Full of extremes and drama, the skies of Buenos Aires are as tormented as its tango and its people. One minute the heavens above the Argentine capital are smiling – and the next they’ve opened up.
Rain = Floods = Chaos.
Porteños are hesitant to go out when it’s tempestuous – and not just because they don’t like to get their mullets wet. Palermo apartment blocks black out, transport halts, inflatable boats transfer people across the streets (now Venetian rivers), and tightropes are tied between lampposts for those who’ve had one too many clown lessons. Plus, we’re all forced to get too up close and personal with what the local dogs had for dinner last night.
Caen soretes de punta! – It’s s***ing it down!
Whilst there’s nothing wrong with a duvet day streaming films from www.cuevana.tv (Argentina’s best invention for film buffs), there is a whole city out there. When I asked my Porteño pals how they like to weather the wet weather, the men took it as an invitation to go to a telo (sex hotel). It wasn’t.
Top 20 Tips
- First, kit yourself out with some natty designer rainwear. Now you’re ready to brave it out.
- Don black clothes, specs and a Borges book (or laptop, if you’re techno) and head to one of the city’s incredible bookshop cafes – ex-theatre Ateneo Grand Splendid, Palermo’s Libros del Pasaje or Clásica y Moderna (complete with grand piano). If you stay long enough you might catch someone getting onstage to sing ‘Che, bandoneón’ (a man singing what sounds like a suicide note to an already-mournful-sounding musical instrument – perfect for when the sky is crying).
Take shelter in Ateneo Grand Splendid – 3 stories of splendour – Photo by Sergio Eduardo Garcia Salamanca on Flickr.
- Every Tomas, Diego and Hernan will be searching for cover in malls. Avoid them by heading to San Telmo Market for all the fruit, veg and knick knacks you need under one gorgeous – albeit slightly leaky (but that’s quite charming, right?) – roof.
- If you’re a mall rat, head to DOT shopping. Their Hoyts Premium cinema has restaurant tables, so you can gourmet dine while watching a film. And that’s pretty cool.
- Replace ‘pub’ in ‘pub crawl’, with ‘culture’ – and get an enriching injection of museums and galleries. Holler “I’m an artiste!” in the MALBA, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and Fundación Proa – and then send a quiche to the guy with the grey bun sitting next to you in the cafe.
- Get square eyes at an alternative cinema space, such as the Cine Club Mon Amour ‘puerta cerrada’ in San Telmo, or get an arthouse fix with a European film at an Arteplex cinema.
- See what festivals or events are on at La Rural. The events centre houses everything from wine expos to book fairs to ArteBA under one giant roof.
- Go for a sauna at the incredible Panamericano Spa. Eat fruit around the top-floor pool at Nivel 23 and laugh as the rain falls on the commuters over the world’s widest avenue, Avenida 9 de Julio. You’re so high there you may even get above the rain.
- A wise woman once said “If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain”. Take a leaf out of Dolly Parton’s book with some OTT optimism. Grab your camera and photograph the chaos.
- Blag (or pay for) a day pass for the heated indoor pools and hotel spas at the Faena, Hilton or Four Seasons. Having an accent helps.
- Go for some Big Apple-stylee pampering. Start the day with a pedi/ mani/ champagne combo at Queenie’s in Palermo. Wait for your toes to dry while watching ‘Sex and the City’, then head to Home Hotel for a massage and mimosa.
- Combine pool with ‘smirting’ (smoking/flirting) at San Telmo’s Gibraltar, or with nachos and chilli vodka at Puerta Rojo. For lessons with some of the oldest billiard equipment and locals around, sink some balls in the underground games room of the historic restaurant 36 Billares.
- If you like bars with hidden twists, head to Palermo’s Acabar to play board games in a kitsch paradise, Recoleta’s Jobs for darts and indoor archery, or Krakow in San Telmo which has a large projection screen for films, videos and even Wii.
- Fine dine in one of the capital’s cosy restaurants. Barrio Norte’s Cumana has paper tablecloths and crayons for playing hangman and tic-tac-toe. Don’t have your own flask and mate paraphernalia? They do.
- Forgotten that Buenos Aires is by the water? Grab a jumper and hang in the iconic ‘Club de Pescadores’ by the Rio de la Plata. Grab a mate (tea not ship) and watch the fishermen at work.
- Extend your pinky finger round a cuppa with high tea and scones at Recoleta’s decadent Alvear Palace Hotel, the timeless restaurant, Las Violetas, or designer’s dream Faena.
- Spend a lazy afternoon supping on a cortado in any of the city’s iconic ‘bares notables’, such as the famous Café Tortoni – if you can stand the tourists.
- Spend the afternoon like a true Argentine – hide inside drinking caffeine-filled mate and frying up a heart attack with ‘tortas fritas’, then work on your mind with your therapist and stay body beautiful in the gym.
- Grab the nearest Porteño and tango in the rain.
- Take advantage – stand at the Corrientes end of Florida and sell umbrellas.