First days in Buenos Aires...

Trip Start Apr 12, 2011
Trip End Apr 01, 2012

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Flag of Argentina  , Capital Federal District,
Thursday, May 12, 2011

We're staying at Ostinatto Hostel in San Telmo in Buenos Aires. It’s our biggest hostel so far with five floors, a bar and roof terrace so we have high expectations for the social side of this hostel after a relatively quiet time so far.  Unfortunately we seem to be the only guests in the hostel apart from a large group of Argentinean college kids so our expectations need to be revised for the next couple days.  Plus the internet connection is pretty poor so blog and photo updates have been on hold for the past week.

San Telmo is the original settlement area of Buenos Aires, it’s well known for the start of tango dancing, has plenty of character and is a bit rough round the edges so we’re pretty sure we’re going to like it.  We find the main square and sit and have a glass of wine while watching some tango dancing – it may sound a bit touristy but it was a good way to spend the time between 5pm and 8pm (we’re not very sure what the Argentineans do at this time apart from have their first dinner – anything between toast and burger and chips!)  Next thing to do in Buenos Aires, have a steak.  On the hostel’s recommendation we head to El Desnivel.  A traditional old parilla, which now may have become a bit touristy, but we both have very good steaks and wine for under 20 all together so pretty happy with that.

Next day we take a trip to La Boca which is an area further south from San Telmo and set on the old docks.  It can be a bit rough so we go on a walking tour with a local guide to gain a bit of local expertise.  Our guide, Anita (, is an art student at the local university and as we are her only tourists today she tailors the tour to be a bit more arty.  We visited her university for a look around which was especially interesting as it was student election time, and let’s just say it’s a lot more political here than it would be back home.  We pass the La Boca football stadium which is pretty notorious for being the home of Maradona and its passionate supporters. Then we visit a local artist’s workshop who makes sculptures from scrap materials and we try mate for the second time, a lot more bitter as there is no sugar to sweeten.  Still drinkable but I’m not sure either Jonny or I quite understand the national obsession.  Then we come to the main area that La Boca is known for – the brightly coloured houses and tango dancing.  The area was originally built by Italian immigrants when they arrived in Argentina and made the houses from their brightly coloured boats.  So now the houses are still painted bright colours today to maintain the character of the area.  We visit the Quinquela museum who was an Italian artist who is famous for painting the La Boca docks – we both quite like his work and so aim to track down his work over the next couple days.  He captures the docks scenes of the La Boca very well.

 Next we go for lunch at a small Italian restaurant run by an 80 year old, who tells us what’s good today, dottles about around us and then when we leave gives us hugs and kisses as we tell her we’ll be back.  Basic but very good food.  Unfortunately we don’t make it back to see her as we get distracted about all the sights in BA – I do feel quite bad about that but there is just so much to do!

Later on we start to explore the local nightlife by heading out at about 11.30pm to a couple bars, I sample the local gin and tonics while Jonny tries the beers.  We make it to a respectable 2.30am but head back to hostel – only the first night of many!

On Saturday we had arranged to meet Tadeo (my friend from my year in France), his wife and baby boy in Tigre which is located on the river delta just outside Buenos Aires.  The town is set on the river and is a nice place to escape the noise of Buenos Aires.  We go for a walk, head to one of the local museums and manage to crash an artist’s launch party.  We got distracted from the art by the amount of women that had a bit too much plastic surgery – big lips and frozen faces, a bit surreal but apparently a quite popular trend in Buenos Aires.  Then we headed for some pizza and empanadas near to where Tadeo lives, I feel that was another Argentinean tradition.  Very interesting to see a bit more of a residential side to Buenos Aires, the houses we pass in the north of Buenos Aires are pretty big and traditional, a big difference to the inner city areas.  Tadeo then drives us in to the centre where we go for some good ice cream and a walk along the main shopping street Florida where there is plenty stallholders selling everything from handmade scarves to plug adaptors.

Saturday night arrives and so it’s time to hit some more bars.  We find one near the hostel and have some drinks, we arrive at midnight and people are still ordering food.  We then leave about 3 am and head to La Puerta Roja which is a late night backpacker bar where they are trying to rush everyone in the doors as they aren’t allowed to let anyone in after 3am.  Not a big fan of a bar that you literally would not find one local in so we have a drink and then head back to the hostel around 4am.  Beginning to get onto BA times!

Sunday is the big day in San Telmo, where there is a big market full of hand-made crafts, photographs, antiques and a lot more.  Jonny and I like our markets but don’t think we’ve been to one this big yet so the day is spent wandering up and down the road and watching couples break into tango dancing in the square.  Then the big event of the day – the La Boca versus River Plate football game. This is the northern team of BA versus the southern team and so essentially an old firm match.  We decided against going to the match as prices had hit extortionate prices and I wasn’t sure I would enjoy being caged in with some of the most passionate football supporters in the world (I think that means quite a few hooligans as well but that’s just my opinion...) so we opt for the local bar.  Unfortunately the local bar is pretty quiet so we miss the atmosphere and La Boca win 2-0 so we probably did miss an amazing atmosphere.  But what did make up for it was coming out into the street into a mini carnival atmosphere.  The stalls had started to pack up but a group of people with drums were partying and dancing their way down the road.  All very surreal as the group picked up more people that wanted to dance in the street and I think a great way to spend a Sunday evening as instead of the normal Sunday evening activities.  We then settle for another Sunday activity, back to El Desnivel for more steak!

Full photos here:

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David Millar on

Enjoy Blog. All sounds great!!

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