Sunday in San Isidro
I know you want to spend these breezy fall Sunday afternoons at a café in Palermo sipping a Cortado and nursing your Saturday night hangover, but why not try something new? Like the suburbs. Yes, that’s right the Buenos Aires suburbs.
The northern suburb San Isidro is one part Beverly Hills and one part shady Cabana. Most people visiting Buenos Aires find it hard to leave the center because there are so many things to see and do, but a visit to Buenos Aires without visiting San Isidro would be a shame. Set aside a Sunday when all the artisan markets are open, go early to get the most from your day and avoid the crowded trains. Or if you just want to ride a bike along the river and don’t care much for markets go on a weekday when you can truly feel like a local.
Getting There: You have 3 options when getting to San Isidro, you can:
A. Take the scenic route by taking the TBA Mitre train at Retiro to the Bartolmé Mitre station where you can transfer to the Tren de la Costa. This train is a bit pricier than the regular TBA Tigre train ($15.00 pesos as of April, 2011) however it will save you some walking time and offer you a riverside ride. This way will take about 50 minutes including transfer time, get off at the Barrancas train stop.
B. The second option is to take the cheaper TBA Tigre train line ($2.10 peso round trip, as of April, 2011). Get off at the San Isidro stop where you’ll be near the main shopping street of Belgrano. From there you can explore, but beware that the streets are windy and it may be easy to lose your bearings.
C. There is also the good old Colectivo but I don’t suggest you do this unless you have plenty of free time and patience this way can take up to 2 hours. 168 line is your best bet running at an economic $1.70 pesos as of April, 2011.
What to See: Peru Beach, San Isidro Cathedral, Plaza Mitre, Baranccas antique market, crafts market
What to do: Start the day by stopping at the Barrancas Station off the Tren de la Costa line. Once getting off the train you will see a small antique market selling a mixture of Argentine Seltzer bottles, fileteria signs, brass fixtures, crystal ash trays and vintage clothing. Prices here are a lot better than the San Telmo market and the ambiance is less touristy. Plus you can see where the hispters of Palermo buy their vintage garb.
Riverside Bike Ride: On the opposite side of the market there is a little café called “Bikes and Coffee” here like the name suggests you can drink coffee and rent bikes. The food is good (waffles!) and the inked up waiters are helpful. You can rent a bike for a few hours and ride along the river on the bike path (bring your ID). Word is that if you order breakfast you can get a bike “grattis”, let us know!
Beaches and Outdoor Sports: From here you can take a walk/ride along the river to Peru Beach. Along Peru Beach if you turn left from the tren de la costa station Barrancas, you can find 2 sports centers that offer windsurfing, kayaking, rock climbing, swimming, etc. The first is Puerto Tablas and the other Mogino. If you don’t want to get your sport on keep walking towards San Isidro, catch a glimpse of the beautiful, expansive river or better yet find a place to sit for a few hours (there’s a few public beaches) and relax with a book.
Artisan Market: If you keep walking for 15 to 20 minutes riverside you should run into the Tren de la Costa San Isidro train station. Here you want to walk away from the river and through the little shopping mall and up the steps. On a Sunday or on a holiday you will find a “feria” here, with artists selling goods like jewelry, leather, mates and more. This is my personal favorite market of Buenos Aires because prices are much more affordable and there are many more locals shopping here than other markets in the city.
Towards dusk the plaza where the feria is held begins to fill up with lots of locals sipping mate and entertainers. My personal favorite is a clown/mime that does a little show for propinas. If you don’t fancy quirky mime shows and want to head home be sure to stop by the Cathedral to your left before leaving. If you want to take the cheaper train back to Retiro you can walk up Libertador and make a right at Belgrano and in 10 blocks or so you should see the station. Also if you walk this way you can take a peek at some of the famous fancy San Isidro houses.
What to Eat: There are two popular parrillas that are frequented by the locals of San Isidro and double as pleasant scenic experiences.
The first is a Parrilla on the river right across the road from the Antique Market named Ñandu (Sebastian Elcano 648).
The other is close to the San Isidro stop on the Tren de la Costa and my personal favorite Parrilla called La Leonilda (Av. Tiscornia 802 esq. Pedro de Mendoza), super popular with the local elite. Both have cheap prices and good vibes. On the same road as La Leonilda is a hip little American style bakery called Alegre (656 Pedro de Mendoza) believe me, try one of the cakes.
So there you have it, a beautiful day spent in the burbs’. I hope you enjoy your day trip and let us know if you discover anything else in San Isidro!