Tango, cobblestones and treasures
Buenos Aires Travel Blog› entry 1 of 4 › view all entries
We are staying in San Telmo, the oldest suburb of Buenos Aires and it was a great 'blind choice'. Before leaving Australia, we had booked hostels on the net until the end of January as we felt that we were competing with summer holiday makers and problems with having Christmas and New Year in there somewhere. The hostel is a building that appears to have at least 6 levels in it. However, to fit in more backpackers they have added mezzanine floors for the sleeping areas and have used the shallow bricks for the ceilings that the walls are made of. Consequently what might once have been a 14 foot ceiling in each level now has bedroom ceilings of just over 6'3" in painted red bricks! Andrew just makes it standing but has to exercise utmost care when going through the door.
The streets of San Telmo are narrow and cobblestoned with flagged footpaths. Have noticed tramlines in some streets but they are from days gone by. This area is known for its antiques and Tango dancing. We have found huge covered markets with everything imaginable for sale. The one closest to us on Carlos Calvo is huge. It has fruit & vegetables, butchers, delicatessens, second hand clothing, chandeliers and replacement parts, silver filigre jewelry, neckaces of jet beads, tiles for walls and floors, Beatles records in Spanish and English, everyone´s records, enamelled street numbers and signs, old telephones, statues in soap stone, masks from the orient, masks from Africa, willow pattern plates, daggers of all types, leather gun belts, lead and tin soldiers, keys, calenders, silver alpaca ornaments, bottles, stamp albums, gramaphone record players with brass horns, billiard tables, roll top desks and twice as much again.
We successfully negotiated the Metro and took ourselves to the bus interchange and managed to book tickets to Iguazu Falls in the North Eastern part of Argentina on the border with Brazil. The buses are very modern and have seats that recline which will be great as the journey will take 16 hours each way. We leave on December 28th at 10.10pm and return at 4pm on December 30th with the return ticket costing 318 pesos Argentina. Feeling confident, the next day we took the metro and our passports to the ferry terminal and booked tickets to Montevideo, Uraguay on January 2nd for a week.
Last night we booked a Dinner and Tango show in San Telmo having read others stories (some of them horror stories) on the net first.
The waiter escorted us to a lift and met us downstairs. He then took us across the road to a theatre set up where the show was to take place. Glasses of champagne were placed on our tables and refilled during the night. The show was magnificent! The muscians consisted of two violins, two button acordians, a double bass and piano player. There were 4 couples dancing the tango with several costume changes. A female who it was whispered was 82 sang a few passionate songs in Spanish. The highlight of the night was a band of four folk musicians who played traditional pipes of pan and drums. Their haunting and upbeat music was fantastic. We were then taken back to the hostel by another mini bus. The waiters and drivers speak little English but have learned to inform the guests that ¨tips are not included¨.
On one of the extremely hot days we found ourselves on the waterfront. The breeze was delightful and the modern buildings housed great restaurants catering for the wealthy tourists but the prices are very affordable. This waterfront has been built on landfill and some apartment blocks are nearing completion and I suspect will be quite pricey.
We have been eating out all the time mainly in small family owned bars in San Telmo. You can eat very well with a beer included for about 45 pesos for two($20 Australian). As tomorrow is Christmas Day we are unsure how many of these places will be open so we have bought food for a feast. At the market I bought eight slices of proscuitto, 100 grams a blue vein cheese, a ruby mango, a melon, pears, cherries and some fresh crusty bread and a few sweet pastries! Complimented with a bottle of Champàgne and a bottle of Cabernet Savignon we will celebrate in style!