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Buenos Aires: Home of the Tango

Take a weekend off to eat, dance and enjoy life...

With every second café playing a mix of tango music, and an authentic antique shop on every street corner, if you’re after a cultural mesh of architecture, history and bohemian style of living through music and dance, Buenos Aires is definitely the right city for you.

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With a strong Spanish influence in the architecture of the buildings, Buenos manages to maintain a sense of vintage décor, while producing a civilized atmosphere for the many tourists that pass through daily. Of course it does have its dark side too, such as the dodgy money changers down Avenida Florida, who, if you care to take the risk, will change dollars to pesos at a 40% mark up from the banks. Waiting in the dim-lit building, outside a black no-label door while the man outside gives a secret knock to grant you entry, reminded me vaguely of procuring the good Prada fakes in China…

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The architectural design of the buildings in Buenos is also worth a mention, from the restored such as the old theatre, to the original and slightly run down terraces in San Telmo and La Boca, each interior complete with an original two-door iron gate system reminiscent of Dr. Frankenstein’s grand entry in the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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The city is divided into several districts, each with its own style of art and culture. My favorite by far was the area of San Telmo, filled with tasteful street graffiti, artisanal markets, and as a bonus, hosts a weekly tango/music performance in the plaza on Sunday evenings.

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While I’ve always appreciated watching a good tango show, on the streets in an open plaza, the atmosphere was completely different. Instead of being touristic and flamboyant, the street performers of music and dance were energetic and enthusiastic, and the milonga of local Argentinians dancing tango was sensual and natural. It was a much better night out that if we had booked a standard sit-down dinner and show recommended to all tourists.

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The bohemian area of La Boca was also pleasant, with its grand stadium for soccer enthusiasts and the quaint colorful street of Caminito for a lazy weekend stroll.

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Finally, the food: While I’ve never been a big steak enthusiast, when in Rome…
I sampled a variety of cafes, street corners, and even a fancy restaurant, and at the end of the day, it was the homey and maybe slightly unsanitary corner shop Serena’s that took the prize. With its large portions and low prices, it was the only place that warranted a second visit during our short stay, boasting a specialty of Bife de Chorizo substantial enough for our party of three to share.

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I know I say this about many of the places I’ve visited this year, but yes, I have another destination to add to my “favorite” list. This time, I was so impressed that I’ve changed my return itinerary to allow extra time to revisit this gem of South America.
Now it’s off to the Lakes District and Patagonia for some trekking and camping… Stay tuned!

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Posted by jessho 26.02.2013 12:09 Archived in Argentina

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