San Antonio de Areco Square
The Biddington's Bentley Takes to the Road

San Antonio de Areco, Argentina
A Weekend Trip near Buenos Aires

Editor's Note: Jake Biddington reports in this February 2006 installment of The Bentley.

Arriving at siesta time in the pampas town of San Antonio de Areco brings to mind a set from an Orson Welles film: Dissolved in intense sunlight, the narrow, cobbled streets are silent save for the fluttering chirp of cicadas and clicking sound of dog paws on pavement as the occasional stray passes by--ghostlike. The solitary visitor plods along empty, shuttered blocks to the town square in search of a cerveza and some shade when turning a corner: suddenly whoosh, plop, splash & childish squeels of glee. He's been caught in the crossfire of a water balloon war.

The combatants are gangs of 11-13 year old boys, pre-pubescent girls trailing baby brothers, mixed groups 6 to 9 years old, all circling, strategizing, refilling for the next foray. Occasionally teen-age girls on mopeds, nostalgic for past glories, try to run the gauntlet. They nearly drown in the process to the delight of all armed forces. Occasionally, a cop car cruises by to chat with the players to ensure that the fun stays somewhat within bounds. At an ice cream shop, the owner confirms the sanctioned perameters of the war: every Saturday afternoon until the shops reopen at 6.

Plaza Ruiz de Arellano in San Antonio de Areco

So was my introduction to this lovely old town on the edge of the wet pampas--a grassland area rich in crops and cattle. Like many colonial towns, its elegant stone buildings border a square with a large church as an anchor. The main commercial activity is along Alsina street where the usual clothing and appliance stores are joined by artisan's shops selling handmade silver and leather objects. The silversmiths employ traditional pampas imagery such as the gaucho's cross, bells and cardomon blossoms for jewelry and belt decoration. Handsome bone handles accent heavy, finely wrought knives and platters. The silver represents quality at value prices. The leatherwork is more rustic with a gaucho flair.

February in San Antonio de Areco, as in other parts of Argentina, means carnevale celebrations. The one here, with floats, music and kids spritzing "nieve" on each other is centered around the Plaza Belgrano. It is well attended by all ages but especially by throngs of children, with the adult crowd hanging closer to the perimeter--overseeing the activities out of nieve range. The celebration continues well into the night to the delight of the children and young teenagers. In the booming comeback from the economic collapse of 2001, the biggest crop is children. Every 20-something woman on the street is either pregnant or has a small child in tow. In Argentina, children are valued but not coddled. The planned activities--day and night--in San Antonio de Areco show how this community makes a place for kids to grow up having fun, raising a little hell but within reasonable, known bounds.

Specialty Regional Silver Shopping in San Antonio de Areco:

Facundo N. Robleado--lovely silver jewelry handmade on the premises. Alsina 155.
Casa Oberti-- Regional jewelry and boxes as well as decorative objects and frames. Alsina 138.

How to Get There

By car via Ruta 8.
By bus, from the Retiro Bus Terminal in Buenos Aires. In this very busy, well-organized terminal, the bus companies are grouped together by region. The comfortable Chevalier bus takes about two hours and costs $8US round trip. On summer weekends, the buses are usually full, so it's advisable to reserve ahead.

Where to Stay

The town runs chock-full, so unless you plan to stay at one of the pricey estancias outside of town, there are just a few options. Near the river, both Hotel San Carlos and Los Abuelos Hotel look acceptable. Otherwise, knock on the door of one of the modest guest houses before the completo signs appear.

Catalina Chervin ink drawing Pequeña balada
Argentinean artist Catalina Chervin
"Pequeña balada 54"
Ink Drawing with Sanguine Wash

More Destinations:
Restaurant Guide to Buenos Aires--2006
Northwest Argentina: Tucumán, Salta & Cafayate
Tigre, Argentina--Day Trip from Buenos Aires
San Antonio de Areco, Argentina--Weekend Trip from Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires--Basic Guide
Travel Guide to Montevideo, Uruguay
Visiting New York City 2006
New Haven, Connecticut
Cultural Touring along Spain's Costa del Sol
Touring in Lisbon
Touring in Milan
Touring in Antwerp
Touring in Barcelona
I-80 Park City to New York City
Tourism New York City 2003 Update
Tourism New York City 2002
Hudson, New York (Columbia County)
Tourism Rome 2002 Update
Hartford & Wilton, Connecticut
San Francisco Jackson Square
New Hampshire Route 1A
Morris County, New Jersey


Here at BIDDINGTON'S, our work is also our play. When we're not exhibiting and discussing art online, we're learning about wonderful objects in shops, at great shows and in museums all over the world. In this article, Jake Biddington offers tourist information and descriptions of this interesting destination.

Contact Jake Biddington about His Travels

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