My pocket map of Rosario is torn along the lines, a few street names faded—hopefully I won’t need to go there…—and I marked the hotel’s address with a big black dot.
“Can I have it? I need to check the map!”
“No way. I need it.”
“Aww… you’re not sharing with me…”
“Dude, I really need it.”
I’m not kidding. I keep on getting lost in Rosario. I’m on Mendoza, hoping for Calle Paraguay and next thing you know, I’m on Calle Italia. How? What the fuck am I doing here? I was going in the opposite direction!
I rarely get lost. My sense of direction isn’t as good as Feng’s but I navigate cities easily from memory or after a quick walk around during which I make a note of landmarks. Rosario does follow a grid pattern but there is no central landmark and all the buildings are the same height. All the streets look the same to me: same sidewalk, same trees, same…
“Oh, here is the gas station! So, I’m only two blocks from… Fuck. Maybe it’s another gas station.”
I ask for direction. Dos calles por allá, tres calles por allá. Miraculously, I find my way again.
People in Rosario are awesome. It’s a complete cliché but they are nicer and more welcoming than in the capital.
Birthplace of the Argentine flag, Che Guevara and Lionel Messi, Rosario is a surprisingly down-to-earth city with few tourists from outside Latin America. It lies along the mighty Paraná, the continent’s second-longest river. Not much happens along the costanera (riverbank), though. It’s a long 15-kilometre walk along the waterfront (we walked part of it) with skate parks and the occasional parrilla but the action is mostly in the city centre.
The city’s main attraction is the massive Monumento Nacional a La Bandera. The crypt of Manuel Belgrano, who designed the Argentine flag, is beneath the obelisk built where the flag was first raised. There are also a number of museums we attempted to visit but the city’s business hours are about as obscure as your credit card fine print. Some places open in the morning and close by midday, other open late at night and only on weekends. For instance, the art museum was opened (on paper…) from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. while the Museo de la Memoria was open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. but only in the evening on weekends. Confusing? You bet. Same thing goes for shops. Half of the city opens during the day, then other businesses open until late at night but are closed until 7 p.m. or so.
We did have a good time, though. Rosario is relaxing. The leafy streets are never too crowded and it felt like a different city at nighttime with big ice-cream shops at every corner and businesses we never noticed before suddenly open and packed. Despite the humidity, buildings are in good shape and many are very unique. The pedestrian part of Córdoba is great for people watching and the modern mall, across the city, is where Rosario’s wealthier citizens spend the weekend.
Now, time to move again…