Guest Blogger: Ana López Furst

Ana López Furst shares some out-of-town spots to go biking in.

 

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One of my favourite activities is riding my bike.

I’ve lived in the northern suburbs since I was a small child and one day, not too long ago,  I became a northern suburbs blondey (a fake one, I must confess). At least that´s what a good friend of mine likes saying – and laughing at! But I don´t mind… I keep biking and he keeps waiting for the bus.

This sarcastic expression refers that some northern suburbs in Buenos Aires are considered upper-class areas. Blonde hair here is associated to Saxon “aristocratic” races, foreign to our mainly aboriginal-Spanish-Italian origins, and many wealthy families chose this area for their “weekend houses”.

That said, I’m really thankful my parents once decided to move out of the city as I honestly, don´t think I could ever make it back.

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My schooldays were spent coming and going around beautiful Vicente López neighborhood. Walking along its beautiful tree lined streets and avenues all those years, together with my mom´s love for gardens and green, made me the nature lover I became.

I was never very sporty, but as a young mother I discovered the possibility of biking my girl to kindergarten instead of using my car for just a dozen blocks – and that was how it all started.

Not hard to imagine the freedom a bike may bring: no parking, you make it through every little space, no gas needed, almost no maintenance expenses, you take care of the environment, you burn some of those pastries you just had (well, unless some of them!), it helps your legs look toned and even longer (that’s good when you are only 5.18 feet tall) and it is good for your health!

I have always thought it is a pity tourists usually don´t visit this areas. If you are fond of nature and serene picturesque settings, you shouldn’t miss it. Lots of  companies offer  bike rental in Buenos Aires, renting per hour, half day, full day… they even bring it to your hotel door! So, no excuses!

Perhaps you’ve heard of Santa Fe. This long avenue, changing its name several times, will take you straight into Vicente López, the first neighborhood adjacent to Buenos Aires City, and then into Olivos, Martínez, Acasusso and San Isidro. However, no doubt I suggest you make it north following Libertador Gral. San Martín Avenue, which will offer you nicer views of parks along its way (please always remember to be extremely careful with traffic, carry helmets and a lock to secure your bike while enjoying a coffee, lunch, ice-cream or a beer at one of the many spots you can visit).

The landscape won’t be the same everywhere around, for sure, and the best to be seen is by the coast line, between the trails of Mitre railway line and the river itself (Río de La Plata), because, yes! there are very nice coastal spots to be enjoyed right by the river too, with amazing views of the city during clear days!

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Beautiful pebble stone streets and a hundred greens will greet you: Tipas (tipuana tipu), Jacarandás and Palo Borrachos (ceiba speciosa), also Ombúes (phitolacca dioica) and some palms are easy to find down town and could be considered the most abundant in Buenos Aires, while when you adventure into this area you will discover many others dressing the streets, as the perfect outfit for a most enjoyable ride – autumn will add amazing bonus of yellows and ochres up and down).

Let me suggest a first stop right at Vicente López train station. Go to the corner of Azcuénaga and Roca Streets (across the railroads) and you will see one of the most picturesque settings. The Café de Paris is a beautiful old building and the many small stores around will remind you of some hidden corner of that European city. But please! If you have a sweet teeth as I do, follow Azcuénaga Street just a few meters towards the train station and, weather at their beautiful outside sitting area or inside this small but sophisticated cafeteria, choose your selection of their best delicacies, at Confitería Vicente López  – most well known for their amazing medialunas de grasa pastries, an absolute must.

Then you can make it along Libertador again and visit the Paseo de la Costa for your first sight of Río de La Plata. That will be Vito Dumas Street between Laprida and H. Yrigoyen streets.

Back to the avenue once more, ride straight until Paraná Street and once there (you are arriving in Martínez now), enjoy getting lost around the so many streets full of beautiful houses and gardens and look for Alvear Street this time, to take you again to the river side. Once there you will be at Barrancas de Alvear, a very popular parrilla, thanks to its gorgeous City views and very extensive and tidy lawn. This is another extraordinary spot maybe for lunch, some beer or nice piece of cake at tea time.

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Perhaps this time you will need to “walk” your bike up the slope back to the avenue (hehehe…downhill was easy, wasn’t it?) or you make it along Juan Díaz de Solis Street or Elcano, two quiet streets parallel to the Tren de la Costa railway, that will take you into Acasusso and San Isidro neighborhoods.

On weekends, Barrancas station boasts a really nice and colorful antiques fair, and right opposite on Elcano Street (Elcano 648) you can enjoy once more, some nice parrilla and other traditional dishes, at a very telluric setting: El ñandú restaurant. If you fancy checking out even more antiques, do not hesitate to visit Gabriel del Campo, a preferred space for interior designers and you may find real hidden gems (Elcano 564).

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You may also notice brave courageous northern young ones don’t fear the dark and cold river waters! A couple of water sports schools find their place here also, like the very well-known Perú Beach.

Now keep it rolling way north, until you reach San Isidro station on Tren de la Costa, and once there stroll up Plaza Mitre (there’s an arts and crafts fair at the weekend) and visit beautiful San Isidro cathedral. If you care for a local northern lunch at this point, then make it La Anita, a homemade choice and very friendly people! (Tiscornia 843).

Now, for a perfect ending, go back on your steps and look for Roque Saenz Peña Street and then towards the river. You made it to Barisidro this time, the best option for sunset and my guarantee for romantic scene: sailing boats, colorful kitesurf sails and Buenos Aires city silhouette all there for you  ith your choice of beer, shakes, coffee or a great burger after such a long day!

Warn you: northern suburbs are much more relaxed than most down town areas. Don´t look for fancy. Just enjoy!

bikeAna López Furst mans the front desk at Hotel Fierro. All photos are taken by her.

 

Guest blogger: Fede Cuco’s Taste of Britain

cucoThe Fierro’s guest bartender Fede Cuco shares his favorite spots to indulge in British culture in Buenos Aires.

I don’t really know why I like the British culture and food scene.

But I remember the first time I met it, when I was little, nine years old. I had an English neighbor, Mrs. Owen. I remember coming back from school and I didn’t have any keys so I sat down and waited for my mum to arrive. But my neighbor felt sorry for me and invited me in for tea.

Chipper, courtesy of Pick Up The Fork

Chipper, courtesy of Pick Up The Fork

Tea, in a home like mine with Italian heritage, was a little bag in a mug heated up in the microwave.

At my neighbor’s house, it was something else – almost a ritual – the teapot, the porcelain cups, Earl Grey  with toast, jam, cheese plus a good manners class thrown in: “Federico, you have to learn to be a gentleman,” she said.

When I was older, my work as a bartender naturally led me to meet gin and I’m a big fan of gin – although my favorite is Beefeater, it’s hard to find Sipsmith or Jensen in Buenos Aires other than at my bar.

I’ve worked in several pubs and among other things, I discovered that every man has his own recipe for Gin & Tonic and Bloody Mary.

Bangalore, courtesy of BsAs Mapas

Bangalore, courtesy of BsAs Mapas

I  married a lady from a family with British descendancy, so I also discovered things such as banana bread – my life was never the same after that. In our kitchen at home, for example, you can always find curry or good tea.

At Inés Rosalind’s grandma’s house, you would always be fed well and for my palate, exotically: a Lea & Perrins sauce with meat, curry and beautiful cakes at tea time.

And coming up now, a funny anecdote dating back to when I went to live with my wife. The first thing my mother-in-law did was give us a teapot. We had a completely bare house, we didn’t have anything but, we had to drink tea correctly.

Pint at Bangalore courtesy of DoNotLick on Flickr

Pint at Bangalore courtesy of DoNotLick on Flickr

In Buenos Aires and outside of my home, you can find British flavors in several places. My favorites come down to the atmosphere, such as The Gibraltar in San Telmo, which has a good selection of beers and finger food…. I don’t know how to explain it but it has that pub feeling, of a real pub.

I also like Cunningham in Martínez in the suburbs, a dark place with comfy chair where you can have a beer or a Gin & Tonic and enjoy bar snacks. It also has a plus because it’s inside the train station building and as everyone knows, those building were constructed by the English when they built the railway lines.

I love Chipper for their fish and chips – cod and chips with curry sauce is my favorite, and also my son’s favorite.

The Gibraltar courtesy of La Nación

The Gibraltar courtesy of La Nación

I also like the Bangalore Pub & Curry House (Humboldt 1416, Palermo Hollywood) for a Gin & Tonic pitcher with a curry to accompany it – they do a mix of curries you can pick at, which is amazing.

That said, though, I don’t think anything is better than an English mother-in-law who makes you something tasty at home.

And if you miss these flavors, particularly a Pimm’s Cup, I’ve created a few cocktails in my time and would like to share one of my recipes with you.

Sorrelita

In a pitcher of Clericot with plenty of ice, add:

1 cup of London Dry Gin

Half a cup of Earl Grey tea

Quarter of a cup of Martini Rosso

Quarter of a cup of Aperol

Add cucumber, orange and lime slice to taste

Finish with a splash of soda

Cheers!

Fede Cuco is the Fierro Hotel’s guest bartender for TFIF happy hour, and is the head bartender at Verne Club in Palermo.