Buenos Aires is a city full of life, love, and action.
There never seems to be a dull moment, and for energic travelers, there are a wide range of activities for young and old.
However, there are some things that just can´t be missed. Here, my list of Buenos Aires favorites
Visit the Artisan Market in San Telmo
San Telmo was the landing point for the wave of European immigrants arriving to Buenos Aires in the early 1900s, and has maintained its identity as a diverse neighborhood for the working class as well as artists and inventors. In the past decade, increased economic stability has led to an influx of tourism in Argentina, and San Telmo has become the heart of the young European and Latin American tourist community. These two influences can be seen at their best when San Telmo explodes into a fusion of music, dance, art and energy on Sundays.
The market centers around Plaza Dorrego, where individual vendors display antiques and the expression “I thought I´d never see one of these again!” can be heard with great frequency. License plates from the 1930s, pocket watches and Matchbox car collections find their place next to intricately designed leather saddles and vintage wedding gowns. Stemming off the plaza are the more contemporary finds, where locals display their national history through photography, painting, woven ponchos, jewelry and mate gourds. The strong presence of international artists, particularly from Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Chile, reflect the cultural diversity of Argentina and demonstrate the strength of the indigenous artwork and traditions from each country.
The sounds, smells and tastes of the market are invigorating, from the roasted peanuts and fresh orange juice to the ever-present accompaniment of a tango orchestra. On each street block the varied rhythms of Latin America can be experienced, and whether one wants to dance or not, the lively music of the samba, salsa or candombe will draw you in.
Check out the weekly march of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo
To really understand a country, its history cannot be ignored, and the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo have been marching around the Plaza de Mayo every Thursday for 30 years, reminding us that justice has not been done. They are a small group of the 30,000 mothers whose sons and daughters “disappeared” during the military dictatorship (1976-1983), and whose struggle for the recovery of their children and punishment of the criminals continues today. The evolution from a group of mothers who were looking for their children to the revolutionary, anti-imperialist stance that they hold today has made them an international symbol of strength and justice. Prepare to feel overwhelmed, saddened and empowered.
Eat, Drink and be Merry
There are thousands of tourist attractions in Buenos Aires, and one could spend an entire year just visiting them all. But if you step back from toursitland for just one minute, and take a look around, you will find that the secret to truly enjoying Buenos Aires is not in the rushing around to see it all. The locals are extremely sociable people, and there is nothing they love more than to spend time relaxing in the park with a good friend, chatting over an afternoon coffee, or passing away the hours over several bottles of wine. And there is no shortage of good, decently priced wine, outdoor cafés, or exquisite food to give you endless opportunities to relearn the age-old habit of conversation. Toss aside the map, take a stroll down the street, and see what comes you way.
My mother has been known to say, “We ate and drank our way through Buenos Aires, and we loved every minute of it”. Alas, it seems as though Buenos Aires was designed to do just that.
Argentinians have long been accused by their South American neighbors of trying to be European, and in fact, the culture and architecture reflect this European influence. However, there are certain things that nobody can deny are 100% Argentinian, and tango is one of them. Tango was born on the streets of Buenos Aires, in the working class immigrant communities of La Boca and San Telmo. According to oral history, traditionally men danced tango together, because the huge influxes of immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries were spawned by young, single European men who came to work as laborers. As such, there was a serious lack of young women, and the only single women could be found in the brothels. As a way of attracting these women, and as a way of enjoying themselves in what was certain to be a very lonely, difficult life, men danced together. The live music accompanying them drew its influences from many countries, creating a rhythm all its own and evolving into what we know today as the tango.
There are hundreds of places to observe and dance tango, both outdoors and in. One of my favorites is in Plaza Dorrego on Sunday nights, when the plaza is converted from an artisan fair into a dance floor as the sun sets. Observers can sit at a table and enjoy a drink while experiencing the real tango from the place it was born. Check out Punto Tango for a list of classes, tango shows and places to dance. Many milongas (tango clubs) offer classes before they open the dance floor to the public, giving everyone the opportunity to become a part of this sensual, passionate dance.
Attend a Boca-River Game
There is nothing Argentinians love more than football. It is a passion that exudes from their pores, and there is no better place to see it than at a match of the ultimate rivals, Boca Juniors and River Plate. Be prepared to jump, shout, and dodge flying objects, to sing and chant and hate the other team even if you had no preferences going into the stadium. The emotion is contagious, and if you’re not psyched when the game is over, you must have been sleeping.
The stadiums are packed, and tourists stick out, so it is wise to carry only your minimal necessities to avoid making yourself a target for pickpockets.
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