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Fine entertainment, free admission

Recoleta is a notorious upmarket barrio of Buenos Aires. Five star hotels, embassies, designer shops, and plenty of restaurants, where people with shoes such as the ones I’m wearing are not allowed. It also holds the best three free activities we have done so far, and all of them, in a three block radius. Do not leave BA without giving them a try.

Head to the National Library Aguero 2502.

Do not be turned off by the looks of this monstruous building, or all the bureaucracy necesary to get in and borrow material. Once you reach the top floors, that cat-piss smell that lingers in the ground level will be gone, and you’ll get to enjoy a fine book with the view of Recoleta’s skyline in the background.

The library has books on almost any subject, free WiFi, a map collection that can be useful in the planning of your next adventure, a fortnightly supply of news and current affairs publications, newspaper archives, digitalized picture archives, and an auditorium that screens movies, hosts conferences, and stages concerts, in short, it’s a library. The biggest in Argentina.

Finding books in languages other than Spanish can be tricky; the language query is
not an option on their website’s catalogue and mostly useless on the library database.
If you have a specific title in mind, apply Murphy’s Law and settle for the less known novel of the same author. I suggest you search using the Editor query, they have 431 Penguin books, 93 from Simon & Schuster, 8 Pelicans, 35 Vintage, 173 Cassell, and zero from Picador.

Feed beauty to your soul at the National Museum Avenida Del Libertador 1473.

A two story, 10,000m2 plus mansion turned museum that houses over 12,000 works of art, some donated by wealthy Argentines (probably in need of a tax break), some acquired by the museum. The first level displays works by international artists and the second is exclusively from local artists.

Walk around (clockwise) and appreciate the evolution of art, beginning with pre-colonial indigenous pottery and fabrics, to whatever it is Rothko was doing. In the process you can appreciate the only stuff that was allowed to be painted during the inquisition, boys dressed as girls in the renaissance, Dutch art that can cause nightmares, and so on.

Many big names are on display; Goya, Manet, Pissarro, Cezanne, Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Modigliani, Rivera. Whatever. Prepare yourself to be astounded by truckloads of Rodin sculptures, several Degas pieces, and a Chagall and Gauguin that can make you lose track
of time.

If you can’t be bothered with school kids being loud, watch it all online.

The Law Faculty of the University of Buenos Aires stages free (classical music) concerts every Saturday afternoon in their building at Avenida Figueroa Alcorta 2263. Yes, that’s right, lawyers you don’t know, giving away free stuff, quality stuff while we are at it.

Granted, if you yawn at the thought of a symphonic orchestra, a percussion ensemble, or a choir of chicks who aren’t wearing skimpy dresses, then this might not be for you. But if you are passionate about music and like to explore new sounds, then by all means, give it a try.

Seating arrangements are a bit quirky for this kind of event, and the red-velvet chairs with old-folk aroma and fat-ass imprint don’t help the case. But the auditorium itself is stunning (bar the mural), and the acoustics are decent. Every presentation packs plenty of creativity and talent.

The yearly schedule can be found here.


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