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Pay tribute to Las Madres in Plaza de Mayo
Founded in 1580, Plaza de Mayo is a stage on which many of the dramatic events in Argentina's modern history have played out. The central plaza saw massive trade union demonstrations and Eva Perón shouting from Casa Rosada's lower balcony in 1945, military bombings in 1955, and the police shooting of five protestors during the 2001 economic crisis. The pigeon-populated square hosts demonstrations and rallies most days of the week, but the peaceful Thursday vigil of Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo (Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo), whose children disappeared under the Argentine military junta they helped topple, is the most powerful and touching.

Contemplate fine art and industry at La Boca's Fundación Proa
You will do a triple take when you first glimpse the sleek Fundación Proa rising, stately and silver, above the filthy river and broken-down buildings of La Boca. The city's most distinguished art gallery is in fine form after an extensive renovation. Now Proa is a standout, not only for its clout in the international art scene - a Marcel Duchamp exhibit heralded the reopening - but also for its unlikely location in a recycled building on La Boca's gritty riverfront, miles away from the gallery districts of Recoleta and Palermo.

Join the hoedown at a country-style peña
Don't cry into your cerveza (beer) if you do not have enough time to spend the day at a country estancia (ranch) - you can soak up some gaucho culture without leaving the city limits. Peñas are folkloric music clubs where regional musicians perform on stage and a jovial crowd chows down on country-style cuisine. After the set, the real festivities commence as the audience passes around harmonicas and charangos (five-stringed guitars) for a community jam session.

Retreat to a leafy urban oasis in one of the city's parks
Even the most cosmopolitan traveller needs an occasional escape from the traffic-choked streets of downtown Buenos Aires. Throw together a picnic lunch - a half dozen empanadas (savoury-filled pastries) and a mini bottle of Malbec should do the trick - and retire to one of the city's green spaces for a lazy afternoon. You will feel wonderfully indulgent drinking wine on the grass while fitness-conscious porteños scamper past in shiny workout garb.

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