Buenos Aires First Impressions (by Nathan)
We just completed our 4thday here in Buenos Aires and the key word to describe it is hot. The city is sizzling with excitement, great food, tons of people walking the streets and, of course, tango. Quickly we are realizing that Buenos Aires could fill a blog entirely on its own, so we will have several posts to showcase all the great things that the city has to offer.
Temperatures have been climbing steadily and now it is in the high 90’s. My first resort has been to consume the copious amount of water I carry around that clearly identifies me as a tourist. Then I resort to ice cream. We found this great little shop with an amazing patio in the back. The name of the place is Un’Altra Volta and it is at the corner of Santa Fe and Avenida Callao. There are a few locations, but the outdoor seating is well worth it. They have a pretty trick website so get your ice cream porn here. Carmen and I grabbed a mixed box with Crema de Almendas (almond), Dulce De Leche Bonbón (signature caramel of Argentina) and Chocolate Tantación (vanilla w/ brownies & caramel). Oh was this the perfect solution to the heat – creamy and rich and absolutely delicious.
We had another great experience yesterday at the Sunday market. Not just any market, but a HUGE vendor parade of local crafts, tango music, street vendors and baskets and baskets of freshly made breads and empanadas. They call this fest the Feria de San Telmo, and it is every Sunday all year round. We entered onto Calle Defenso at Calle Estados Unidos to find out that thousands of people beat us there. Immediately we needed to grab some food so we found the fist vendor in sight and bought a pan relleno, stuffed bread with ham, tomatoes and cheese, for $2 and we asked a kind lady to squeeze about 10 oranges for us in her juice press ($2.5).
We walked the length of the market that is about 12 blocks long (1 ½ miles). The stalls had some really great crafts such as custom made jewelry, hand-carved mate gourds, t-shirts and antiques. It isn’t just the one street either. There are several alleyways, side streets and warehouses that also host vendors. Occasionally we’d stop to listen to an 8 piece tango group flaunting their tunes or peruse through the music selection at one of the tables. We did find a must buy that I could not turn down: 80’s Tango! I am a lover of all things 80’s and being that I cannot wear my Member’s Only jacket in the 90 degree heat I settled with a little Argentinean flare – 80’s songs covered with tango instruments and rhythms.
After all the walking we got hungry again. We found these two guys that took over a parking garage that is abandoned on the weekends. The lot was open to the main drag and there were loads of people filing in to eat their choripan. Choripan ($3) is basically a sausage grilled over flames right in front of you, placed on a crusty roll slathered with a red pepper chimichurri. The addition of two bottles of the cheap local beer, Quilmes ($3), capped off the meal.
Feeling frisky we walked to the Plaza Dorrego to watch the tango dancers that gather there. As it turns out there is an informal milonga that begins around 7pm. A milonga is basically a place for people to dance tango. We watched them dance cheek to cheek for a couple hours and Carmen and I promised each other that we would join in next Sunday once we got some practice in this week.
It’s late and these feet need a rest (over 40 miles clocked so far).