“Chilling in BA”
(a page from my Travel Journal)

Have I said this before? Probably but I’ll say it again….I love Buenos Aires! I arrived here from Salta and chose a cosy B&B in the San Telmo neighbourhood. San Telmo is the bohemian quarter of BA, full of antique and design shops, cafés, restaurants and bars. The B&B I stayed at is close to Plaza Dorrego, the neighbourhood’s main square, and my days here were just filled with tango and flamenco music.

Buenos Aires

I took my time exploring the various burroughs of BA. I spent one afternoon walking around the centre (Centro) with the Plaza Mayo, Florida (a busy pedestrian shopping street) and the areas around the main avenue (Avenida 9 Julio; the one with 16 lanes). I also visited the cathedral one afternoon which doesn’t at all look like a cathedral from the outside. The tomb of San Martin, the nation’s liberator was really impressive. The buildings are truly grand and, yes, the pavements are in a bad state and the traffic is horrendous but the buzz in this city is addictive. With hindsight, it probably would’ve been a better idea to opt for a vacation rental instead of a B&B and hotels, as what was originally planned as a one week stay simply dragged on and on. I couldn’t get enough of this amazing city!

Tomb of San Martin inside the cathedral of Buenos Aires

The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo

Another afternoon was spent strolling around Puerto Madero, BA’s old docklands that are now the most fashionable address in the city. That day, I ended up at the Plaza de Mayo and watched the solemn but impressive march of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo (an association of the mothers whose children disappeared during Argentina’s military dictatorship in the 1970’s and 1980’s). They march around the Plaza de Mayo every Thursday afternoon.

Puerto Madero
The famous Plaza de Mayo with the Casa Rosada in the background
The solemn march of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo

The flamenco, samba and the tango

I would spend the mornings on the B&B’s roof terrace (it’s nice and shady and has a great view of San Telmo), then go for a long walk in the afternoon to one of the burroughs and then find a terrace somewhere for a long and lazy lunch and just watch the world go by! Wonderful. The B&B had a happy hour every evening and all the guests would get together for drinks. It’s a great way to meet the other guests and we would all go out for dinner to a nearby restaurant. One evening, a bunch of Americans suggested a little café around the corner called Café San Juan. We went there and it was packed with locals. I had the most divine rabbit pate and sirloin steak with mushrooms. The pate was especially exquisite! Another evening, we sat out on the Plaza Dorrego till 2am just enjoying the music. A small flamenco group performed all night; the passion for their music and dance was almost tangible.

A beautiful flamenco troupe

My favourite day was definitely the Sunday in San Telmo. That’s the day when San Telmo really comes to life. The whole square and Defensa Street are packed with stalls selling antiques and other curiosa, and a huge variety of street performers. It is an amazing multi-sensory experience. The sights and sounds, and throngs of people are simply fascinating. Later that afternoon, a samba band with 40 drummers paraded down Defensa Street. There was a large crowd and many people danced or swayed along to the beats. Where else in the world would you have the samba, the tango and the flamenco all within the same square?!

Antique market in San Telmo every Sunday
These students played beautifully
The samba band

After dinner that night, I went back to the square where I was treated to an unforgettable display of ‘the soul of BA’, the tango. The music was loud and the locals got together and danced the whole evening. The passion, the sensual movements and the nimble footwork were absolutely stunning. I was just blown away by this marvellous display.

Locals danced the tango on Plaza Dorrego

It was love at first sight but I managed to tear myself away from Buenos Aires more than a month later but not before making a promise to myself that I would return one day.


16 Responses

  • Hi Keith,

    Great post! I work in digital content at Journey Latin America, would you mind if I share some of you posts on Latin America on our social channels? They’re really good and pitched perfectly for our readers!

    Let me know!

  • Hello Tomás,
    Thank you for clarifying. The Candombe was spectacular and an amazing experience to watch and be a part of.

    Kind regards,

  • Great post!
    But I have to tell you. Its not samba. Its called Candombe, a “rioplatense” (Buenos Aires and Montevideo brotherhood) rythm originated from african slaves back in the XIX century.
    Samba has in some way the same roots, but it belongs to the North-east of Brazil.


  • Hi Hayley,
    I’m afraid I don’t have any info about volunteer programs in Latin America. All the best with your search!


  • Great post! I’ve always wanted to visit BA, and am looking into volunteering somewhere in Latin America in the winter time…maybe Costa Rica…do you have any advice on looking for a volunteer program by chance?

  • Sounds amazing! BA has been at the top of my travel wish list for a while now.
    What is the name of the B&B where you stayed?

  • Lovely description of happening in city. I hope one day I will visit this city & experience the same.

  • Thanks for your comment Matt. I learned the tango (albeit rather clumsily!). 😉


  • Good advice on San telmo on Sundays sounds great! So did you learn the Samba, Flamenco, or the Tango? Or did you leave that to the professionals haha!?

  • San Telmo is a great place to stay but I also enjoyed staying in Recoleta and Palermo Soho. Each neighbourhood has a different character and I stayed about a week in various neighbourhoods.


  • Excellent post. I’m thinking of going soon, is San Telmo the place to stay, then?

  • Not sure if it’s popular in BA but that I saw that band march down Defensa twice and it was a true spectacle!


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