El Alamo Bar

September 21, 2006 by · 20 Comments 

American-style bar in Recoleta

Shoeless Joe’s El Alamo Bar (to use it’s full name) doesn’t exactly scream ‘Buenos Aires‘. Instead, it hollers ‘American Expat Bar’. A lot of Americans have relocated to Buenos Aires over the last few years, which is probably why El Alamo exists. That, and shorter-term visitors who are feeling a little homesick, or want to catch a US or international sports event here on TV.

To cut a long story short, the main attraction of this bar for most of its visitors is its cheap and plentiful beer (including 4 liter pitchers), sometimes with special promotions:

FREE BEER! FOR LADIES!

“Ladies: before 10pm, FREE beer and cocktails”

As for the bar, well it is nothing special, just a typical, unimaginative bar that could be found in any major city, but then I am sure the people come for the cheap drinks, and don’t really remember much of the surroundings.

There are two levels, downstairs for food and sports TV (they claim to show all major American and international sports events), and upstairs which is accessed by a separate outside entrance to the left, which has louder music, and is actually a little more pleasing to the eye, decor wise, with nice antique-style tables and chandeliers.

Shoeless Joe's El Alamo Bar, Recoleta, Buenos Aires

Pub Grub at El Alamo

Finally, the food is decent, solid, unassuming, reasonably priced, american bar food, which may serve as a nice respite to those missing home. They offer a pretty excellent ‘Club House’ sandwich, of nicely grilled chicken breast, bacon (a novelty in Buenos Aires!), tomato and lettuce, with fries, that unfortunately wilt in their greasyness. Exactly the kind of borderline junk food that many visitors to Buenos Aires miss.

Also available: individual pizzas, which are nice enough, and nachos with guacamole (even more of a novelty in Buenos Aires, though they seem to be gaining in popularity). However, the guacamole is tasteless. Fortunately, the cheap pitcher of beer to wash it all down makes that but a distant thought.

Location of Shoeless Joe’s El Alamo Bar

Uruguay 1175 (between Avenida Santa Fe & Arenales), Recoleta

Tel: 4813-7324, website: http://www.facebook.com/pages/El-Alamo-Buenos-Aires/112218648861745

What is the weather like in Buenos Aires?

September 17, 2006 by · 4 Comments 

Current Weather in Buenos Aires and Five Day Forecast

On the banner below you will find the current weather right now in Buenos Aires, usually updated on an hourly basis. Importantly, it includes the humidity percentage as well as the temperature, which you should pay attention to in Buenos Aires – it can be a very humid city, which makes it seem a lot hotter and stickier than the temperature suggests on a summer’s day, especially in such a big and busy city.

Click for Buenos Aires, Argentina Forecast

To get more up to the minute information on the weather in Buenos Aires, including a forecast for the next 5 days, please click on the banner to be taken to the Weather Underground Buenos Aires page.

View from the Buquebus ferry to Uruguay of some Buenos Aires skyscrapers in Catalinas Norte

What weather to expect in Buenos Aires at different times of the year

In general, the climate in Buenos Aires is mild all year round, with no major extremes of temperature or conditions. However, some people may find the summer months too hot and humid (Dec-Feb; average highs of 28C/83F, average lows of 17C/63F), or the winter months a little cold (Jun-Aug; average highs of 15C/59F, average lows of 7C/47F), obviously depending on what kind of weather you are used to at home.

Few will argue that spring is the best time to visit Buenos Aires (Sep-Nov; average highs of 22C/72F, average lows of 14C/57F), which is closely followed by autumn/fall (Mar-May; average highs of 22C/72F, average lows of 14C/57F).

Spring into action and visit Buenos Aires

During spring, the wonderful jacaranda trees that are found throughout much of Buenos Aires burst into a striking purple blossom, which ends up carpeting the streets to wonderful effect. It is also a great time to walk around the many lush parks of the Palermo barrio, and in other green areas of the city such as Plaza San Martin and Parque Lezama. The porteños (“people of the port”, i.e. citizens of Buenos Aires), relieved that winter is over, are also generally at their happiest during spring, and these are two of many excellent reasons why this is the best time to visit the city. The sky is bright, crisp and blue (like the Argentine Flag), people are already sunbathing in the parks as if summer has arrived, and yes, most people do seem to have a ‘spring’ in their step. Why, in such conditions, it seems like a good idea would be to get out and take one of our Private Walking Tours of Buenos Aires!

Jacaranda tree in bloom during a Buenos Aires spring
[Photo credit: blmurch @ flickr / License: CC BY 2.0]

Summer can be overbearing, but less crowded

The summer months can feel overbearingly hot at times, largely because of the lack of a breeze inside the city (despite its name basically meaning “Good Winds”) to relieve the heat and high humidity levels, and therefore many porteños disappear off on holiday to the beaches of either Mar del Plata (on the Atlantic coast of Buenos Aires province, a few hours south of the city) or Punta del Este (north across the river estuary in Uruguay, also on the Atlantic coast, but with slightly warmer waters), usually for the much of the month of January or February. This can make a midsummer visit to Buenos Aires less crowded, which could be of interest to some, if you don’t mind the hotter city weather.

La Boca in the autumn means soccer!

Autumn means the Argentine football (soccer) season is kicking off

During the fall, the new Argentine football (soccer) season starts, so if you are interested in watching a heated Boca Juniors or River Plate game, this is a good time to visit to guarantee that they will be playing. Also, the weather is comparable to spring, even if the people are not quite as happy – which is understandable – they are getting ready for their winter hibernation after all.

Pack warm for winter

The Church of Our Lady of Pilar, Recoleta, on a crisp winter's day

Winter in Buenos Aires is generally fine if you don’t mind a little chill, but come prepared: make sure you pack a coat (or plan on buying one of Argentina’s famous leather coats on arrival), and maybe even a hat and gloves. It is also the perfect time of year to enjoy some Buenos Aires café culture, safely warm inside a beautiful old cafe or bar, enjoying your café con leche con medialunas (latte coffee with croissants) or chocolate con churros (thick hot chocolate with long, thin Spanish donuts for dipping) and playing the age-old local game of people watching.

It rains the least in winter here (an average of around 2 inches per month, compared to 4 inches per month in summer, and usually somewhere in between the two during spring and autumn).

In fact, it does not rain much at all year-round in Buenos Aires. Granted, when it does rain, you’ll know about it – sometimes “raining cats and dogs” stuff that turns the streets momentarily into rivers! But the good news is there isn’t much in the way of prolonged rain or continued light drizzle etc here – you get all of your rain in one big storm, usually lasting no more than a few hours, and often shorter. And that’s it – soon the sun will be out again and the blue skies will be back.

To sum up, really any time of the year is good to come to Buenos Aires, in regards to the weather and climate, but as stated above, spring and autumn are probably your best bets.

Buenos Aires Long-Term Apartments

September 12, 2006 by · 11 Comments 

The Difficult Game of finding a long-term apartment in Buenos Aires

Corner apartment rental in Buenos Aires[Article updated Sat July 18th 2009]

Renting an apartment long-term (i.e. for more than 3 months) can be a difficult game for foreigners (extranjeros) in Buenos Aires. Firstly, the more reasonable apartment prices that locals pay are usually not easily available for extranjeros (which is why the more expensive furnished “vacation” apartments do such a good trade), as strictly you need a guarantor (garantia) to be able to rent.

The garantia is someone who owns property in Buenos Aires that can sign for you to guarantee the contract, to safeguard against your running away or trashing the apartment, etc. In addition, by going through this local process you are almost always expected to sign a rental agreement for 2 years, although there have been cases where, even if a contract is signed for the full period, this clause will not always be strictly enforced if you decide to move on early (say, after a year). Although you probably shouldn’t rely on it being possible.

But fret not! It turns out that a garantia is not always required, and 2 year contacts are not always the order of the day. You can often speak to the owner (dueño) and try to reach an agreement, which may involve any, or a mixture of, the following to bring them around:

  • Stumping up a sizable deposit (but please make sure it is returnable!)
  • Paying a lot of the rent up front
  • Offering a little over the asked monthly rental rate

A lot of owners (and almost all rental agencies) still won’t play ball, but it is worth trying until you strike gold. Be persistent and don’t get downhearted, and in the end you’ll find an apartment owner who is willing to work with you.

The Number 1 Buenos Aires Apartment Search Resource: Clarín

If you speak passable Spanish (or failing that, find a local/translator to help you out), almost certainly the best place to look for apartment rentals is the Clarín newspaper website (or buy the newspaper on a Saturday). Here you will find the best bargains, at the prices that locals pay:

Then search for the type of housing you want to rent, and in which neighborhoods. Once the search results come up, you can then order by price or most recent listings, and filter by number of rooms (ambientes) or bedrooms (dormitorios) etc, to help find the type of apartment you are looking for.

However, this method really only works well if you are in Argentina. The usual process is to buy Clarín (or search their website every day), find a list apartments you like the sound of, and then turn up at the address and viewing time detailed (sometimes waiting in line on the street!) for each one. If you are currently in another country, you really only have two options, and both involving getting on a plane and coming down here:

  • Either come to Buenos Aires on a “pre-visit”, staying in a furnished vacation apartment and spending each day checking Clarín and looking for places to rent, then renting somewhere ready for when you make the real move, or;
  • Go full steam ahead and make the permanent move right away, staying in a vacation apartment until you find your long-term rental.

Additional Apartment Search Resources

There is of course a “third-way”. which is to look to rent a room in someone’s apartment, rather than one to yourself. This is a lot easier, but obviously not for everyone. Probably the best places to look for this kind of thing, are Craigslist Buenos Aires and CompartoDepto. And some other useful website resources for your apartment search are as follows:

Final Buenos Aires Apartment Rental Hints and Tips

Find an Argentine friend to help you out with the whole Buenos Aires apartment search process. Having a native around will not only help with the potential language barrier and aid with understanding the local process and customs, but also in any kind of transaction here having a local on your side opens up a lot more doors, plus they can be on the watch for any potential scams etc (although in that case, you’ll obviously also need to trust that your Argentine friend is on the level too).

The importance of local help cannot be stressed enough – so do your best to make some contacts here as quickly as possible. If you can’t find a suitable Argentine, then perhaps a long-term expat or immigrant will be able to help you out.

Also, another good tip is to try to look for properties that are being advertised for rent by the owners themselves, and NOT by one of the Inmobiliarias (real estate/rental agents), as these big agencies will not only likely be more expensive, but more importantly, they will almost certainly not be reasonable with people that don’t have the magic garantia. Meanwhile, owners will probably be open to discussion, especially if you have that local contact to bargain with them, and can offer some kind of extra financial incentive, as previously mentioned.

Good luck getting a BA apartment like one of these!

The best of luck to anyone looking for long term apartment rentals in Buenos Aires. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below. The idea is that other readers in the Buenos Aires community who have experience in this area pass that on by helping out where possible with any questions asked.

Which Buenos Aires barrio is for me?

September 7, 2006 by · 11 Comments 

There is no simple answer to this question. It all depends on what type of person you are, and what you want to get out of your time in Buenos Aires. The following descriptions of the main areas to stay in Buenos Aires should help you choose. Leave us a comment if you have any questions about a particular Barrio, Hotel or Hostel.

‘Microcentro’ (City Center)

Busy pedestrian Florida street in the center of Buenos Aires

This area is OBVIOUSLY central! For many people this is ideal, and it will put you close to major tourist attractions such as the Obelisk, Plaza de Mayo, the Pink House, the Cathedral, Avenida de Mayo, Congress, Florida Shopping Street, Teatro Colon, Plaza San Martin and a whole lot more. However, in other ways it is not so perfect, because this area is also the most busy with dangerous traffic, polluted, noisy, and lacking in space. You have to weigh up these pros and cons to make your decision. But if you do stay in the Microcentro, it is very easy to get around on the subte (subway) system, which serves this area well, as opposed to other further-flung parts of Buenos Aires.

Slightly North of Center – Recoleta, Retiro, Barrio Norte

The Recoleta Design building

These are generally the most exclusive areas of the City of Buenos Aires (particularly Recoleta), where you will find high class hotels such the Alvear, Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, Sofitel and the Marriott Plaza. Although they obviously come at a price! In keeping with the exclusivity of these areas, you will also find some of the most upmarket shopping centers, leather shops, cafes, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, art galleries, and parks in Buenos Aires. Also, you’ll be fairly close to the remarkable Recoleta Cemetery, where Evita Peron is laid to rest among many other amazingly decadent mausoleums of the rich and famous. Recoleta and Retiro (mainly near Plaza San Martin) are probably the most pleasantly upmarket areas to stay, if you have the cash required.

A little Further North – Palermo

Palermo is the largest barrio of Buenos Aires, mainly filled with tranquil, green parks. And so it can be one of the most laid-back areas to base yourselves in. Among the parks you will find the Rosedal (Rose Garden), Botanical Gardens, Japanese Gardens, the 3 de Febrero boating lake, the horse racing track, and the Buenos Aires Zoo. In recent years, parts of Palermo, such as Palermo Hollywood and Palermo Soho, have become the hippest parts of Buenos Aires, with fashionable bars, nightclubs, restaurants, boutique hotels and small designer label shops springing up almost by the minute.

Palermo is quite well served by Line D (Green Line) of the subte system, which conveniently takes you into the city center, or a little further north to Belgrano (which is another nice, tranquil place to stay, although a little bit further out of the way than the other areas mentioned here). The area is great for both families and young couples alike, and is a very popular place for visitors who decide to rent an apartment in Buenos Aires.

Go South! – San Telmo and Monserrat

Why, if it isn't your typical street in San Telmo or Monserrat

These adjoining barrios, just south of the Microcentro, are the most ‘historic’ areas of the city. The olde worlde Buenos Aires, if you like. This is where the city was first founded, and is where some of the few remaining Spanish colonial buildings can be found, mixed in with some beautiful art nouveau and gothic styles from the following historical periods, all in a state of atmospheric decaying grandeur. Cobbled streets abound!

The rich of BA used to live in San Telmo until a yellow fever outbreak in 1871, when they first moved north away from the lowland river areas to their current residences in Recoleta and Retiro. These days, San Telmo is the home to modern Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires, where you will find many Tango shows, clubs, lessons, street performers and even Tango hotels! Sunday in San Telmo’s Plaza Dorrego sees the most famous street market (antiques, tango paraphenalia, etc) here, along with the compulsory outdoor Tango dancers and singers.

Adjoining Monserrat has similar architecture, and some of the most interesting churches in the city. However, these areas can be a little sketchy (lots of almost deserted, badly lit streets with little or no police or security presence) at night, and something on the dirty side, so please bear that in mind before deciding on a hotel or apartment in this more ‘atmospheric’ part of town!

Well, those are the main areas to consider. There are of course others, but these are where most visitors will consider staying. Please leave a comment if you have any questions about these or other areas of BA. I hope you enjoy wherever you stay!

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