If it hadn’t been for our tickets to the Wallabies-Pumas rugby match, I’m not sure that I would have wanted to go to Rosario. It’s Argentina’s third largest city, a statistic which, if anything, makes it less appealing. But we stayed five nights there, and even though it rained the whole time, I grew to harbor a little bit of affection for Rosario.
Cats and dogs are protected by the city.
“There are an awful lot of dogs here,” I remarked on our first day. Big dogs, little dogs, brown dogs, white dogs, loud dogs, sleeping dogs, so many dogs. And, down by the river, there were cats. Walking across wooden beams in the water, hanging around, hoping for fish.
Apparently, dogs and cats are protected, and anyone who harms an animal has to deal with the city of Rosario, who even makes sure that the strays are all fixed so the problem doesn’t increase.
Don’t make eye contact with a dog.
If you do, it will become your new best friend. It will follow you for kilometers, all over town, even if it is old and limping, which will make you feel extremely guilty. If this happens, your best bet is to slyly pass it off to a random, unsuspecting tourist and hope that it changes loyalties.
This is how we shook a dog at the national flag monument, which is always crawling with people.
That’s because Rosario is the birthplace of the Argentinean flag. Manuel Belgrano came up with the design in 1812 during the Argentine War For Independence, the people accepted it, and the flag was born. Argentina has one of my favorite flags, because it manages to use baby blue without seeming wussy. Maybe it’s that golden sun in the middle. Whatever it is, it works, and the flag monument is a nice tribute.
And I was beyond excited to discover that Rosario is considered the helado capital of Argentina. And in a spectacular show of sublime coincidence Rosario was hosting a helado festival on the very same weekend we were going to be there, in a field right behind the flag monument.
Then I learned that inclement weather can and will result in rescheduling the dates for a helado festival. I still can’t talk about it. The pain is too raw.
Rosario’s unique because I’m pretty sure it’s the only place outside of Ireland that has two Irish pubs, both named O’Connell’s. One is on Paraguay, and it’s huge and slightly impersonal. The other is on Av. Pellegrini, but is a small, get-to-know-your-neighbors kind of place. Neither is anything like an Irish pub, but that never seems to matter.
*Breaking news* I’ve just discovered that there are three O’Connell’s in Rosario. I guess it’s a chain. Doesn’t seem so weird now.
Little known fact – there’s a restaurant called Foccacia’s on the riverfront that has the best ravioli I’ve ever eaten. Maybe it’s because I was ravenous. Maybe it’s because I never ate any ravioli in Italy. But it was flipping fantastic, especially with the salsa mixta, a blend of red and white sauce.
I was ravenous because it was Sunday, and on Sunday most businesses in Rosario close their doors. Even the supermarket. And the bakeries. If you’re there on a Sunday or holiday, prepare for this if you don’t want to go hungry.
It appears that the residents of Rosario can afford to do things like eat ravioli and ice cream, followed by a late night of drinks, because Rosarians are exercise fiends. At nine o’clock on a Friday night, the riverfront promenade was at peak hour, with runners of all ages pounding the pavement.
If all that isn’t enough for you, here’s one last fun fact about Rosario: Che Guevara was born here. You can’t go into his house because it’s a private residence, but there is a big red banner pointing out its cultural significance. I assume this means that I can go to my first house and hang a banner that says “Lauren Fitzpatrick’s birthplace,” which I would totally do if it hadn’t been torn down. There’s just no respect for history in rural Illinois.
So, to sum it up: Rosario = cats, dogs, flags, ice cream, Irish pubs, ravioli, running, and Che. In the end, a little something for everyone – even when it rains.