Talking Bushes, Trains and Other Family Fun in Tucumán

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There used to be a time when travelling meant stuffing my least smelly clothes into a rucksack and heading down to the local bus station to see what departures were due in the next couple of hours.

Now that we travel as a family with a young daughter things need to get done a lot differently. We need to plan in advance, for a start. It is also important to know that the destination offers plenty for an energetic three year old to do. Thankfully, we recently discovered that the wonderful Argentine city of San Miguel de Tucumán fits the bill. The region it is in is called Tucumán but most people seem to just call the city by that name too. It was my second trip to the city but my first in which I had to look for family fun as a priority.

Trips to the Giant Park

As the bus rolled into Tucumán and the long journey finally came to an end I was puzzled to see a seemingly never ending expanse of green out the window. Oh, it’s the 9 de Julio Park, I thought. It’ll disappear soon. However, it just kept on appearing outside the window all the way to the station. This is one of the biggest city parks I’ve ever seen and a brilliant place for day trips with a picnic. Lots of locals appear to use it every day but it’s so enormous that it never looks busy. One thing to look out for here is the massive amounts of leaf cutting ants in some parts of the park. No matter how many times I see those chaps go about their work I can’t do anything other than stop and admire how they carry just giant pieces of leaf in such an orderly line. If people were more like leaf cutting ants the world would be incredibly boring but a lot more organised.

A Touch of Culture

imagesIt is hard to add much culture to your trips when you have a small companion nagging about wanting a Happy Meal and needing to go the toilet. However, Tucumán has some easy options for getting a quick dose of the local culture. This is the city where Argentine independence was declared and you can re-live the whole experience with the help of talking bushes and coloured lights. It sounds weird but the Casa de Tucumán is a place not to be missed on your trip here.

The Shopping

Like all of the major Argentine cities I have visited, Tucumán has pedestrian shopping streets in the centre. They are good fun to stroll along and do some people watching in. However, for a grittier and cheaper experience I can recommend the slightly ramshackle looking market down by the bus terminal. It doesn’t look like the safest place to hang around after dark but it is a good bet for snapping up a cheap Argentine football top or (sigh) yet another Dora la Exploradora backpack. It gets hot and humid here in summer (when I went last time) so the central shopping malls are a good bet for cooling off with some air conditioning. In the cooler winter months it is easier to wander about and see more of the shopping areas on offer.

The Train Ride

The park I mentioned earlier is so big that it even has a fun little train that goes round it. It does a big loop round the park that seemed to last about 15 or 20 minutes or so I would say. I guess that it is mainly aimed at kids but going on it is a good idea to let you get your bearings and, hey, put a bit of choo-choo fun into your life. Finding the station is easy, as all you need to do it look for the tracks round the edge of the park and then follow them to the only station, which is next to an amusement park.

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