Beyond the city

August 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Bit of a gap since my last post – no real excuse other than bad organisation and…well, bad organisation. Classes at the university have more or less got going, despite another couple of ‘bomb threats’, I’ve continued to meet people, explore the city and generally enjoy myself. Last weekend I did however reach a point where I needed a break from Buenos Aires – as fun as it is, it can be a bit overpowering (particularly if, like me, you’ve never lived in a big city before). There isn’t a huge amount of green space either, at least not close to where I live.

My destination of choice, then, was Rosario, a city in the province of Santa Fe, and 4 hours from the capital by bus (peanuts, in Argentine terms). It’s not renowned as one of Argentina’s top attractions, but it certainly served a purpose. Which was partly to reassure myself that Argentina existed outside of Buenos Aires (it does, and it’s flat and grassy, from what I’ve seen). It was also partly to have a couple of days in a quieter environment, to let me catch my breath. It was perfect for that, since it’s got most of the attributes of a city like the capital  – stylish old buildings, trendy cafés, bars, galleries and theatres – but on a smaller, more tranquil scale.

The big draw for me, though, was the river. The Paraná is the second-biggest river in South America (I’m not sure by what measure), and the area along its banks in Rosario has been redeveloped and has lovely parks, restaurants etc. The Monday I was there was a bank holiday, so the whole town was out along this strip of greenery, sunbathing (with mate, of course), playing games, or eating food from the several family-run grills scattered around. The atmosphere was , it was sunny, and I finished reading Middlemarch. All in all, a good trip.

There are photos of Rosario (and some new ones of BA) here.

I realise as I write that I’ve mentioned mate a couple of times now without explaining what it is. It’s a herbal tea which the Argentines drink religiously (not really an exaggeration – the social ritual involved in preparing and drinking it is amazing). A subject for the next post, I think.

Another subject for a post is tango – I’ve been enjoying the annual festival at the moment, and went to an astonishingly good concert by Néstor Marconi on Thursday. Until then, here’s a taster:

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