Buenos Aires, Argentina

Oh my gosh, what a beautiful, beautiful city Buenos Aires is. I had heard that it was, but words can’t describe it! David and I just couldn’t get over the beautiful majestic buildings and wonderful wide, tree-lined streets. I honestly felt like I was in some European city, rather than a city in South America!

To best describe our time in Buenos Aires, I would have to use the word “walk”. We must have walked over 75 miles in the six days that we were there. We arrived on Christmas day and most everything was closed. So, after checking into our hotel, 562 Nogaro, near Plaza de Mayo; we took off to explore.

We headed for the Puerto Madero area, which is the newest “barrio” (neighborhood) in BA. Puerto Madero used to be mud flats and was dredged out to be used as part for shipping. The project was completed in 1898 and well over budget….David could relate to that!!! Anyway, by 1910, there was too much cargo for the port to handle and also, it wasn’t easy to get the cargo to the railroad station for transport.

Today, it has been renovated. The old warehouse are now chic restaurants, boutiques, offices and apartments. It is a lovely area to stroll along the waterfront on cobblestone walkways. It reminded me of the Old Port area of Portland, although it is not as big as the Old Port. There is an interesting walking bridge that spans the canal. It is suppose to represent a couple dancing the tango….to me it looked more like a harp. Also, in the canal was a museum on a former naval ship, the Fragata Sarmiento.

We kept walking beyond Puerto Madero until we came to a wide sidewalk that followed a natural reserve and park. This was full of people enjoying the warm, sunny day by eating parrilla (bar-b-que) from one of the many stands along the park. The flowers were beautiful, as were several amazing statues that we saw. One thing that is kind of sad is the graffiti that was all over these beautiful statues and buildings. I believe that many statues had been cleaned as they were surrounded by plexi-glass or gates to keep people off of them.

Florida and LaValle Street are pedestrian malls. These streets are a great place for shopping, people watching and being entertained by tango dancers and musicians. Often, we would find a cafe and order a glass of wine or coffee just to sit and watch all the activity on these streets. Argentinian wine is so good and so inexpensive. In general, most things in Argentina are inexpensive.

The various neighborhoods in BA are very colorful. One of the most colorful is La Caminito street in the barrio La Boca. This neighborhood originally saw immigrants from Spain and Italy who worked in the various meat packing plants, warehouse and the shipping port. Often, they would spruce up the barges with a fresh coat of paint and if any of the paint was left over, they would paint the corrugated metal siding of their own home. The results was a bright and colorful neighborhood that is now a major tourist attraction. Again, there were tango dancers and buskers to entertain us, as well various crafts and souvenir stands.

San Telmo was another quaint and wonderful barrio (neighborhood). This area had old cobblestone streets, beautiful adorned buildings, a central market and Plaza Dorrego with men playing cheese. We were fortunate to be in BA on a Sunday so we could attend the Feria de San Telmo. Several of the streets around Plaza Dorrego are closed off to traffic. Vendors line them with crafts, old collectibles and antiques. The Plaza, as well, was full of antique booths. Unfortunately, it was extremely crowded and hot, hot, hot! We didn’t buy anything but saw some amazing antiques….especially from the art deco era.

Recoletta is a more upscale neighborhood. To be honest, it was my least favorite, but one that we visited because it had Evita Peron’s grave (a must see in BA) and the art gallery. The cemetery was an amazing place. Only the rich and famous are buried in the Cementerio de la Recoleta. After seeing this “village” of mausoleums you understand why they have to be rich….who else could afford such amazing “digs” after death! The statues, stain glass and marble made this place a very interesting tourist attraction.

The Museo Nacional De Bellas Artes (the National Art Museum) was a wonderful art museum. For one thing, it has my most favorite, favorite statues in the whole world…..The Kiss by Rodin. I saw this statue over 30 years ago in a small museum for Rodin’s work in Paris. I just think it is one of the most expressive statues ever. It amazes me that Rodin could coax such emotion out of a piece of rock!!! There were other famous European artist represented at the museum, as well as some wonderful works by Argentinian artist. All in all, it was a great afternoon!

El Ateneo bookstore on Avenida Santa Fe was a unique bookstore and lucky find on our part. It is in an old renovated theater. The stage was the coffee shop, books lined the balconies on the second and third tier, the ceiling was painted with a lovely mural. Unfortunately, the selection of English books was limited, but we still enjoyed being in a bookstore atmosphere. I must say, that one thing we really miss is browsing in Borders or Barnes and Nobles….our Spanish needs to improve just a little more before we do any browsing down here.

Tango and more tango….it is everywhere you look. I really wonder if they teach it in the schools to the young children! I took a tango dance class while in BA!!! No, David didn’t join me…. Anyway, it was in the Confiteria Ideal building on Suipacha Street. Downstairs was a restaurant and upstairs was the old dance hall. I believe I read that the building was about 100 years old. Along with tango classes, milongas (dances) were held daily except on Sundays. What a passionate and romantic dance…so, no, I can’t tango, but I have the basic steps!!! It was fun!

BA claims to have the widest avenue in the world. It is the 9th of Julio and there are 12 lanes. Fortunately, they have walk lights that allow you to cross…or it would be real challenging.

So, I guess that sums up our visit to Buenos Aires. I still have to blog about the couple of day trips that we took outside of the city. Hopefully, I will get to that in the next couple of days.

It was certainly a different Christmas…actually, it didn’t feel like Christmas as all, but a great vacation! Thanks for taking the time to read this….Cheers…..Sharalyn

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