Tag Archives: rosario

Why You Should Go To Rosario When Visiting Argentina

24 Jan

Sunrise by the National Flag Memorial

There are many excellent regions and cities to visit in Argentina, but one new place that I’ve just discovered is actually the (dispusted) second city of the country, Rosario. Mostly overlooked by foreign tourists, I feel that this quiet and laid back place deserves a second chance and more attention. Let’s look at the reasons why.

I like to think of Buenos Aires as “Latin America Light” (or for my American readers, “Diet Latin America”. What I mean by this is that you are in South America but in a relatively safe bubble comparably. Likened to Europe, the Westernized city is a smooth transition and perhaps easier to drink in than other places in the continent like Guayaquil or Cuzco. If that’s the case for Buenos Aires, then Rosario should also fall in that category.

Some rosarinos told me that there are dangerous parts like with any city, but it was clear to me that it was a safer environment in the center with less traffic, noise and pollution. Things like the bus system seemed to work well and people were respectful of each other. In the center you find bigger buildings and even newer towers that have sprung up in the last decade, but once you get away from the small downtown, the city becomes a quiet suburbia with cobblestoned tree-lined streets with low-story houses. Walking down the street you automatically feel at ease and greet the neighbors that you pass.

Rosario's costanera

Rosario is only four hours by bus from Buenos Aires, and on the Río Paraná you’re able to go swimming, kayaking or even parasailing. The city is hotter than Buenos Aires in the summer and colder in winter, but at night (in the summer) a cool breeze comes in from the river and you can head out towards the costanera, or river front, where bars and night clubs wait. Your money goes a bit farther in this town as well, as you notice how much less you need to spend on food, lodging and other goods.

To get a sense of the country outside of Buenos Aires, many people take day trips to the Pampas, but in many ways those small towns aren’t total representations of the Argentine culture because the gaucho lifestyle is played up pretty strongly. Rosario is a typical and authentic city with no touristic edge. What you see is an excellent representation of Argentina, right down to the incredibly friendly and welcoming locals. The people I met there went out of their way to be friendly and hospitable, from my bus neighbor who gave me a city bus card for free to my local host Juan who went out of his way to show us the fun that Rosario could offer.

This one is for the guys—Rosario is said to be the home to the most beautiful women in the country, and I would easily agree with that. The attractive women over the place were also friendly and approachable. As a foreigner you’ll likely find it easy to engage in a conversation with a rosarino because there just aren’t too many visitors there like in Buenos Aires. Porteños (people from Buenos Aires) are used to foreigners and therefore might not be as interested, but rosarinos want to talk to you and tell you to come back with your friends. This also makes for an excellent place to learn Spanish, because unlike Buenos Aires where you can easily get by on English, you’ll need to immerse yourself and practice in Rosario.

The beach in Rosario

If you’re coming to Argentina soon and have an unset itinerary, take my advice. Visit Rosario, even if just for a day while on a stop over to some other city like Córdoba or Puerto Iguazú. If you understand the need to see something more peaceful after the go-go pace of Buenos Aires, this is the place for you.

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27.5 Hours in Rosario, Part II

23 Jan

Waiting for the ferry back to the mainland

Rosario is one of the largest cities in Argentina, but with a smaller center you find the main concentration of the nightlife by the costanera (the river front). Juan told us a lot about the city and its culture. There’s been a lot of growth in the last 10 years, and we could see many new towers and others in the process of being constructed. Even with a river and the National Flag Monument, it’s a city which is hardly visited by foreign tourists. Rosarinos don’t understand why, but instead of feeling overlooked, they’re more than happy to show you around if you make it in. And trust me, if you’re looking for a nice trip out of Buenos Aires to a laid back city, Rosario is the perfect place. It’s cheaper, slower paced, and friendlier in general.

Flag Monument at Night

Juan led us to a pizza joint close to his house and we ate like kings for a relatively low price. Even though I wasn’t staying with him, he gave me a towel to shower up, set up the hammock for a much needed siesta before heading out at night, and gave me a clean shirt for going out in. Such hospitality makes me feel ashamed to have nothing to offer except my deepest gratitude and the promise to hopefully repay it some day.

Rocking slowly in the hammock with the heavenly breeze, the moon crept up to 12:30 am, and just as we bordered on napping too long and not going out, a Gilberto Gil cover of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” blasted from the speakers within the house. Rum and Coke was prepared as Diego, a friend of Juan’s showed up. Another incredibly friendly and engaging rosarino, Diego was also impressed by my Spanish and the fact that I knew of subtle cultural references. Again, living in a place for a year and a half has its benefits.

We decided to head to one of the clubs by the riverfront, but got there late and had to wait in line until 3 am when the bouncers told us there was no more room. Beautiful people were all around us and several other clubs offered a possibility to dance and stay out til dawn, so we headed over to a club frequented by mostly younger people, but likewise had a great time dancing until the horizon began to clear up. Getting dropped off at the hostel by Diego, we paused for a moment to see the sun rising by the Flag Memorial, capping off a great day and night.

The club at the costanera

I had to get up at 10 am to check out of the hostel, but walked around to Parque España to kill time and burned a bit more, eventually walking over half of the city to get to Juan’s place for lunch with the gang. My bus home was leaving at 4 pm, which was perfect to get back with ease before work tomorrow, but left me wanting more time in Rosario. The others had plans to kayak to an island and camp out for the night, but alas, I’m a working man. Andrea prepared a wonderful lunch of ñoquis, chicken and salad, and we ate well once again. I thought I’d have to walk to the hostel and then take a bus to quickly make it back in time, but Diego and another friend showed up and we all piled into the car. They drove me to the hostel to get my bag and then dropped me off at the bus terminal, sealing the deal on hospitality and what we say as “buena onda” or “good vibes”. The short time in Rosario couldn’t have been better, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I just wish I had more time there.

As the bus pulled out of town a smile broke across my face thinking about what a great trip it was, and it confirmed in my mind that I need to have travel in my life to be happy. It also reminded me that there are so many places and people outside of Buenos Aires worth knowing. I highly recommend a trip to Rosario, and urge you to spend enough time there to truly enjoy it.

Costanera

27.5 Hours in Rosario

23 Jan

View from the hostel, Rosario

The decision was made–I had to get out of Buenos Aires for a weekend. The thought of my last vacation being a year ago and wasting the entire summer in the city working was too much, and I gave myself the option of either visiting Rosario, the disputed second city of Argentina or going to the coast, most likely to Mar del Plata. Both cities are about equal distance from the capital, roughly 4 hours by bus, but Mar del Plata is more expensive and this time of year is packed with summer vacationers. I tried to use Couchsurfing to find a place to stay and meet people but was unsuccessful, so in the end I booked a bed at the Rosario Inn hostel for $45 pesos a night. To save money I would wake up early Saturday and spend a day and a half or so.

Just making to to Retiro bus station in time, I jumped on the 9:01 am and by 12:30 pm we were pulling in to Rosario a half hour ahead of schedule. So far so good. I decided to talk to the guy next to me who was from Rosario and he began to give me advice right off the bat. In about one minute he used the word “European” four times to describe Rosario and its people, yet he displayed anything but a superior attitude. In fact, though he wasn’t exactly sure which city bus I should take to get to the hostel, he pulled out his wallet and gave me a bus ticket for free. Additionally, he gave me his recommendations on where to sight-see and go out at night. Rosario had just moved up a notch on my list.

Near the National Flag Memorial

Getting the right bus was a breeze, and I immediately noticed a difference in that with buses in Buenos Aires you always need exact change, which no one ever has in stores, making life miserable. But in Rosario every ride costs $2 ARG, and you can either buy a card that’s good for two rides or put two peso coins in the machine in the bus. Simple and smart, this city of about 1 million had a jump on Buenos Aires. The colectivo took me through the center which was so quiet and dead in the middle of the day that I could have sworn I was in a small village. In fact, as we pulled into the city I asked how much longer it would be until getting there and my bus neighbor said we were already in Rosario.

He warned me to keep an eye on the heat and sun, which was more powerful in Rosario than in Buenos Aires, and he was right. As soon as I got off the bus it hit me hard, and I actually wound up with a bad sunburn on my back and shoulders, more my fault than the sun, I suppose. I’d been warned, after all. I easily found my hostel after getting clear and easy directions from an old man, and walking through town I began to say good afternoon to anyone I passed in the street, with them doing the same. That small town feel was back and the peace and quiet of a lazy Saturday afternoon in the summer was infectious.

At the hostel I dropped off my bag, took a look around and quickly left to meet up with my Ecuadorian friend Andrea and a travel companion named Mica from France. By chance they were traveling to Rosario at the same time and found lodging with Couchsurfing, so we were going to meet up at the National Flag Memorial. The Argentine flag was designed by Manuel Belgrano in Rosario, and now a huge monument is their claim to fame. During the day it’s pretty tame, and though you can climb up to the top for a view of the city, it was closed for siesta when we went. At night however, it becomes lit up with the colors of the flag and is really beautiful.

National Flag Memorial

Battling the extreme heat we had a picnic with sandwiches in the shade and went to meet up with Juan, the host for Andrea and Mica. Juan had a beautiful little villa a few blocks out of the center, but because the city is small and easily walkable we covered almost half of it in no time. An incredibly friendly and inviting man, he made me feel as if I was a guest with him as well. After talking for a couple of minutes he asked me if I was from Buenos Aires–a real compliment for me, saying essentially that my Spanish was so good that I had him fooled. The four of us then went down to the Paraná River, where for $20 we got a round trip ferry to the islands with a small beach. Though it’s just a river, the water was refreshing and half of the city seemed to be there drinking mate and sunning. One thing that I’d heard about was that the women in Rosario are incredibly beautiful, and are the most beautiful in the country. I can confirm this fact. I would say that a good 95% of the women (at least) are very attractive. But not only that, they are friendly and approachable.

We enjoyed the day until the sun set beyond the city, pulling one of those tricks when it says everything for you and leaves you speechless. Getting back to the mainland was a bit trickier as everyone on the beach lined up to get out at the same time, but unlike the last helicopter in Vietnam, this process moved smoothly and without much pushing or shoving. On the boat back as it was already night, we let the cool breeze wash over us and prepared for the night ahead…

Sunset on the Río Paraná

To be continued

Plans “Set”, Headed to Rosario Tomorrow

21 Jan

After failing to find an available couch in Rosario, I did a quick look around on the Internet today and found a nice looking hostel in Rosario. For $45 ARG a night the place is well located in the center and includes breakfast as well. So tomorrow morning I’ll be waking up at the same time as usual and heading down to Retiro bus station to play the odds and try to catch the 9 am bus from whichever company that’s going there. Buses leave frequently for Rosario, which is only 3 hours or so away, and if I can catch the 9 am I should be in by 12 pm or so.

It’s going to be just a quick trip to Rosario, for one night and then part of the afternoon before heading back to Buenos Aires. Hopefully I’ll be able to meet some interesting people along the way. I’m taking my camera, so finally I can bring some new pictures to the blog. Be back on Sunday night.

Trying to Make Weekend Plans

20 Jan

I admit that I’ve been lax on the traveling as of late. It’s expensive to travel in Argentina and working full time gets me tired out so that by Friday, I just want the weekend to hang around and regroup (although that usually means going out as well). Distances are great in this country, meaning I can’t make it to the more interesting sights that I really want to see in just a couple of days, but one city that has been on my mind for a while is Rosario. Just about 4 hours north of Buenos Aires, Rosario is maybe the second most important city in Argentina, and is perhaps comparable to Chicago to New York.

I prefer to travel with someone simply because I find the experience more rewarding, though I have traveled alone before. I’m trying to find a buddy to go along with, though at the moment it’s looking unlikely. On the other hand, I’m searching through Couchsurfing in the hopes of getting a place to stay and meeting someone new. The only problem is that a lot of people are on vacation, and I need someone to reply to me fairly soon so that I know if I need to bring my bag to work or not.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to get out of Buenos Aires for a couple of days, breath some new air, and even have some pictures to show for it.