Inked : Buenos Aires
Inked | April 2010
Ernesto Vasquez could have worked anywhere. And he has made his Buenos Aires studio, Historia de Mi Vida, (Story of My Life, just as international as the city itself. The busy Palermo studio welcomes a roster of revolving artists from around the world, and Vasquez and his two partners spend a few months each year working abroad, usually in Spain, Brazil, or Germany, collecting new skills to augment their global styles. “People come from Europe and the States to get inked here,” he says, drawn by cheaper prices and the burgeoning custom culture in the city. Their global artistry mixed with local humor has earned the studio a solid reputation. “We’re always looking for new things,” says Vasquez, who even brings his equipment along on vacation. “But really, we’re old-school guys.”
The After-Work Detail
After closing up the studio on their busiest day, Saturday, Vasquez and the crew sometimes grab dinner with their clients at Rincon Parillero (Medrano 1293, Palermo, cash only), a small, Argentinean-stye grill where Vasquez will indulge in “any kind of meat.” For drinks, he heads to Mundo Bizarro (mundobizarrobar.com, Serrano 1222, Palermo) to enjoy some of the best cocktails in the city in an “American thrash culture” vibe. Sip on the bar’s namesake cocktail—the Mundo Bizarro Monsoon—a vodka-based drink mixed with melon, oranges, and pineapple, while enjoying rockabilly music and Betty Page movies projected on the back wall.
Life and Death in Recoleta
The other-worldly Recoleta Cemetery is “an amazing acropolis,” says Vasquez, where Eva Perón is buried along with former presidents and poets. Admission is free, and you can spend hours marveling at the elaborate tombs and sculptures. Close by, the Recoleta Cultural Center (centroculturalrecoleta.org) showcases the city’s diverse art scene, including works from up-and-coming comic illustrators and multimedia artists. Bargain Hunting in the Streets Buenos Aires is full of antiques and those that love to hunt them. At the local feria, you can find anything from Pink Floyd records and dusty Leica film cameras to 18th-century maps and costume jewelry. Vasquez touts the Dorrego Street flea market (Dorrego and Niceto Vega, Palermo) to find unique fixtures for his apartment and studio. Prices are lower than that of the more touristy San Telmo weekend antique market (Defensa through Plaza Dorrego). For the best deals, Vasquez advises to shop during the week and “try to speak Spanish.”
Culture Mashups in La Boca
It might not be the prettiest site in Buenos Aires but La Bombanera, La Boca Juniors’ soccer stadium, radiates energy and passion. Although Vasquez’s own home team has since left the city, he still loves a great soccer game or concert at the legendary stadium. Even if there’s nothing riot-worthy going on at La Bombanera, La Boca is a great spot to experience the mixture of Latin American and European culture that porteños (the natives of Buenos Aires) are so proud of. Grab a fresh-pressed orange juice off the street and experience the grittiness of the docks, the romance of tango at a late-night milonga, and the city’s Italian influence in the brightly-painted buildings of Caminito.
Cooling off in Tigre
The summer months of January and February can get deadly hot in Buenos Aires, and a lot of porteños escape to cooler climes. Vasquez likes to take the train just 45 minutes north to the town of Tigre, on the Paraná Delta. Also accessible by boat on the Rio de la Plata, the labyrinth of inlets and islands make for fun explorations on jet skis. Full of both luxury and budget options, Tigre provides a chill weekend getaway for anyone who needs to escape the chaos of Buenos Aires. “It’s weird because it’s so close to the big city,” he says. “But don’t forget to take mosquito repellent.”
The Big Night Out
Vasquez and his crew aren’t so much into the techno club scene, so a show at Club Roxy (theroxybsas.com.ar, Niceto Vega 5542) in Palermo Hollywood is a good bet for live rock shows. Nearby, just off Plaza Serrano, “the heart of Palermo Soho,” Vasquez prefers the low-key Cronico Bar (cronicobar.com, JL Borges 1646) over the neighborhood’s more trendy bars. The covered smoking area makes it a go-to destination even in crappy weather. Vasquez has been coming to Cronico for years for its cheap food and drinks, including blended batidos and a local favorite: cola mixed with Fernet, a bitter Italian digestif. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself stumbling out well after sunrise—Cronico is open 24 hours a day.