If you leave the huge city center of Buenos Aires on one of the regularly congested avenues, there are three ways out of the chaos: One leads to the south, to the working-class district "La Boca", which welcomes its visitors with colorfully painted houses, streets and squares, where the colors blue and yellow dominate. This is no coincidence, as these are the colors of the legendary soccer club "Boca Juniors", which is based here in the south and plays its games in "La Bombonera" (box of chocolates) for its euphoric fans. According to legend, the two great city rivals Boca Juniors from the south and River Plate from the north once claimed the colors red and white for themselves and held a deciding match specifically for this purpose. Boca lost and chose its colors because of a Swedish ship in port at the time - painted in blue and yellow. The increased poverty rate in the south of the city is especially noticeable away from the tourist lanes, which are logically not among the safest areas of the city. At the same time, the inhabitants of La Boca celebrate their love for their neighborhood in their own special way. People sing, dance, barbecue and laugh in the streets and there is always a good atmosphere. Of course, the local streetfood may not be missing: the iconic are the delicious Choripan (sausage in a bun) or the Bondiola sandwich (pork steak) both marinated with proper Chimichuri (typical spicy-not-so-spycy sauce). They are available on every corner. We too, of course, hit it, even though our favorite grill, with the best choris in La Boca, had unfortunately not yet reopened after the pandemic. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle for a bit, the Costanera Sur is not far away: a nature reserve, which borders on the gigantic river "Rio de la Plata" and invites you to a bike ride along the riverbank, or just to chill out or have a relaxing siesta in the shade of the trees. This lead us to a fantastic view of the river, on a shady bench that we could not resist to take - Buenas Noches!
If you don't leave the city to the south, you will find the stark contrast in the north: The noble Tigre Delta attracts all Porteños who have enough pesos in their bank account and love to brag a little bit for living, strolling or just for a day trip on the weekend. The natural delta consists of a branched system of canals that connect the different islands. Immediately one feels reminded of Venice or the Floria Keys. Boats are the main means of transportation, luxury goods and toys of the wealthy society in the north of Buens Aires. On a tourist boat you get an impression of how life is lived here: Impressive villas in the middle of wonderful nature right on the water - each with its own boat dock. Exclusive restaurants, hotels, but also simple vacation homes, wooden cabins and camping sites line up along the canals. When a speedboat is not whizzing by, the interplay of nature, architecture and river radiates an impressive tranquility that can only be enjoyed. Daily life is well adapted and organized with school cab boats, grocery-yachts and canal police. In case we have not mentioned it yet: Argentina has the best ice cream in the world! Each "Heladeria" (ice-cream shop) produces traditionally its homemade ice-cream and one is nearly slain by the selection of sorts and tastes. If you wish, you can also taste the different flavors before buying - a real treat!
To the west, only the Rio de la Plata awaits you, and somewhere on the other bank of the river, Uruguay - with open borders, a great day trip by ferry. Heading east, after just a few kilometers on one of the ruta (country road), you reach the interior of the province of Buenos Aires and suddenly find yourself in the "campo" (countryside). In contrast to the hectic metropolis, life here goes at a leisurely pace. Along the various rutas that connect the pulsating heart of Buenos Aires from the northeast to the southeast with the rest of the vast country, you pass numerous small villages, each with its own charm. The people live mostly from agriculture, the bread is still baked in the wood oven and their siesta is sacred to the villagers. San Antonio de Areco is certainly a special pearl among the villages in the vicinity of Buenos Aires and with numerous small guesthouses, cafes, restaurants and pulperias (village pubs). Very popular for a day or weekend, tourists come looking for a relaxing break from Buenos Aires. So we did not miss the chance to visit Areco in the last few days before heading south and we definitely did not regret it: A beautiful village with a lot of charm and original flair!
A good 20 minutes away from San Antonio de Areco, you can reach the Estancia El Ombú de Areco via a dust road of several kilometers - a true jewel in the middle of nature! After much deliberation, we finally decided to really treat ourselves just once during our three-month stay in Buenos Aires - and it was a slam dunk! The only guests on a 300 hectare estancia with 12 rooms, welcoming up to 100 day guests in high season: unimaginable?! Once again, not in times of pandemic, without foreign tourists on a weekday! Already as we turned onto the eucalyptus avenue to the entrance to the estancia, we had the feeling that this was going to be a very special stay and that we had probably caught quite a good day. The search for a parking space on the huge estate was correspondingly easy and when Pablo then welcomed us with the words "Make yourselves at home, you are our only guests today", it was clear: we had done everything right! A sensational property from the early 19th century, which is restored and maintained with great attention to detail, in addition very cordial staff and of course mega luck with the weather - we have found it, the paradise in Argentina =) After a tour, we were welcomed with delicious empanadas and red wine - of course before the typical asado with salads, bread and a homemade flan with Duce de Leche for dessert - a treat. Chef Marta did not want to stop sharing her stories of almost 30 years of life on the estancia, when Pacho called us to the stable. With him Cacho, a true Gaucho who allowed us to explore the Estancia on horseback. The horses and his 5-year-old grandson Fausto were already waiting for the ride across the grounds under the afternoon sun - a dream! After just under two hours on the back of our four-legged companions, we had a rough overview of the huge area, full of cattle herds, horses and sheep, crossed by a river and very very very much green pasture. Afterwards we were ready for a cool down in the pool until the sun set behind the trees at some point. We don't have to mention that the starry sky after the delicious dinner was unbelievably beautiful and the shining moon did the rest. Before breakfast the next morning we went to the pool again, before we found ourselves a second time on the back of the horses. Cacho had left the offspring gaucho Fausto at home this time, and chosen a different route through the forest, along the eucalyptus trees - a crowning conclusion of an unforgettable stay! Even the fact that we realized only on our first stop on the way back that we, flashed by all the impressions, had totally forgotten to hand in the room key, could not change that ... =) Vivan los Gauchos!