. Everything is free access. Opening hours are Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 8pm. Check out their facebook page to keep updated.

As part of Buenos Aires playas 2015, a few of the city`s parks and plazas will also be equipped with sunshades and beach chairs, turning into an urban outdoor solarium. Opening hours are Friday – Sunday 10am – 8pm. Free access, first come first serve. You can find them at:

Palermo – Av. Figueroa Alcorta y La Pampa, Palermo
Parque Las Heras – Av. Las Heras y Av. Coronel Díaz, Palermo
Rosedal – Av. Sarmiento y Av. Figueroa Alcorta, Palermo
Plaza de las Naciones Unidas – Av. Figueroa Alcorta y Juan A. Biblioni, Recoleta
Plaza Rubén Darío – Av. del Libertador y Austria, Recoleta
Plaza Almagro – Perón y Salguero, Almagro
Plaza Boedo – Sánchez de Loria y Carlos Calvo, Boedo
Plaza Giordano Bruno – Giordano Bruno y Neuquén, Caballito
Parque Rivadavia – Ingreso por Rosario y Viel, Caballito
Plaza Roque Sáenz Peña – Av. Juan B. Justo y Boyacá, Villa Mitre

Don´t forget the sunscreen, the sun is very strong here!

Vamospanish

Savory Pionono - The Summer Christmas Food in Buenos Aires

savory-christmas-food-in-buenos-aires-summer

To many, Christmas is associated with snow, white, winter, fireplace, hot apple cider etc., but to as many others, including us here in Buenos Aires, Christmas is heat, humidity, summer, pool, and cold drinks; thus, the type of dishes at our Christmas dinner table are different and are more suitable for a hot summer night.

One of the common dishes you will come across and also see being sold as ‘take-home ready’ at confiterías (bakeries/cafés) is pionono. Pionono in Argentina is a very versatile dish and it can be easily made at home. It’s basically a sponge cake roll stuffed with anything you like, can be sweet or savory. Usually as a traditional dessert, it’ll have a very generous layer of dulce de leche, get rolled up like a log and then get covered or decorated with confectioner’s sugar, chocolate or more dulce de leche and cherries. Like this:

traditional-easy-to-make-argentine-dessert

The savory pionono (top picture) is, however, the Summer dish you’ll see at Christmas dinner. Since they can and do come in many different combinations, more than 1 version is usually served to suit the taste buds of everyone. The most popular style is the Pionono Primavera which has mayonnaise, lettuce, hard boiled eggs, ham, tomatoes, red pepper, and olives. This version also comes in tuna instead of ham. Another version which is also very common is made with mayonnaise, ham and hearts of palm (a very typical ingredient in our summer dishes/salads).

As you can see, the most complicated part of this dish is the pionono, the actual sheet of sponge cake. In Buenos Aires, you can easily find it in any small or big supermarkets (just like the package shown in the picture above). Then, the sky is the limit of what you like to “roll” into it, just remember to keep the moisture in check. For those who have the skill and enjoy making food from scratch, check out this video which will walk you through the do’s and don’ts when baking the perfect pionono. (It’s from a local program, time to practice your Spanish!)

We also want to mention that we love to munch and drink throughout the night. Check out our favorite festive food items in Argentina, they will keep you busy from dinner time till the clock strikes 12 when it’s time for the fireworks!

Have a jolly celebration everyone! ¡Felices Fiestas y Feliz Navidad!

Vamos Spanish

Good Eats in Argentina: Gaucho-style Asado

food-tradition-in-buenos-aires-ArgentinaArgentina is famous for its tasty beef not just because of the quality of the meat itself but just as importantly, the method of cooking them. The Argentine asado (barbeque) uses sheer dry heat from the charcoals and then the key is slow cook the meat. Most of the parrillas (steakhouses) in the city offer the “a la parrilla” (on the grill) type of asado, but there is another style which actually has a more traditional root coming from the gaucho (Argentine cowboy) culture. This style is called “al asador“, where an entire piece of meat, usually it’s the rib cut called tira de asado, is secured on a spit with a crossbar and get slowly roasted on an open fire for hours (more specifically, no less than 4 hrs.). For many Argentines, that is the real deal of Argentine asado.

In the city of Buenos Aires, it is not that easy to find asado al asador due to limited space but when you head to el campo (countryside) at una estancia (ranch), or even to other provinces, like Patagonia, which are more wide open, they are a lot more common. Nevertheless, there are definitely restaurants in Buenos Aires that serve this gaucho-style of Argentine asado. (Some purists do not consider these establishments are offering the authentic asado, which is referred to as ‘asado a la estaca‘, because they are not cooked outside in an open space where the air and the wind play a big part in the cooking.)

As said before, since asado al asador requires a lot more space and much longer time to cook the meat, restaurants which offer it also serve asado a la parrilla, so when you find yourself at one of these places and want to try this specific type of asado, remember to tell the waiter that you want el asado al asador when you order.

So here, without further ado, is a list of Buenos Aires restaurants that serve this gaucho-style asado:

Estilo Campo Alicia M. de Justo 1840, Puerto Madero

Las Nazarenas Reconquista 1132, Retiro

La Chacra Av. Córdoba 941, Centro

La Estancia Lavalle 941, Centro

Lo de Rosendo Castro Barros 502, Almagro

La Tranquera Av. Figueroa Alcorta 6464, Belgrano

 

Vamospanish

Eclectic Activities on a Long Weekend in December Buenos Aires

things-to-do-while-studying-at-buenos-aires-spanish-school-palermoDecember is here. Temperature is rising. Tons of events are taking place on this long weekend in Buenos Aires:

Buenos Aires Market
This ever-growing and very popular healthy fresh food market is having its last one this year in 2014. Over 70 different food vendors, from producers to cooks, will set up shop this Saturday December 6 and Sunday December 7 from 10am – 7pm in Parque Rivadavia, Caballito. You will get to taste and buy prepared food as well as grocery shop fresh produce directly from those who farm them. The market is free entrance but remember to bring enough cash if you intend to make purchases.

La Gran Milonga Nacional
What more romantic than dancing tango with live music in the background under sparkling lights in a tree-lined street accompanied by historical french-style architecture? To us, that’s something pretty hard to beat and the best thing is that scenario is not from a movie at all, you can totally experience it first hand at this Saturday’s annual outdoor tango event, La Gran Milonga Nacional. Avenida de Mayo will be blocked off from Plaza de Mayo to Av. 9 de Julio, from 8pm to 3am and it’s FREE. Whether you dance or not, just go and soak up the passion and romance in the air!

Feria Internacional de Artesanías de Buenos Aires
This annual fair is hands down one of our favorites throughout the year in Buenos Aires, and we go to a lot! Read our account from last year’s event and you will understand why this fair is different from any other arts and crafts markets. If you need to buy presents to bring home for Christmas, then you definitely don’t want to miss out this event: December 3 – 8, 2014 from 3pm to 10pm at La Rural, Palermo. General admission: AR$45.

Christmas Fair at British Embassy
This family-friendly fundraising event is a Christmas tradition for the Argentine British Community Council. The Gardens of the British Embassy (Newton 2575, Recoleta) will open its doors this Saturday December 6 from 11am to 7pm. There will be an arts & crafts market and food stands, together with Santa Claus (at 4pm), carol singing, live band from Salvation Army, jumping castle, raffles and so on. Entrance fee is AR$30, free for children under 12 years old. Photo ID is required at entrance. It’s never too early to get in some Christmas spirit!

¡Qué tengan un buen fin de semana!

Vamospanish

How to Better Understand Local Spanish in Buenos Aires

PrintAmong many students who have come to learn Spanish in Buenos Aires, they all have one common comment and that is Argentines, especially porteños (those from the big city Buenos Aires), speak really fast and it’s hard to understand. When I first arrived in Buenos Aires many years ago with the little Spanish I had in my pocket, I didn’t get bothered too much by the speed because I just thought I wasn’t good enough. As I slowly increased my Spanish fluency over the years, I do realize that porteños seem to speak a lot faster than others but that isn’t just because of the speed, it has a lot to do with the words they use too. One thing obvious is that they love to shorten a lot of their frequently-used words.

Let me explain.

In order to get their ideas across faster, Argentines love to abbreviate words by shortening or combining them. One term you’d hear regularly when it comes to food is “chori” for chorizo (beef sausage)/choripan (beef sausage with bread) and “chimi” for chimichurri (THE sauce to go with the meat), as you know how much we love our choripan with chimi! Others like common objects: “compu” for computadora (computer), “pelu” for peluquería (hair salon), “zapa” for zapatillas (runners/sneakers. Don’t confuse with zapatos which mean shoes in general)… the list goes on.

Of course not every word will be/can be shortened, that’d just sound too ridiculous, but there’s definitely a pattern. Once you start paying attention, you’ll get to catch on quickly. To further demonstrate and with more examples, here is a typical conversation scenario between 2 friends run into each other:

JORGE – ¡Ey! ¡Hola Rami! ¿Cómo andás?
RAMIRO – ¡Hola Jorge! ¿Cómo estás? Hace mucho tiempo que no te veo en mi barrio. ¿Qué onda?
J-  Todo bien. Voy a buscar a mi novia para ir al cine. Tengo entradas para la nueva peli[cular] con Ricardo Darín. y ¿vos, qué vas a hacer?
R – Nada interesante. Tengo que comprar una mochi[la] (backpack) para my hijo porque este finde (fin de semana) me voy con mi familia para Mardel (Mar del Plata) a descansar un poco sin el celu[lar] y sin la compu[tadora].
J- Genial. Necesitabas unas vacaciones.
R- Sí, porque en el trabajo me volvieron loco este año. Estoy cansado de tanta tecnología. A mi mujer y a mi nos pareció que estaría bueno si les mostramos a los chicos una vida más tranqui[la]. Unos días juntos sin tanta tele[visión].
J- Claro, así ellos también van a poder descansar del cole[gio] (this refers to primary or secondary schools).
R- Sí, porque en esta época del año los profes[ores] se ponen muy estrictos con los examenes. ¿Viste? Che Rami, cambiando el tema, ¿Contame cómo vas con la facu[ltad] (university)?
J- Bárbaro. Aprobé todo los examenes y me queda sólo un cuatri[mestre] para recibirme.
R- Te felicito. ¡Me alegra! Uy, casí olvidé que tengo que pasar por el súper[mercado] también para comprar carne para esta noche. Si no, me va a matar mi mujer.
J- jaja. Dale. ¡Qué tengan un buen viaje! Mandame un mail después contándome como te fue, porfa (por favor).
R- Dale. ¡Cuidate amigo!

Now that you know this little tip, hope it’ll help you to ‘listen’ better and able to catch more words from a fast talking Argentine. You may realize you can understand more than you thought!

Isabel
Vamospanish

 

 

 

Museum Night 2014 in Buenos Aires

museum-night-buenos-airesTons of museums dotted all over the city of Buenos Aires, but who wants to be inside when it is so nice outside? Don’t sweat! This Saturday November 15, 2014 you will get to visit museums all night long. La Noche de los Museos is a yearly event organized by the city government where 200 participating museums will keep their doors open from 8pm to 3 am. (See map here)

Special cultural programs are also part of this Museum Night: Guided tours, unique exhibitions, art performances, live music, talks, milongas and so on are just some activities you can find taking place at different museums on the night’s program. Go to their official website La Noche de los Museos for schedule details.

What’s more? All entry and activities are free-of-charge, and there’s a Free Bus Pass which you can print out so you can move free-ly and easily to visit as many places as you like.

Vamospanish

Polo Tournaments in Buenos Aires

argentine-polo-book-by-Maria-Lia-and-Luis-GarrahanWhen it comes to hearing the word ‘Argentina’ in relation to sports, the reaction most likely will be football or more specifically Messi (Maradona if you’re of an older generation) popping into one’s mind. It could also be Del Potro “La Torre de Tandil” if one is a tennis fan. Or, Carlos Delfino/Manu Ginobli for NBA fans. Rarely it would be associated to polo. In fact, not only Argentina is one of the most recognized countries in the world of polo, Argentine players actually constantly dominate in the ranking. (See Current World Polo Ranking, 7 out of Top 10 are Argentines.)

Even to those who are from and living in Argentina, those players’ names on the board are not household names given polo still very much remains as an elitist sport despite it was introduced to this country centuries ago by the British colonists. Nevertheless, if you are interested in experiencing some polo, it is not that out of reach if you know where to look especially 3 of the most important world polo tournaments are held annually here in/near Buenos Aires. Thus, one of them is just around the corner!

Abierto Argentino de Polo (Argentine Open Polo Championship) is the most important polo tournament in the world and it takes place yearly right here in Buenos Aires at Catedral del Polo in Palermo. The championship has 7 game dates and this year’s will start on Saturday November 15 and the Final on Saturday December 6. You can get your tickets here in advance or at the gate on game day. For more information on dates and teams, please visit the Argentine Polo Association website (Spanish only).

Last but not least, before you head out to watch a game, give this polo basics guide a read, so you won’t be completely lost with what’s happening.

(Photo credit: it’s the cover of book “Argentine Open in Palermo” by Maria Lia and Luis Garrahan)

Vamospanish

 

Music Festivals in Buenos Aires

outdoor-music-event-summer-buenos-airesWe love this time of the year in Buenos Aires because it’s the beginning of warm weather before it gets steamy hot; everyone has fully come out of their hibernation and the energy in the city is amazing! What more exciting is that this is the season when major outdoor music festivals happen! Let’s get to it – the run down for 2014:

Personal Fest 2014, the usual suspect in the music festivals agenda. This year’s event will take place on Saturday November 8 and Sunday November 9. It’s unfortunate that it coincides with Creamfields (why?!!). This festival always brings in super fun bands from all over, this year’s headlines include Arctic Monkey, MGMT, The Hives, Morcheeba, Calle 13, just to name a few. Go to their official site to find out more.

If you don’t want to miss out the biggest and the best dance music party in Argentina (yes, not just Buenos Aires), then mark down Saturday Nov. 8 on your calendar. That’s the date for Creamfields 2014. 5 stages, begin at 4pm till 6am. You can dance till sunrise. More info at creamfieldsba.com.

A newcomer has joined the party this year and it is the Music Win! Festival. A 2-day event, Sunday November 23 and Monday November 24 (public holiday!), that brings in international musicians and bands of all genre. A true feast for all music fans. Check out their website for more info.

Like all the art cultures in Buenos Aires, there’s something for everyone. Prefer a more chill than rocking out music experience, we have that too. This year’s Buenos Aires International Jazz Festival will take place from Nov. 19 – 24, 2014. Since the organizer for this festival is the city government, that means other than ticketed events, there are also many free concerts for all to enjoy. At the time of publishing this blog, the 2014 edition website and program is not up yet, so keep checking the city’s general festival site for updates.

Last but not least, if the occasional music events aren’t enough to quench your thirst, then we have PM Open Air Music. Started a couple of summers ago in an alley in Palermo Soho, cool DJs and bands play live every Saturday under the BA sun. This weekly event has become so popular that now during this Summer season, you can find it every Saturday 3pm to10pm at Punta Carrasco (Av. Rafael Obligado 2221), a beautifully located venue space next to the river. Free entry till 4:30pm. Ticket at AR$80 afterwards. Go early if you want to make sure you can get in or buy advance tickets at INFINIT (an eye glasses shop at Thames 1602, Palermo Soho). More info at their FB page.
(Above photo from PM Open Air Music. By Julian Farina Ph)

Isabel
Vamospanish