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Boca and Palermo District

Written on: Friday February 29th, 2008

A journal entry from: Kevin and Julie's RTW

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina 

Author: Julie 

Hola!

Today, with our new friends Shawn and Eli, we visited a bit more of the large Buenos Aires metropolitan area of 14 million people. Our first stop was the Boca in a neighbourhood located to the north of the San Telmo area. It retains a strong European flavour, with many of its early settlers being from the Italian city of Genoa. In fact the name has a strong assonance with the genoese neighborhood of Boccadasse, and some people believe that the Buenos Aires' barrio was indeed named after it. It is known throughout the sporting world as the home of Boca Juniors, one of South America's top football (soccer) clubs. La Boca is a popular destination with its colourful houses and pedestrian street, the Caminito where tango artists perform and tango-related memorabilia is sold, as well as La Bombonera stadium, home of Boca Juniors.

We and our friends walked from San Telmo and soon found ourselves on the outskirt of the Boca area, along the river?s edge, on Avenida de Mendoza. Our first indications that we had arrived was the change in housing colors from drab grey to bright primary colors of yellow, red, blue, and green. It is a very touristy place and the stores and restaurants reflected it with a more expensive menu and stores full of tourist trinkets. We stopped for a quick snack of empanadas at a river-front café. Sitting outside, smoking a cigarette, was a tango dancer in her high heels and tight outfit taking a break before her next set of dancing. Our hunger satiated, we walked the narrow streets of the neighbourhood, looking into art galleries and stores selling Boca Juniors shirts, signed poster of Maradona and the usual knick knacks. From one small alley we could hear traditional accordion music. At the far end, on a small stage a lone man played to a backing track. The alley was decorated in papier-mache characters hanging from balconies above. Kevin stood for a while, listening to the musician play tango music while I wandered through the art galleries nearby. He enjoyed his music so for 30 pesos (10$) he bought his CD to support him.

From any point of the skyline the intense blue and yellow colors of the Boca Junior stadium could be seen. We walked down streets and alleys till we had left the tourist-friendly streets to the sketchier area that surrounded La Bombonera. Dodging doggie surprises, we didn?t stay long after a few signals from local merchants. We had been warned it wasn?t an area that was very open to strangers hanging around so we hoofed it back to the safety of touristy-land a few blocks down.

Having finished our visit in Boca and hungry again, we decided to take the Subte (metro) to Plaza Italiano in the Palermo Barrio. The name of the district is derived from the still-existing Franciscan abbey of Saint Benedict of Palermo. Shawn had been the day before and had found a good pizzeria at a decent price. We transferred from the C line to the D line at the Diagonale Norte, a large metro station connecting three metro lines. Within 20 minutes we were seated at a small trendy restaurant ordering gourmet pizza. We shared a decently priced lunch and quite a few laughs trading travel stories. Their travels had started a couple of months earlier in Brazil, the next country in our itinerary. It was close to 4 PM when we walked out and went our own way. Shawn and Eli hopped back on the metro back to the hostel while we decided to walk through the parks along Avenida Sarmiento to see if we could find the world-famous Recoleta cemetery. We wandered without map but couldn?t find the cemetery. We assumed it would be located directly on a main avenue but it turns out it was hidden away a few streets away from where we walked. We returned after sunset that evening, happy but tired with our day.