Palermo is for lovers... of shopping

The neighborhood of Palermo is the epicenter of Buenos Aires cool!  Divided into three different sections - Palermo Soho, Palermo Hollywood, and Palermo Viejo - the vast neighborhood undoubtedly offers something for everyone amidst its countless funky boutiques, craft stalls, and high-end shopping opportunities!

Even a cursory stroll through Palermo Viejo and Palermo Soho will quickly unfold as a Utopian paradise for any young fashionista.  Vibrant handmade one-of-a-kind clothing and other cool crafty accessories are sold along the sidewalks that lead to the neighborhood’s charming Plaza Cortázar, a hot-bed of artisan stalls and open-air cafes that intrigues visitors with its quaint older Spanish style of architecture, albeit with modern twists.

While Doug bought some shoes at the nearby Puma Store - where we unexpectedly ran into Grey’s Anatomy star T.R. Knight - I was more impressed by the cool men’s tienda Tascani.  I immediately snatched up three or four unique shirts that still bring me kudos every time I wear them, even three years later!  Equally remarkable was the well-appointed stationary store called Papelera Palermo!  This is the place to go for unique sheets of wrapping paper, gift cards, or arty souvenirs that are distinctively Argentine.

Another shop worth mentioning was the eccentric Calma Chica!, a colorful emporium filled to the brim with over-sized furniture, cowhide rugs and other leather products, lighting and housewares that mixed a healthy dose of humor into its gotta-have-it array of everyday items.

Of course, Palermo is not just a great place for shopping, drinking or eating (see “sips”).  It is also a tremendously beautiful enclave as well, and one that is home to many Buenos Aires natives!  And while there is debate over how the barrio initially got its name, you can rest assured that all stories somehow lead back to Italy.

Go for the shopping and stop off for a beer, but stay to roam the tree-lined streets which almost hide the dizzying conglomeration of low-lying architectural motifs that leave one-note La Boca in the dust! 

Set of Drifters tip:  Did you know that such well-known historical figures such as Jorge Luis Borges and Che Guevara once lived in the Palermo barrio of Buenos Aires?  (Che's image was virtually everywhere in the street art that adorned the buildings of this shopper's paradise.  He'd probably turn over in his grave!)

Palermo Viejo / Palermo Soho - best shopping along Avenidas Armenia, Serrano, El Salvador and Gurruchaga (accessible via a somewhat long walk from the Plaza Italia Metro station, you may even want to cab it!), Buenos Aires

Puma Store - Avenida Cnel. Niceto Vega 6091, Palermo, Buenos Aires, 011 (54) 11 4772-2709,

Tascani - Avenida Córdoba 4701, Palermo, Buenos Aires, 011 (54) 11 4773-0943,

Papelera Palermo - Honduras 4943, Palmero, Buenos Aires, 011 (54) 11 4833-3081,

Calma Chicha - Honduras 4909, Palmero, Buenos Aires, 011 (54) 11 4831-1818,

Mercado de San Telmo/ Feria de San Telmo & more!

Even thought the skies were grey on the Sunday morning we visited, the neighborhood of San Telmo was colorfully alive, and teeming with bargain-hunters and fashionistas alike.  You see, the barrio is the nexus of a number of brilliant shopping destinations that truly offer something for everyone!

The first stop on any shopaholic’s tour of the neighborhood is usually its busy “Mercado de San Telmo,” a conglomeration of fresh food stalls, vintage and antique clothing and furniture, and a number of unique artisan shopfronts.  Since it ended up raining pretty heavily, we ducked in to the Mercado to take shelter amidst its 1897 wrought-iron and skylight-infused splendor.  The sound of the raindrops pelting on top of the vast one sq. block structure electrified the various punters into a somewhat dizzying pace, and less than a week from Christmas, everyone was dressed in their best holiday finery!  

You would think it would be normal for Doug to be pose alongside a picture of Eva Perón in Argentina, but no, it was simply a ruse to capture with our camera "Mercado de San Telmo Groove" (aka "Fold Me Up and Fit Me in This Bag Groove.") 

San Telmo’s Mercado has four entrances, so chances are you will run into it sooner or later.  The craziness inside ensues daily from 10:00 AM until 7:00 PM.  Even if you have already run out of money, try to make a stop here, if only for the captivating people-watching!

Now, no one likes to be dubbed "a tourist," but sometimes there is no choice.  Sunday mornings in San Telmo offer just one of those opportunities as the neighborhood unfolds its cobble-stoned sidewalks to make way for the impressive "Feria de San Telmo."  Located predominantly along the streets which intersect upon Plaza Dorrego, the Feria de San Telmo pulls together over 250 vendors from all over the country who, together, hawk an unusual array of oddball crafts, religious artifacts, trinkets, jewelry, and other antique objects.

The weekly fair was created in 1970.  Growing in popularity over the decades, it now attracts 10,000 people each Sunday!  While a tango singer/ strummer nearby was almost too cliché, we loved the oddball mix of eccentric items on offer, picking up not only a cool orange 1970’s telephone that had been restored to its original lustre, but also a handful of clever toys made from egg shells that depict the chirping of baby chick-a-dees!

The Feria de San Telmo runs Sundays from 10:00 AM until 6:00 PM.  If you time your visit just right, you just may be able to soak in an “impromptu” tango performance (or two) from the center of Plaza Dorrego!  And watch out for celebrities traveling from afar; you just never know who you will run into here!

Of course, it’s not all about the markets in San Telmo.  A bevy of more modern storefronts cater to a younger, funkier crowd.  A few of our favorite stop-offs included L’ago (for its unusual lighting, housewares and cutesey-poo stationary), and Casa Rey (for its incredible selection of trim-fitting men’s and women’s fashions that utilize high-quality vintage fabrics in new cuts that look entirely up-to-date within today’s fashion aesthetic).  Both hipster depots are located on the main shopping San Telmo thoroughfare of Calle Defensa.  (For a more detailed background on San Telmo, see “sights.")

Set of Drifters tip:  Sometimes, the beauty is in the tiniest of details.  Such was the case inside the exquisite El Patio de los Ezeiza, yet another picturesque enclave for shopping and dining in San Telmo.  The patio area reminded us a lot of some of the hidden plazas you might find during a stroll through Paris... right down to a shop purveyed by one crazy old cat who showcased a bunch of eccentric crap that was supposed to be high-end - yet in reality was all a bit scary!

Mercado de San Telmo - accessible via calles Defensa, Carlos Calvo, Bolívar and Estados Unidos, San Telmo, Buenos Aires,

Feria de San Telmo - Calle Defensa (at the Plaza Dorrego), San Telmo, Buenos Aires,  

L’ago - Calle Defensa 970, San Telmo, Buenos Aires, 011 (54) 11 4362-4702,

Casa Rey - Calle Defensa 941, San Telmo, Buenos Aires, 011 (54) 11 4300-6682,

El Patio de los Ezeiza - Calle Defensa 1179 (just north of Avenida San Juan), San Telmo, Buenos Aires

Galería Bond Street

In case you had not figured it out yet, vintage shopping happens to be one of your “Set of Drifters” favorite pastimes no matter what country we might be visiting.  Doing our research ahead of time, we read up on a edgy emporium called Galería Bond Street, a multi-tiered market that mixes together street art, skateboarding culture and new fashion design with vintage clothing, records and books.  Never ones to miss a beat, we saved the destination for our last morning in town.

At first glance, perhaps the most striking element of Galería Bond Street is its awkward setting.  With its supple marble flooring and brass handrails, a product from its original 1963 department store construction, it’s hardly the kind of place that you would expect to witness loud street graffiti and tattoo parlors!  And yet, it’s that juxtaposition that makes this place so enthralling, and popular, even amongst the celebrity circuit.

Now, let’s be honest, not everyone is into weird old relics from the past!  And yet, we recommend a trek here nonetheless as secondhand shopping offers a great way to experience a culture, and ultimately, a look into its history.  (When you are record collectors such as ourselves, you can tell a lot about the culture from the types of music that are listened to, and then discarded.)  After browsing for only a few minutes at Galería Bond Street we noticed that many of the objects were not necessarily from Argentina, revealing that the country has long relied heavily on Brazilian and Italian imports.

Our favorite store was located on the top floor, a record outlet that piled on thick a funky collection of lounge, disco, punk and dance-oriented discs of yore.  The great prices on hand had one downside however; we had already packed our very heavy luggage and were unable to buy as much as we would have liked!

Needless to say, vintage shopping proposes the opportunity to find some truly great conversation pieces that you can bring back home and enjoy for years to come!  You could do much worse than an afternoon at Galería Bond Street.

Aside from its unique assemblage of vintage objects and clothing, the marketplace also showcases tattoo and piercing stalls amidst its dizzying maze of windowed shops.  Check out their cool website for more details, and a complete listing of their current shopping opportunities!  Galería Bond Street is closed Sundays and open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM until 10:00 PM.  Try to avoid Monday though if you can as many of the vendors take a two-day weekend.  Set of Drifters tip:  One thing to remember here, and at many other secondhand shopping markets throughout the world is that, if you need to use the facilities, bring your own toilet paper (see “essentials” for more information)!

Galería Bond Street - Avenida Santa Fe 1670, Barrio Norte, Buenos Aires, 011 (54) 11 4812-8744