I have a confession to make.
Don’t worry, I didn’t vote leave or download James Arthur’s new album – it’s actually much worse than that.
At the end of my last post, I claimed that my next stop was Córdoba, knowing full well that I was publishing the piece from the comfort of my hostel in Rosario.
However, like every professional liar, I have a few excuses.
More often than not, the place you’re visiting will naturally grow on you. But in the minority of cases, you know within an hour of walking round your host city that it’s not for you. Unfortunately, Rosario was one of those places.
Almost every traveller I’ve met here (including myself) has a copy of the Lonely Planet guide to South America on a Shoestring.
Up to now it’s come in pretty handy, offering great tips on what to do, places to go, and things to see.
However, a guide to South America is never going to say that a city isn’t worth visiting. Could you imagine a guide to the UK saying: ‘Best to give Dundee a swerve because it’s dirty and always rains’?
No? Neither can I.
Instead, any travel guide is going to glorify and oversell its product to the point that the reader feels guilt tripped into jumping on the next bus across the Tay Bridge having read all about Dundee’s shiny new waterfront and friendly people.
Indeed, Lonely Planet described Rosario as ‘Buenos Aires without the loco coco’.
Now I’m not entirely sure what that means, and after being in Buenos Aires, a smaller brother version of the capital isn’t exactly what you need. But being assured by Lonely Planet that Rosario is, in many ways, Argentina’s ‘second city’ naturally made me feel obliged to go.
This isn’t meant to be a slight on Rosario, which is in no way responsible for its convenient geographical location just four hours west of one of the most exciting cities in the world.
However, after experiencing the sleep when you’re dead mentality of the nation’s capital, putting yourself through a smaller scale of the same thing isn’t top of the to-do list.
There are some similarities: Rosario has a wide main avenue lined with pricey restaurants and bars, some big concrete buildings, and a phallic shaped monument that you can scale for a birds-eye view of the badlands.
But if I were writing a guide to South America, I’d probably advise travellers to skip Rosario and head straight to Córdoba.
Lonely Planet will tell you that Córdoba is the ‘cultural capital’ of Argentina, but you can’t help but wonder what a city has to do in order to be afforded such a title.
Sure, Córdoba has some interesting museums (all free on a Wednesday) and seven universities, but Buenos Aires wasn’t short in those departments, and there are only so many cathedrals you can sink a pint next to before feeling the urge to cleanse yourself with holy water.
In fairness, the city’s old town is beautifully picturesque, equipped with colourful and authentic cathedrals, narrow cobbled side streets, and a brilliantly crafted Jesuit block.
This is what you would describe as Córdoba’s cultural centre, and the rich history is enclosed by a certain buzz that can only be generated by the presence of so many students.
Indeed, the city isn’t huge and is easy to navigate by foot but, unlike Rosario, is inescapably busy. The sidewalks are cramped and in 38° heat it is exceedingly sweaty, but the vibrant atmosphere makes Córdoba a great place to be – especially at night.
Unlike other South American cities, Córdoba feels safe after dark, and wandering down to Belgrano treats you to some funky bars with rooftop terraces and carnival decor.
The city is renowned for its prominent underground scene, but a lot of locals flock over the river after midnight, frequenting the popular dark disco room of Maria Maria which blasts Brazilian beats and remixes until the early hours.
So in terms of Argentinian cities, it feels as if I started with the Champions League and started to work my way down into the domestic sphere. But, like the Championship and Vanarama Conference South, Rosario and Córdoba have their own style and romanticism to make you appreciate them – even if you might have to try a little harder.
Next stop, the wine region of Mendoza. Until then.