The Alternative Hollywood
Arriving at Buenos Aires airport we were desperate to trample the bar lined streets in one of its hottest districts Palermo. Upon the advice of our glacier buddies, Rich and Nic, that we would simply love the area’s iconic individuality the claim left us gagging to taste the neighbourhood’s health. After organising a radio taxi at a booth in the airport, a price was fixed and a young lad called out to several taxi drivers trying to fix a price. His success led to his palm being greased with a few notes. Kickbacks, it’s the South American economic DNA. Our furry haired driver spoke in cabbie Spanish and I struggled to comprehend his accent, he responded by telling me to practise my Spanish. Emerging from the car we fought the odour of brake dust after bumping along tree lined avenues paraded by bars and restaurants dripping with street cool. We checked into the Noa Noa Loft Apartments, we breathed a sigh of ‘home-coming’ relief.
As we dropped our bags on the polished concrete floor of our apartment we spied the boat sized bed adjacent to the full length windows opening on to the tree shaded balcony. After a quick shower and change of clothes we consulted our concierge, Martin a young Porteño to recommend a restaurant in our neighbourhood, Palermo Hollywood as opposed to the 15 minute stroll to Palermo Soho (the spiritual heart of the district). Desperate for spice and a touch of heat we decided on Green Bamboo, a Vietnamese restaurant defining the new cool in the area. Deep red and black leather with double heighted ceilings and an atmosphere charged by the beautiful crowd reinforced our decision as the correct choice. The chicken curry coaxed a degree of homesickness out of my tastebuds having been away from Asian food for the past 3 months. Replete and tired we fell into bed and enjoyed deep slumber courtesy of the pastoral bed and black out curtains.
Wandering through Palermo’s streets we soaked in the boutiques, each with individual character, inventive and seductive. Dog walkers were led by groomed packs of canines, skinny women with bags bigger than their frames clutched the obligatory accessory pooch and we hop scotched the dog piles which littered the pavements. Grumbling for lunch we stumbled into Bar 6, impossibly cool, staff wearing more tattoos than clothes slunk from table to table as media luvvies sipped their lunchtime Torrontes and gestured animatedly as if performing for the neighbouring table. The gentle lull of reggae helped the digestive process and mentally equipped us for an afternoon of shopping. Glamorous stores, presented themselves as studios, the soundtrack to our shopping swung from electro pop to metal, hip hop, tango, jazz and hybrids all pointing to the city’s creative roots. Unlike parts of London, it was absent of the inverted snobbery which encouraged us to explore just one more shopping street.
Hours later we emerged with shopping bags in hands and throbbing toes and decided to eat like true Porteños..late. However, we managed to out-do their habits and consume dinner at an indigestible hour by finding comfort in El Manto, an Armenian restaurant just after midnight whilst others were licking the dessert from their fingers. Rolling into bed at 2am we knew we’d need to eat more tactically.