San Telmo

San Telmo, Buenos Aires, Argentina

The attractive San Telmo barrio began as an upscale area before tenement living took over. It’s back big-time now, helped by its famous antique flea market. On Sundays tourists and locals descend upon the Plaza Dorrego and its side lanes for silverwork, vintage clothing, art pieces, furniture and colorful old seltzer bottles. Cafés and bars are packed and the streets fill with tango dancers. The fine old late-19th-century wrought-iron market is great for foodstuffs.

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San Telmo, an historic neighboorhood of Buenos Aires, is full of markets, restaurants, and dark corners with something mysterious to discover. And amazing street art - like this beautiful one - everywhere.

Tango in San Telmo

Take a Sunday stroll through the cobblestone streets of San Telmo in Buenos Aires. The streets surrounding the Plaza Dorrego are filled with vendors selling art, antiques and souvenirs. In the center of the plaza you are bound to come across a street performance or two. Here in the center of the plaza, a couple entertains the crown with the dance that Argentina is famous for- the tango.

Finding wisdom in a San Telmo cab

On my way to the airport my cab driver said that Argentina is like a rich, old musty book. There is so much truth in that. Argentina has struggled. The dust jacket is cracked in places. You can smell every page as you leaf through it. The cover is moth eaten. The embossing was in gold but has faded in places. Some of the pages are torn. But the words have so much meaning. The maps are rich in detail. The photographs are sepia toned and hand colored. There is history on every page. There is a rhythm in every sentence. There is a song in every consonant.

Sunday Asadas (although this was a Saturday)

I learned that many friends and families have a Sunday ritual where they get together for an asada - where they spend the afternoon together hanging out and grilling what else, beef? Some cook it themselves (traditionally the men cook the asada but some women I met want to learn how so they can cook it whenever they wan) or they buy it from one of the many parillas. If you can get yourself invited to one of these, you’ll have a true local experience. I came across an asada walking through the streets of San Telmo. A group of old gentlemen, hanging out, eating meet (carved on a small wooden cutting board), drinking malbec. They stopped by group and we chatted for a bit, they offered us wine, it was really great.

The New Pope Francis

The Catholic Church nominated a new pope - and he is from Argentina. Today when I got off the subway at Plaza de Mayo, there was some type of celebration for the pope with posters up, plenty of nuns, and posters of the pope for sale. It was pretty cool to experience.

San Telmo’s Nostalgic Treasures

Its years as a working-class neighborhood allowed San Telmo, considered Buenos Aires’s oldest neighborhood, to avoid development and conserve its low-rise, historical architecture. Today it’s no surprise that the area has become the go-to spot for antiques. There’s a large cluster of shops surrounding Plaza Dorrego and on Defensa Street, plus an extremely popular—and all but impassable—flea market on Sundays. If you treasure the printed volume somewhat more than creepy dolls and tarnished silver, head to Walrus Books, one of the city’s few English-language purveyors, which is stocked with a beguiling collection of secondhand books. The mix of Latin American literature in translation alongside Anglo-American classics guarantees you’ll find a great title for the long flight home.

buenos aires sunset

beautiful sunset from san telmo roof

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