Friday, March 27, 2009

Tango Me to Buenos Aires

I've always wanted to go to Buenos Aires. The residents love life and tourists refer to it as the Paris of South America. I'd take in a polo game, shop in Alto Palermo and take advantage of that favorable exchange rate, take in the architecture of San Telmo and hit up the Sunday flea markets, and of course, tango the night away. Raul Barrenche wrote an article for Elle Decor last month on this South American hot spot and made it even harder for me to resist. Photography courtesy of Corbis/John Hicks and Casa Cruz.

Avenida 9 de Julio, named in honor of Argentina's independence day, connects the Arturo Illia Parkway to the Rio de la Plata waterfront. Kind of resembles the Washington Monument, no?

The Faena Hotel and Universe is definitely my kind of hotel - chic and romantic. The photo above is their Bistro restaurant, complete with unicorn trophy mounts. Their website has some beautiful photography and soothing tango music, click the link and escape for a few minutes today.

The Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo hosts collections of sculptures, paintings, and furnishings with shows that rotate seasonally. French architect René Sergent, who designed some of the grandest mansions in Buenos Aires, also designed the mansion housing this museum. The building's 18th century French design is a work of art itself, and it will give you an idea of the incredible mansions that once lined this avenue, overlooking the extensive Palermo park system.

The Museo de Arte Latinoamericano (MALBA) was created under Argentine collector Eduardo F. Constantini and the building, which houses 20th century and contemporary art from all over Latin America, was born out of a competition in 1997. Three Argentinean architects finished the space, opening in 2001 to house several large exhibition spaces, and the permanent collection of nearly 300 works, including masterpieces by the likes of Diego Rivera, Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, Argentinean Zul Solar, Chilean surrealist painter Roberto Matta, and Antonio Berni.

The tidal wave of immigrants from Italy, Spain and other parts of Europe in the late 19th century has given the Argentinean culture much of it's fin-de-siecle tastes of industrialists, cattle kings and melting pot language. Above, alpaca and horn accessories are seen at Airedelsur, a refined and rustic chic home decor store.

The Belle Epoque and Art Nouveau mausoleums are well known throughout the city, especially the mausoleums that line Cementerio de la Recoleta where first lady Eva Peron is entombed among several presidents, scientists and well known Argentineans. Dozens of feral cats that live within the cemetery gates can be seen gathering at closing time as the locals have been feeding them for years.

If the modern stylings of the Faena Hotel and Universe is not your style, maybe try The Alvear Palace Hotel located in the center of the upscale Recoleta district. The Alvear Palace is the most exclusive hotel in Buenos Aires and one of the top hotels in the world. It is the only privately owned luxury hotel in Buenos Aires. A gilded classical confection full of marble and bronze, the Alvear combines Empire and Louis XV-style furniture with exquisite French decorative arts.

One of polo's global hot spots, Argentina hosts the century old Campeonato Argentino Abierto in the spring (November). The Campo de Polo is set in the center of Palermo's parklands and seats 45,000. The polo stop and shop of Arandu is one of the premiere supply stores.

The Casa Rosada is the Presidential Palace and official seat of the executive branch of Argentina's government. Built as a fort originally in 1594, British Argentine architect Edward Taylor updated the building as the functioning government building it is today in 1859. The original paint was said to have been mixed with cow blood to prevent damage due to the humidity.

Starchitects continue to expand this amazing city and keep in step with the Beaux Arts. I have my Fodor's guide ready, I'm thinking November?

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