Are you going to Buenos Aires? Good choice! The capital of Argentina is a city of contrasts, known for its vibrant cultural life, but also for its football fans. Don't miss the asado (barbecued meat), the dulce de leche, the Plaza de Mayo or the Mafalda monument.
The Plaza de Mayo is the most significant place in the country's political life. Every Thursday, the mothers of the Plaza de Mayo meet here, still demanding information about the children they lost during the dictatorship. The most important buildings in Buenos Aires' administrative life are located in the Plaza: the Casa Rosada, the National Bank and the Metropolitan Cathedral, among others.
You can visit the Houses of Parliament in London, and the White House in Washington, and the equivalent in Buenos Aires is the Casa Rosada. Some of its interior rooms are open to the public, as well as the Patio of Palm Trees.
If you decide to visit Buenos Aires and take a walk around the San Telmo neighbourhood, don't miss the market in Plaza Dorrego, livened up by the living statues and street musicians. This area, which was once inhabited by people from the Argentine upper middle class, was abandoned after the yellow fever epidemic that devastated the city. Many of its palaces were left in ruins and the neighbourhood was about to be demolished, but the appearance of the antiques market saved it. Besides finding antiques and all manner of curios, it is the perfect place to have a coffee.
Sitting on a bench in San Telmo is one of the most famous girls in Argentina. You will identify her by her dark bushy hair and her red dress, although the sculpture is made of bronze. Just don't go near her with soup. It's better to take her a burning political question to get a witty answer in reply. There are few travellers who do not have their picture taken with cartoonist and comedian Quino's most famous character.
The La Boca neighbourhood is one of the most popular among those who travel to Buenos Aires. You'll recognise it by its modest and brightly coloured houses. The most visited and photographed street is the Pasaje Caminito, birthplace of the tango of the same name: Caminito. If you want to see how real professionals perform this dance, oozing with character and sensuality, this is the perfect place. You won't have to enter any premises either. You're more than likely to run into street dancers.
Café Tortoni was founded in 1858, making it one of the oldest in the city. The cultural equivalent of Madrid's Café Gijón, it was a meeting place for Argentine intellectuals in the first half of the 20th century. It was said that the café was notable for its hospitality, meaning that the drinks were cheap; this attracted the artists and writers of the day, who were no closer to financial stability than any of their kind at any time or place.
The Parque 3 de febrero is actually a group of parks that are also called Bosques de Palermo, because they are located in this Buenos Aires district. They form a real urban oasis, occupying an area of forty hectares dotted with artificial lakes and with a zoo, a botanical garden, a planetarium and an impressive white bridge that is one of the most popular attractions among those who choose to visit Buenos Aires.
If you like football, and even if it is not your favourite sport, you must have heard of one of the most famous teams in Buenos Aires and in all of Argentina: Club Atlético Boca Juniors. Its stadium, La Bombonera, is one of the world's temples pf football; or at least that's how the legendary player, Maradona, described it.
This obelisk, almost 70 metres high, was built to commemorate the city's birthday, its fourth centenary to be precise. This took place in 1936. You can see it in Plaza de la República, but only from below. The only way to reach the highest point is by a ship's ladder, a feat within the scope of very few.
If you're going to travel to Buenos Aires there are two things you should know. The first is that the best way to move around the city is the metro, which is known as Subte. It has six lines and tickets are very cheap. Just watch out for pickpockets.
And secondly, you mustn't miss the city's traditional sweet confection: alfajores. These consist of two cookies, usually sandwiched with dulce de leche or honey.
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