Sunday, September 27, 2009

San Telmo Street Scenes

BA is a huge, diverse city - it's practically impossible to take it in all at once, which is why we decided to break our recent trip into segments.

The first third involved staying at the Hotel Bel Air, which was in walking distance of the upscale parks, restaurants and shops of the Retiro, Recoleta and Palermo barrios of BA.

The second portion of our vacation involved a trip out of the city for a mid-week stay at the B&B Plaza Italia in the province of Mendoza - the heart of Argentina's wine industry. We enjoyed two days of touring the regions wineries, and had some amazing meals where each course was paired with a great local wine.

After wine-touring Mendoza, we flew back to Buenos Aires and moved into the Mansion Dandi Royal - a hotel / tango academy located in the San Telmo area of BA.

San Telmo, along with Boca directly to the south, is definitely more of a working-class barrio than the other BA neighborhoods we visited.

Our hotel, along with most of the shops and even some of the restaurants we went to, kept their doors locked and required us to be "buzzed in." The sidewalks were narrower here, the streets were cobbled rather than smooth-paved, and both were dirtier than elsewhere in the city.

That being said, we never felt unsafe - even though we'd adopted the local habit of going out to dinner after 10 p.m. and often wandering home after midnight - and the street life here definitely had a colorful appeal.

This was most obvious on Sunday, when the weekly street fair turns Avenida Defensa into a mile-long pedestrian-only thoroughfare bursting with life - check it out!

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