A potted history of Buenos Aires
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Where I stayed
By 1850, San Telmo was full of aristocrats and their mansions complete with look-out towers they could watch their ships from in the port
We learnt that these houses and the slaves living in them were abandoned in the 1870s due to an outbreak of yellow fever. All the rich people moved to Recoleta (which is still the posh part of town) and left all the slaves looking after the houses to die (charming). Recoleta now houses the weirdest cemetery either of us have ever been to - row upon row of grotesque mausoleums arranged like a town of terraced houses. You can actually see the coffins stacked up on shelves within each one. One of the most famous residents is Eva Peron (Evita again!) and her mausoleum is always covered in freshly laid flowers.
The water tunnels we visited eventually became redundant because the river receded and the port ended up further away from the town. This area is now a beautiful ecological reserve full of marsh land and birds which we visited when we hired bicycles for the day and took our chances with the Argentinian traffic on a mammoth 4 hour bike ride.
Once the posh-os had left San Telmo and the yellow fever had gone, lots of European immigrants arrived in response to advertisements for labour by the government (mainly from Italy and Spain, but also from Wales as you'll see in the next blog post!). The mansions turned into shops with tenement housing above them across San Telmo and spilling over into neighbouring Boca. They brought with them new dance styles that evolved into Argentinian Tango...
As well as tango, the immigrants, in particular the British railway workers, also brought.....football and Boca Juniors and River Plate were born in the La Boca district. We had to go and see a Boca Juniors game at the famous Last Bombonera (chocolate box) stadium. We asked at our hostel and some guys in a minivan turned up, assuring us they had tickets. After waiting in the street outside the stadium for about half an hour we were snuck into the stadium area through the back of a restaurant, then a security guard held back the fence for us to sneak through to the turnstiles where we were snuck into the stadium. Lots of backhanders there! The game was just amazing and the fans didn't stop jumping and singing throughout (mostly about how River Plate fans were chickens, not because they were playing them but because of the fierce rivalry exacerbated by River Plate's permanent move to the posh part of town some hundred years ago).
So in summary....we loved this place, and that's only the half of it! See pics for more!