We have spent the last three days in Buenos Aries in Argentina at the conclusion of our trip. The city’s name in English translates into ‘Good Air’ and it is indeed a good and comfortable pace to visit. I have decided that I like this city. I thought this on my first`tri8p to here and this visit has reinforced my feeling. It is a very European city with large parks, wide streets and some grand old buildings that date back to the richer days of Argentina than they are now. It has a subway network that is older than London’s.
We arrived on Wednesday, after a flight from Iguazu. We had a few hours –at our hotel to ret and then went out to dinner and to a Tango Show. The show was exceptionally well done and traced the history of this Argentinean dance through the decades. The Tango actually started as an erotic dance in the brothels of Buenos Aries in the 19th century and became popular after the French approved of it as ballroom dance in the 920’s. The dancers wee very energetic, with frequent flicks of their legs, but we noticed that the men appeared to be much older than the women. The dresses appeared to get slinkier over the decades and my favourite was a good looking dancer in a red dress showed a hint of a g-string as she danced. (She reminded me of the young women hat we saw in the street in Russia).
On the following day Thursday), we had one of our few sleep-ins for the whole trip and didn’t leave the hotel- until 10:00 am. On a good number of mornings, we had been getting wake up calls at 5:30 am and were on the road by 7:00 am. We spent the day at a local ranch for lunch and a Gaucho show. I expected this to be a very blatant tourist show (like the ones where tourists in Australia are taken to see an aboriginal corroboree and damper cooking) but it was actually quite good. Perhaps I am becoming too much of a tourist! A quiet dinner on our own was the order of te evening and quite appropriate considering the quantity of meat that we had for lunch.
The final day of our tour was a city tour of BA. This took us to the same places that I visited on my previous trip. They were just as interesting to see again. The first part went through the upmarket area of town around the embassies in Retiro.
Then we went to Recoletta to see the cemetery and Eva Perron’s grave. Actually, she is buried in the family mausoleum. The cemetery is like a little city with streets and lanes lined with ornate and decorative mausoleums. In some, the coffins were visible and in one case a door was ajar. I wondered whether one of the bodies had escaped! In another, where some renovations were taking place, the coffins were stacked outside on a trolley. Perhaps, these ones were going on a holiday!
Our next stop was to the old Italian area of La Boca, near the port. This is where Italian immigrants lived in brightly painted shacks of corrugated iron. It used to be interesting and quaint, but now it is becoming run down and tacky. However, there are lots of street artists that have interesting displays and lots of men and women in costume who will pose with you in a Tango stance for a few Pesos.
Rather than go on to a tango lesson, which just` sounded too just too much for us, Jill and I bailed out of the last activity of the tour in the main square. We had a look inside the cathedral and saw the soldiers guarding the grave of San Martin, the revolutionary leader who fought for independence against the Spanish in 1820.
Outside the cathedral, we ran into a different type of revolution when we came across a protest march. At the end of the central square is the Presidential Palace, and in the centre is a a large commemorative fountain. These are the focus of frequent demonstrations. I’m not sure what this protest was about, but the most remarkable thing was how the first twenty rows (and last five rows) of marchers were young men masked with bandanas and carrying lengths of iron bars and water pipe. This seems to me to be a heavy duty protest in any one’s language! The police had already barricaded the square off with strong and high steel fencing, and I suppose each side faced each other of on either side of the fence. We didn’t stay around long enough to see.
From the protest, we walked to Florida Street, the main pedestrian mall in BA, found a coffee shop for a late lunch and then walked all the way along until the other end where our hotel was situated. We had to change hotel and we only had a short walk of two b locks to the Sofitel, where we stayed for our last night.
To celebrate the end of our trip, I took Jill out to one of BA’s famous restaurants, Las Livas, which is in a renovated warehouse alongside the old port area of the city. I had previously eaten there with our friend Trudi, on my way back from- Antarctica. The steak was just as big, just as tender-, and just as delicious.
We are currently flying over the Andes on a flight from BA to Santiago. to connect with our flight home. I can –see that same snow covered mountains as we saw on another flight when we crossed the Andes, but there is much more cloud today and the view is not quite as grand.
I’ll upload this when I get to Santiago and sign off as completing another of our expeditions.