The neighborhood of La Boca is, as many would say, a tourist trap. It is not uncommon to encounter more foreigners than locals wandering through the streets. You can definitely expect to see overpriced everything. And the tourist shop workers will go to any length to draw you in with hopes that you’ll buy some of their souvenirs. Yet, even knowing all of that, it is a spot that I recommend every Buenos Aires traveler should experience. There is a reason that so many tourists make La Boca a priority on their itinerary, and once you are there you will soon be overwhelmed by its charm and understand exactly why.
La Boca has a unique and diverse history that is represented by the unique and diverse color scheme of each passing home, restaurant, shop, grocery store, or any other business. Between 1880 and 1930, approximately 6 million foreign immigrants landed in the port of La Boca and liked what they saw so much that they decided to stay. The diversity had a huge effect on this area and its new inhabitants due to the different backgrounds of the settlers. As they began constructing homes their supplies were limited, especially their supplies of paint. And as a solution they used any and all leftover paint they could find or afford from the shipyard. The result of this painting frenzy was a one of a kind neighborhood that was adorned with every color of the rainbow.
The effect is very fun and animated and something you have to see to believe. It has drawn much attention to this port neighborhood since the early days of construction and consequently they have decided to maintain that tradition. Even today with the availability of new colors and supplies, the bright paint is symbolic of La Boca and gives it more character than you can possibly imagine.
Caminito is the main street of the area that is typically full of color, tango dancers, artists, and tourists with an excited trigger finger on their camera. The local artists spread their works of art across the streets to fill the lively outdoor market with displays and all kinds of fun. Each small door you pass opens up to an exciting world inside that offers every type of souvenir imaginable. On the weekends there is also the Feria de la Ribera, an arts and crafts market, set up outside.
Many people like to pick a dining spot while in La Boca and soak in the surroundings. There are many restaurants that come with twirling tango dancers, live tango music, and maybe even a request of your hand to try on your dancing shoes as well. But the locals are well aware of the tourist pocketbook and charge high prices. However high prices in La Boca are still cheap by American standards, and it may just be worth the money because it’s all part of the fun experience.
So you found the market, Caminito, the art work, some grub, and so now what? The Boca Juniors Futbol Stadium! If you have arrived on a game day, you will know. The futbol spirit is contagious and watching a game in Argentina is unlike any experience you will ever have. As the die hard fans wave their flags and yell out their Boca Juniors chants you will be amazed by the enthusiasm of the locals.
At the end of the day, you will be very glad you ventured to La Boca and will have made a day full of wonderful memories. Touristy? Well….yes; but also a very important part of the Argentine history and culture. And without a doubt a very fun place to spend part of your time in Buenos Aires.
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