Making the Most of a Morning in Buenos Aires

| July 31, 2011 | 0 Comments
This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Southern Discovery

From Bariloche, Kathryn and I—along with our Gap Adventure group—flew north to the buzzing metropolis that is Buenos Aires. Known as the ‘Paris of the Americas’, Buenos Aires is a vibrant city full of life. While we wanted to visit the districts of La Boca, Recoleta and San Telmo and catch a tango show at one of the many famous tanguerías, we had just a morning before we had to depart. So we resolved to wander the pedestrian walkways and see some dancing in the streets — and set off on a beautiful Sunday morning.

The capital city of Argentina, Buenos Aires is the ultimate cosmopolitan city. Almost 40 per cent of Argentina’s 33m citizens live in Greater Buenos Aires, and these ‘porteños’ are justifiably proud of their home. The city is comprised of a number of distinct neighbourhoods, some of which have become top tourist draws. For many, the highlight of their time in the capital is a visit to San Telmo for the weekend antiques market and street artist displays.

laplata Making the Most of a Morning in Buenos Aires

The Río de la Plata

During colonial days, Buenos Aires was the seat of the Viceroy of La Plata and is now the seat of Argentina’s government. Almost completely rebuilt since the turn of the century, the heart of the city is the Plaza de Mayo, which offers up buildings like the historic Town Hall, the Casa Rosada and the Cathedral where San Martín, the father of Argentine independence, is buried.

Obelisk of Buenos Aires

At the intersection of Avenida 9 de Julio and Corrientes Avenue stands the Obelisk of Buenos Aires, the iconic image of which is commonly used to represent Buenos Aires and Argentina abroad. The sheer magnitude of the landmark itself, as well as its location at the centre of two of the world’s largest avenues, is guaranteed to leave an impression. In fact, Avenida 9 de Julio is 140 meters wide, and is one of the world’s largest. Its name honours Argentina’s birthdate. (July 9, 1816).

obelisk Making the Most of a Morning in Buenos Aires

Obelisk of Buenos Aires

The complete construction of the Obelisk took only 31 days back in 1936. It was built to commemorate the fourth centenary of the first foundation of the city. Where the Obelisk stands, a church dedicated to St Nicholas of Bari was previously demolished. In that church the Argentine flag was officially hoisted for the first time in Buenos Aires—in 1812. That fact is commemorated by one of the inscriptions on the north side of the monument.

The Casa Rosada

The Casa Rosada (The Pink House) is the official seat of the executive branch of the government of Argentina, and of the offices of the President. Coloured pink, it’s considered to one be of the most emblematic buildings in Buenos Aires. Its pink salmon colour is said to have come from an attempt to bring peace between the Federalists and the Unitarists parties—the Federalists were known as the ‘red’ party and the Unitarists were the ‘white’ party. After debate on what color to paint the building, a compromise was reached that the palace be painted pink, which echoed the sentiment of unity to the rest of the country.

presidentspalace Making the Most of a Morning in Buenos Aires

Casa Rosada

From a porteño outside the gates, Kathryn and I learned another interesting piece of trivia. It’s said that Madonna was one of a lucky few actually allowed to visit the balcony where Eva Peron made her final farewell address to the Argentine people before she died. In fact, the Argentine government even allowed the filming of the famous ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina’ scene in the movie Evita to take place on the actual balcony.

San Telmo

San Telmo is the oldest barrio in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It’s a well-preserved area of the Argentine metropolis and is characterized by its colonial buildings. Cafes, tango parlours and antique shops line the cobblestone streets, which are often filled with artists and dancers. This old Buenos Aires neighbourhood has resisted modernity, and its buildings have preserved a lot of vintage charm. Artists and craftsmen have made San Telmo their home—and it’s become known as the perfect place to watch (and partake in) tango, chat over a cup of coffee and get together with friends in any of the many tango joints. San Telmo and its surroundings are the perfect place to drink in bohemian life and offer a great variety of art exhibitions.

buenosairesarchitecture Making the Most of a Morning in Buenos Aires

Not San Telmo—but you get the idea!

Kathryn and I had been told that to properly enjoy San Telmo, one really needs to visit on a Sunday. And luckily, that’s when we found ourselves there! On Sunday, a massive antique-market spills into a street-market which descends into a street party along Calle Defensa, the best place in town on the weekend! There are dozens if not hundreds of vendors, and lots of buskers.

balcony Making the Most of a Morning in Buenos Aires

Woman on balcony

San Telmo has lots of great restaurants, and we chose a restaurant called Parrilla 1880 for an early dinner—and some traditional grill. The restaurant owes its name to the year in which the house where it is located was built. The place is a sight to behold, decorated with antique items, such as gramophone records, a beautiful old radio and Buenos Aires styled iconography. Parrilla 1880 offers Argentine meat and homemade pasta, apart from typical dishes, such as puchero.


When we were done exploring (and eating), we settled our weary feet and enjoyed an espresso in one of San Telmo’s many sidewalk cafes. It’s here that we began to understand the contemplative Argentine way of life—and we lamented the irony that we had just a day to enjoy it.

Disclosure: At Two Go Round-The-World, we value the conversation that exists between us and our readers—and the trust on which that relationship is based. Here we’re committed to creating an environment informed by that trust. In the interests of full disclosure, we travelled with Gap Adventures, with whom Daniel works. That being said, his opinions should not be construed as representing those of his employer. For more information on disclosures and relationships, please check our ‘About Us‘ page.

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For nearly ten years now, Daniel of Two Go Round-The-World has explored how travel captures our imagination and engages our deepest emotions. One half of the duo that maintains the widely read Two Go Round-The-World blog, Daniel treats his subjects not only as works of art but also as symbols of the cultural and political forces that inspire them. His latest book, The Physics of Flocking, gathers his favourite writing featured over the past two years on Two Go Round-The-World in columns like 'Looking Back' and 'The Whole Picture'—along with new reflections.

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