Saturday, March 26, 2011

Shopping in Buenos Aires


Shopping in Buenos Aires can be sublime. At the Galerias Pacifico on Calle Florida, the frescoes in the central dome could be the destination more so than the expensive boutiques inside the mall. The frescoes depict the history of mankind and was painted by five well known Argentine artists in 1945. For a leisurely view of the frescoes, sit and order a drink at one of the cafés under the dome.

 

Calle Florida is packed full of shoppers and walking along this pedestrian only street is a slow crawl as there are so many things to check out and perhaps buy from the vendors on the street. There are toys, handbags and wallets, costume jewelry, clothes, socks, flowers, and an incredible assortment of goods.  There is free entertainment from musicians and tango dancers. If you take a picture with the tango dancers, you will have to pay for this privilege. There's something for everyone.


In the posh Retiro district, food shops like the one above in  the glass ceilinged Patio Bullrich and trendy shops like Ay Not Dead below, draw the Porteño elite and visitors staying at nearby plush hotels like the Alvear.


In La Boca below, postcards and paintings of tango performers stop tourists for a look see.


I found the prices at Avenida Santa Fe to be far more reasonable than other parts of town. I couldn't resist checking out the display windows of leather shoes and bags, travel accessories, summer dresses, and knick-knacks. It was delightful to discover the pasillos (halls) where I found more of the same. The incredible El Ateneo bookstore is also on this avenue.


My favorite stores were Isabella and Falabella which latter carries a wide array of home decor and kitchen tools and utensils as well as appliances. Falabella reminds me of Pier One Imports. Isabella sells scarves, costume jewelry, and bags. I found beautiful scarves for $1.00 though I had to check them for defects which annoyed the salesgirl at the Calle Florida branch. But there are Isabella shops all over town, sometimes two or three within a mile of each other and the salespeople are far nicer and more helpful than the harassed folks on Calle Florida. 

In the small upscale community of San Isidro, there is an arts and crafts shopping center. It's a convenient stop if you're on your way to Tigre and the Delta.  I thought that the jewelry pieces sold there were unique and well made. I also found these colorful, woven wall hangings, throws and blankets.


Argentina is best known for its well crafted leather goods and I broke down and bought me a pair of gladiator style sandals with cork heels.  They're so comfortable that I wore them most of the time I was in Buenos Aires.


Most stores will tell you if you're buying real or synthetic leather. If you're not sure, ask the salesclerk. In established boutiques like Prune, their leather bags are displayed separately from the synthetic ones and the attendants are quick to point you in the right direction. Also there's a big price difference between real and synthetic, especially on sale items. It's always best to check before you purchase an item.  Aprovecho!

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Images by Charie

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