April 2010

Jardín Japonés, Jardín Botánico Carlos Thays, Rosedal de Palermo, and the Jardín Zoológico

Palermo is a an upscale neighborhood of Buenos Aires, and has, among other attractions, the best parks in the city.  Los bosques (forests) de Palermo are huge, beautiful, and very popular with tourists and residents alike.  The most manicured parts are the gardens, all of which surround the intersection of Avenida del Libertador and Avenida Sarmiento.    I decided to just throw them all in one post, since they’re so close to one another, and could be visited on the same day.

Japanese Gardens: If you want to walk around in a very serene space for 15 minutes or so and then have a tea service, this is the place.  The tea is included in the entrance fee, just remember to check the times.  It’s nothing special.  As far as Japanese gardens outside of Japan go, I think Portland did it better.  Price: 5 pesos (1.25 gringo)

Botanical Gardens: These are nice.  Nothing remarkably special,though a lot of effort has been put in to housing a number of different plant species from all over the world.  There are also some nice statues.  Would be a great make out spot, were it not for the gangs of feral cats occupying the place.  Price: free

Rose Gardens: These are really beautiful.  They’re located right next to a lake where you can rent a paddle boat, and will see loads of geese.  The rose gardens themselves are large, and on a sunny afternoon, it is a very pleasant place to be.  I am not sure how often they host events, but I went to a couple of public jazz concerts there that were very enjoyable, more tango music than jazz, but very nice all the same. Price: free

Zoological Gardens:  Different species share the same space.  Animal food is for sale.  They apparently all eat the same thing, and it is in pellets.  Once inside, the only human food is some variation of McDonalds.  Most shocking of all the little differences is that there are smaller animals just wandering around the place.   Price: 12.50 (USD 3.25)  I have heard that there is an amazing zoo about an hour outside of the city called Temaiken Park.  In truth, though, I’m not really a zoo fan.  I don’t like seeing all of the animals in their artificially created habitats.

And a few more pictures of the park around the gardens, because it’s just so pretty there:


There was once a band called Sumo.  They were good, and the people loved them, and especially loved their bad boy, drug addicted lead singer, Luca Prodan, who died very young and became a legendary figure in Argentine rock.  According to Wikipedia: “After Luca Prodan’s death, two bands were formed from former Sumo members: Divididos and Las Pelotas. These names were taken from Luca’s comments about Sumo’s dissolution, when he said ‘Divididos, las pelotas’.”  Las Pelotas were formed in 1998, and are still active, but without their lead singer, Alejandro Sokol, who died in 2009.

Me encanta esta cancion (I love this song):

The Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires.  It has a collection that includes international pieces by artists like Rodin, Monet, Gauguin, and Degas, to name a few.  There was, perhaps more importantly to me, a wonderful collection of Argentine art, including:

Antonio Berni Lili (1943), Primeros Pasos (1936)

Benito Quinquela Martin Elevadores a pleno sol (1945)

Eduardo Sivori Primavera (1914)

Ernesto de la Carcova Sin pan y sin trabajo (1894)

Special exhibit: Martin Fierro, a literary magazine published from 1924-1927.  It was named after a poem by Jose Hernandez, about a gaucho outlaw.  It was not overtly political in tone, its motto being “art for art’s sake.”  It was contributed to by a number of Argentine writers, collectively referred to as the ‘Florida Group.’  Clearly, the museum, while housing an impressive international collection, is solidly focused on the history of creative production in Argentina.  And making this knowledge available to the public.  As it should be.

My conclusion:   A perfect, and perfectly gratis, afternoon would be a walk around Recoleta Cemetery before or after touring the museum.   Though it would be well worth it to spring for some gelato from Un Altra Volta, which is located at Santa Fe 1826, near the corner of Callao.

Location: Avenida Del Libertador 1473, close to Avenida Pueyrredon

Price:  free

Hours: Tuesday -Friday 12:30-8:30 PM, Saturday-Sunday 9:30-8:30 PM

Website: http://www.mnba.org.ar/

I loved it.  It was mostly work by artists that I didn’t know, and they were good.  The whole schema fit the goals of my trip so well: see Latin America, as it is, as a product of its past.  My breath caught at times, I was affected, and I highly recommend it.

My conclusion: Go.  Seriously.  Do not miss it.

Location: Avenida Figueroa Alcorta 3415

Price: 18 pesos (4.50 in gringo)

Hours: Thursday – Monday, 12-8 PM, Wednesdays 12-9 PM, closed Tuesdays

Website: http://www.malba.org.ar/

The Museo de Arte Decorativo was created in 1937.  It was designed by the French architect René Sergent in 1911, and completed in 1918.  It was the home of Josefina de Alvear and her husband Matias Errazuriz Ortúzar, both of whom were members of prominent families, hers from Argentina and his Chilean.  They were very involved in the interior decoration of the home, and it is very European, though there are also a number of Asian objects.  It all looked old, like it probably belonged in a palace at some point.  The effect, for me, all taken together, was stuffy and boring.  The house (read: mansion) itself is the best part about it, as you can probably guess, after looking at this pic.

I went on a Sunday afternoon.  There was almost no one there, except for one large group of tourists getting a guided tour.  In fact, there were more guards than either guests or rooms in the place.  The rooms were small, and there was a guard  in each one.  It did not inspire lingering.

My conclusion: If you like old crap, you might go.  It’s pretty cheap.

Location: Av.del Libertador 1902 (on the corner of Avenida del Libertador and Sanchez de Bustamante)

Price: 5 pesos (1.25 in gringo)

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 2-7 PM

Website: http://www.mnad.org.ar/