IRVINA LEW

Travel Writer & Author

Tag: Buenos AIres

Número Uno – Buenos Aires

When it comes to meetings in the Americas, Buenos Aires tops the listBuenos Aires Business Travel

Travelers call Buenos Aires the “Paris of South America” for its broad boulevards, Belle Époque architecture and vibrant European lifestyle. In 2012, about 400,000 conference goers were among its 5 million visitors. As a meeting destination, Buenos Aires is número uno, hosting about 815 events in 2012 (665 meetings plus 150 fairs).

In 2013, the International Congress and Convention Association ranked Buenos Aires the No. 1 city of the Americas for the fifth year. Buenos Aires organized 20.8 percent of the total meetings in Latin America with more than 3,000 attendees and — between 2003 and 2012 — hosted 32.5 percent more 3,000-person events than Washing- ton, D.C.; Toronto; Montréal; or Vancouver. Bilingual MICE experts at the Buenos Aires Tourist Office and Convention & Visitors Bureau support every endeavor.

Meeting planners appreciate that two airports and 31 airlines provide ample transportation access. Buenos Aires lies just 15 minutes from Aeroparque Jorge Newbery, the regional airport, and 45 minutes from Ministro Pistarini (Ezeiza) International Airport. Aerolineas Argentinas, LAN Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are among the services. Getting around is easy with city trains, subways, 144 bus lines and 40,000 very affordable taxis to hail or call (phone numbers are valuable late at night or in the rain). Currently, two major exhibition venues provide 40 acres of exhibi- tion space and 500 conference rooms. La Rural, the flagship convention center, in prime Palermo, hosts more than 200 annual events in seven modern pavilions that encompass 860,000 square feet for up to 8,900 attendees. La Rural launched as an agricultural fairground in 1886, and its 107,000-square-foot outdoor expanse still hosts Argentina’s Exposition on Livestock and Agriculture. Centro Costa Salquero, the riverside trade center, opened in 1993. Conveniently located near the regional airport, it accommodates 6,000 in an area measuring 335,000 square feet.

A third venue, the Buenos Aires Convention Center, scheduled to open this year, illustrates the city’s commitment to invest ($41.3 million) in both the MICE market and the city’s Green Agenda. BACC features one divisible space for 4,500 attendees; another for 800; and indoor parking for 900 vehicles. This high-tech, mostly underground, 234,000-square-foot, tri-level space incorporates solar panels and rooftop greenery. It is designed to meet sustainability standards, enhance the quality of life and attract expo-tourism. According to La Nacion’s Angeles Castro, “BA’s visionary Urban Greening Plan will create another … 16 acres of public green space.” Its location, adjacent to Parque Carlos Thays in Recoleta — named for architect Carlos Thays, who designed the botanical garden and the terraced garden at Palacio Duhau — is within walking distance of 5-star hotels, the imposing University of Buenos Aires School of Law, MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires) and the impres- sive Recoleta Cemetery.

“The Culture Capital of Latin America” also provides event space in unique venues. Among them, the exquisite, horseshoe- shaped Teatro Colón seats 2,600; The Usina del Arte, a recycled former electric factory, holds 1,250; and El Centro Metropolitano de Diseño (IncuBA), a contemporary design center, accom- modates 200 to 800.

Outdoor stadiums have capacities ranging from 20,000 up to 74,624 (at the River Plate Stadium). The 20 existing sport sites will increase in number before Buenos Aires hosts the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.

Among the international corporate convention center hotels, the Hilton Buenos Aires in Puerto Madero is the newest and largest (71,000 square feet for 2,700 attendees) and convenient to the high-rise financial district.

A handful of exclusive 5-star hotels in posh, aristocratic Recoleta offer extraordinary settings, state-of-the-art meeting spaces, world-class dining and extensive wine programs.

Mirrors, bronze and marble decorate the grande dame, Alvear Palace Hotel. Along with meeting rooms, its ballroom hosts banquets for 700. Kosher meals can be provided for up to 400 people.

The Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires boasts seven newly completed salons including a 4,478-square-foot ballroom for 450; smaller groups gather in, or with a view of, 1930s-era La Mansión.

The art-filled Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires hosts attendees within the formal Duhau Palace, circa 1934, in terraced gardens, in the elegant underground art gallery and in modern meeting rooms where 450 gather in its 3,200-square- foot ballroom.

Two ultra-luxe, boutique hotels in Recoleta welcome small, private groups. Algodon Mansion features 10 Argentinean-style suites, a restaurant and a covered outside patio plus a rooftop

pool. HUB Porteño offers 11 individually decorated guestrooms, two intimate living rooms, a rooftop terrace and restaurant Tarquino (accessed without disturbing hotel guests).

Across the river, Faena Hotel Buenos Aires — once a Puerto Madera grain warehouse — transformed into a Philippe Starck- designed hotel with meeting rooms and a 250-seat ballroom. Nearby, the Faena Art Center offers spacious special event space for 700 on each of two floors.

Beyond meetings, the delightfully green and monument- studded city lures visitors to its outdoor cafés and restaurants, which fill at about 9:30 p.m., and to tango salons to listen, watch, learn, participate and admire the fluid dance.

Culture lovers flock to opera (Teatro Colón), theater (Teatro Cervantes) and museums (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes). History buffs head to Plaza de Mayo to see the Casa Rosada, the president’s mansion. Photographers flock to La Boca, the historic port, to capture its multicolored tin houses on La Caminito and to the boat-shaped Fundación PROA art museum. Sports enthusiasts play or watch soccer, pato (basketball on horseback) and polo. Gourmands relish grass-fed Argentinean beef at parilla barbecue restaurants and vinotecas for wine tastings in Palermo SoHo. Shoppers value the advantageous exchange rate and tax-free status in designer boutiques in Recoleta and independent design stores in Palermo Viejo. On Sundays, they leave their jewelry in the safe and browse the vendors at the open-air San Telmo market and the side streets leading to the open-daily El Mercado.

The LGBT community extends throughout the neighbor- hoods in the first country in Latin American to legalize same- sex marriage (in 2010). And between the multitude of pasta and pizza outposts; the avant-garde design options; and the exquisitely crafted leather bags, shoes and jackets for sale, it’s no wonder some Porteños say, “We are Italians who speak Spanish.”

MICE:
meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions

Globaltravelerusa.com
by Irvina Lew
Full article .pdf

Jewish Buenos Aires ~ Part 1

???????????????????????????????Fabulous Sites for Chanukah Visits and Anytime in the Argentine Capital

Chanukah—the eight-day, candle-lighting holiday–commemorates the rededication of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem (c.168 B.C.E) after a three-year struggle against persecution. It’s an appropriate time to recall that oppression has also led to immigration, in general, and the Jewish presence in Argentina, in particular.

I’ve long had a curiosity about the multi-cultured diversity in Buenos Aires. Along with its indigenous roots, French-inspired architecture and Italian-influenced lifestyle, I’d heard the city was home to the largest Jewish community in South America (some lists claim it’s the sixth largest in the world).

While I knew that the first arrivals fled the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition(15th/16th centuries) and that some coerced to convert (conversos) followed, that was the extent of my education.

So, on my very first trip to Buenos Aires, this October, I decided to learn what I could about the Jewish community and proceeded to ask almost everyone I met about it.

Consequently, my daughter and I chatted with people in hotels, restaurants and shops who, it turned out, happened to be Jewish. In Palermo Viejo, we chatted with the owner of a stationery store who published a book benefitting a Jewish charity, a young woman who had just opened a hip café serving Jewish-style food and a jewelry designer who owned her own gallery.

For history, we toured the The Museo Judio, adjacent to the city’s oldest synagogue, La Libertad. The name refers to its street address, which happens to be near the fabulous Teatro Colon (where we saw the opera, Elektra, in its exquisite horseshoe-shaped theater). Its real name isCongregación Israelita de la República de Argentina, aka CIRA and it’s a stunning, Byzantine-style, “Jewish church” that was built in 1932.

Tours, and the weekly concerts, are free but, for security reasons, you must make an appointment 48-hours in advance and present your passport.

The guide pointed out exhibits of religious artifacts, ritual objects and photographs–including those of the rural communities—and added historical details. He noted that Argentina abolished the Inquisition and granted religious freedom after its independence from Spain in 1816.

Most immigration occurred after 1850 and from Eastern Europe. During the presidency of Domingo F. Sarmiento (1868-1874), there was an actual policy to recruit immigrants to develop under-populated land. Later, around 1881, philanthropist Baron Maurice de Hirsch helped Jews fleeing Russian pogroms by financing Jewish agricultural settlements in Argentina. These settlers were originally called “Rusos,” and later became somewhat famous as “Jewish Gauchos.” By 1895, 3,880 out of 6,085 Jews or 65%, lived outside Buenos Aires; today, almost all—about 250,000– live in the capital.

Within the city, the community conducted its first ten-man service (minyan) in 1862, celebrated its first wedding, in 1868, and inaugurated its first synagogue (either 1875 or 1897). Until 1939, when Argentina cancelled its open door policy, Jews continued to emigrate from Europe. Though not permitted in the top ranks of military or political leadership, they worked in manufacturing plants, started retail businesses and became established in Porteño life and economy. By mid-century, Buenos Aires had a Jewish hospital, Zionist organizations and cultural institutions including Yiddish newspapers, books and theaters.

This is Part 1.  See Part 2 and read both full articles in About Travel

Jewish Buenos Aires ~ Part 2

Fabulous Jewish Sites for Chanukah Visits and Anytime in the Argentine Capital

President Juan Peron recognized the State of Israel, in 1949, during his first Jewish Traveladministration, which was the time he was married to Eva Duarte de Peron, better known as Evita.  There is a famous photograph at the time of Evita with Golda Meir, who visited Argentina.

Then, after his second administration, after his return from exile, during the period of post-Peron military dictatorships (1976-1983), a disproportionate number of Jews (roughly 10% or 3,000 of 30,000) were among the disappeared, the “desaparecidos.”  This period was known as the Dirty War, which you can learn more about here.

Among the best known of those Jews tortured under the military dictatorship who survived was Jacobo Timerman, a journalist, who wrote several books related to his imprisonment.  His son, Hector Timerman, is Argentina’s current foreign minister and was the Argentine Ambassador to the United States previously.

In 1991, Jewish charities responded to the needs of 4,000 people; after the peso devalued, that number multiplied ten-fold and a number of synagogues (there were about 90) and parochial schools had to close or merge.

The two painful incidents that occurred during the 1990s are the reason for on-going security measures at Jewish sites. On March 17, 1992, the Israeli Embassy was bombed. Once located in a quiet corner of residential Recoleta where Calles Suipacha and Arroyo meet, only an outline of the former building on an adjacent structure remains. Though the neighborhood is known for its luxe hotels and embassies, this spot has been preserved as a serene park with 22 trees and seven benches to memorialize the 29 who died there.

And, on July 18 1994, AMIA was bombed. The Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina is an important Jewish Community Center that offers educational, employment and cultural arts programs in the neighborhood of Once and Abasto. The still-unsolved crime left 85 Porteños dead. Today, their names are carved on a protective wall and the inner courtyard is home to the Monument to the Memory of the Victims, by Israeli artist Yaacov Agam. It’s a kinetic Star of David which appears to change as you move around it.

In spite of these tragedies and the current economic instability, both the secular and observant community has endured and prospered. During a walking tour of Once, an historic, Jewish neighborhood, we got a glimpse of a more traditional life.  Our guide Ariela, from Anda Tours, introduced us to this garment-center-district where streets are lined with small shops featuring bolts of bright fabrics or women’s clothing. She pointed out that each door of a Jewish business displays a Mezuzah (a prayer on parchment enclosed within a decorative case). We noticed some of the city’s 30 Kosher restaurants, browsed a Kosher food market, saw synagogues and a Police Station with a sign in both Spanish and Hebrew. She also told us about the country’s only Kosher McDonalds, in the Abasto Shopping Mall.  You can find more information on Kosher dining in Buenos Aireson this link.

For those not interested in a formal, guided tour, a brochure called Buenos Aires Kosherin Spanish and in English lists museums, such as Centro de Ana Frank and the Museo del Holocausto hotels with kosher meals (The Alvear Palace Hotel in Recoleta for example caters events with up to 400 kosher meals), kosher restaurants, Jewish bookstores and shops, synagogues and community centers; it also indicates walking tours.

For me, the major benefits of travel are to meet locals and learn history “in situ” and I was lucky to experience both in Buenos Aires. One remark made by the young Jewish tour guide seems to best sum up the city’s multi-cultural diversity: “We are Italians who speak Spanish.”

See more articles on Jewish Buenos Aires and cultural sites here, and a neighborhood visit tour with more information on the Temple and Jewish Museum here.

This is Part 2 of the articles that originally appeared in About Travel.
For Part 1 click here.

 

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