Tag Archives: bars

Hello, Buenos Aires!

It’s been a bit since I’ve authored a TKGO post, but my move to Buenos Aires and consequent settling-in time provided the perfect opportunity for Tara, the arctic adventurer, to bring you her awesome TKGO Antarctica installment. Now that I’m in the Southern Hemisphere and closer to Antarctica than ever, I might just have to figure out how to take a jaunt down there. At the very least I’ll make it to Patagonia!

I’ve been in Buenos Aires for about two weeks now, living in a Palermo apartment with two (American) friends and fellow Northwestern graduates, one of whom studied abroad here two years ago. We’ve developed a network of other recent college grad American expats, as well as Argentine friends, and spent time exploring the city’s sights, food, nightlife and routines. It’s only the beginning, though, because we’re here to live. Rushed tourists we are not, and that is my favorite part of all of this.


Street República de la India in my Palermo neighborhood, by Karina for TKGO

Having moved here sight unseen, I thought it would be appropriate for my first post to be an overview of my initial impressions, reactions and feelings related to this vibrant city — a city I’m already totally in love with, despite the copious amounts of dog poop. (Read on…)

Initial Impressions of Buenos Aires

  • It’ll be impossible to establish a regular sleep schedule. Last Saturday we planned to go to a bar with some friends, and our Argentine amigo informed us a 2 am arrival time would be way too early; we’d probably be the only ones there. We left said bar around 6 am, and needless to say, the party was still going strong. Most boliches (clubs) here don’t even open their doors until 1:30 am or so. This city, quite simply, is totally crazy.
  • The food is more delicious (and diverse) than I expected. Of course the steak is unparalleled, but what about crisp and doughy empanadas, some of the most decadent gelato known to man (I’m convinced! Have you tried Freddo?!), and don’t even get me started on the pizza. I most definitely could expand on this point for lines and lines, but I’ll save the details —including food porn photos — for later blog posts.
  • There’s a lot of dog poop. Walk and text at your own risk! For reasons unfathomable to me, people have something against picking up their dog’s droppings on the sidewalks here. I’ve learned to walk with very regular downward glances.
  • The city has a beat. I’m not sure if it’s the thumping nightlife, the heated tango, love for music and dancing in general, or perhaps fervent passion for sports teams — and it’s probably a combination plus more — but you can just feel it here. People have a spirit, excitement and passion for each day and whatever it is they’re doing. I’m sure my childlike glee at being in such a new place amplifies my sense of this, but I want to feed off this city’s energy forever.

Karina for TKGO

Spanish Drinking Culture

A friend of mine from study abroad recently pointed me toward a Time article about Barcelona’s battle against drunk tourists. The “sensitivity campaign” the city launched includes posters with the universally understood stick figure instructing tourists how not to act, as well as a happy hour ban. It’s an admirable effort to get tourists to respect the city and send the message that Gaudi’s playground is no Cancun.



Mind your business along Las Ramblas! Photo by Albert Gea for Reuters


While studying abroad in Barcelona, my friends and I were quick to pick up on how Spaniards vs. visitors acted when out and about. The surest way to stand out as a tourist? Be visibly drunk. We never saw Spaniards stumbling around the streets or throwing back shot after shot at the bars, and even those in a state they might’ve considered “drunk” were in way better condition than “drunk” by American, frat house standards.

As our study abroad adviser explained to us in class one day — complete with a hand-drawn graph on the board — when Spanish people drink, it’s always socially, and they imbibe only to reach and then maintain their “point,” as he called it. From what I understood, that “point” is a tipsy state: feeling good about life but still fully functioning. (Fun fact: Tapas in Spain are prepared with generous amounts of olive oil because it slows the absorption of alcohol.)

Since the “sensitivity campaign” doesn’t seem to include any “point” drinking lessons to tourists entering the city, if you’re headed to Barcelona in the near future you might encounter the drunken bachelor party or two, especially on and around Las Ramblas. Instead of focusing on perhaps where to avoid, I’m using the Time article as excuse to share a handful of my favorite bars and clubs in the city based on what you’re looking for from your night.

Get a more extensive look at Barcelona nightlife on the TKGO City Guides, Barcelona page.

For a club packed with Spaniards: Sutton

For a relaxed bar scene: Ambar

For the best views of the city: Mirablau and Mirabe

For a historic, charmingly gritty bar (and absinthe): Marsella

-Karina for TKGO

Hotel Bars

Many of my undisputed favorite drinking spots happen to be located in hotels. I think what mesmerizes me about a good hotel bar is how it feels like an integral part of its city, but also a separate retreat at the same time.

If you pick them (hotel bars) right, you end up with an entertaining mix of in-the-know locals and jetsetting visitors. And if you’re like Tara and me and won’t be posting up in any high-priced hotels any time soon (hello, recent college grad budget), it’s also the cheapest way to experience some of the more upscale, trendy and elegant digs.

Below are my current three favorites, all of which are scattered around the U.S. I’ll be traveling in Italy soon; any you recommend I check out over there?

21c Museum Hotel / Louisville, Kentucky / 700 W. Main St.

The 21c doubles as a contemporary art museum, which, if you know my penchant for contemporary art, pretty much makes it my favorite place ever. The bar area is long and narrow, decorated in whites and lit with bright pinks and purples. I was here Derby weekend, and it was definitely buzzing, but still maintained a relaxed feel. Stop by the elevator area to get in touch with your inner child and interact with one of the falling-letters works (picture below).


21c Museum Hotel Bar, by Karina for TKGO



Fun with falling letters, by Karina for TKGO


Four Seasons / Chicago / 120 E. Delaware Place

The median age at the Four Seasons probably hovers around 45, but it’s intimate, comfortable and relaxing. You never know who you’ll end up sitting next to and talking with, and that’s the best part of it. Since it’s small, pretty much everyone ends up meeting and chatting, even if that’s Emmitt Smith in town to film Oprah (true story), the friendliest bartenders in town — Paul’s the best — or some post-work colleagues.


Four Seasons Chicago bar, courtesy of official site


Bowery Hotel / New York, NY / 335 Bowery

Technically, you’re supposed to know someone to access the bar, but just slip any name at the door (if they even ask) and you’ll be fine. It attracts a young, trendy crowd, but anyone and everyone blends in and lets loose, from the hipster set to fashionistas and the occasional celebrity. The bar area is spacious, above street level and partially outdoors, which makes it a beautiful summer destination, and the indoor part includes an open area that is inevitably the site of dance parties.


Bowery Hotel, courtesy of Intoxicologist.wordpress.com


Karina for TKGO