Nothing better than to walk amidst the stalls of San Telmo market on a crisp Sunday. The smell of parrilla wafting through the air, inter tangled with the ever-present sound of tango. And chatter. Nothing you need to buy. Everything you need to see.
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"…Every time we meet it’s like time never changed at all…" San Telmo Market, Buenos Aires, February 2011 San Telmo on a Sunday is completely something different than San Telmo on a regular day. The bohemian neighborhood is getting packed with Arts, Antiques, Tango dancers, street performers and timelessness characters. After a while, when it got too crowded, I stepped into a courtyard in one of the alleys. I climbed to one of the building’s rooftops to get a better view of San Telmo when I saw these two people. I liked how they both wore the some colors of clothes, the same gesture with their hands and up till now, I don’t know what the woman was looking for in her bag and wether the man was waiting for her.
As the world's great markets continue to get flooded with stalls of African or Chinese knockoffs, San Telmo is one of the last great open-air markets like they used to be. Really cool stuff that you can't find anywhere else, all with that classic Argentine cool.
Buenos Aires should be called the 'city of really cool markets.' I don't think there is any item that you cannot find there. And more often than not, you will find just the right item that you didn't even realize you were looking for. I came upon this little stand one afternoon, and was struck by the fact that this vendor sold ONLY this one item. I mean, are colorful seltzer bottles in such high demand that one can devote an entire booth to them? Apparently so, because this place was thriving. Of course, I had found that perfect item that I didn't even know I wanted.
On weekends, Buenos Aires is a paradise for shoppers in pursuit of one-of-a-kind souvenirs. Head to Feria San Telmo on Sundays to peruse artisan designs and antiques along Defensa, the neighborhood’s main drag, and then stop into the wrought-iron Mercado San Telmo to photograph vendors selling leather suitcases, and stands spilling over with vibrant fruits. Even better for handmade jewelry and ceramics is the open-air fair in Recoleta’s Plaza Francia. For hipster accessories, head to Plaza Serrano in Palermo—young designers sell their work in the square and at the shops that surround it.
I love a good empanada and I was not disappointed when I got my first (and hoping not my last) empanada on the Parilla Walking Tour in San Telmo. Run by a woman who is in her 80s, they make fresh empanadas daily. We sampled the beef empanada (different fillings are wrapped in different ways) which was warm, steamy in the middle, and delicious. This is the perfect snack when wandering the market or shops of San Telmo.
I visited San Telmo on Sunday to experience the famous market. The market was pretty fun although a bit touristy. What I did love were the street musicians sprinkled throughout the market. here was a small duo playing music, but I also came across a 6-piece band, some tango dancers, and a Brazilian drum line parading through the street. The crowds can be a bit overwhelming so I'd suggest sitting in a cafe or restaurant near one of these musicians and taking in the music and the scenery. There was a lovely cafe across from Starbucks (I know ... really?!?) off the main square.
I know there are several of these photos posted on Afar but they truly are just so beautiful. I thought I'd add a little more detail after my day at the market today. First, these are functional, not just decorative. Supposedly you just put water in and out comes sparkling water. Second, the prices vary a little from 135 pesos (smaller and not embossed) to 400+ pesos (I think he was trying to rip me off). The majority are around 160 - 200 pesos. Off the main square there were several vendors our at the Sunday market and this stand had them from 150 - 200 pesos ($30 - $40 USD) which was the best deal I found. Happy shopping!