When I travel to a new place, there are few things I make sure to look for and find (The rest I leave for serendipity): An area where I can find great graffiti and street Art, an area where I can find people hanging their laundry outdoors and the best view of the city.
There is nothing like walking all day in the streets of a new place and then (usually at the end of the day just before sunset) climbing up a mountain, a hill, a tall tower, a bridge, the 43rd floor (in case of Manhattan) the 6th floor (in case of Montmartre in Paris) or anything that helps you see the city in a whole new different perspective. When you are up, overlooking the city, you no longer hear the traffic in the streets (you just see the cars), you don’t see the people in eye level and you don’t smell the street vendor’s food, the smoke or anything else.
It is a sort of serenity. a state of mind. (and an important addition for a Travel Portfolio)
Here are some rooftops locations from Madrid, Barcelona, Bologna, Rome, Florence, Buenos Aires, Lisbon, Paris and Manhattan. If you have more recommendations, please send me a message.
Few days after I wrote this post, I was chosen by Easy Jet Holidays as one of their Bloggers of the month as they chose to feature this post on their website. Check it out and some other great inspiring bloggers.
I don’t remember exactly how did my contact with Margarida start or who friended who on facebook, but one day I found myself staring at her website and my jaw almost reached the floor. It took me less than five minutes to email her and tell her how much I love her work, and how much I hope that one day we would collaborate together. Her ability to create such colorful, crazy and creative collages (all start with C) is really admirable, and only after few email exchanges and sharing some thoughts and ideas, I came to realize that her personality is very aligned with her work; colorful, creative and crazy in a good way. So of course I kept nagging Margarida to collaborate and use some of my photography as a background to her illustrations and I’m glad she finally did. I asked her to answer some of my questions while she is touring South America for few months now. (and I’m actually in Lisbon when this post is due)
Where are you from? I’m from Portugal. I was raise in Sertã, a small country village. I finished High-School in Coimbra, which is known as a University city and I graduated in Aveiro, the Venice of Portugal. For the last few years I’ve been living in Lisbon, and now I’m traveling through South America.
Where did you study graphic design? I didn’t study graphic design, or any type of design. I always wanted to be a journalist and an artist. While I was doing the exams to enter the University, I realized I made the wrong decision in High School and instead of Latin, I should have studied something else. I had to say Good Bye to Journalism, and welcome New Communication Technologies. Computers, Digital Communication and Project Management instead. And I liked it.
What made you want to learn it? When I was a teenager, I though I could be an artist without studying and I wanted to have a second job. (I couldn’t have 10 jobs = 10 universities at the same time.) So I made the choice of saving the world through writing articles as journalist. And by the way, in Sertã, where I was studying, there wasn’t Art as a subject in school, so I didn’t really have much choice.
If you weren’t a graphic designer/illustrator what would you do? Definitely not a journalist. I know that the previous mistake I did, actually turned out for good; As Communication is a multi-discipline world, and that’s what I do, even in illustrations: I communicate. So basically I do what I want to do, and if I want to do another thing I will do it.
where do you get your inspiration from? Magazines, nature, books, music and music, and emotions.
How do you usually approach a new project? Usually while I am listening to music. My body and emotions react to some melodies and sounds, and I get new ideas I can do more research on. I know it might sound weird but the ‘problem’ is that my brain never stops, and I get many ideas, mainly while listening to music.
What are you working on right now? I’m traveling so I am learning a lot of new things. I have a folder in my desk with new ideas to study and work on. All are illustrations’ ideas, but I want to put them on paper and some digital platforms. I have an exhibition in Lisbon these days, in which I try to build a visual identity of Lisbon through the garbage found in the streets of the neighborhoods. I think it might be an on going project that I will continue in other cities I will live in. It is not an easy process; It requires picking up trash from the streets and containers and cataloging the trash by neighborhoods, shooting each element separately and then all together. Afterwards I create art pieces with the garbage, which gives a new meanings to it, and finally relating each piece with the photos taken.
I also want to continue with advertising and with magazines, and I want to work with animation and TV production, and maybe getting back to school. And of course, seven month of traveling! I want to use my travel experiences as a theme of my Art.
Window or Aisle? When I fly I prefer only aisle, but when I’m taking the bus, than I prefer window.
“The difference between great people and everyone else is that great people create their lives actively, while everyone else is created by their lives, passively waiting to see where life takes them next. The difference between the two is the difference between living fully and just existing”
San Telmo Market, Buenos Aires, February 2011
Another image from San Telmo Market on a Sunday, where all Street performers are out in the streets promoting themselves or promoting a show. I was visiting San Telmo that morning with two other friends. At a certain point we decided to split for an hour or two and everyone went to her own direction. I was walking around the side streets of this crowded -buzzing area on a Sunday when I saw this timeless character who was promoting a Tango show while he was playing the main character. I must admit that at first I wasn’t really that curious to photograph him, as I thought to myself I would see more of his kinds along the street. But there was something in his gesture and humble eyes and maybe a slight of a begging look, that made me take a picture. When he realized I was about to take his picture, he stood straight and still and looked directly to my camera, as he was already ‘trained’ to be photographed. Only when I got back to my hotel and edited the photos, I realized how powerful and engaging his image was. So engaging that it got me a cover on one of the travel magazines in Israel.
“…Every time we meet it’s like time never changed at all…”
San Telmo, Buenos Aires, February 2011
San Telmo on a Sunday is completely something different than San Telmo on a regular day. The bohemian neighborhood is getting packed with Arts, Antiques, Tango dancers, street performers and timelessness characters. After a while, when it got too crowded, I stepped into a courtyard in one of the alleys. I climbed to one of the building’s rooftops to get a better view of San Telmo when I saw these two people. I liked how they both wore the some colors of clothes, the same gesture with their hands and up till now, I don’t know what the woman was looking for in her bag and wether the man was waiting for her.
Drinking ice cold Havana’s coffee with dulce de leche alfajores 2 times a day, taking the subte instead of the subway, walking the streets of Palermo SoHo and not the streets of SoHo New York, Evita Peron museum, Colon Theater, Muma’s sugary cupcakes, Casa Rosada, walking the streets of palermo Hollywood and hoping to see a famous movie star, Antique market in San Telmo, Brunch in San Telmo and cold beer in Caminito, La Boca. Witnessing the wild crowds coming out of a Futball game after their team won, Bar 6 at Armenia street, stopping at every coffee place or a store in Nicaragua street, streets with names of countries in Latin America. Over looking the city from Palacio Barolo just before the sun goes down, convincing the concierge at the Moreno Hotel to let me take pictures from the private rooftop.
Recoleta. Recoleta cemetery. and Recoleta again the next day. Walking in the area of San Martin and San Nicolas and feels like in Paris, Plaza de Mayo, Libros del Pasaje, best book store in Palermo. Fresh squeeze orange juice almost every day, watching the locals dance Tango and Milonga along the river, hoping there will be a beach, and not just a river, yummy cheese and chocolate at Cucina Paradiso, Helena trendy Bar Resto, crossing the bridge of Puente de la Mujer toward Puerto Madero, 7pm drinks at Faina Hotel (is a must) candle light dinner at Artemisia, kissing a last kiss at the cutest cafe El Ultimo Beso, joining the tour of Graffiti Mundo and see the most beautiful Graffiti wall after I thought I have seen it all. Taking a boat around Tigre, buying a floral summer dress and getting the kick of walking in shorts on February…priceless!
In recent years, Buenos Aires has become more and more popular among tourists (not necessarily from Latin America) and, as the economy stabilized, the city has become attractive among foreign investors, too. The question is no longer ‘Will I visit Buenos Aires’ but ‘When will I?’ And ‘when’ is actually NOW: December to March are summertime in Argentina, making the city more attractive among tourists from Europe and North America. (What can be more enjoyable than walking in shorts in the middle of February while the New Yorkers are bundled up with heavy coats?)
What most attracted me to Buenos Aires — besides having the summer to myself in mid-February — is the strong street art scene graffitied on the walls of the city. As a photographer who closely watches street artists in New York, Buenos Aires certainly was for me the next obvious target.
Here are few things to do in your next trip to Buenos Aires:
* Take a guided tour to Palacio Barolo and climb to its top to observe the city from a bird-eye view. The building, which is built in neo-Romantic, neo-Gothic style, is an allegory to the ‘Divine Comedy’ written by Dante in the early 14th century. The building is 22 stories high, and the top floor is a transparent tower that used to be a beacon. The tour guide talks about the history and the architecture of this marvelous tower.
* Many call Buenos Aires ‘The Paris of Latin America’. Taking an afternoon stroll in San Martin and Place St. Nicolas across from Theater Colon brings to mind the feeling of exploring Parisian alleys from the 16th century.
* The ancient cemetery, La Recoleta, is one of the most-touristed destinations in Buenos Aires and one of the world’s most famous cemetery as it is also the burial place of Evita Peron. Originally it was a courtyard of a monastery, converted into a cemetery in 1822. With the spread of yellow fever at the end of the 18th century, many of the wealthy people of Buenos Aires moved to Recoleta neighborhood, and gradually the cemetery became the final resting graveyard of the wealthy and powerful people of the city. The sculptured buildings and turrets of the family vaults hint at the richness of lives of the people buried here.
* The Palermo area, which is divided to Palermo SoHo, Palermo Hollywood and Palermo Viejo, is a residential area with heavy cottonwood trees along the streets and a colorful concentration of new cafes, little piazzas, trendy restaurants, galleries and boutiques of young designers. This is the hub of the young and beautiful, an artistic suburb where you can easily find some of the most well known graffiti walls and murals in Buenos Aires.
La Boca area is one of Buenos Aires most-visited areas but also one with the highest level of crime. The area was once populated mostly by Italian immigrants but now it is the seat of the under-class. The main street in La Boca is called La Caminito and is characterized by a row of colorful buildings that once were Tango halls and brothels but are now turned into pizzerias, souvenir shops and touristic bars. Take a walk in La Caminito street, preferably during daylight.
* San Telmo Antique market on Sunday is a great opportunity to come across colorful characters, tango dancers, street vendors and street actors. San Telmo is considered the oldest quarter in Buenos Aires, filled with old churches, tile-decorated courtyards, pinnacles and domes. It is also called the tango district as there are quite a few tango halls in this area and milonga clubs. During the week this area is pretty quiet, so better plan your visit towards the weekend.
* Don’t skip Puerto Madero area. This is the city’s port area that used to be occupied with factories and warehouses; in recent years the industrial buildings have been replaced by luxury apartments that attract the young and affluent crowd. The area is considered now one of the trendiest and most exclusive areas of Buenos Aires. Walk across Puenta de la Mujer and don’t miss the Faena Hotel, designed by Philippe Starck, that feels like it was taken from one of Almadovar’s movies. Visit the neighborhood during the evening and dine in one of the bustling gourmet restaurants.
Graffiti Mundo: Take a vibrant walking tour following graffiti artists in Buenos Aires’s neighborhoods
Tagui Restaurant: Fine Argentinian cuisine in one of the city’s best restaurants. Don’t let the graffiti-covered facade fool you: Reservations are a must.
Fundacion Proa: A series of galleries filled with natural light that taken together are one of the most interesting centers of contemporary South American art.
Eve Peron Museum: Located in Palermo, this museum follows the life of the most powerful woman in Argentina, Evita Peron.