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May 26, 2011 · ,

Buenos Aires seen with the eyes of an Argentine-born now living in Europe

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I was born in the city where tango was born. I lived there until I finished my studies. I left Buenos Aires for a couple of years, partly pushed by my own desires of travelling and experiencing the world…

I came to Europe looking for new opportunities and the idea to develop my career. Here I am living in London 11 years later. They say time flies and I realised that is true as soon as I find myself writing this post and I remember leaving Mi Buenos Aires querido as the tango says. London opened its doors and welcomed this porteño that left his tango back home.

I went back to Argentina after 10 years. I remember the mix of emotions when the plane was landing. I would describe it a feeling of weird anxiety and excitement to see my family and friends who would be waiting for me.

Warm hugs and kisses from family and friends in the Arrivals area of the airport confirmed I was back home…We Argentines and probably most Latin American countries know that kisses and hugs are a patent and distinctive way to show our love and affection to our beloved ones and trust me, we are all well-known worldwide for that.

After a big family gathering sharing a typical asado, I just had the deep desire to be part again of the city I had left a while ago and experience its sights and sounds once again. This time not as the native porteño that once left, but as tourist to be able to witness how the city had changed after so many years…

I decided to re-experience Buenos Aires my way. I took the tube and decided to head downtown. I took the Line A, the same one that I used to take when I used to go to school. My best friend Martin decided to join me and he noticed in my eyes showed a slight sign of amazement in everything I saw.

Buenos Aires was always to me a Volver, just like the tango, a true desire to come back and casa-rosada-buenos-aires-300x225see my city as the city worldwide known for its Casa Rosada, the Obelisco and now the magnificent renewed Puerto Madero which astonished my eyes: high skyscrapers, and a developed area of hotels and restaurants. I was back in the city featured in the famous film Evita, the city of tango and my football team Boca Juniors. We headed to La Boca, Caminito, Spanish for ‘Little Path’. It is a colourful and lively area with many traditional cafés and street artists and very close to Caminito is ‘La Bombonera’, the Boca Juniors’ stadium. I found myself taking pictures as any other tourist there, even buying postcards for my friends back in England!

We jumped on the bus and headed to San Telmo. We visited the famous street market of antiques and rare objects just in Plaza Dorrego. San Telmo is considered to be one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Buenos Aires; however, it looks that time had stopped in this area intentionally as to make visitors experience its unique ambience.  The many cafés and restaurants, lots of shops and market stalls line up the cobblestone streets making the area vibrant. I saw a couple dancing tango and an improvised milonga formed in the small corner. Most of the couples dancing were foreigners learning to dance. Just sublime!

It was around 6 in the afternoon, when my friend suggested having some ‘mate’. More than Argentina’s traditional drink, mate is an excuse to catch up with a friend while hanging out as if you were in a restaurant or in pub. We went to Los Bosques de Palermo, which translates as ‘Palermo Woods’, my favourite green area in Buenos Aires. This park boasts a magnificent array of sculptures and there is a small lake with pedal boats. The park is very close to the Planetarium whose building looks like a massive landed UFO.

While on holiday I saw my family and friends and I experienced Buenos Aires as a tourist. I stayed for 2 weeks and this time I experienced it as I had never imagined I would have lived it. Now, I understand Gardel’s famous tango Volver and some of the words in its lyrics and his eagerness while singing it. Now, I understand why my friends in London longing to visit the city. Some of them planning to learn Spanish, others dreaming of learning to dance tango.

I am now back in London, and while my days in Buenos Aires may seem further away than I’d like, it’s heartening to know that there are plenty of regular flights to my Buenos Aires querido.

Sebastian Chirino is a Buenos Aires-borned Argentine who is currently living in London, England, working as the Content Editor at Cheapflights.co.uk.

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