Argentina Trip – San Telmo, BA

A few weeks (months?) ago, I told y’all that I had a trip planned to Argentina with my good friend Jenny. We both have been quite busy this fall and the trip snuck up on me, quite honestly. But on Monday, Dec 8th we both boarded planes (Jenny in Costa Rica and myself at Dulles) to Miami where we connected to Buenos Aires. We were on different flights due to our first legs, but arrived within a few hours of each other on Tuesday morning. My flights went well and I even had the whole row to myself on my first leg!

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From the airport we took a taxi to our hostel, America del Sur, in the San Telmo district of the city. We chose this area because it was further from where we are staying for the second part of our visit to Buenos Aires (BA). After checking in around 10:30am, we were told that a free walking tour was departing at 11am. We were both tired but figured it would be good to walk a bit so we joined the group. The next three hours or so we’re spending wandering through the neighborhoods of San Telmo and La Boca, learning about the history and culture of this unique city as we went. We both really enjoyed our guide and felt like this was an excellent introduction to our temporary home. Highlights were the colorful houses of La Boca, the stunning and variant architecture of San Telmo, and the vastness of the educational and religious buildings.

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After the tour we set off for Florida Street, which is home of the blue dollar market. What’s that? It’s where you approaching men on the street saying “cambio” and then follow them to their flower cart or their second story “bank” or their first floor money processing room. You then hand over your $100 US bills in exchange for their Argentinian dollares, at a rate almost 1.5 times better than the official market. We ended up exchanging our $450 for $675 worth of Argentinian money. We decided to use several “cambios” to decrease the chance of a scam. It was actually kind of fun but definitely sketchy.

With our newly exchanges money, we walked to a steakhouse, Des Nivel, that had been recommended to us by a fellow hosteler. We split a huge, delicious flank steak and Spanish potatoes with salad. It was absolutely delicious! Then we returned to the hostel to do a bit of planning while we enjoyed a beer with some new friends.

Wednesday morning we slept in a bit but managed to shower and get downstairs for breakfast before our second 11am free tour. This one took us into Microcenter and through Puerto Madero. Our first stops were extremely history based, since they were at the national cathedral, Casa Rosada (the pink house aka government headquarters), and city hall. The Plaza de Mayo was also home to the obelisk statue. It represented the day of revolution in Argentinian and the square around it features memorials for the 30,000 Argentinians who “disappeared” throughout recent government movements.

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Our guide Nikolaus led us to a nice empenada stand before we continued on through the rich neighborhood of Puerto Madero. This part of the city lined a few ports that were erroneously built by wealthy men in need of a project. After this tour concluded, Jenny and I walked through the quite large ecological reserve on the other side of the river. It was spectacular in size and was being used for walking, running, talking, playing, etc. The welcome break from city life was refreshing.

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Our tour had finished prior to that walk in Plaza Dorrego where we were treated to tango dancers in the streets while we sipped on cold beverages with our group. The theme of tango continued this evening with free lessons at the hostel. Jenny is a trained dancer and I think she enjoyed watching me try to learn the basic steps. After leftovers from the night before for dinner, we joined several other girls at a nearby dance hall for tango. It turned out to be a live band and lots of couples dancing, but we enjoyed watching the show and getting a feel for authentic tango.

It’s now after 1am (we are two hours ahead of EST) and we have an 8:40am flight so I’m going to leave you now. Sorry for the lack of pictures in this post but Wifi is extremely slow and inconsistent so I decided to skip them this time. **I got a few added this morning while everyone else was asleep!** But I will leave you with this quote from Nikolaus describing his country’s people: “An Argentinian is an Italian, speaking Spanish, dressing like the English and trying to be French.”

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

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