La Boca – The Heart of Tango
The weekend we went to the La Boca borough – the home of Tango. La Boca is supposed to be less safe than Recoleta or the city center. After what happened some days before on the bus we took as little as possible with us. We visited the colorful Caminito, which is rather a couple of streets than just a small street (Caminito’s actual meaning). It is an astonishing, very colorful neighborhood. It is also very touristy, but not in a bad way. There are buildings that turned into tiny museums, art galleries and shops. I was amazed by all the painted walls and the beautiful architecture. Carolina was amazed by several Tango performances in different restaurants. We sat down in one restaurant for drinks and watched the performances. I reckon we gave a good tip, because the dancers asked us to take photos with them.
The largest Chocolate Box in the World
La Boca was not only the landing place for many immigrants a century ago, but became also home to one of the most famous football clubs in the world. The Boca Juniors are mostly known for being Diego Maradona’s first major club. The stadium of the Boca Juniors is close to Caminito, which is why we visited it the same day. The stadium is called La Bombonera – the chocolate box. It definitely is the largest chocolate box in the world. Coming from Munich, La Bombonera is definitely not the most beautiful stadium, but it absolutely has its own charm. The museum inside the stadium was interesting and included some good movies. Being closely attached to Brazil I should probably not go after Argentinian football, but then Diego Maradona and I share the some birthday (not year though!).
Speed Ferry to Montevideo
Buenos Aires is close to Uruguay and although not initially intended, I wanted to visit Montevideo the capital of Uruguay. We were not really sure when and how long to visit Montevideo. There was just so much to do in Buenos Aires. We decided to go there and back the same day. There is a speed ferry that takes 2.5h for the 200km distance. It leaves Buenos Aires very early in the morning and returns late in the evening. The ferry is very pretty and calm. I was a bit afraid of the rough ride, but inside one can hardly feel the speed. Both journeys, there and back, were absolutely pleasant. We arrived Montevideo around 10am and soon realized it might not have been the best idea to come on 1st of May – the international worker’s day. Literally everything was closed that day.
International Worker’s Day in Uruguay
We found only two open restaurants in the entire city center. Half of the sights we wanted to visit were closed. Even McDonalds, Burger King and Starbucks were closed. I have never seen a country taking the international worker’s day that serious. From a tourists perspective it was annoying, but ok. Nevertheless, we walked around the city center and saw a ridiculously small socialist demonstration. Leandro and Diego found a funny small playground. With everything being shut down, we did not know what to do until our speed ferry would take us back. We strolled along the walkway at the ocean, which was nice. Frankly, the speed ferry journey was the highlight of our trip to Uruguay, which is probably unfair, because it could have been different another day. Upon our return to Buenos Aires we came to know, that here everything was closed, too.
Stunning Teatro Colon
The next day, we tried to visit the museum “Forbidden not to touch!” again. It was not Monday and we were optimistic it would work out this time. Nevertheless, for some reason it was closed again. Instead, we visited the famous and utterly gorgeous Teatro Colon. We took a tour inside this magnificent building. The guide was very good, funny and spoke Spanish, which was easy to understand. Even Leandro was impressed by the interior. Several guides did not recommend the visit for children, but at least our children liked the tour inside. It takes less than an hour and there is a lot to see. To close to chapter with the “Forbidden not to touch!” museum: we managed to get in on the third attempt. However, it was a bit boring. Yes, everything can be touched, many things are poorly explained and some things do not work.
Day Trip to a Gaucho Ranch
On one of our last days we booked a daytrip to a nearby Gaucho Ranch. The tour offered a full day on a typical Gaucho Ranch. We started by bus at 9 am, but did not arrive at the ranch before noon. Instead, we had some useless stop in the city of San Antonio de Areca. The ranch was already close, but the tour guide wanted us to visit some silver shop before. It reminded me of India. When we finally arrived at the Gaucho Ranch we were offered some tasty Empanadas. After that most of us went horse riding. I took the kids to a horse-drawn carriage and one of the Gauchos took us on a ride. When everybody I returned I had the chance to go horse riding, too – but all alone. The Gauchos did not talk much, even when we approached them in Spanish.
Not the Gaucho Experience we thought of
After my return it was time for a proper Gaucho BBQ. I liked the food a lot, but Carolina did not fancy it too much. The best meat came at the end, when many people were full already. Fortunately, I can eat a lot! Part of the Gaucho experience were some traditional dances. Those dances were, politely spoked, weak. Most of the dancers did not seem to be motivated and it appeared to be a necessary evil for them. Thanks to the wine at lunch Carolina and I were already tipsy and danced for ourselves. Shortly after the dance we returned to Buenos Aires. It was not the trip any of us had in mind when thinking about a full day on a real Gaucho ranch. Our tour guide however, was a very nice and helpful person. She was very motivated and eager to explain Gaucho culture.
Challenge of Finding a Babysitter
Sunday evening Carolina and I went to a Tango show at night. It was a real challenge to find a trustworthy babysitter in a strange city. And even the one Carolina found did try to trick us into paying more money than initially agreed. Babysitter is one major challenge when travelling. Back home we have some trustworthy contacts, but on the road that is really difficult. It was the first time on our trip we had a babysitter staying with the kids for some hours. But how could we leave Argentina without going to a proper Tango Show? We skipped the usual dinner and left home when the kids were asleep. The show started at 10 pm and lasted about 1.5h.
The Grand Finale – An amazing Tango Show
The Tango Show at Madero Tango was very emotional and absolutely brilliant. It told the history of Tango from when the first immigrants arrived at La Boca harbor. It also showed its roots in the red-light districts, touched Argentinian history (e.g. Evita) and contained some popular Tango songs and composers, such as Carlos Gardel. It also contained some political references and went on until rather modern versions of Tango. The dancers were amazing and loved what they do. It was definitely one of the highlights of our time in Argentina! Buenos Aires has amazed us during our stay. For Carolina and me it completed another story, too. 9 years ago, we had booked a trip to Buenos Aires already, but had to cancel it kind of last minute for work reasons. We knew at the time, that one day we will go there, which, gladly, we did.