And it is an Argentine stamp! After a night flight of 18 hours we landed before the sunrise in Buenos Aires.
After a very smooth connection with the airport shuttle, and sooner than you know it we are walking San Telmo, one lively neighbourhood (but still half sleepy) of Buenos Aires with our big backpacks and hiking shoes on. It is 8 o’clock in the morning and we already feel and appreciate the warmth of the Argentine autumn. 25 degrees, that is a warm Swedish summer day, and given that some 20 hours earlier it was snowing when we left home, we felt glad. We drop the bags in our accommodation, get a refreshing shower and head out again. It’s time to explore, and we have a long day ahead!
We start to walk towards the reasonably sized Plaza de Mayo, the city central point, and we find it almost completely locked down, a big stage being installed and some dudes doing sounds checking. A big concert we thought, but it was actually the preparation for a big protest, that turn out to block downtown Buenos Aires for several hours later that day. Fred felt almost at home there 😂.
After admiring the sights in the area, we cross the GIGANTIC avenue that passes nearby. 13 files of cars and buses unleashed at the same time. It is impressive, and even if you run, it is hard to be done with the crossing before the pedestrian green light is off. Crazy !
Our steps took us then to the area of Recoleta, home to Buenos Aires most visited landmark : A cemetery! 👻👻👻 True story! El Cemetario de Recoleta is actually quite a thing to witness as well. On a relatively small area, thousands of tombs and mausoleums are packed on each other, living only very narrows alleys for the visitors to wander. It seems that every important character of Argentina history is buried here. Politicians, Generals, Governors, other big guys. And because showing off is important, every mausoleum is bigger, crazier than the next one. It is very similar to the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, but with more craziness into the tombs design, even though according to Merima it sucks because “There is not Jim Morrison´s tomb here”. 😞
On the way back we passed by some of the busiest street in the city and after many many km, we decided to go for an easy evening including empanadas and local beer.
Second day, new day, new adventure: We are off (still on foot) to explore two new areas, San Telmo, where we actually lived and La Boca.
San Telmo has very particular charm, small streets, old colonials buildings that are in very bad shape and very tall and ugly concrete buildings are mixed altogether. It is a very lively area, and best observed at night when the Porteños (people of Buenos Aires) go out. A couple of streets seems to be dedicated to antiques shops. Some of the antiques shops are even present in the area´s covered market. You can end up eating your breakfast, buying fresh bananas, and do some window shopping for vintage telephones all at once. (yes we did!)
After a good breakfast, it’s time to walk again towards la Boca, several kilometers south of downtown. We crossed the less safe, poor area and you could realise the sudden change in the environment, the people and the streets. We reached La Bombonera (which was a pretty ugly thing according to Merima), but is a big thing for Buenos Aires as it is the stadium of the football team of the city : La Boca Junior. Around it we saw some statues of famous argentine football players. And another famous guy, I think :
After only a few minutes further walking, a whole new city opened up, we reached the Caminito in la Boca! Buildings of all colours and shapes mixed together creating an almost magical world, with turist and artists mingling around. There was street tango in the bars and restaurants, many small souvenir shops and interesting buildings to explore. It is said that the people living here were working at the docks and decided to use old corrugated steel pieces and paint salvaged from containers to build and color their walls. The result is a very nice patchwork of colors. We really liked this place.
After a long walk back, and some stop on the way for trying to buy some fresh tomatoes and salad (Guess who wanted something else than empanadas on the menu), we can have a late lunch in our accommodation, and a well deserved nap. When we wake up the night has fallen, it is 7pm, and we feel like it is dinner time. But we are in Argentina, and dinner at 7pm is apparently not something in Argentina. All the bars/restaurants are empty, the staff has barely started to prepare the tables. We will have to wait a bit and go for a little pre-dinner walk to give us extra appetite. Once the decent hour of 8pm has been reached, we can finally pretend to get food, and decide to go for a traditional 400g piece of beef meat that costed slightly more than a Swedish kebab. “Quel délice!” said a much happier Fred at the end of the meal.
Day three, and we´re on the move again for another part of the town: Puerto Madero, the newest side of Buenos Aires, on the east side of town. Once again it feels like a very different atmosphere than the previous days and areas. Here it is super high skyscrapers, all steel and glass, but yet with a classy retro roof, large streets, modern everything. And separated from the rest of the city by some huge abandoned docks. Urbanism seemed complicated and this bit of the city still feels very disconnected, but at least architectural creativity has no limits!
We continued our walk further away to reach the Buenos Aires Ecological Reserve. Another fun fact : this place used to be a dumpster where rocks and gravel that were excavated from building motorways around the city have been thrown into the sea, or the end of the Rio del Plata river. The quantity of them was so big that it started to read some extra land, on which birds and nature decided to nest and today it is a very swampy and green area, filled with animal and vegetal life. And since it has been turned into a reserve it is a very nice spot to walk, bike or run and find a getaway of cool breeze and fresh air. It was a very pleasant change from the past days in the chaos, the dust and the noise of the town.
At the end of the day, we had walked a lot again, and had no more energy left to dance tango !
It has been three intense days, lots of walk into very different parts of the city, and now it is time to leave and to heads towards South, were the great outdoors are awaiting.
Next stop : The End of the World, at Ushuaia!