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Thursday, March 18, 2010

San Telmo

San Telmo is the oldest barrio in Bs. As., alive with culture and music and, of course, tango. During the week, it is home to antique shops, art galleries and plenty of cafes; but the weekend holds the real time to visit San Telmo. Each weekend, mostly on Sundays, the cobblestone streets transform into an enormous outdoor market filled with antiques, crafts and artisan items. San Telmo is just a short cab ride from where we live, so it is an easy destination for an afternoon trip. While my mom was in town, I reserved our Sunday to visit the San Telmo market.

The main street in San Telmo is Defensa Street, famous for the street fight between the porteños (Buenos Aires natives) and the British where the porteños put together an impromptu militia and sent the British back to their awaiting ships. This is seen as the first main step in gaining their independence from Spain a few years later. San Telmo is also recognized as one of the potential birthplaces of the Argentine Tango. There are a few other barrios that make this claim, so it depends on who you talk to as to where the actual birthplace was. The weekend market spans countless blocks down Defensa Street, but it seems to begin at Plaza Dorrego. In the Plaza itself, you'll find a higher concentration of antique booths, and the further you walk down Defensa, the more jewelry, mate paraphernalia and clothing booths appear.

We were only a few steps out of the taxi when we ran into this cool tango band complete with three accordians. Throughout our visit to the market, there were countless bands, Spanish guitar players and tango stages set up for open air shows. There are plenty of unique items including horse accessories; stirrups, bits and decorations made out of horseshoes, old time seltzer bottles and lots of copper spoons, jugs and buckets. Additionally, there are plenty of really great finds just waiting to be purchased from the artisan stalls in the market - like this cool "Welcome" sign that I bought.

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