Like every neighborhood everywhere that doesn't have a McDonalds, Palermo Viejo is routinely described as 'bohemian', a meaningless label but one that refuses to go away. It's hard to give an exact figure for the number of penniless artists living here, but spiraling property prices suggests most of them have either been evicted, moved themselves to pastures cheaper or gone out and got a job. What is left is a incredible concentration of independent boutiques, world-food restaurants and designer guesthouses within a compact area, a paradise for window shoppers and cocktail crawlers.
Twenty ways to kill a day in Palermo Viejo
Breakfast in the curvaceous, Scandinavian-style Bar 6. Comfy chairs, decent Wi-Fi, something approximating a real bagel.
Get some soap made while you wait at Sabater Hermanos. A 70-year-old family business that may make the world's best chocolate flavored soap.
Have a good browse for knick knacks and trinkets at the market on Plazoleta Cortázar, the barrio's nerve centre. Full of people dying to put knots and beads in your hair.
Pay more than you should for something pretty made from recycled paper at Papelera Palermo.
Grab a cowhide rug, a penguin-shaped wine jug and a butterfly chair at Calma Chicha.
Guys: Buy a lifetime's supply of designer boxer briefs at Hermanos Estebecorena.
Girls: Buy a month's supply of designer matching undies and bras at Amor Latino.
Load up on leather (check out the platoon bags with Blackberry pouches) at Qara.
Fill up on good pasta and get drunk on bad wine at Club Eros. It's hard to spend more than 3 dollars here on a full meal. Excepting Hard Rock Café, no restaurant has ever had a name more at odds with its ambience.
Guys: Perfect your Porteńo preppy look at Félix.Buy three scarves and wear them simultaneously.
Girls: Perfect your Porteńa hippie chic look at Rapsodia.
Get mom a box of chocolates from Tikal, taking care not to get them mixed up with the soap you bought earlier. They use Venezuelan cacao, whatever that means.
Taste and buy a good Malbec that no one has heard of at La Finca.
Have a late afternoon Caipirinha on the roof terrace at El Diamante. Great view of the neighborhood.
Pick out a curious T-shirt at the curiously named AY Not Dead.
Carry on cocktailing in the garden at award-winning Home Hotel. If you'd thought about it six months ago, you could have stayed the night here too...
Line your stomach with ojo de bife and fries at La Cabrera.
Eye up the opposite sex on the heated (by pheromones mostly) terrace at Carnal.
Nip across the road for some early hours electronica at Niceto Club.
Take your last beer home with you and drain it on Plazoleta Cortázar as the sun comes up, along with all the other winged and winded nighthawks.
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[Photos: Chris Wehling]