Posts Tagged ‘Retirement in Buenos Aires’

Buenos Aires is a great city for retirement

February 3, 2019

Today marks my 20th anniversary in Buenos Aires.  I want to share some of the reasons why I’m so happy in this great city.

Blue skies and sun during the summer and the winter!

Great weather all year around.  I have no complaints.  My hometown Chicago was hit this week by the polar vortex and registered cold like the south pole.  I feel sorry for family members, while I enjoy summer in Buenos Aires.  Even when it’s colder during the winter months of July and August, we don’t get freezing temperatures in the Paris of South America.

Citizenship.  It’s relatively simple for a retired person with social security benefits to get citizenship through the court.  You can do it yourself or hire a lawyer to handle the process which takes about a year.  I have dual citizenship since 2013 and two passports.  I have the right and the obligation to vote in all the elections.

Bilingual culture.  English is taking over the world.  I’m glad I studied Spanish for two years in high school or I’d be lost.  Knowing the local language facilitates making a connection with people.  Without it, I’d be at a loss for words, literally.  I meet people all the time who studied and speak English.  Store windows have signs in English, and restaurant menus are bilingual.

Social Security is enough to live on.  I started receiving monthly retirement benefits at age 62.  I own an apartment that I bought in 2005 with money from my mother’s estate.  I can live comfortably on my small retirement income and have savings, but I don’t know how I would manage if I still lived in Chicago.

Public transportation.  Buses and the subway are the most efficient means for getting around the city.  The highest fare based on distance is 17.50AR — about 50 cents.  We have electronic cards to pay the fares, and most lines are air-conditioned.  Buses run 24 hours a day, and the subways have extended hours on the weekends.  You don’t need a car in the city.  The downtown is pedestrian friendly.

Tango is everywhere in the city.  The dance and music brought me to Buenos Aires.  The milongueros viejos are the reason tango is unique in the city where it was born.  I learned what tango means to them, and they taught me how to feel and love tango.

Teatro Colon

The National Symphony Orchestra – Centro Cultural Kirchner

The Chamber Orchestra of the Nation in the National Congress

Philharmonic of Buenos Aires in Usina del Arte

Cultural life.  This is a city that values the arts and makes them available to all.  I attend free concerts at several venues.  It’s like having a subscription to four orchestras, except that all the tickets are free.  There are weeks I attend as many as six concerts and a concert lecture.  My years of instrumental music study helped me appreciate the cultural life I have in Buenos Aires.

Community involvement.  I attend neighborhood meetings every three months  hosted by the mayor and his staff when residents express their concerns and make suggestions.  Participation keeps me informed about our neighborhood.  The police commissioners hold monthly meetings at the police stations to stay informed and handle problems.  In my opinion, this is a city that works on improving all the time, and I like being involved.

Neighbors.  Having lived in the same apartment for 17 years, I have gotten to know many neighbors by name when we meet on the street and talk.  It makes me feel I’m a part of the community, like the one in the 1950s and 60s in Chicago when we knew all the families on the block.  Life is fast-paced today with technology, but I don’t feel anonymous here.  The owners of the health food shop greet me by name and know my purchase preferences.  I returned to the local pasta shop this week after a year, and the new owner, who met me only once, remembered I’m from Chicago. This happens regularly for me in Buenos Aires, and I love it.

House sales and resale shops.  These were my shopping destinations when I lived in the USA.  I’ve been a regular at the weekend house sales and resale shops in Buenos Aires since I heard they existed here.  I furnished my apartment going to house sales, and all my clothes and shoes are second-hand.  I give what I no longer wear to a church-sponsored feria americana.  I recycle everything.

Organic fairs.  When I finally learned that eating organic is important for my health, it wasn’t easy finding markets that sell it.  Fortunately, the city organizes organic fairs on the weekends in the parks.  I go on Friday or Saturday to buy fruits, vegetables, seeds, grains, and beans.

Friends.  I am grateful for my friendship with these three women–Marilyn, Ines, and Romaine.  Concerts are our common interest, so we enjoy music together.  It’s always a special time for me being with them.

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Buenos Aires is a great city for retirement

June 15, 2018

Retirement has its perks, and one of them is free time to talk with friends in the late afternoon over tea.  John Morton and I have done this regularly during his visits over the last few years.

Bar de Cao on Av. Independencia and only one block from my apartment, was our afternoon place for tea and long talks.  It’s more than 100 years old and is a preserved historical landmark.

This is tea service at the Eloisa Coffee Shop.

Tea time, known as merienda in Buenos Aires, is a tradition for late afternoon since portenos don’t eat their last meal of the day until after 21 hs.  Cafe con leche or te con medialunas is perfect.

John is a regular customer of the Eloisa Coffee Shop (corner of Riobamba & Peron) which has a casual atmosphere.

We sat on the sofa in the rear for more than two hours, and no one asked us to pay the bill and leave.  Most cafes have the daily newspapers for their customers.

Our next outing was to the historic corner of Cafe de Los Angelitos (Av. Rivadavia y Junin) where the Gardel/Razzano duo once performed for patrons.

The waiter easily convinced us pan dulce would go so well with our tea.  It was the best.  We could have ordered another serving, but we both resisted the temptation.

The service is excellent, and the atmosphere feels like you’ve gone back in time to the 1920s.  Photos of tango celebrities cover the walls, and there’s a dinner/tango show in the intimate theater.

We were walking in the Retiro neighborhood one afternoon, so we made a point of going to the French Embassy mansion so Claudine could see it for the first time.  When it started to rain, I suggested we stop at Cafe Bonjour Paris on Uruguay near Santa Fe.

There is seating inside and on this small patio.

Today, June 15, is John’s birthday, and his age is a closely guarded secret.

Claudine and John shared a decadent dessert, and I watched them devour it.

After seeing an exhibition of Latin-American art at MALBA in Palermo Chico, we had merienda at Ninina next to the museum.  Claudine and John ordered tea and French-style pastries, and I had a delicious juice blend of kale, green apple, lemon, mint, and ginger.

It was a beautiful day for having tea outdoors in nature.

Buenos Aires is a great city for retirement where there is always time for sharing beautiful afternoons for merienda and conversation with tango friends.

Buenos Aires is a great city for retirement

April 22, 2018

I remember being excused early from school when I was in third grade with a few other students so we could go downtown to attend the Chicago Symphony Youth concerts at Orchestra Hall.  That was my first subscription to the symphony.  We sat at the very top of the hall in the gallery, looking straight down at the orchestra on stage.  Years later in my 20s, I had a subscription to the evening concerts.

I’ve attended concerts throughout my life, but never have I attended several each week as I do in Buenos Aires.  There are three symphonic orchestras in Buenos Aires: Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional, Orquesta Filarmonica de Buenos Aires, and Orquesta Estable del Teatro Colon.  All three offer free concerts in addition to the subscription concerts by the OFBA and OETC.

The first free concert of the season by the Orquesta Filarmonica de Buenos Aires was Friday night in Usina del Arte in La Boca.  I went to the Teatro Colon box office on Thursday morning for two free tickets.  Mi Primera Sinfonia (My First Symphony) is a series of six concerts.  The conductor explained those concerts will feature the first symphonies which aren’t performed as often as their later works.  Dvorak’s first symphony has glaring composition errors written when he was 24.  First symphonies programmed are Beethoven (May 11), Nielsen (May 24), Sibelius (Sept 24), Prokofiev (Oct 26), and Max Bruch (Nov 10).

I enjoy retirement with so many free concerts throughout the year in Buenos Aires.  It’s a concertgoers’ paradise.

Buenos Aires is a great city for retirement

April 20, 2018

You probably think this photo is in a bar or cafe in Buenos Aires.  Actually it is in the newest subway station at Las Heras on the H line along Jujuy/Puerreydon.  I discovered it for the first time this month as I was exiting the station after my first ride to Las Heras in Barrio Norte.  I heard the pianist playing a familiar tune that got me to stop and listen.  He was playing, What a Wonderful World, and I began singing along.  When he finished, I said, I know that tune by Ray Charles.  He corrected me — no, it’s Louis Armstrong.  Right!  I thanked him for his beautiful interpretation of a tune with inspiring lyrics.  With all that’s happening in the world today, we need a reminder that life is wonderful.

Music is everywhere in this city — you’ll hear musicians on the subway trains, too.  This is one of many reasons I am grateful to live in Buenos Aires.

Buenos Aires is a great city for retirement

January 19, 2017

festival-vaticano

This is the third year the Asociacion Civil Cultural Centro Historico Teatro Colon presents a series of concerts, opera, and ballet in the Plaza Vaticano next to Teatro Colon.  Last Saturday was Tosca by Puccini from the 2016 season in Teatro Colon, with the Argentine tenor Marcelo Alvarez.

I arrived at the plaza before the introduction, and some empty seats were still available.  I hoped that a friend would find me so we could enjoy the presentation together.  Marilyn spotted me, and I joined her. I’m wearing a black jacket.  No tickets to buy, no waiting in line — just go, find a seat, and enjoy the presentation on the big screen.  It’s better than attending inside because the recording bring us closer to the musicians, singers, and dancers.

I’m grateful for the outstanding cultural agenda available in the city.  I have a retirement life I never had imagined for myself.  The summer festival at Plaza Vaticano is unique.

Buenos Aires is a great city for retirement

September 21, 2016

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Strawberries and blueberries are in season from September through December, and they’ll be in my breakfast bowl every day.

 

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This is the biggest strawberry I’ve eaten in my life!

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Most of the produce comes from Argentine farmers.

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There are packages of chopped vegetables prepared for a salad and soup.

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This is a sample of what I bought for about US$15 at the fruit and vegetable market one block from my apartment — strawberries, brussels sprouts, fennel, mushrooms, avocados, bananas, apples, mandarin oranges, lemons, kiwis, and asparagus.

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I am happy there is always a good supply of fresh produce for my whole food plant-based diet.

Buenos Aires is a great city for retirement

September 15, 2016

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I walked past this corner many times wondering why they installed this barrier.  I had no idea that its purpose was part of the public transportation system of bicycles.

When the bike share system began, you had to have residency with a DNI.  I was eager to get citizenship and my DNI so I could use the bicycles.  Before I did, the city made the system available to tourists.  I registered yesterday with my VOS card to use a bicycle on the large network of routes in the city.

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This bicycle station is only two blocks from my door.  I don’t need to store a bicycle or carry it up the stairs.  All I need is a helmet and gloves.  Retirement is great in this people-friendly city.

Buenos Aires is a great city for retirement

July 8, 2016

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Buenos Aires is a great city for walking and handholding.  There is no need to have a car when public transportation takes you everywhere.

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Buenos Aires is a great city for retirement

July 7, 2016

Not only is the city’s cultural agenda incredible, but the venues are architectural jewels.  I visited these four in one week of concerts.

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The former national library (opened in 1902) at Mexico 564 is the Centro Nacional de la Musica, permanent home for the Ballet Folklorico Nacional and other  arts organizations.  Their rehearsals are occasionally open to the public with a limited capacity.

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DSCN8404 Ballet Folklorico Nacional rehearsal

Teatro Colon opened in 1908 and is considered one of the finest concert halls of  the world.

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The dress rehearsal of Don Quijote Ballet was open to the public.  We had box seats at no charge.

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It’s always a thrill to attend a performance in this magnificent theater.

DSCN8426 Teatro Colon

DSCN8431 bows for Don Quijote

The National Congress of Argentina opened in 1906.

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The Chamber Orchestra of Congress presents monthly concerts that are open to the public.

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Take note of the floor tile that is in perfect condition after a century.

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La Casa de la Cultura was built in 1898 as the offices of the second largest newspaper in Argentina, La Impresa.  Eventually the government bought the building for cultural purposes.

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Recitals are held in the magnificent Salon Dorado.

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The front door and the entrance of La Casa de la Cultura.

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I’m happy being retired in Buenos Aires with a full agenda of free concerts.

Buenos Aires is a great city for retirement

April 11, 2016

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I’ve lived one quarter of my life in Buenos Aires, and I’m here to stay.  I fell in love with Buenos Aires and the people during my first visit 20 years ago.  It was an easy decision for me to start a new life in Buenos Aires.  I’ve never regretted the move to Argentina.

A couple of months ago, a tango friend and I were attending an outdoor concert.  Luis knows I’m from Chicago, and asked me an interesting question: “Can you tell me the best thing about Chicago?” I thought for a few seconds and said, “Luis, I can’t think of anything.  I haven’t been there since October 2006, and I’m not going back.  My life is in Buenos Aires.”

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I had to acclimate to a new culture and language through total immersion on a day-to-day basis.  There was no information on the internet about living in Buenos Aires as we have today.

Marge and Ed Kenyon dancing tango

Marge and Ed Kenyon dancing tango (1960)

We had tango music in our home during the 1950s. My parents bought long-play records of various orchestras that were popular in the USA.  I remember that my sister and I asked our parents to show us the steps they learned at the park district dance classes.

We had to learn a second language in high school — German, French, Spanish or Latin.  I chose Spanish and studied it for two and a half years.  Even though I didn’t use it for many years, I was glad I learned vocabulary and verb conjugation.  I needed to speak Spanish to survive in Buenos Aires.  There was a period when I was afraid to answer the telephone, preferring to avoid conversation.  I listened how Argentines use the language for three years before it made any sense.  My accent is obvious to Argentines, but I can make myself understood. That’s all that matters to me.  I hear more English being spoken these days in Buenos Aires than when I arrived in 1999.  Argentines are the best English speakers in Latin America.

I left my American lifestyle behind and embraced a new culture.  Instead of having to depend on a car for transportation, I walk and take the bus.  I gave away my television five years ago, and I don’t miss it.  I don’t have air-conditioning in my apartment when a small fan keeps me comfortable on hot days.  I don’t use a credit card or even a cellphone.

Life today in my Buenos Aires neighborhood reminds me of the way it was growing up in Chicago during the 1950s. Neighbors knew one another and took the time for some conversation.  Shopkeepers knew customers by name.  I regularly meet neighbors on the street who have time for a visit.  The friendly shopkeepers who call me by name are the ones I patronize. It’s nice to feel part of the community.

I have a great life in Buenos Aires — no stress,  mild weather with mostly sunny days, loads of free concerts to attend, good friends, and most of all, tango with the milongueros viejos.