Monthly Archives: October 2010

Shot of the Week

Everything about the Alhambra in Granada, Spain and its surrounding area is awe-inspiring. I was passing through, jaw dropped and eyes wide, with my family in late October 2008 when I noticed this perfectly framed scene.

Karina for TKGO

A City of Rooftops: Midtown, NYC

Ignore the crazed pedestrians, traffic and commerce at street level and New York transforms. In two CitySights bus tours, I tried to capture some of my favorite architecture in each neighborhood — but only the top half of the buildings, where the city goes to relax.

First up is Midtown, where the Downtown bus tour starts.

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The world’s shortest guide to Midtown and the Flatiron District:

Empire State building: Art deco at its finest. Your neck might cramp before you feel the need to tear your eyes away from this one.

Penn Station: Along with Grand Central, this station hosts commuters from the areas that surround NYC as well as most subway lines.

Flatiron building: Designed to fit the small corner it has occupied since 1902, the building was the first skyscraper. It gave the surrounding neighborhood its name.

Macy’s in Herald Square: The department store’s flagship location and host of the famous Thanksgiving Day Parade is also an architectural showcase.

You Are Here, courtesy of Google Maps

And when you return to street level (or get hungry)…

Across the street from the Flatiron building, try Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop. It’s a true New York lunch counter with strong coffee, heaping pastrami sandwiches and the best clientele for people-watching.

Tara for TKGO

Shot of the Week

Plaza de Mayo

Can’t order a more perfect day than this, I think. This photo is from my first visit to the Plaza de Mayo, the center of political life in Buenos Aires. The Casa Rosada, which houses the president’s offices, is at the base of the photo somehow looking like it’s on a slant. (It isn’t in real life.)

Karina for TKGO

Welcome to my Neighborhood

I currently am writing this post from Baraka, a bustling café in my current corner of the world, the neighborhood of Palermo. Palermo is one of the most populous and largest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires; it’s also considered one of the most well-to-do (especially the subsection of Palermo Chico) and trendiest areas. Parks and plazas, designer stores, restaurants with coveted dinner reservations, art galleries, boliches (clubs) with long lines and cafés prime for people-watching fill Palermo.

Map of Palermo, Buenos Aires

Photo courtesy of BuenosAires54.com

I technically live in the section of Palermo called Palermo Viejo; other bite-sized areas of the neighborhood include the aforementioned Palermo Chico, as well as Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood, the latter two of which are considered trend central. With all of the amenities, entertainment and happenings, it could be easy to get comfortable and never leave this neighborhood. It is important to remember Palermo is only one part of the city, something I hear even some locals who live here forget sometimes. Still, exploring the neighborhood is a must when visiting Buenos Aires, though any guidebook or recommendations from friends as far as shopping, dining and nightlife go will most likely lead you here at some point.

I’ve compiled a slideshow of photos I’ve taken (with the exception of the first map shot, of course) to introduce you to my new home zone, a lovely little place I’m still exploring street by street.

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Karina for TKGO

Shot of the Week

penguins, antarctica, tara and karina go out, tkgo

…And this is why penguins are considered birds. Another snap from Antarctica. (Can you tell I’m jonesing for it?)

Tara for TKGO

Transportation 101: Navigating a New City

There’s nothing more exciting than setting out in a new city: the local rhythm, foreign menus, new friends and a network of trains and buses. The first walks and subway rides, however, inevitably bring on a feeling of being lost and hopeless.

 

Subte, Calle Medrano, Buenos Aires, TKGO, Tara and Karina Go Out

Errr, where are we? (Calle Medrano stop on the "subte" in Buenos Aires), by Tara for TKGO

 

To help you develop that rewarding sense of direction that makes you feel at home anywhere, we’ve compiled a list of some handy tricks we’ve learned in the past couple of years in Barcelona, Buenos Aires and New York City.

1. Go for a run

We spend entire days strolling around a city whenever possible, but also love to couple the need to expel some serious energy with learning the city.

 

NYC, bridge, Tara and Karina Go Out

NYC's inter-borough bridges make for a great run—fewer streets but better perspective, by Tara for TKGO

 

We choose general routes before heading out and then work to catch the names of the streets and landmarks we pass. Running a distance in one direction and heading back often works well, too, as a quiz. Try to anticipate the names of the streets and plazas on your return.

2. Leave the map at home

The surest way to stick out as a “lost puppy” tourist and get robbed is to whip out a map in public. Instead, study the area before leaving home, and visualize the map as you walk. This will not only help avoid pick-pocketing, but also help the streets, neighborhoods and pieces of the city come together little by little. If it helps, get a big map to put up on the wall of your hotel room or apartment until you get your bearings. Sharpie in the borders of each neighborhood and mark some of your favorite places and landmarks to help you visualize the city as a whole.

3. Carry a smartphone or notebook

Your phone has become a beautiful thing. Between Google Maps, NYC subway iPhone apps and Foursquare, you have a free city guide in your pocket. Check out TKGO’s Foursquare tips for favorite restaurants and activities in your area!

Using a Notes app allows you to write down addresses of museums, boutiques, hot dog carts, climbing walls… whatever you walk past and don’t have time to stop in and check out. Later, instead of describing “that little Italian place in the neighborhood whose name I can’t remember,” you have a direct address to go to. Not only that, but save these places in a Google Map each night and you’ll have a record of which neighborhoods you’ve passed through on your walks each day and which territory you’ve left uncharted.

 

Japanese notebook, dogs, Tara and Karina Go Out

My friend gave me this small notebook after a trip to Japan, and I take it everywhere! by Tara for TKGO

 

Instead of hauling around a guidebook, keep addresses of your destinations in your Notes or Stickies program, along with open hours, to avoid looking like a tourist. If you don’t have a smartphone, a small Moleskine or spiral notebook works just the same!

5. Take public transit

The final, and perhaps most important, rule of learning a city is to take public transit whenever you feel it’s safe.

 

Guia T, Tara and Karina Go Out

Click for a Guía T how-to, courtesy of wander-argentina.com

 

In Buenos Aires, pick up a Guía T at any kiosko to help you navigate the bus system. (Even locals use them commonly, so pulling one out at a bus stop doesn’t pinpoint you as a tourist.) In New York, pick up a credit card-sized subway guide to Manhattan in any magazine kiosk or tourist shop.

When all else fails: ask! Even locals sometimes don’t know where they’re going, or what the train/bus schedule is. You might even make a friend, or find out about a nearby hot spot.

Tara and Karina for TKGO

Dulce de Leche in Buenos Aires

Milk caramel needs a translation to Spanish to earn the sweet, sultry name it deserves, which here is dulce de leche. It is probably inaccurate to call dulce de leche an obsession in Argentina; it is so integrated into the everyday life, culture and food — especially sweets — of this place that it occupies a realm entirely different than obsession. It’s so present and normal it’s nearly negligible.

Dulce de leche comes to its sticky, sugary goodness through the slow heating of milk and sugar, which caramelizes. While the origins of dulce de leche are up for debate, it is a beloved treat throughout Latin America, where it also goes by names like manjar, arequipe and cajeta. It did, however, take Haagen-Dazs introducing dulce de leche as an ice cream flavor worldwide in the late ’90s to get many outside Latin America to taste it.

Still, Argentina holds its place as one of the world’s top producers of dulce de leche. Here in Buenos Aires, it seems dulce de leche is incorporated into everything sweet, even healthy breakfast cereal bars. If a food doesn’t come readymade with the sweetness, then supermarkets sell jars of dulce de leche to spread on anything an Argentine’s heart desires. Here are some of the best, most indulgent ways I have experienced dulce de leche so far in Buenos Aires.

Chocolate with almonds and dulce de leche Freddo gelato, by Karina for TKGO

Helado

Ice cream in Buenos Aires bears a close resemblance to Italian gelato, but what they have here that they don’t in Italy is a slew of dulce de leche flavors. Dulce de leche with brownie, or nuts, chocolate chips or “classic.” I’ve found dulce de leche to be the ideal accompaniment to any flavor of the chocolate persuasion.

Pastries

Dulce de leche pastries

Dulce de leche-stuffed pastries at Suevia

 

Pastries a plenty come stuffed with dulce de leche here. My favorite so far was from Confiteria Suevia, the bakery around the corner from my apartment. It was a thick, sweet powdered roll about the size of a fist sliced in half and slathered with dulce de leche holding the two pieces together.

Alfajor

Havanna alfajores, courtesy of Havanna.com.ar

 

Argentine alfajores consist of two sweet biscuits stuck together with a filling of dulce de leche and then — as they’re often found here — coated in chocolate. They’re sold in cafes, bakeries and supermarkets, and they are just as epic and decadent as they sound. For more about the famous alfajores at Havanna, read Tara’s TKGO City Guide listing here.

Karina for TKGO