We continued our Argentinian journey and caught a bus from Buenos Aires four hours north-west to Rosario. Most famous (as far as I can tell) for being the birthplace of Che Guevara, Rosario isn’t a common recommendation for top places to stay in Argentina, and many choose to visit simply as a way to break up the journey to the second largest city, Córdoba. I wasn’t expecting much from Rosario, maybe I just didn’t know much about it, but I’m really glad we didn’t skip it. The weather was lovely, the people friendly and the walks around the city were great. It’s not particularly big, and there aren’t lots of touristy things to do, but here’s a little of what we got up to.
The Monumento Histórico Nacional a la Bandera, or the National Flag Monument, is a huge tower by the shore of the Panama river. It was erected on the anniversary of the death of Manuel Belgrano, the designer of the Argentine flag, who raised it on the opposite shore of the river for the first time in 1812. It’s a huge representation of national pride, with flags surrounding it, and it is lit up at night in the national colours. It’s also where the main celebrations of Flag Day take place every June. We went up to the top of the tower one afternoon and got a great view of the city from above.
The Panama river stretches the length of Rosario (and beyond) and I think it’s a real asset to the city. For purely aesthetic purposes it makes walks in Rosario really pretty. There are several stretches of long park beside the river and even though it’s winter, the sun was shining and we took the opportunity to sit outside in the sun with a beer, watching the boats pass by.
We also spent an afternoon in Parque Independencia which was full of kids enjoying their school holidays. We joined the masses renting pedalos and had a good pedal around the lake in the middle, listening to some very dramatic Argentinian pop music. We then toyed with the idea of candy floss, but then decided against it as most of the candy floss clouds were bigger than the children eating them and we thought we’d probably feel ill. They also had llamas and ponies in the park which you could ride for a small cost, but we were definitely too big and heavy.
The next day we decided we’d visit Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara’s first home, the apartment his parent rented when he was a small child. It was recommended in our Lonely Planet guide book, but it didn’t say much about it. We realised once we found it that the reason the book said little about it was that there was little to see. You couldn’t go inside and it’s still a normal private residence. There was a small sign outside with Che’s face on it, and two other tourists standing on the other side of the road staring at the apartment block, but apart from that it was an apartment building like any other. We felt a little bit like the Death Eaters in Harry Potter, when they’re standing watching Grimmauld Place which is invisible to them. We stood across the road watching the house as if something was about to happen. Nothing did.
After our visit to Che’s house we went for lunch at a vegetarian buffet, which was very popular with the locals and was very cheap and tasty. They had meat dishes to order off the menu, so Toby did that and I delved into the mass of vegetables and pies and tortillas. With a free glass of juice to wash it all down, we were pleasantly surprised by our find. Being a vegetarian in Argentina might not be as hard as we had thought!
Rosario was a great second stop on our Argentinian journey, it’s a small and walkable city which feels pretty safe and has plenty of history.