Who is Cynthia Martínez?
– I am a porteña (citizen of Buenos Aires city). I’m 36 and I’ve got a degree in Graphic Design from the UBA. I love designing and working as a professional designer. However, in a moment of crisis, or rather, in my search for inspiration I shifted into the realm of travels, something I love and I’d been looking forward to exploring one day. So I grabbed a copybook and started drafting some ideas. And as I was trying to decide who the target readers would be and what kind of trips I’d like to describe, it dawned on me that I barely knew anything about Buenos Aires. That ‘s actually how “Turista en Buenos Aires” came to be.
I decided I would tour the city and try to figure out what it was that impressed tourists so much about it. In the past, the idea of traveling inside my country didn’t even cross my mind. I was more inclined to travel abroad.
I started with my blog on Facebook back in 2015. At that time Instagram was only emerging, but I was fascinated by the value of photography on this platform. I experimented with other platforms and eventually opted for Instagram. It was a big challenge that year, but it worked!
Cynthia Martínez – @turistaenbuenosaires
A tourist in your own city? Do you think this is possible in any other place?
– I believe you can be a tourist in your hometown. I bet most people know little or nothing about their own city. People stick to certain spaces as part of their daily routine; friends tend to get together in nearby spots, they hardly ever explore new spaces in the city. As tourists,instead, we are usually enthusiastic and fascinated by the cityscapes we visit. This is the “tourist mindset”, which is understandably unusual when you are walking in your own place.
What I suggest is asking oneself these questions: “What do I like most when traveling?”, “What do I pay attention to the most?”, “How come I feel fascinated by certain things abroad that I simply do not take the time to notice in my city?”. Buenos Aires is called the “South American Paris”, and something that happened to me as I was roaming around cities like Madrid and Paris was to see a street or a building and think: “Well, this is just like in Buenos Aires.
Cynthia Martínez – Obelisco – @turistaenbuenosaires
After exploring and discovering the capital in so many different ways, how would you define Buenos Aires?
– Buenos Aires is eclectic: each barrio is unique in terms of its architecture and the pace of the people. Yet, when you move from one barrio to the next, it still feels like Buenos Aires, and this is something very special for a city.
You go to Puerto Madero, with its Puente de la Mujer (bridge) and the fancy skyscrapers. As you cross the Paseo del Bajo highway you find San Telmo, which is just like Montmartre in Paris, with its vintage style, its cobblestoned streets, and the picturesque lampposts. And when you reach San Nicolás or Montserrat you feel as if you were in Madrid. It is simply stunning.
Then Recoleta, a more residential barrio, or the amazing Palermo, so popular with tourists for its parks and bars, as well as for its vibrant nightlife. The quaint Barrio Chino, within Belgrano, is also a very special destination in the city.
Cynthia Martínez – Barrio Chino – @turistaenbuenosaires
Your top five emblematic places in the city for first-time visitors in the city?
– Tourists coming to Buenos Aires for the first time should start from Plaza de Mayo, the point of departure for a tour of the city. I recommend using any of the different subway lines to get there. It is actually the best way to move around in this metropolis.
Plaza de Mayo
This historic square in downtown is surrounded by some of the most important buildings and monuments in the city:the Casa Rosada (The Pink House) and the Cabildo, which used to be the seat of government during colonial times and which offers a panoramic view of the plaza from its balcony. The area is also home to the Cathedral, the Buenos Aires City Council, Banco Nación, among other impressive buildings. At the hub of the plaza stands the Pyramid of May, the first monument the city had, a forerunner of the iconic Obelisk.
Plaza de Mayo – @turistaenbuenosaires
Towards the National Congress and the Obelisk
Going across Plaza de Mayo, if you take Avenida de Mayo, you will find emblematic cafes like Tortoni, or famous buildings like Palacio Barolo, with its spectacular viewpoint, to finally reach the Congress. Now if you cross the plaza and take Diagonal Norte – another major artery in downtown- you will come across the Obelisk. Only a few meters away from this famed monument, lies one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world: Teatro Colón.
Palacio Barolo – Foto: @maxibuono – @turistaenbuenosaires
Other Hot Spots
Here I’d like to add other key places to the itinerary. From Plaza de Mayo, this time in the opposite direction, you may head for Puerto Madero to admire its skyscrapers. You may also take a bus or the subway to Recoleta and contemplate the Floralis Genérica – a huge flower-shaped steel sculpture that represents all the flowers in the world, with each of its petals standing for the continents. Within a short distance from there, stands the School of Law and, from the bridge on Avenida Figueroa Alcorta, there is a spectacular view (in November mostly) of the Jacarandas. The lakes of Palermo are definitely a must see in this area too.
Puerto Madero – @turistaenbuenosaires
El Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookshop
My favorite space in Buenos Aires. Bookshops in the capital have a charm of their own, and I think a visit to the most beautiful one in the world (according to National Geographic) is well worth your time.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookshop – @turistaenbuenosaires
Any recommendations for breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, drinks? if possible, along with some of your favorite spots.
– I’d start off with a coffee in a bar “notable”, so as to get started with the essence of Buenos Aires: coffee and croissants. Café Tortoni is one of the most celebrated among this circuit of “culturally-significant” bars. This is where the world-acclaimed Carlos Gardel used to sing. It is worth a visit, though it may be packed with people sometimes.
The one I personally like the most is Cafe La Biela, in Recoleta, within a much greener and brighter landscape, with the Basilica Nuestra Señora del Pilar in the background, right across from the picturesque Gomero (rubber tree)- the largest tree in the city, with massive branches and an unparalleled beauty. There is also a craft fair nearby.
Palacio Paz – @turistaenbuenosaires
Without a shadow of a doubt, I’d go for asado. There are loads of bodegones- family restaurants- to choose from. The guides will surely recommend Don Julio (good choice), but I’d encourage first-time visitors to go to La Boca and eat at El Obrero or El Gran Paraíso, which are some of the most traditional bodegones in this barrio.
I love this meal! Palacio Duhau-Park Hyatt Buenos Aires features a spectacular garden and a tea service just as perfect. Having tea here is an impressive experience, you may feel like Maria Antonietta. If you’d rather spend less, Croque Madame offers its services in the Decorative Art Museum or in Palacio Paz, which used to be the largest residence in Buenos Aires.
Palacio Duhau – @turistaenbuenosaires
I’d opt for something with a different vibe. One fun space is Nicky Harrison, which serves a wide selection of dishes and also offers a hidden bar (with superb drinks!) that you may enter through a New York door of the 1920’s. The bar recreates the story of Nicky, who set up a clandestine bar for his dad during the Prohibition Years in The States.
Another great option is Trade Sky bar, an elevated bar with two floors: a roofed one (suitable for rainy days), and an open one, ideal if you wish to have a drink or two under the stars. A more classical and internationally-awarded option is La Florería on Arroyo street. This one has a flower shop in its facade, but as the fridge is opened, you gain access to a historic bar, a great pioneer among hidden bars in the city. You are in for an amazing surprise here.
Foto: @maxibuono – @turistaenbuenosaires
Finally, what are some of the less touristy places you recommend?
– I find it hard to think of something that is not touristy….In my case, I like to “get lost” in the streets, the alleys of the city, it’s a lot of fun for me. The Galería Solar de French in San Telmo, very close to Plaza Dorrego, is an alley loaded with craftwork and hidden stores selling colorful umbrellas.
Cinco de Julio alley is super picturesque. Legend has it that there are dead people buried beneath it and, at night, voices can be heard. I am really fond of the alleys, but I’m not sure they can be labeled as “not touristy”.
It’s funny, people go past astounding spots on a daily basis, like Galería Guemes, for instance. Incredibly enough, though, only few know there is an elevator that takes you to a bar with a viewpoint to the city. It’s right there, on Florida street!