On our last day in Buenos Aires, we fancied exploring an alternative district of the city and made our way to La Boca. On the edge of a shipyard, La Boca is a gritty, working-class area of the city, famous for its highly successful football team Boca Juniors and a host of colourful tin houses, created by Italian shipyard workers in the boom days.
We found the 39 bus which would take us from our hostel in Palermo to La Boca. The bus weaved its way through the hectic central Buenos Aires traffic, people everywhere and horns honking. Amazingly, the bus fare was only around 30p, and a number of buses have an old school American feel about them.
After half an hour on the bus, the bus driver waved at us to get off on one of La Boca’s main streets. We strolled through a small square passing by locals selling fruit, eggs and burgers, before making our way down to El Caminito, a tourist street where the colourful houses host souvenir shops and restaurants.
In honesty, it did feel uncomfortably a bit like a tourist circus, waiters trying to entice you into restaurants, iPhones trying to capture the perfect Insta pic. Of course, we too were a little guilty of entering this circus, but we decided to slip off down towards the Boca Juniors stadium, La Bombonera. Clay statues of past players stood proudly outside the football souvenir shops, and a lone father and son kicked a football back and forth in a concrete park.
Boca’s colours of blue and yellow paved the streets next to the stadium, a throwback to the Swedish flag, the originators of the club.
On our way back to El Caminito, we stumbled across a rough around the edges looking bar. It was one of those classic football bars, with posters and memorabilia from floor to ceiling. A couple of old boys were flicking through the local morning news, a beer in hand. We slipped on to a table, ignoring the stares from the locals and ordered two choripan, essentially a sausage sandwich topped with chimichurri (a dressing of oregano and chilli) for a mere 80 pesos (£1.30).
A cat strolled across the bar looking nonchalantly at the moulding ceiling. The interior was rough, but the sandwich was top notch.
At the end of the road, we found ourselves back in the circus, so we flagged a bus down towards Purteo Madre. The driver weaved his way through La Boca streets at equally breakneck speed as the last driver. These were the human streets, with kids playing in the streets and old, rusting buildings.
A world away from the circus.
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