Our final day in Buenos Aires started with breakfast downstairs in the hotel restaurant. We’d eaten in the lounge all previous mornings, but we would be spending the day with the R family, our new Irish friends. I knew they’d be here. The Hilton Buenos Aires was letting all five of them for free. Putting that Diamond status to good use!
The itinerary was already set, at least the first part: explore Feria San Telmo. This street fair is a Sunday fixture in the neighborhood of the same name. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the Hilton. We made sure to cross the picturesque Puente de la Mujer yet again.
Feria San Telmo
The Feria San Telmo is a street market that draws thousands of people every Sunday. It runs along Avenida Defensa from nearly the Plaza de Mayo for roughly 12 blocks. There are some small “spurs” off the main run, but the bulk of the stalls are along this street, which is pedestrianized from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
We entered the Feria at the north, near the Plaza de Mayo. It has everything you can think of: clothing, purses and other leather goods, ceramics, metalwork, woodwork, jewerly, and more. From dozens of different mate cups and bombillas to T-shirts covered with portraits of Frida Kahlo. A couple of the R boys bought jerseys.
There aren’t a whole lot of food vendors, but you can find them. Sampling alfajores, a traditional Argentinian cookie sandwich with dulce de leche, was the highlight. I almost bought a box, but convinced myself I didn’t want to deal with bringing them through customs at 4:00 a.m. when we’d land in Miami in a few days. Thinking back now, I should have. It would have been worth the hassle.
The center of the Feria San Telmo is Plaza Dorrego, a small square right along Defensa. This is where the fair originated decades ago. If you’re looking for the antiques, this is where you’ll find most of them, as there are dozens of stalls. Hotel tip: there is actually a Hilton family hotel (Curio Collection) right on Plaza Dorrego: Anselmo Buenos Aires. It can be a good value for both cash or points, depending on the season. I almost picked it. It’s a little boutique place and has good ratings and reviews.
We took a break at the Plaza Dorrego to discuss plans for the afternoon. The Fair had been fun. We considered heading to a different street market, but this idea was nixed by a taxi driver. It was supposedly closed this Sunday. The plan instead would be to head to La Boca and enjoy some Tango at El Caminito. Hailing two taxis for the 7 of us, we took off across BA.
Tango at El Caminito
As our taxi driver took off, it belatedly hit me how odd this situation was: two parents that I’ve known for all of 72 hours just entrusted me with their two youngest kids. What would we do if they didn’t arrive right after us? Or if we got split up? I had no way to contact them, no phone number for them, nor for the hotel.
It said a lot, though, about how far we had come so quickly. The kids had hit it off so well, and it was enjoyable talking with about everything from travel, to politics, to the odd differences between the English of the U.S. and that of Great Britain and Ireland. We all arrived at El Caminito safely and would enjoy the afternoon together. Hanging with the R family turned into one of our fondest memories of the entire trip.
We enjoyed our time at El Caminito. After a little souvenir shopping, we grabbed a late lunch and enjoyed some tango performance. I’m sure there are better spots in BA, but it was our chance to enjoy this piece of Argentinian culture.
A Long Walk Back
I’m not sure why we decided to walk all the way back to the Hilton, but we did. The kids didn’t even complain, they were having so much fun chatting and enjoying our time in La Boca. One benefit of this choice was being able to stop by a Bombonera, the stadium of the Boca Juniors soccer team. My daughter and I had stopped by as part of our Biker Street bike tour, but the R family hadn’t been here. As avid soccer fans, it was a must. You can see their eldest in the CABJ jersey.
From there it was over a mile through the streets of La Boca until we reached the southern end of Puerto Madero. I couldn’t help but realixe how lovely this barrio looks in the evening. The bright, new neighborhood stands in start contrast with the rest of Buenos Aires, with its gleaming towers. The revitalization of what used to be a slum neighborhood is truly amazing. Yet it retains the character of the port, with a number of cranes purposefully left in place.
Sadly, Puerto Madero was hardly used. It was constructed in a classic English style near the turn of the 20th century, but the shipping industry was changing rapidly. It was rendered obsolete soon after it was completed.
The walk was long (about 3 miles), but totally worth it. I’m a major fan of exploring cities on foot. My daughter is not, but she was a trooper during our Free Walks Tour the previous day. With company on this walk, she hardly noticed her aching feet.
The kids had a blast yet again in the pool. We knew it would be our last evening together, and we wanted to enjoy it. The day had been fantastic, an unforgettable time exploring the city together.
Even after the pool closed, we gathered in the lounge again for a couple more hours. It was both dinner and our social time. We would all be getting up early the next morning, us bound for Uruguay, them for Iguazu Falls. But even with the early wake up, we lingered in the lounge until nearly 9:00.
Here are the previous three days’ posts, in case you missed them: