As part of my travels around South America back in 2019, I spent a week in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, and it quickly became my favourite city ever. I just absolutely loved everything about it – the history, culture, the people, the politics, the markets, the food, the wine…. everything culminated in a lively melting pot of excitement. The city feels alive – you can genuinely feel the energy!
My friend Ele and I travelled down to Argentina, from Brazil – we crossed via a few day at Iguazu Falls on the Brazilian/ Argentinian border. It was a long bus journey down to Buenos Aires, and we arrived quite late and for the first night, we stayed in a quiet hostel. We wet for a wander to get some food and wine. The next morning we checked out and moved to a bigger hostel with really good reviews, called America Del Sur in San Telmo. In terms of activities provided, this was one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in – they offered different walking tours everyday, and activities every evening. This helped us meet a really good group of people there. The walking tours basically set the schedule for the week for us, and we really liked the area of San Telmo.
On our first proper day in San Telmo, the first walking tour we went on was an overview of the ‘main sights’ of the city centre. To name a few, we walked around Congress Plaza, the Pink House, saw the Obelisk, San Martin Plaza, and learnt Evita’s story. Argentina’s recent history shocked me- especially the history of the the 1970s and 80s. (I was surprised by how little I knew about it, but I was educated on the first walking tour!) Basically, in this period there were political dictatorships and unrest over South America, which in some countries extended much later to the 2000s. In Argentina, the dictatorship lasted for seven years and over 30,000 people were killed or simply ‘disappeared’. There are still marches every week, by families of the ‘disappeared’ demanding answers from the government – they want justice.
Buenos Aires is dubbed ‘Paris of the south’ and there are many incredible old buildings, including an old theatre that had been converted into a library.
San Telmo Sunday Market
We visited two big markets in San Telmo and they were both amazing. The first one was the permanent San Telmo market, which was this huge Victorian (inside) market with stalls selling just about everything you could think of – including some amazing food and drink. We visited this market the afternoon we arrived, and had some empanadas (delicious) and a few glasses of Malbec.
On the Sunday, we visited the Sunday market and I honestly think this was one of my favourite days I have ever had. We walked around all the different stalls, then sat and had a beer – they always gave you food with your drink like nuts/ cheese/ olives – and watched the world go by. There were so many stalls selling everything under the sun, as well as plenty of music playing, people dancing the tango, everyone eating and drinking.
La Boca, Caminito
On another day, on another walking tour we travelled to La Boca which is very colourful neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. It’s colours come from being a port town, and people used material from ships to build their houses. The main touristic street here is called Caminito, it was full of colour, cafes and bars and people dancing tango. La Boca is home of the football team Boca Juniors, which we unfortunately didn’t get to see play due to various ticket restrictions to try and make it safer, after some dangerous clashes in between fans in the few years previous.
Cemetery and Recoleta
This cemetery was one of the fanciest I have ever been to. Everyone in the last few hundred years with a bit of money in Buenos Aires paid for a family grave here. Each ‘grave’ was like a huge room, some had huge statues and arches and pillars. Ironically, the grave most visited in the cemetery is Eva Peron’s (Evita) who lived her life standing up for the poor, but got buried with her husband’s family grave (for safety).
On a final note, the food in Buenos Aires was cheap and amazing. I am actually now a vegetarian but back when I was in Argentina I was not, and so ate steak. (When in Rome!) It was amazing, and the Argentinians were super hospitable – every waiter or waitress was so lovely.
I honestly couldn’t recommend this city enough!