Boca Juniors. One of the most famous football teams in the world. Thanks in large part to one man. Diego Maradona. In 1986 Maradona almost single handedly brought Argentina through to win The World Cup in Mexico, he has been a hero in these parts ever since. La Bombonera is where he used to play his trade.
La Bombonera, translated as ‘The Chocolate Box’ due to its shape, is based in the area of San Telmo down by the docks. An area that is synonymous with the creation of the famous dance, The Tango. Just 500 yards down from the stadium the dance is routinely performed in the tourist area of Caminito.
San Telmo though does come with a reputation. This isn’t a wealthy area. In fact, it’s downright dangerous if you stray off the beaten path. For safety reasons we decided to take a taxi directly to the stadium instead of braving the 30 minute walk from San Juan subte station.
It proved to be a good call, the scenery changes dramatically as you head into San Telmo. This is a rough neighbourhood. The stadium though is bright and inviting. Yellow and blue proudly displaying the colours of Boca, I couldn’t wait to get in.
Tickets for the tour were easy to buy from the club museum which is clearly signposted from Brandsen Street. Our tickets cost $150 ARS (£3.15) each, outstanding value to take a look at such a famous stadium. We took a walk around the museum while waiting for the tour to begin.
To start the tour, you need to head to the lower level of the museum by an area used for taking photos. Our tour guides were lovely and even though the tour was to be given in Spanish they did translate into English at the end of each segment.
Our group included mostly Brazilians, as it’s a relatively short hop over the border. Fans of Fluminense, Botafogo and Sao Paulo were joined by us – Leicester City fans. We received the congratulations of everyone for winning The Premier League as we sat in the upper tier seating.
The view across the stadium was like a dream. Every single part of the ground seemed unique. We walked downstairs to an area behind the goal known for housing the ‘Barra Bravas’ or ‘Brave Boys’ – The vocal and hardcore support of Boca.
The police are already 1-0 up on these guys as a huge wire fence with barbed wire around the top separates the fans from the pitch. Quite intimidating. Down in this section it’s standing room only as we all jumped up and down in unison you could feel how hollow the beams underneath were. This end must be crazy on a matchday.
As we ventured to the opposite side of the pitch from where we began the tour, we could see the VIP box for Diego Maradona. Maradona is still a huge Boca fan and regularly attends games.
The tour comes to a conclusion near the changing rooms and training area. This is a spot where the players can warm up before the game. It felt surreal having a kickabout in the very place that so many legends have appeared before.
As we walked back out of the stadium, we caught a whiff of someone across the street grilling sausages. They just can’t seem to leave barbecue alone in these parts. Mind you, who can blame them when it’s this good.
After visiting Caminito, we headed back to the stadium to grab a taxi to escape the mean streets and stray dogs of San Telmo. Our taxi driver was very friendly and announced that Argentina was famous for three things ‘Leather, Meat and Football’. For $70 ARS (£1.47) each way from Plaza de Mayo, that’s a good price for your own safety.
The Boca Tour is every football fans dream. We really appreciated the effort of the guides to converse in English and couldn’t help but end up spellbound by the feel of this incredible stadium. If we can make it back for a match sometime, it would be yet another dream realised.
Nearest Subte: San Juan