Palermo Primavera

After the wintry grey of the past two days, this morning broke to warm sunshine – lovely! We thought we’d wait for the rush hour to pass, so we ventured out around 11am. But, as we had been warned, it still wasn’t exactly ‘off-peak’. It was teeming with commuters, with long lines for buses and packed to capacity subway trains.

The Subte here in BA is one of the oldest subways in the world (13tholdest actually) and extends across the city but mostly pretty much tracks parallel to the bend in the Rio Plata after leaving the grand old city centre and port. We strapped-hanged across to Palermo Soho, serenaded by wandering minstrels and informed by an efficient announcement system with LED graphics between estaciones. The Subte today was super clean, efficient, well-used, fast, beautifully tiled and – oh, incredibly cheap. Even though fares were recently hiked 66% in June to 12.50 pesos, they’re still a whopping USD$0.32 a trip! You tap on, but you don’t tap off. Every trip costs the same.

Palermo is a vast barrio split into multiple zones – Soho, Viejo, Chico, Hollywood and Palermo proper. Each has a distinct feel and character. We wandered around Palermo Soho with its cobbled streets, old, only one-or-two storey buildings, cafés, bars and restaurants, and, I’m sure, one of the best fashion shopping districts anywhere in the Americas. It’s super stylish here, with very few global labels (they are nearer to the centre at Florida), so some amazing home-grown brands such as Etiqueta Negra, my personal favourite menswear brand (I prefer El Burgues – Ant). I may have dropped a few ARS here… in fact I might need a new, amazingly cheap leather suitcase. But wait. They have those too!

For lunch we found a local Parrilla and once again, lunch for two with wine cost just A$36. I mean, really! Some of our fellow diners had ordered steaks which with accompaniments could hardly be contained by their wooden platters (the size of a tea-tray – Ant), but surprisingly they ate the whole thing. Talk about tuck it away! (Because they were sharing. It was Chiswick Buenos Aires – Ant)

Our taxi journey home took us along Avenida 9 de Julio, an astonishing 18 lane (nine each way) thoroughfare that funnels all the traffic heading north and south out of Palermo (the size of Manhattan) and down through the older established quarters, with New York-style canyon streets to left and right.

This is one hell of a town!

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