List-o-mania part 1: Top 10 things to do/experience in Córdoba

El 31 de mayo fue el último día de mi estancia de un mes en Córdoba, Argentina. Aunque fui como una reclusa por las primeras dos semanas debido al miedo de perderme y/o ansiedad social de ser la única asiática en la ciudad, llegué a divertirme y visité más que un poco de las atracciones turísticas de mi lista. Aquí tiene una lista de los lugares favoritos míos/cosas para experimentar o hacer, y una descripción corta de cada uno en inglés.

Let the countdown begin…

10) Feria Artesanal Paseo de las Artes (“la feria”): corner of Rodriguez and Belgrano

Hours: Weekends only, times fluctuate based on season but generally 17-22h (best to go around 19h)

Argentina has some of the best arts and craft markets in Latin America and Córdoba happens to have what is openly acknowledged as one of the, if not the best. Always bustling with people, both tourists and locals. If you are a girl and obviously foreign, go with a friend if you don’t want unwanted attention; there are lots of people who would want to talk to you. Even with my limited vocabulary, I’ve had some of my best conversations in Spanish with some of the vendors here.

9) Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes Emilio Caraffa: Av. Poeta Lugones 411; website

Admission: free on Wednesdays; otherwise 12 pesos for both Emilio Caraffa and Palacio Ferreyra right across the street

Hours: Tues-Fri 10-20h, weekends 10:30-19h

Quite possibly the best contemporary art museum in the city. When I went, they were showcasing a bunch of paintings and sculptures by Eugenio Cuttica, an artist from Buenos Aires. Among others, they were showcasing a series of his works showing a red-haired girl named Luna. Everything was perhaps a bit over my head without a guide to explain things, but there are guided tours and if you go on a day (other than Wednesday), they’ll give you a pamphlet with descriptions of the artists and rooms in the museum. FYI, there are 9 galleries (salas) and 4 floors to the museum.

Aside: I love all the statues and monuments around the city, but honestly, who has time to take pictures of them all?

8) Museo Superior de Bellas Artes Evita Palacio Ferreyra: Av. Hipolito Yrigoyen 511

Admission: free Wednesdays; 12 pesos including Emilio Caraffa across the street (I think it’s $10 for this one alone)

Hours: Tues-Sun 10-20h

Give yourself at least 2 hours to enjoy this museum, both inside and out. Taking pictures (except of the main entrance, the outside and where there are no works) is forbidden. The most striking exhibit of this museum when I visited was the entire gallery dedicated to the works of Carlos Alonso on the subject of the clandestine kidnapping and torture that occurred in Argentina during the Dirty War. The paintings/sketches were extremely graphic, depicting violence towards women and children. This exhibit is again proof of the need for these things to be remembered, to remain forever a part of  Argentine consciousness.

7) Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes Dr. Genaro Pérez: Av. General Paz 33

Admission: free; 10-20h Tues-Sun

This is probably my favourite contemporary art museum in the city, and I ran into it completely by accident. It is housed in the Palacio Garzón and showcases the best artists of the cordobés school of painting.

The house reminds me of the one Eva Perón lived in in Evita for some reason. Especially the elevator lift.

Take a moment to sign the guestbook left by the entrance! If it is still there when you visit, make sure to check out the room full of vintage Fernet Branca ads.

6) Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón-Padres Capuchinos: Corner of Buenos Aires and Obispo Oro, go down AV H.Yrigoyen and you won’t miss it

Hours: unclear, open for sure on weekends, not sure about Mondays

If you can only go to ONE church in Cordoba, go to this one (forget about the main cathedral). It is the most beautiful and the most unique; it’s missing a steeple (which is supposed to signify human imperfection…but you never know if it was just because they ran out of certain *cough* funding…)! If it also plays freaky church music when you’re there, you’re in luck (I was never so lucky).

5) Hearing all the bells ring in the city center and truly understanding why this is “Córdoba de las Campanas”

Hours: around 18-19h everyday

I had heard about this from Roman but it caught me by surprise when all the bells started ringing when I was in the Cabildo at about 6pm. There are more than 5 churches that you could probably hear the bells of while at Plaza San Martin and they are all only relatively in sync around 6pm, when you get to hear the phenomenon of many sets of bells ringing slightly offset from each other. The ringing lasted about 2 minutes; just when you thought it was about to end, another set would join in. I had wanted to hear all the bells since my induction day and was really glad I had the chance to without really planning for it.

4) Museo de la Memoria: Pasaje Santa Catarina 64; right behind the Cabildo and main tourist office

Admission: free; booklets in English are available

Hours: Tues-Fri 10-18h

Of all the museums that I’ve been to during my stay in Córdoba, this was the most poignant. I had already known a bit about the Dirty War (La Guerra Sucia) and the Disappeared (los Desaparecidos) before I came due to reading Grisela Gambaro’s excellent play “Antígona Furiosa”, but to see it all laid out like this…This is probably one of those museums which is better visited alone because it lets the truth of what happened really sink in. Take time to wander in all the rooms and explore a dark chapter that is part of Argentina’s recent past.

The “Lives to be Told” room. A very badly stitched together panorama using the microsoft photosynth app on iPhone. I was only able to capture 3/4 walls of the room showing the pictures of the ones known to have been brought to what the site of the museum was originally, D2, the Police Intelligence Department which served as a Torture and Extermination Clandestine Detention Center in the 70s and early 80s.

3) Trying and developing a taste for Fernet con Coca: any restaurant that sells alcoholic drinks

I love Fernet con Coca so much that I’m going through classic symptoms of withdrawal not having it now that I’m back home. It is an amazing digestif best taken after a hearty meal full of tender Argentine beef. Generally made with 1/9-1/4 Fernet Branca and 8/9-3/4 Coca Cola (at least that’s how my host family does it, the amount of Fernet varies depending on how strong you want it but there is generally more Coke than Fernet!) and poured on the rocks. No mixing is required and a foamy head is formed which is perhaps the best part of the drink. Fernet Branca itself is an intensely bitter liqueur from Italy (says Milan on the bottle) with about 39-41% alcohol content. For the genuinely obsessed, there is an entire wall dedicated to vintage Fernet Branca ads in Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes Dr Genaro Pérez (my number 7)!

Fernet ads!

2) “La Cancha”, Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes: Chateau Carreras district

Where the most hardcore Talleres fans were.

When you are into fútbol as much as I am, visiting el estadio Mario Alberto Kempes (known as “la cancha” or “the pitch” to the locals) for a game is a must. Built in 1976 for the 1978 World Cup which Argentina hosted and won, the majority of the spectator zone is for standing and not seats. I watched the first leg of the Talleres vs. Racing (Córdoba) game here with my host brother and that game, along with the motorcycle ride before and after was perhaps the highlight of my trip to Argentina.

If you are a girl, don’t go alone as that might put you in unnecessary risk; try to go with a local because they will know the in’s and out’s of where to stand, who the hooligans are, etc. Also, don’t bring a backpack/purse into the stadium in case of petty thievery (not really common, but why risk it?).  There is a heavy police presence before the gate and traffic to and from the game is usually pretty horrendous. Cool perk if you’re a lady: tickets are a lot cheaper than for guys; mine was 25 pesos! Be ready to rub elbows with fans passionately cheering for their team, sing even if you don’t know the lyrics, and don’t be surprised to be hugged by the other fans around you when your team scores!

1) Paseo del Buen Pastor: Av. Hipólito Yrigoyen 325; Less than 10 minute walk down Av.Yrigoyen from the mall Patio Olmos, can also take colectivos C, C3, E1, E5, N, N3 and all the A-lines

Fuente de Aguas Danzantes; Fountain of Dancing Water

Admission: free

Hours: Chapel is open Tues-Sun 9-18h; Art Gallery is open M-F 10-22h; Music & Lights Water Fountain Show every hour 19-22h, everyday except Sunday year round

Guided tours: free through the chapel, about 20 minutes in Spanish, from 9-18h Tues-Sun, no appointment required

This was the first “tourist attraction” that I visited on my own and my first and only guided tour. I highly recommend a guided tour as there is so much around the chapel alone that you would not have discovered otherwise. The interior is decorated with impressive wall-size paintings by the disciples of Emilio Caraffa and the placement of the art corresponds with certain words and phrases in the Latin quotation ringing the ceiling. If you go on Sunday, you’ll get to meet my lovely guide, Ricardo, who was probably the friendliest person I’ve ever met out of the blue. There is so much more I can say about this place but I’ll stop lest I bore some of you; just go.

More to come: a list of places to go/things to do that didn’t quite make it onto the top 10.

For another take on the top 10 places to visit in Córdoba, please check out this blog post, which helped me a lot in my first week when I was still completely clueless!

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