What a very special day. Buenos Aires is truly one of the most beautiful and interesting and diverse cities in the world. No exaggeration.
We set off on an all-encompassing City tour with our wonderful guide, Nadia, a native with incredible knowledge of the history, economy, people, and soul of the city, along with an infectious enthusiasm. We walked to our first stop, La Recoleta Cemetery where Eva Peron is buried.
But, I think, much more impressive than the Duarte family tomb are the myriad of memorials to thousands of important and common people in all stages of grandeur and dilapidation. Each family is in charge of the construction and maintenance of their structure. You see architecture ranging from Ancient Rome and Greece to Colonial to Art Nouveau to ultra modern.
From there a short ride to the Centro and San Nicolas areas. Again, clean, beautifully designed, architecturally magnificent and comfortable to navigate.
We stopped for photo ops and walks and explanations of when and why. Checked out the Plaza de Mayo, Plaza San Martin, the Tower of the English (one of many gift monuments to Argentina from countries all over the word). We passed by the beautiful Opera House that we would explore on our own later that day (see below).
Although Eva Peron (Evita) was loved by half of Argentinians, and not so much by the other half, there is no denying the contributions she left behind, especially for the working class. There are countless statues and monuments built in her honor. The Casa Rosata is the Presidential Palace and home to the balcony, the middle window above, that Evita used to address the “shirtless ones” who filled the Plaza de Mayo and up the Avenida de Mayo. The balcony became iconic as the setting for “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” from the musical, “Evita”. For fun, here’s Madonna doing her thing in the movie….
To La Boca….
We ended the morning tour driving through San Telmo (the tango capital of the world) to the La Boca area on the other side of the city. La Boca is not the best area for tourists to wander as It is a poverty stricken area and therefore a Mecca for skilled pickpockets. It’s a wonder to see however with it’s ramshackle dwellings often constructed wholly of corrugated sheet metal used mostly for roofs elsewhere. But the lack of resources is made up by the color. Workers at the docks/ship yards “borrowed” left over paint and made art of their poor dwellings.
La Boca is also the home of one of the most famous professional soccer teams in the country. It is a passion reflected everywhere you look. Maradona is still revered as a “god”, especially after his “hand of God” World Cup victory. Lionel Messi, probably the best futbol player in the world today hasn’t brought Argentina a World Cup, so he’s pretty much booed at home. Explanations Mets fans? We did stick to walking a small triangle of the area pretty much protected for tourists. There was a game scheduled for that afternoon, so we left before it became pandemonium.
In the early afternoon, on a magnificent day, we decided to take a walk through the local streets and parks to see if we could join an English speaking tour of the City’s Opera House. We had been told by the concierge that the tours had been booked that day, but what the heck. We lucked out. There was still enough room for us.
Teatro Colon, the Opera House, is an impressive seven-story building that is one of Buenos Aires most prominent landmarks. It’s the city’s main performing arts venues hosting opera, ballet and classical music. It is also one of the world’s most acoustically pure venues. (Of course modern opera houses like in Iceland have the advantage of technology that can tune the entire building with moving walls, and ceilings, and surfaces that can be softened or hardened – but this building is simply pure).
The Colon can seat an audience of 2,500 plus 500 standing and encompasses a full city block. The beauty and grandeur of the interior speaks for itself in it’s architecture, decoration and sculpture. It was a wonderful experience.
Our last evening in Buenos Aires was reserved for Tango. Nothing epitomizes the city and country more than the expression of the life, soul, passion and relationship evoked by this dance.
We were treated to another mouth-watering Argentinean dinner together with our amazing new friends – one of the best groups we’ve ever traveled with. After we walked across the street to one of the oldest and most revered nightclub venues in the city, Elviejo Almacen. The incredible troupe of dancers, singers, and a performance by one of the Tango’s most recognizable singers, Hugo Marcel, made for a truly unforgettable evening. No words can describe what we saw, so here a couple of videos that come a lot closer.
Tomorrow brings us to our last day in Buenos Aires and last day of our latest adventure. Fortunately our flight back to Miami and ultimately Philly doesn’t leave until 10 pm, so we have a full day to do some more exploration. Since the weather was going to hold we decided to spend half the day on an excursion to the Ciudad de Tigre, about an hour outside Buenos Aires where many locals spend their vacation. Most of it is a series of islands in a delta connected by a snaking waterway where people either own, rent, or sort of Air B&B. We’ll see you on the bus and boat tomorrow.