San Telmo Buenos Aires

San Telmo, they say, is the birthplace of tango. After recovering from jetlag, we were able to start exploring it.

We had moved accommodation to literally across the road to a hostel appropriately called…Hostel Tango. Although it was dirtier and colder than the last, it was less about commercial tourism and the people were more relaxed. As we learnt from a German girl later, this was because they’re Chilean, not porteños.

The next couple of days we spent wandering aimlessly around the barrio (suburb) where some streets are paved with cobbled stones and others lined with garbage. It’s an interesting place, full of atmosphere. Even if not much happens on Sunday nights.

 

The barrio of San Telmo is the oldest in Buenos Aires. It was formally known as San Pedro, Buenos Aires first industrial area of the city.

Yellow fever struck the city in the 1800’s and wiped out many families in the area, which were then buried in the famous Recolata cemetery. Richer families fled to the suburb of Palermo and left behind large lots of property and land, which have since been converted into parks, squares and cafés…and tango dance halls.

San Telmo is true to porteño style, but many parts are clearly for tourists. The tourist areas are marked with Parisian-style cafés selling medialunas (the Argentinean version of a croissant, but not quite) and brass-filled antique shops. The old colonial buildings are gorgeous and I could just walk for hours checking out the architecture.

One day we stumbled on an old market off Chacabuco and decided to take a look. It was a weekday morning and so the only patrons were locals going about their business. Having stayed days not seeing much fruit and veg, the San Telmo market was full of it.

Inside butchers were hanging up their goods for the day. I know Argentineans are known for their meat, but this was going a bit far. There was tripe, black pudding, liver, brains, tongues, intestines and even cow’s tails. Antoine, curious of what types of meat they could possibly be, started talking to the butcher who explained to us “todo se come”…you can eat every part of the animal, everything!

We continued on Avenida La Defensa, which departs from the main square Plaza Dorrego and extends right into the central part of the city. It is the place to shop in Buenos Aires, with everything from homewares, to antiques to clothes and shoes.

El Sol de French (named after a dude called French, not the nationality) houses a handful of art shops, artisanal wares and typical leather goods. Definitely a shopping stop for me on our way back home, when I won’t have to lug my pack around any longer.

On the Sunday we went to check out the very cool antiques market, which is an open-air market that closes off the streets around Plaza Dorrego. Couples can be seen dancing tango for cash on the Plaza and contrary to the name, it sells almost everything but antiques.

Next stop…tango and the microcentro!

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  1. […] to immerse yourself in Buenos Aires without being surrounded by tango music and dance. Although San Telmo may be the birthplace of tango, some of the most sensational (albeit less traditional) tango shows […]



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  • Natasha Malinda from Melbourne, Australia
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