Buenos Aires is home, is history, it is familiar... and even though there's always a surprise around the corner, one generally spends most of his days between the same usual cafés and known squares, taking a mate-tea with “life” and updating others and ourselves with news of who has children, how much is the dollar blue or who has already gotten a divorce. In general the parameter to choose a meeting place ranges from places where we know the sun still warms you up at late afternoon, where the croissants are good or where the “fugazetta” is filled with cheese.
It was in Buenos Aires that our dream was conceived, even if it is a dream that evolved in various corners of the continent, it was here, in the neighborhood of Almagro, where we definitely started to give it shape and thrust. Thus, our love for the Argentine capital cannot be denied, even though we both decided to leave this city as our home in the last years; we cannot deny you our attachment.
So it was that in these last few days we decided to go to the most beautiful corners, to the most visited, to reminisce why millions of foreigners come to stroll down its streets, visit its monuments and its premises, every year.
We started by downtown, San Martin Square, Florida & Lavalle streets, and finally arrived to the Obelisc, place where the Second Foundation of the city took place and also, location where our flag was raised for the first time in Buenos Aires!
The downtown streets are a crowded with people, with different types of clothes, of colors, types of footwear types of accents, and also where you hear all the time "cambio, cambio", expression reffered to exchange of currency, since this is the main area where takes place the black market for foreign exchange. El Porteño, businessman, with a bit of lunfardo (dialect of Buenos Aires) and well dressed ... generally walk down these streets, with their polished shoes, tailor made suits and matching perfume. Of course, the best time of the week to see all this, is during the weekdays, since on weekends this is as everywere in the world, pretty empty.
Besides the "porteños", also local and foreign visitors come to Florida and Lavalle streets to see and shop for leather and also have a traditional Buenos Aires pizza, at one of its famous and historical "pizzerias", but as we wanted to continue traveling, quick we faced south ... and a few blocks from downtown is San Telmo... and beeing a Sunday, the best day to visit San Telmo is on a Sunday!
San Telmo on a Sunday is Buenos Aires with capital letters. From the most traditional craftsman making mates (cups to drink herbal tea) and leather belts, to the most eccentric and innovative artisan. You'll find everything in the San Telmo Sunday Fair: a band playing cover music of Sumo (Argentinian rock band) and a Mexican young immigrant dressed up, selling tacos. Also, it is easy to find artists, collectors and even pastry chefs. We were lucky that hunger was upon us on a nearly deserted street, where we found a small restaurant, inside a museum.
In its architecture, the neighborhood speaks of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Spanish and Italian immigration, first residential neighborhood of the city, and in where at every corner it breathes ... Tango, so several of the historic houses have became Tango Shows and milongas (clubs to dance Tango).
After a brief stroll, we saw the famous and popular statue of "Mafalda" (Argentinian comic book character), "Hijitus" and "Largirucho" and some other local famous comic book characters made into statues, we kept going towards the South.
Going South we arrived at the mouth of the Boca affluent (of the Plata River), known as the Riachuelo (small river)... to the world famous "Caminito". The mouth has that port and historic scent in the air that reminds us to the Buenos Aires of the immigrants, even though the majority of venues are now souvenir shops and the streets are filled with Tango that pose for pictures, as almost living statues, if one could detach from the context, the "shape" of La Boca is intact and you can breathe the “conventillos” (traditional tenement) that a hundred and so many years ago probably hosted more than one of our European ancestors.
For Gonza, going to La Boca is like going to one of the places where he mostly worked as a guide, but still can assess the visit and there is always some new corner, a poster or a framework to take a new photo.
The Neighborhood breathes Bombonera (Famous Soccer Stadium) and football (soccer), so also we went on foot to the famous stadium that hosts the most popular Club of Argentina, Boca Juniors and walked through the neighborhood to find a nice cafe to eat a traditional Argentinian lunch sandwich, grilled ham and cheese, along with an “empanadita”.
From La Boca to Recoleta Cementery, and while Gonza told Jor stories about the famous historical figures buried here, she took photos of domes, statues and cats.
The Recoleta cemetery balances out what we know is half gloomy, with very interesting. Visiting a place where there are thousands of buried dead is not cheerful, but from a historical perspective, it is very interesting having Nobel Price winners, Presidents of Argentina, leading political and military figures and the controversial dome of the Duarte family, where Eva Perón, in their family vault is buried and where few guides of tourism or visitors take a moment to reflect about the symbolism of the controversy of having buried the Argentine per excellence "popular" personality (almost much or more than Gardel, Maradona and Che) at the most elitist cemetery both by its origin and neighborhood where it is hosted... such controversy reflected that a few meters of Evita’s grave is the family vault of Mitre (founders of the newspaper La Nación of center-right) and the family vault of the Noble (founders of the newspaper Clarín of the same line).
The cemetery of the Recoleta has its legends but much more weigh have their personalities and even though our tour was short and photographic reminded us a little of who we are and where we come from; to end a day that started in the South and ended up in the North of the city, two sides of a country that always lived in the dichotomy and the binomial of the good and the bad, the rich and the poor, the River and Boca fans, Peronists and anti-Peronists...
To finish a historic and so serious day, although it had began as a fun and adventurous on San Telmo Market, we chose to end it at a “Zen” venue: the Japanese Park. We went right when the Sun strikes in bonsais in a way that takes us back to the hills and Asian rivers to the modest sum of $4 (the entrance ticket). The ancient fish (some already averaging 80 or more years old) and his fantastic Japanese food restaurant gave a grand finale to a day that began with the first Immigrations and ended with the most modern.
Buenos Aires 100%, with empanadas and sushi.