If your Lonely Planet advises you not to stray off the path, it’s smart to listen. Originally, I figured I’d walk everywhere. The barrios of BA are definitely pedestrian-friendly, however, not always totally safe. La Boca is a bit of a hike from Recoleta anyway, so today I had my first subte, or metro experience. Considering my only subte advice from my friend was “hang onto your shit,” I really cleaned out the satchel and left my passport and 100 or so pesos hidden at home. I successfully navigated the switches and met up with my friend Lee at Constitucion, where we tried, in severely broken Spanish, to get the bus to La Boca.
La Boca is basically a pretty poverty-stricken barrio, but the draw is all in the appearance. (I know, it’s so vain.) Apparently, someone suggested the residents paint their dilapidated abodes in the brightest shades in the box, so the homes are definitely photo-worthy. However, that’s only one small section of the barrio, known as El Caminito, where you really have much to see. And there’s certainly quite a bit to see, from tango shows to gaucho-type souvenirs. And the houses, of course.
A lot of the food places in the small area were really tourist-y and peso-hungry; you pay for slightly overpriced food, a tango show, and to tip the tango dancers. From my experience in Rome, I’ve learned that anyone waving a menu in your face does not have good food to offer. Lee had similar feelings, so we walked along the waterfront (safe, according to Lonely Planet) to check out this hole-in-the-wall local place I read about in my book. We had a map, and decided to try and navigate to the restaurant, which was off the beaten path. While the neighborhood did look a bit seedy, it was an okay walk, and we found the place, El Obrero, easily. And boy was it worth it. The filet mignon just fell apart in your mouth and the coffee was the strongest I’ve ever had. When the waiter returned, I told him, “Beef, very good beef of my life.”