Even the most avid tanguera or tanguero needs a break from the dance once in a while. Even in, or especially in Buenos Aires. Here are some of my favourite ways to spend time off the dance floor, in words and pictures.
1. Wander around and take photos
When I visit a place, I always try to have at least a day with nothing particular planned, in order to explore and take photos. Actually, I should remember to do this more back home too. I stayed in San Telmo and I didn’t move too far away during the week I was there. If you like taking photographs, it is a very picturesque neighbourhood to wander around, particularly in the earlier part of the day when there aren’t many people around. Most of these pictures were taken around Calle Estados Unidos and Plaza Dorrego.
2. Browse for books inside a former theatre
I have always loved bookshops, but El Ateneo Grand Splendid on Avendia Santa Fe 1860 is quite spectacular. The stage where tango legends such as Carlos Gardel and Francisco Canaro once performed, now houses the shop’s café. You can admire the architecture and sit in an armchair where the balcony seats used to be, read your new book or just people watch from above. If you are looking for books in English, you might be disappointed with the selection here. Head to Walrus Books in San Telmo instead, a tiny secondhand bookshop specialised in English language books with a great choice of English books in various genres. They open around noon and are closed on Mondays.
3. Visit one of the oldest parts of Buenos Aires: Manzana de las Luces
In my previous post I wrote about about this historic site in central Buenos Aires as it hosts a milonga on Friday evenings. During the day you can find a souvenir and antique market, an inner courtyard where you can take a break from the bustle of the city, as well as a cultural centre which organises different activities including exhibitions, theatre and concerts. Check their website for more information.
4. San Telmo Sunday Market
I know this one will be in every guidebook, but if you like markets you should not miss this if you happen to be in Buenos Aires on a Sunday. There is live music, street food and all kinds on sale, if you still need to pick up some souvenirs. During the week, the San Telmo indoor market sells mostly food and a smaller selection of souvenirs. Both can be quite pricey, but worth a look around.
5. Recoleta Cemetery
Visit the final resting place of Eva Peron in this unique cemetery with its narrow laneways. Outside there is usually a market and there are plenty of cafés and restaurants in the surroundings to take a break.
6. Go to the theatre, or take a guided tour
I really enjoyed the guided tour of the Teatro Colon and it was during the tour that I found out about the free concerts which are organised once or twice a month, on Sunday mornings at 11am. You need to get your ticket at the box office the Friday before. Queuing starts at 10am and tickets are limited to 2 per person.
7. Have a coffee
If you are a(n aspiring) writer, do you ever sit in cafés once frequented by famous authors, hoping that some of the inspiration vibes are still there, floating around? Or is that just me? Anyway, London City (Av. De Mayo 591), where Julio Cortazar is said to have written a large part of his first novel, Los Premios (the winners), is a nice place for a break if you’re around the city centre, with friendly staff and food at reasonable prices. Café Dorrego in San Telmo is a quiet place to go during the week in the mornings if you’re looking for somewhere to write and listen to tango music at the same time.
What is your favourite place in or around Buenos Aires? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!