The trip from Santiago to Buenos Aires was smooth but long. On paper, it’s only a two-hour flight. In real life, it’s an endless series of small steps, each bringing you closer to the destination: packing, checking out, taking a bus to the airport, checking in the backpacks and getting the boarding passes, going through security and getting the Chilean exit stamp, taking off and landing, going through immigration, picking up the backpacks, going through customs, taking a taxi to the hotel and checking in.
All this took most of the day and by the time we stepped into the hotel room in Buenos Aires centro, a couple of blocks from the obelisk, it was already 5 p.m.
I wasn’t freaking out, though, because 5 p.m. is merely early afternoon in Argentina—shops and restaurants stay open late.
“Mommy! I want a drink!”
“I hear you Mark, so do I. I want Argentinian pesos, for a start.”
The ATMs at the airport were all empty which is somewhat normal and expected in Argentina. We paid the taxi in US$ (the airport is far and we couldn’t have paid the bus fare in foreign currency) but we had to withdraw pesos. Luckily, the one ATM that always works for us delivered crisp… I mean, crumbled banknotes, enough for a couple of days.
We bought drinks and burgers because the guys were hungry. Sky Airline is a low-cost airline, there were no free drinks and snacks on board and it had a been a long time since dinner, the night before, in Santiago.
The evening and most of the night—Argentinian schedule, eating dinner at 11 p.m. is just fine—was spent walking around 9 de Julio, Corrientes and Lavalle.
The following day, we had everything planned out, which is rare for us. Usually, the first question of the day is “where do we go?” For once, we know: San Telmo, for the weekly Sunday market.
While most of the city is quiet, San Telmo is packed, especially from Plaza de Mayo to Plaza Dorrego, along Calle Defensa. The feria is held every Sunday and some 270 stands sell everything from souvenirs to antiques. This is one of the only touristic markets I know where most goods are not too tacky and made in China—leather belt, jewellery and crafts can be surprisingly cheap and the quality is generally good.
The atmosphere is great too. There is zero pressure to buy (unlike most markets in Asia), you can pick up good snacks along the way and buskers make the street even more lively. This is Buenos Aires at its best: relaxed, friendly, artsy and fun.