Manolo Restaurant

October 28, 2006 by · 4 Comments 

San Telmo Favorite

Busy Lunchtime at Manolo
Manolo is a popular local staple in Buenos Aires. It is also one of the cheapest (though not quite as cheap as your outdated paper guide books say – inflation is on the rise in Buenos Aires), and a place where you are assured of getting a true ‘Buenos Aires’ experience.

Located just blocks away from Parque Lezama in San Telmo, the place where some people believe Buenos Aires was first founded by Pedro de Mendoza, Manolo (the name of the original owner, as well as the restaurant) has served up massive portions of meat (bife de chorizo/rump steak, lomo/tenderloin steak, asado/ribs…etc), pasta and fish dishes for so long that many locals assume he was part of that initial founding party back in 1536. Although Manolo himself has sadly since passed away, the tradition is carried on by his family, who now tend to the restaurant and ensure that the age-old custom of serving a good, hearty meal lives on.

Interesting Takes on Argentine Classics

If you are going for meat, try one of the ‘regional’ takes on the usual parrilla suspects, that will at least provide some variety from the other parrillas you visit when in Buenos Aires – these include a Guadalajara-style Lomo, a Canadian Bife de Chorizo and Cerdo (Pork) a la Nebraska, all of which taste as interesting as they sound, and prove that even an old dog like Manolo can show off a few innovative tricks.

Plates Full of Pasta

Pasta in Manolo RestaurantIf you’ve had enough beef, the pasta dishes do not disappoint. Be prepared for MOUNTAINOUS portions, which could easily fill two people each. They offer Noquis (Gnocchis) a la Piemontesa (a chicken, olive, tomato & basil sauce) as well as Spaghetti a la Muzzarella (a ham, mushroom, muzzarella, scallion & cream sauce), just to name a few. Although all variations are tasty, the portions abound, so make sure you really starve yourself before visiting Manolo.

Football Theme & Atmosphere

As for the restaurant itself,  it isn’t all that in terms of decor – very plain and simple. BUT, this is compensated for by the reams for football (soccer) shirts, flags and memorabilia plastered over every inch of wallspace. And, the atmosphere is not far removed from a loud, passionate football crowd either – almost always full of Argentine regulars (and a fair few tourists), lunch and dinner, the patrons certainly work up a fair old noise, helped along by the cheap house red wine.

Manolo Football Shirts

One final thing to note – due to the popularity of the restaurant there may be a long wait for a table on weekend nights, but that is all part of the experience, as they say. And if a slightly raucous atmosphere does not sound like a nice dining environment to you, visit at lunchtime when things are more laid back.

Manolo Restaurant Location

Bolivar 1299, corner Cochabamba, San Telmo

Tel: 4307-8743, Website: http://www.restaurantmanolo.com.ar

Buenos Aires Online Resources

October 24, 2006 by · 4 Comments 

For those of you that stumble upon my Buenos Aires blog out there in cyberspace, and can’t find the information you wanted, here are a few other online resources you may find useful…

computer and mate

Wikipedia

Always a good one if you are looking for factual information about the city, is Wikipedia Buenos Aires. The great thing about Wikipedia of course, is that if you don’t agree with something, or see an area missing that you know all about, then you can edit it yourself for the good of everyone. And don’t just stop after looking at the Buenos Aires page – there are many other interesting Wiki pages related to Buenos Aires, including the extremely thorough Argentina page, pieces on barrios such as Recoleta and Palermo, and this great article on Admiral William (Guillermo) Brown, the Irish-born seadog that effectively founded the Argentine navy!

If you really want to help out, you can also sign up to the Wikiproject Argentina page and start contributing to items on the ‘things to do’ list.

Other Online BA Resources

The Buenos Aires Government Tourism website weighs in with some very useful info and rescources too. They have some really good self guided tours, in text and audio formats, and lists of events etc that are going on in the city.

This guy has a nice page on nightlife in Buenos Aires. I would recommend checking it out when planning that night on the tiles in BA. And when we say night on the tiles here in Buenos Aires, we mean the whole night! Most Argentines actually only go out to clubs the same time that they would be closing back in my land of birth, the UK.

Of course, forums are a good place to ask difficult questions about Buenos Aires, and be assured of a rapid response from people that are in the know. The most active Buenos Aires forum is probably the one over at Tripadvisor.

The BA Blogospshere

Bloggers from BA also know A LOT about the the city. They probably wouldn’t have started a blog about their life in the city otherwise. Bloggers in Argentina has an almost comprehensive list of Buenos Aires and Argentina blogs for you to wade through. And don’t forget to ask us bloggers questions – we don’t bite!

Maps of Buenos Aires

Last, and certainly not least, there are the all important maps. Vital to finding your way around the city. But i’m not just talking about any old kind of maps here…I’m talking INTERACTIVE MAPS OF BUENOS AIRES! Dalton, over at “Oh! Buenos Aires”, has used his technological knowhow to produce some great ‘mash-ups’ (as we internet geeks call them) of maps for Buenos Aires, using Google Earth Maps and MSN Live Local Maps. Thus he has created a virtual tour of the sights of Buenos Aires, and something similar in more traditional map format. Check them out!

Four Seasons Buenos Aires Hotel

October 11, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Upscale Neighborhood Location on the edge of Recoleta

The Mansion and Pool at the back of the Four Seasons

The Four Seasons is equidistant between the heart of Recoleta and the Microcentro, and so it is within walking distance of many major attractions (i.e. Recoleta Cemetery, Teatro Colon, The Obelisk, Avenida Alvear, Florida Street, Puerto Madero, Plaza San Martin). Obviously it is also perfectly placed for a very short and cheap taxi trip to any of these places.

The Four Seasons is found close to the end of busy Avenida 9 de Julio, but at that point the noise is not as noticeable. In fact quite the opposite – it is a peaceful, nice area to stay in, where you wouldn’t realize how close to the center you actually are. Add to the mix the fact that some of the best (high-end) shopping and restaurants are in this area, and you have one of the best hotel locations in Buenos Aires.

Four Seasons Hotel Rooms

As you would expect in this price range, the rooms are very large, of course very clean & well turned out, tastefully decorated and perfectly furnished, but nothing over the top in extravagance.

The bathrooms are also lush, with nice features like high quality bathrobes, luxurious towels and lovely fluffy slippers. Also the shower and bath are oversized with marble everywhere, the shower being especially nice after a long day’s sightseeing, as it has a huge showerhead with an amazing rate of water flow & pressure. The beds are superb, with a down comforter. Very impressive.

Typical US$300 at the Four Seasons

Hotel Service

Also for the price, you would expect the staff to keep you well looked after. And they go beyond that, especially the attentive and knowledgeable concierge desk. Make the most of them – ask them to organize, among other things, restaurant reservations for you – you will also get much better service at the restaurants by doing so, due to the power of the Four Seasons name in Buenos Aires!

Most that stay in the Four Seasons say the main factor that sets it apart from other hotels in this upper price range is their outstanding service. Nice to know they are working hard for your money! Extensive personal attention is given to every guest, and you will often be referred to by name by staff you have never seen before. They are on the whole genuinely kind without being over the top or intrusive.

Nice extras like fresh fruit every day are a bonus. And, if anything does go wrong, they will fix it in a flash and usually provide something complimentary for your trouble.

Four Seasons Features

  • Attractive outdoor pool to the rear of the hotel.
  • Seven suite turn-of-the-20th-century chateau with 24 hour butler service, where rock stars like U2 and the Rolling Stones stay (complete with crazy fans camping outside day and night) when they are in town. However, it comes at a huge cost. If it’s a little out of your budget, you can still appreciate the amazing architecture inside the mansion by taking Sunday brunch there.
  • Gorgeous gym and impressive spa.
  • Business center to check email etc, free use, with complimentary drinks.
  • Cellular phone for local use.
  • The hotel restaurant is called Le Mistral, and is a quality, opulent establishment.
Staircase inside the Four Seasons Buenos Aires

For another Four Seasons tip, check out this post on five 5 Star Hotels in Buenos Aires, and how to enjoy them on a budget.

Four Seasons Hotel Location

Posadas 1086between Cerrito & Libertad, Recoleta

Tel: 4321 1200, Website: http://www.fourseasons.com/buenosaires/

How to catch the bus in Buenos Aires

October 5, 2006 by · 6 Comments 

Ride like a King in Buenos Aires

It's official. 4 out of 10 Kings prefer buses to camels

“Certain Kings… don’t travel by camel”

Apparently, Kings in Buenos Aires travel by bus. And it’s a bargain too…at just 2 pesso 70 centavos (about 25 US cents) for most journeys within the city (although some shorter journeys should cost 2.50 and other longer ones 2.85, and if you pay in cash it can be up to 5.00).

In today’s economy, even a King has to be prudent with his savings.

(See the comments after this post for further explanation of the camels quote. Thanks Nico!)

Buenos Aires Buses

Colectivo, Recoleta

[SPhoto credit: Cobra  Libre’s photostream/ CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]

In many ways, colectivos really are the travel choice of Kings in Buenos Aires. There are so many routes, that almost all run with amazing frequency and regularity, even right through the night. Certainly beats the somewhat limited subte (subway) system here in BA, especially in the hot and sticky summer months. And it always beats taxis on value.

So, here is some advice on how to catch a bus in Buenos Aires… a task that may seem simple, but is not as easy as it sounds.

Buy a Guia T Buenos Aires Bus Guide

  • Buy the pocket-sized ‘Guia T’ bus route book from any pavement kiosk (they are found on almost every block in main avenues) for somewhere around 20 pesos (under US$3).
  • Another option is to use the Mapa Buenos Aires website at http://mapa.buenosaires.gob.ar/ . Here you can type in the address or intersection where you are starting (in the ‘desde’ box) and where you are going  (in the ‘hasta’ box) and the website will show you what kinds of transport you can take and will map the route for you.

Using the Guia T

  • Use the front section of the ‘Guia T’ to find the road and number where you currently are. This should point you towards the correct page and grid number of the maps later in the book.
  • Use this grid reference to pinpoint exactly where you are on the map, making sure you have the right grid square. Got that? Good.
  • Now, find the relative grid square on the opposing page to the map, which lists the numbers of all the bus routes that run through that area. Make a mark on that square to keep a note of it, because now you have to find where you are going.
  • Repeat the above process for where you want to go to, from using the front section to find the road, to finding the square with the bus routes that run through the area you wish to get to.
  • Now, compare and contrast the two sets of numbers in the squares you found. You need to find bus routes than run through both squares.
  • Once you have found these routes, flip to the back section of the Guia T and find the details of each route. Here you will see all the streets the buses pass down, both ‘Ida y Vuelta’ (going and returning).
  • Using this detailed route plan and the map square where you are currently, find a street that the bus will travel down (in the right direction!) near you.

Catching the bus (Tomar [NOT Coger!] el colectivo)

  • Now you have found the street where the bus route you want is supposed to travel down (if you are having trouble, ask a local, they will usually try and help), make one last check that the direction of traffic is going the right way for where you want to go (if it isn’t, you will need the opposite route, which due to the one way road system here in BA, will often be on a different road nearby).
  • Walk along the street you found, on the right hand side, until you find the bus stop for your number. It shouldn’t be much more than a block.
  • Queue up politely and patiently, in the direction away from where the bus will come. If you are still not sure the bus you want to take will be going in the right direction, ask someone else in line “este colectivo (point to bus number) va por Microcentro/Recoleta/Palermo/etc?’, and they will be pleased to help you!
  • Before you get too comfortable standing in line, make sure you have change. You will need coins to pay the bus fare. It should cost 5 pesos, so make sure you have a combination of coins that make up 5 pesos or more (the machine does give change back in coins). They do not accept bills. Ever.
  • Ok, scratch that. Sometimes they do accept bills, but only in one particular situation. If there is a conductor standing at your bus stop, you can pay him with a 2 or a 5, maybe even a 10. But don’t count on that happening – the conductor will most likely only appear during peak hours. And only on the busiest routes.
  • To get a better rate on bus journeys, you can take out a Sube card at certain kiosks and locutorios, for 15 pesos. If you have one of these, the bus will cost you 2.70 instead of 5 pesos and you won’t have to worry about scrounging for change!
  • When you see your colectivo approaching, and it won’t be long, make sure to stick your arm out to stop it in good time. Too late and it might go speeding past. No snoozing!

Paying the man (well ok, the machine)

  • When you get on the bus, say “5 pesos, por favor” (SEEN-CO PAY-SO-S POUR-FAH-VOHR). This means you want a fare of 5 pesoS, which it will usually be. And even if it isn’t, it is simpler to just say this every time. Same goes if you have a Sube card, but this time you say “Dos setenta” (DOHS SEH-TENT-AH).
  • Then, make sure you have your coins ready, and check that the bus driver has pressed his button that changes the digital readout on the money machine (a gray box) behind his seat to read your fare (5.00). If not, give him a quick stare (or perhaps repeat “5 pesos, Por Favor”), and he’ll soon realize. If you are using a Sube card, there should be a yellow card reader at the front of the bus. Make sure the screen reads 2.70 then hold the card up to the black part below the screen until it beeps.
  • When the machine shows the fare, stuff your coins in the top slot one by one, checking they were accepted (sometimes you have to try them a few times), and then your small, thin paper ticket, and any change, will collect in the bottom slot of machine.
  • Grab your ticket and find a seat! If busy, find a rail and HOLD ON TIGHT. Buenos Aires bus drivers are slightly insane. They enjoy breaking hard at the last moment at junctions, especially if they smell a tourist is on board.

And that’s it. Enjoy the ride!

Oh. It seems these directions were so long that you opted the taxi instead. Well, they are pretty cheap in Buenos Aires too, after all.

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