A travelogue of our first trip to Buenos Aires


January 9 - A Weekday in San Telmo

Picture of the Day

Generally, the phrase San Telmo is accompanied by the word fair, which is a big event held on the weekends (see this previous post). It was so crowded when we went on Sunday that I couldn't really think about taking pictures. So on Friday, my last day in BsAs, I decided to take my camera and head down there. Plus I was thinking that if I ran across a vendor selling some seltzer bottles (like in the photo above), I might buy one to take home.

Subte D line again to Plaza de Mayo. The subte in BsAs reminds me of MARTA in Atlanta; it's a nice enough system but it doesn't go too many places. The light was brilliant coming up out of the station and onto the crowded Plaza de Mayo. It was packed with office workers and tourists, who were easy enough to tell apart. Crowded places like this were the only places in Buenos Aires that made me uncomfortable, given the reports of muggings in touristy areas. I moved quickly through the Plaza, keeping my New York face on.

I went down Defensa toward Plaza Dorrega, just wandering, watching the light on the old two-story buildings. This used to be a very nice neighborhood but a cholera epidemic in the early 20th century emptied the houses out when all the rich folks moved to higher ground. Then it fell into disrepair, the old houses carved up into tenements. Apparently it was just ignored for decades, so the old colonial-style buildings, shabby as they are, remained unchanged on the exterior. Lots of big windows, crumbling exterior detail, odd paint colors and very interesting stuff to see through the windows.

The sidewalks in San Telmo are quite narrow, in some places too narrow for two people to pass. Antique shops crowd Defensa, making for nice but sometimes awkward window shopping. Plaza Dorrega during a weekday was very different from the weekend. At noon, the Plaza was just beginning to come to life, with the various restaurants around the plaza setting out their signs advertising their lunch specials, and a few vendors laying out their wares on the sidewalk. I found a table under a tree and had a coffee, just watching the people around me. It was quiet and sunny and very pleasant.

But I wasn't successful in finding a seltzer bottle, and the Museo de Arte Moderno was closed for refurbishment, so I caught a cab back to the apartment to pack for my trip home that evening. I ran out for one last dulce de leche ice cream, then caught another cab to the airport, watching the city recede through the back window of the taxi.

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Eight Days in Buenos Aires by Valyn Perini is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.