Over the last few days we have explored a few other neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. On Sunday, we went to the oldest barrio in BA, San Telmo, which is a funky neighborhood that is known for its arts, antiques and tango. Every Sunday they close down the main street and all types of vendors and street performers are out. We were glad to catch San Telmo on a Sunday, at its liveliest with impromptu tango dancing and free dulce de leche tastings.
We also went to La Boca neighborhood. This is a really unique neighborhood lined with colorful buildings and houses. While it is extremely charming in appearance, every local we talked to warned us not be there after dark as muggings are common. We were there during the middle of the day and asked a police officer for directions to the Boca Juniors stadium (only a few blocks away). He followed us there to make sure we made it safely.
The Boca Juniors are one of Argentina’s top, and most popular, soccer clubs. From what we have read and heard their fans are legendary for their passion (our friend Nick, who is a soccer nut, said going to a game there was one of the best soccer experiences of his life). The buildings surrounding the stadium are painted with team colors. You get the sense the team is the top priority (with no close second) for this neighborhood. Unfortunately, the season is over now so we couldn’t see a game, but we settled for a stadium tour.
We had a very colorful tour guide who made the tour a lot of fun. There must have been 20-25 people on the tour, but our guide spent most of the time talking to us (the only Americans on the tour) about how much he wanted to live in America. He was also very curious about our view of BA, whether we liked the city and if we thought the people were friendly (they are very friendly by the way, often calling you “mi amigo.”) We got to tour the entire stadium (including the locker room) and we couldn’t get over how basic it was in amenities. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but we don’t think our professional athletes would play one game in such bare bone facilities before complaining to management.
Buenos Aires has very much of a café culture, similar to what you find in Paris or Rome, and because of the mild climate most of the restaurants and cafes have curbside dining. Even when it rains, the outdoor tables can be sectioned off by plastic tarps, chandeliers and heat lamps are turned on inside, and the whole scene is still very atmospheric. The service here is also similar to Europe (read, very slow) and you have to flag down your server to get your check. We appreciate that we are never rushed through a meal, but it is still uncomfortable for us to flag down the waiter whenever we need a drink refilled (generally early and often).
Since enjoying café culture is one of the things we do best, we’ve been making that our tourist focus. Next up is a two-day visit to Iguazu Falls. Ciao!