We recently spent eleven days in Buenos Aires and found it very hard to leave. In fact we can safely say we wouldn’t have done, had it not been for winter fast approaching and our desire to travel south. We even found ourselves staring into estate agents windows toying with ideas of what we could or rather couldn’t afford.
We stayed in a beautiful apartment in San Telmo. With San Telmo market only a few minutes away and surrounds of charming cobbled streets and colonial buildings, we couldn’t of been happier in this district. Opinions differ on San Telmo particularly as to its likeability and safety and although we can see why some might prefer polished Palermo for example, we can safely say half our love for Buenos Aires was a love of San Telmo and would highly recommend staying here. We never felt unsafe even when coming home (very!) late at night and its rugged charm never got old as we explored the area.
Like any backpacker we had a budget for this city and were determined not to overspend (well not too much) so here’s what we got up to as we explored BA on a budget…
San Telmo Markets/Plaza Dorrego – We were gutted that we weren’t heading back to the UK with an empty suitcase to fill. We could have furnished an entire house with finds on these market stalls. Sadly lugging a gorgeous wine decanter around for the foreseeable future was not practical.
La Boca – Worth a visit for an afternoon if just to see the colourful paintwork. Charmingly touristy and you’ll be lucky to get away without having your picture taken with a look-a-like of Maradonna…not that we could have picked the real deal out in a line up.
Recoleta Cemetery – don’t hesitate, just go there. Join the crowds and hunt for Evita and be amazed at the grandeur of the place. We took far too many photos but here are a few select ones…
Lollapalooza Festival – more on that in a separate blog but we were amazed at the Porteños ability to have a good time totally sober. If you’re there when its on it is definitely worth booking a ticket as the line-up will revival any festival in the UK.
Palermo – seemed like a lovely place to stay or visit for a meal, with its plethora of restaurants and shops. A bit lost on us however, as we preferred the rugged charm of San Telmo.
Centro – all the sites are within walking distance of each other so it is worth a stroll around taking in Casa Rosa, Teatro Colon etc and perhaps finish up with some window-shopping Calle Florida.
Museums & Galleries – we found a lot of the museums had a day where entrance was free. Most we stumbled across as we walked around the city so it is worth taking a stroll and seeing a few bits of art if you have some time to spare. For us MAMBA was definitely worth a look.
A few bits of extra budget friendly advice…
Sube Card – get one! Much like the UKs oyster card system it takes the hassle out of travel in the city. They can be obtained at most post offices and some newsagents, so look out for the logo, and can also be preloaded with funds at any subte station.
Cook – we were amazed at the fresh produce on offer at San Telmo’s market and along with the San Telmo Organic Fair every Tuesday and Friday on Peru (600 and something) so if you are a keen amateur cook like us, make the most of it and save some money.
Exchange your money on Calle Florida – As we would never advocate black market activity…google this for more details! It will save you a huge amount of money…we were pretty taken aback at just how much…so look out for shouts of “Cambio” as you walk along browsing the shops.
Explore – walking is free! We spent a good portion of every day walking around the city and stumbled across charming architecture, endearing graffiti and endless Boutique stores, so…
Bring an empty suitcase – if just coming for a short holiday it is definitely worth picking up a few bits. Especially make the most of the leather goods…retro satchels eat your heart out…they are ten times better than what you would find in the UK!
So overall what kept us in BA so long? When we started writing this blog we found it a little difficult to narrow it down…when putting it into words it didn’t seem like we had done a lot in our eleven days. Truthfully we loved everything…the people, the architecture, the food, the lifestyle. Knowing enough basic Spanish to get by, we took great pleasure in blending in and pretending to be a local…that is until someone asked us a more complex question and our blank faces gave us away. We should probably note that we were predisposed to like the city from the outset having heard so many positive things but it certainly exceeded all our expectations. Just throw yourself into it, kick back and relax and start pretending to be a Porteño.