Ernesto (Che) Guevara was born in 1928 in Argentina’s third largest city, Rosario. Although nowadays a private apartment, enthusiasts still like to go and see the building situated at Entre Rios 480. They didn’t live here for long though as the family moved to Cordoba, where their home is now a museum. Che Guevara (as he was more commonly known) was a major player in the Cuban revolution. A medical student who became radicalized after seeing the poverty and exploitation on a trip through South America, he was finally captured by CIA backed Bolivian forces and executed in 1967. Revered and reviled depending on which side you are on, he is Rosario’s most famous son – along with Lionel Messi of course!
Situated on the Rio Parana, one of the most attractive things about Rosario is that it is not an obvious tourist destination and therefore it feels as though you are seeing the real Argentina. Unlike Buenos Aires and its residents (known as Portenos), Rosario and Rosarinos are not so used to foreign visitors and as a result are generally friendlier and more welcoming. The city is a lot more laid back and does not have such bad traffic or pollution, plus it is only a four hour bus trip from the capital.
Similar in architectural style to Buenos Aires, Rosario does not exude a dangerous vibe, although as in all cities it is wise to keep your wits about you. It’s easy to get around as well, the city centre is manageable on foot and when you want to head further out the bus system also works quite well. Although it can look like a large city from a distance with a few tall buildings dotted along the horizon – once there it feels far more manageable. It is the sort of city where residents know and greet each other on the street all the time.
One of Rosario’s main draws is the Rio Parana - where you can swim, water-ski, kayak, parasail or simply just relax on the beach. It doesn’t feel like you are in a city at all. The river front (costanera) is also home to many bars, restaurants and clubs and draws in a young crowd to party every weekend. It appears to be a healthier and more outdoorsy city than Buenos Aires, the residents seem very active and there are lots of opportunities to keep fit – including numerous gyms, power walking and running alongside the river.
The locals (reputedly the best looking in Argentina) make very gracious hosts. They welcome visitors wholeheartedly and will be thrilled you made it to their city, of which they are very proud. They are undoubtedly a very hospitable folk. English might not be quite so widespread here so it’s a good place to practise your Spanish skills.
Although it may not have as many cultural attractions as Buenos Aires, there is certainly enough to keep you entertained for at least a few days. One of the most accessible destinations, it is easy to get to with many daily buses from the capital. As cities go Rosario is not too overwhelming but of course it’s always nice to escape and when the countryside calls it doesn’t take long to get out of the city and into the Pampas. Spending time on one of the estancias is the perfect antidote to urban life and Argentina has some of the best in the whole continent. Spending a few days relaxing, riding, eating, drinking and so on in beautiful surroundings is an absolute must while there. Have a look at www.historichaciendas.com for inspiration.
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