I’m finally in Mar del Plata. The waiter brings a steaming cup of café con leche and three plump medialunas. I’ve been looking forward to this moment for months. Although I know it’s not done in public, I can’t resist the temptation to dunk that sweet goodness into the coffee. The alchemy is perfect.
My table at Confitería Boston is strategically positioned outside so I can watch people jog by and walk their dogs along the sea front, enjoy the blue green sea and breathe the invigorating salty air.
I take the 511 bus to the Banquina de Pescadores, the picturesque wharf where local fishermen unload the day’s catch from their orange boats. It is also the official residence of the city’s mascots, the sea lions. I walk past the shops selling tourist tat on my way to the quay. There are quite a few tourists there already. I take a few pictures of the sea lions lounging on the pier.
Maybe I should do just that: lounge in the sun. But first, lunch. I take the south-bound 511 bus and get off at Mirador Waikiki in Punta Cantera. I pray there’s a table available on the deck over the rocks and sea. There is one. I sigh with relief. The view of the beach, the sea and Mar del Plata’s skyline from that deck is mesmerizing.
I spend a leisurely hour or two sprawled on a hammock by the pool in the company of a good book and a refreshing drink. I strike up a conversation with fellow loungers. I then take a bracing walk along the beach.
So much sun and fresh air makes me a little tired. This time, I take a taxi back to the hotel. I book a relaxing massage session at the spa in readiness for the night’s revelries.
I go to Pehuén, a parrilla –steakhouse- in the trendy Barrio Los Troncos area. I meet up with the people I met earlier at the beach and have great steak, entertaining conversation and good wine. After dinner, we head to Avenida Constitución, where most of the clubs are . We choose Sobremonte and party to Latin rhythms until all hours.
At breakfast, I’m faced with a difficult decision. Should I go back to Confitería Boston and its delicious medialunas or try the famous churros at Manolo? Manolo wins and I head to their best location, the one on Boulevard Marítimo and Castelli Street. I’m regaled with mouth-watering dulce de leche-filled churros, coffee and views of the shimmering sea.
I stroll around, admiring the turn-of-the-century mansions and wondering where to go next. My motto is “when in doubt, go shopping”, so I head to Avenida Juan B. Justo. It’s known as the “avenida de los puloveres”, the avenue of sweaters, because the textile industry used to be very important and almost as big as the fishing industry, Mar del Plata’s bread and butter. Nowadays, Juan B. Justo is lined chock-a-block with clothes shops.
By the time I visit a few shops and score a few bargains, it’s already lunchtime. I take a taxi to Centro Comercial Puerto, the commercial area near the port, for some fish and seafood. The fish is as fresh as it gets, caught that day from the same sea I admired at breakfast. There are many options. I go to Chichilo and have a cazuela de mariscos – a fish and seafood stew in a tomato broth.
Now is a good time to take a stroll along Güemes Street and slowly make my way back to the hotel and real life.
Mar del Plata basics
Mar del Plata is the biggest seaside resort in Argentina. It’s 400 kilometres south of Buenos Aires, 50 minutes by air with Aerolineas Argentinas or Austral, or 6 hours by bus .
Confitería Boston, often referred to simply as “la Boston”, has been “the” place to go for the classic Argentinean combo of “café con leche y medialunas” (coffee and croissants) since 1958. There are four branches around the city: Diagonal Pueyrredón 3050, Buenos Aires 1927, Boulevard Marítimo 3887, Rivadavia 3050 and Av. Constitución 4694. My personal favourite is Boulevard Marítimo because it’s on the sea front.
Public transport – buses: Mar del Plata’s bus network is really good; it covers the whole of the city and the outskirts and connects it with the neighbouring towns of Santa Clara, Sierra de los Padres, Chapadmalal and Miramar. Since bus drivers don’t accept cash, you need to purchase a prepaid bus card at any of these locations. You can always hail a cab if buses are not your preferred means of transport.
Mirador Waikiki’s address is Avenida Martinez de Hoz 4320. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and are open all year round. Waikiki has a swimming pool and private beach area and there are cabanas and umbrellas for rent.
Sainte Jeanne Hotel and Spa : http://hotelsaintejeanne.com/indexing.html
Parrilla Pehuén: Bernardo de Irigoyen 3666
Sobremonte: Av. Constitución 6690.
Centro Comercial Puerto http://www.mardelplata.com/port/mall.html