San Telmo is famous for its Market – the oldest one in Argentina – and Sunday this extends out from the internal building with its old ironwork and glass ceiling and spills out in the surround streets. This is one of the sites of BA and our destination for the morning and early afternoon – it is THAT big.
The internal market is similar in construction to the ones you see in UK cities e.g. Leeds, and in the main section it sells the fruit & veg, meat, cheese etc to the locals. Round the outside are the more antique / curiosity shops that sell anything and everything from cameras, matchboxes, watches, toby jugs, chandeliers, toys, gramophones etc. Unfortunately I didn’t find a 1940s Patek Phillipe watch for a bargain price but great fun was had looking round, but we then headed out to the temporary Sunday stalls and sunshine.
Quality of what is on sale is varied – some wonderful arts and craft stalls and some quite awful tourist tat (a stuffed toy puppy with an Argentina shirt on it anyone? No I didn’t think so). We stumble on the American Couple in the markets that we did the culinary tour – which given the size of the City is quite amazing (and I suppose it is) but its a phenomena that we have experienced a few times on the trip already. They are getting the same flight as us tomorrow and are staying close to us so we agree to share a taxi before going our separate ways.
Lunch is a couple of BBQ sandwiches from an open aired bar with one of the loudest singer / guitar players we have ever heard – Niki was laughing and smiling at him at first before we realised it wasn’t a send up but a serious performance….oops! We decided to leave and eat on the hoof and make our way to the afternoons activity.
Whilst having lunch the previous day and using their Wifi (which is available all over S.America so far) to catch up with friends over FaceTime (hopefully not interrupting their viewing of Strictly!) I spotted one of the coolest cars ever – a stretch limo 2CV! A quick Google identified that this is a tourist company that offers ‘unique classic car tours’ of the city. Sadly as there were only 2 of us, we couldn’t have the stretch version, but we did have a tour of the city in what is actually a 3CV.
The company have about 4 or 5 3CVs (in S.America the 602cc version of the 2CV was named the 3CV instead of the 2CV6 as it was in Europe) in a range of colours. Interestingly they were made for a period in Argentina and every year they were available in white, and then each year a second colour was available for that year only – we had a green one which was 1968.
Our driver and guide was an ex-model! Sadly for me, but based on the grin on Niki’s face not sad for her, the driver was a he not a she (though I am now looking for an bikini model run cycling tour of the Mendoza wine region). A really nice chap who had a love of the little Citroen took us on a relaxed drive round the entire city – allowing us to see areas we had not seen before and others we had from a different perspective. We stopped in the famous Boca area, famed for its colourful traditional buildings, its passionate football fans and also for being an area that you need to be ‘careful’ in.
On advice we stick to the main streets and the area is indeed beautiful and the location of the first port of BA – no longer operational – and where the first European immigrants landed and made home. However the area itself is extremely touristy and everyone there is either a tourist or trying to sell something to one – a little too obvious for our tastes if we are honest, but it was great to see the area.
The journey eventually drops us back at our hotel after almost 3 hours of the tour – way longer than the quoted 90 minutes. Given the time I think it was the last tour of the day and our guide seemed to enjoy our company (and he also said he had nothing else on) and he seemed happy to take his time with the tour. The price was ridiculously good value – not much more than double the cost of getting back from San Telmo directly by “Crazy Taxi” man the night before. So we gave a tip and planned to write the ever important Trip Advisor review to enthuse about the wonderful afternoon – though later we discover that they are not on TA.
A bite to eat locally, bag packing and an early night ahead of the early flight to El Calafate.
Buenos Aires – you are a wonderful, beautiful and amazing city. We will miss you.