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Let’s GO Rowing in Tigre!
One of the best day trips that I have made from Buenos Aires is to visit Tigre. Tigre is a small town north of Buenos Aires which is easy to reach by train. It is situated on the Lujan river and from the town, you can go on excursions into the Paraná Delta. The town has been a tourist destination for a long time and as you walk along the riverfront, you can see old mansions that were built for these tourists.
There are a number of reasons that you may want to visit Tigre. There is the vast market in the old port, an art museum, a Naval Museum, an amusement park, a casino, antique shops, restaurants, and the pretty streets and Riverside to walk down. However for me, one of the most unusual things about the town was a large number of rowing clubs and rowers on the water. It seemed that everywhere I went I would see something relating to rowing. People were on the water, rowing in their boats. Rowers practising for races. There were rowing boats for hire. And all over the waterfront, there are rowing clubs. Tigre is, in fact, famous around the world as a centre for rowing. It has a long history of rowing and rowing clubs and it is even being considered to become a UNESCO world heritage site given its unique characteristics.
The practice of rowing was introduced in Argentina during the last quarter of the 19th Century by members of the British community. They were initially in Bueno Aires but had started rowing in Tigre as the delta provided perfect conditions. They set up a rowing club that is still going today. Soon after French, Belgians, Germans, Swiss, Scandinavians, Italians, Spaniards and the Jewish community had also set up rowing clubs in Tigre. With this large number of clubs, Tigre became one of the most important centres of rowing on the continent. It still remains the main concentration of rowing clubs in South America. It was these original clubs that give the town its unique feel. All along the waterfront, you can see the clubs, still in their original buildings. The rowing clubs here are famous around the world not only for its rich history but also because they have produced many champion athletes.
It is these clubs which give Tigre a very different feel and look than any other Argentine towns. Since the early clubs were started by various immigrant groups, each group often built their own clubhouse in the architectural style of their home country. The variation of architecture is a testimony to the wide variety of immigrants that were moving to Argentina around that time. Soon after the rowing clubs were set up, Tigre became more popular for people from Buenos Aires to visit. It was often the wealthy who came. This can be seen in some of the other buildings around town, especially in the impressive art museum. The tradition of Tigre as a tourism and excursion destination is still alive since the town is one of the most visited places of the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires. The rowing clubs continue their original functions. But they also provide a space where traditional skills and knowledge related to construction and repair of boats have also been preserved.
If you are in Tigre, you can hire rowing boats and go out into the Delta which is a lot of fun. Or if you are not feeling so energetic, there are many boat tours too. If you do get one, I would recommend going to visit the nature reserve in the Delta. It is also interesting looking at how people live on the delta. All the houses are on stilts to protect from flooding and, as there are no roads, all services are provided by boats or water taxis. So as you go through the delta you will pass boats that have shops on them or even a library. If you are in Buenos Aires for a longer period of time, maybe you could even join one of the clubs. They offer much more than just rowing nowadays. They have facilities for a number of other sports and will hold many social events. They could be a perfect place to escape to from the bustling city, and an opportunity to immerse into the local community and culture.
Written and contributed by Oliver who is enjoying life in Buenos Aires and studying Spanish at Vamos Spanish Academy.