Puesto Viejo Estancia & Polo Club

Puesto Viejo” appears in bold black capitals on the white gate. A dirt road leads towards horse stables and a polo pitch further down. A good-looking blond man comes jogging our way. It is Jeremy Baker, former trader at Goldman Sachs in London’s financial center:  man with a long-acquired taste for nature, high adrenaline sports and adventure.  No wonder that during his first visit to Argentina in the nineties, Jeremy fell head over heels for the pampa’s, polo, and future wife Liliana.



Federico Martin de Arcos of BAIRESVANS, has twinkling blue eyes on the verge of a smile--if he’s not already smiling at you. He gesticulates to underline his words, though most of the time both of his hands are firmly on the wheel of one of his vans, driving clients around Buenos Aires or some other interesting destination further afield. After some nerve-wrecking experiences with local chauffeurs steering their vehicles through Argentine traffic as if on a bumper car circuit, swearing at local politics while staring at you in the backseat, with Federico you will feel safe and happy. He’s a genuinely nice guy.

Porteño in heart and soul, Federico knows every little street corner and loves to reveal the real secrets of the city and its people to each passenger who rides on one of his Baires Vans. Most of the clients who only arrange for an airport-hotel transfer, are tempted to ask him for an additional tour around Buenos Aires.

Federico started his business because he’d always loved driving: around the city, traveling through the country, getting to know new people. Argentines in general enjoy connecting with foreigners, welcoming them to their homes and country and describing its beauty. It is this Buena Onda that characterizes his fellow countrymen most, the energy that makes them special, he says. Plus, they have real interest in learning about other cultures. Federico likes to hear about daily life, the way people from abroad see and live things in their place in the world, their language and expressions, while he shows off the the marvels of the country he loves, alternating on and off the beaten track. A group of multi-language guides cope with questions when he’s en route.

Baires Vans seamlessly adapts to specific wishes a client may have, coordinating with hotels, restaurants, estancias, bars, tango and night clubs. There is the Party Van with lights and booze on board to take you right there. And home. Expat and local families prefer to work with Federico confident that their kids are in good hands. Trust and tranquility are what a client needs most, he adds. Baires Vans is precisely that reliability. Safe and welcome are just what Xpatlife has always felt travelling with Federico. That’s why Xpatlife relies on Federico Martin de Arcos and BAIRESVANS as one of our XPP’s (Xpatlife Preferred Partner).

Ocho Once - Restaurante Puerta Cerrada

Gonzalo Bazterrica opens the door of his home at El Salvador. He has a husky voice, is attractive and welcoming but he doesn’t overdo his act. What you see is what you get is what you feel, basically, when meeting him. The entrance of the old Palermo mansion has a high ceiling, stained glass windows and black and white tiles. The antique cabinet overflowing with pots of organic honey, chutneys, olive oil and wine looks promising.

Gonzalo sums things up for us in a simple equation: His house at El Salvador (1+7) + (5+6)=811, and becomes closed door restaurant Ocho Once at night time. The five step menu served in the living room with the original pinotea-wooden floor, the mirrors and the soft lighting, or outside on the patio with the pots full of flowers, is exclusively prepared with organic products. From when he was a young kid Gonzalo would climb on a chair and look over his mom’s shoulder if she was at work in the kitchen. He enjoyed helping her cook the tasty food for all the uncles, aunts, brothers, cousins, at the numerous family events she organized. After a stinch of studying industrial engineering, and a last disastrous algebra exam, Gonzalo decided to follow his own nose. He studied for two years at the Gato Dumas Institute, working at well-known BA restaurant Dominga for several years. He then travelled to France, and got a job at three star restaurant Bernard Loiseau in the Bourgogne, finetuning and expanding the colors on his pallet. Though feeling lucky with the valuable learning experience, for Gonzalo’s taste some ingredient still went missing. He wanted to work independently, focusing more on the importance of good nutrition, balance the menu, eat better basically. So back in Buenos Aires, he opened the doors of his home and Ocho Once Restaurant.

Every Sunday when the restaurant is closed you will find him in his kitchen, experimenting with new ingredients, inventing recipes for the menu that changes every week. Those Sunday bursts of creativity have given him some great ideas. Gonzalo describes himself as strong-willed and stubborn but always willing to listen to his friends’s and colleague’s critique. Xpatlife ikes Gonzalo Bazterrica’s robust, organic personality, and the overall authentic quality of Closed Door Restaurant Ocho Once. That’s why we are glad to include him on our team of XPP’s (Xpatlife Preferred Partner)  preparing unforgettable closed door events. For you.



Le Freak Selector

Knowing how to play is a virtue according to Argentine Martin Nardone of Reactable. Martin likes to play with music, he’s had the music in him since he was a kid. He played in a band when still at school, then performed with a juggler’s group in friends’ houses and on Buenos Aires’ streets before going to university to study composing. Describing himself as belonging to the corralito generation (corralito referring to the frozen savings accounts of Argentina’s middle class during the profound financial and economic crisis of 2001-2002); Martin decided to leave Argentina at that time with a musician friend and try his luck in Barcelona. He soon found work as a percussionist, performing electronic music in exclusive clubs around Europe, and later producing and composing music for DJ’s. The sun really shone down on him when the company Reactable, a spin off of the GTM Group, who had developed a revolutionary interactive instrument and software application (also called Reactable) asked him to work with them. Now he could create his own electronic music albums and multimedia shows. After ten succesful years abroad, Martin decided to take his music back to Buenos Aires.

The Reactable looks like a futuristic flying device from outer space that has just landed in the middle of Martin’s studio. The Islandic pop star Björk was one of the first avant garde artists to believe in and make good use of this instrument with endless creative possibilities.

Martin shows us how it works. Technical explanation and comprehension utterly fail me here, but it’s clear that he is constantly trying out new melodies, percussion, loops, leads, learning from trial and error, investigating. It is a very intuitive way of making music, he says. His body moves to the rythm, his shy appearance and careful wording disappear. Music and dancing are liberating, cathartic, for Martin, his fans and us. Xpatlife has seen many of his multimedia shows, a real spectacle, where he brings to life a quirky alter ego on stage, Le Freak SelectorXpatlife can only agree with Martin that play is a virtue.

And Martin is a professional player, a quality we like even more.

The Xpatlife team is happy to create many unforgettable, back to the future nights together with Martin Nardone, alias Le Freak Selector from Reactable, as one of our XPP’s (Xpatlife Preferred Partner).


The Argentine Experience - Closed Door Restaurante

Leon Lightman, the creator of The Argentine Experience has an open face and a warm, unpretentious demeanour. He is confident and cheerful and interesting. Sharing cool experiences with kindred spirits make up the feel-good factor for Leon.

Leon comes from a traditional privileged background. An English family of generations of accomplished doctors and lawyers where academic averages were seen as the only graduating measure for relevant intelligence. Growing up as a hyper-active, badly-behaved middle kid of five siblings, Leon was not exactly interested in test scores. It was only when he was send to board at the Geelong Grammar School in Australia, with its strong emphasis on sports and social life, that he could switch on academic effort. Leon discovered that besides sports, emotional skills (he was like the social secretary of his friends), came naturally to him. After graduation, he travelled through Australia, Asia and Europe. He returned to the UK to study and got a Master’s degree in Law. Asked by his parents what his future plans were, he answered “travel a bit more”, and hopped on a flight to Guatemala to learn Spanish. He worked for Gap Adventure, and was awarded Best Tourleader of South America. Having seen both sides of the tourist coin, Leon understood that travellers tend to have much more fun participating in integrative, interactive social experiences. Hence the concept for The Argentine Experience. The Argentine Experience started out as a restaurant in his own house. The first man he called up to work with him as the chef, was his best friend, who lived and worked in Thailand at the time. They would invite groups, people meeting new people, who together prepared an Argentine meal with first class products, learning something about the local culture and food, getting to know each other in a surprising way, leaving work and social cliques behind. With demand quickly outgrowing the limited space of the appartment ,and through the support of an investor, they could soon move the restaurant into a beautiful mansion right in the heart of Palermo Hollywood. More and more friends have come his way to help him develop The Argentine Experience, offering many different ways and services to explore BA and Argentina, striking the right chord between professionalism, fun and creative thinking. Xpatlife definitely considers Leon Lightman a kindred spirit, unmissable on our XPP (Xpatlife Preferred Partner) list. Xpatlife  Leon, and The Argentine Experience, are looking forward to creating out of the box experiences, for you.


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