A Weekend in the City
Buenos Aires Travel Blog› entry 27 of 115 › view all entries
I´ve got to be honest and admit that I was a little disappointed by Buenos Aires (BA). I´ve met loads of people who fluted on about it being the best city in South America and how they would definitely be able to live there etc. etc. OK, fair enough, I would also be able to live here, there are clearly some lovely, leafy suburbs: Palermo, Recoletta and San Telmo are all very nice. But really - they aren´t much different from the more well-to-do suburbs of any number of large British cities. The city centre has the same problem in it"s similarity to European cities. This is probably why (along with unfairly high initial expectations) I was somewhat underwhelmed by the place.
BA is very much more laid back and modern then any of the other large cities I"ve been to so far. It lacks the modern/traditional culture blend that makes a visit to La Paz, Lima, Quito etc, such an intoxicating (literally, considering the pollution) experience. Its centre also lacks the kind of grand and distinctive architecture that I was expecting of a Latin American city of this size. I did a double take at the Plaza de Mayo as I was so surprised at it"s lack of grand buildings - I thought I was in the wrong place. Elsewhere, all the multi-national brands come flooding into view - McDonalds, Burger King, Starbucks and the rest of the ubiquitous suspects are well and truly established here with branches reaching out into the suburbs to push up prices with identikit products.
The other major consideration for my not having a fantastic time in BA is that I ended up on my own here at the weekend. The hostel (not my first choice) was not set out particularly well for socialising and I didn"t really strike it lucky (oooh Matron nooOOooh! etc.) with room mates in my dorm. This happens sometimes when you are travelling alone, I accept that, and it may well have coloured my view of the city. I"m not really the kind of bloke who hits the town at night on his own to paint it tomato soup red. Some people are - good for them. I am not one of them. So I didn"t really experience much of the famous BA nightlife and therefore can"t comment on it.
During the days, I did a lot of walking, the city centre sprawls across several square miles. I can recommend the Subte (Underground system) as a cheap and easy way to get around, I used it to visit the unintentionally amusing cemetery in the district of Recoletta. This is the place where the mortal remains of Argentina"s most famous female, Evita Peron, are stored alongside those of hundreds of the country"s other deceased luminaries.
You just know that the church would love to be able to charge you to get in, but they can"t quite pluck up the courage to do it and instead ask for donations. I declined to contribute as I am tighter than a gnat"s bottom bits when it comes to paying to see religious sites.
Evita herself has to be satisfied with a few understated plaques placed upon the wall of her family"s tomb. I had to queue for five minutes behind a coachload of Israeli tourists to see this. It"s the first time I"ve ever had to line up to see a dead celebrity"s final resting place and I had to force myself not to snigger out loud at the crassness and mock-profundity of the whole thing. I couldn"t, however, prevent myself from intoning: "Wow - fantastic!" in an somewhat sarcastic manner upon reaching the anticlimax of the comparative conservativism of the tomb.
A Swift Note for Anyone Who Could Care Less:
I"m aware, reading back through this and previous entries, that I may appear to harbour negative views about quite a lot of places and perhaps come across as a bit of a moaner (God forbid). This is principally because I refuse to let this become a Smlog (Smug Log) where I simply bang on and on about what a thoroughly spiffing time I"m having, how immensely fortunate I am to be here and how wonderful the big wide world is.
A Swift Note for Shakira:
Listen love, when I´m dead, as my widow it´ll be your duty to decide on the best way for me to be remembered. I think it would be a fitting tribute if you could commission a lifesize statue of me to sit atop a large black marble tomb slap bang in the middle of Rochdale Cemetery. Maybe you could have some dogs, soldiers or angels or something as well to make it look a bit grander. I´ll soon be posting a photograph of a tomb you could use as a template from Recoletta boneyard in BA.
If you could sort this out then at least there will be somewhere for you and the many, many fans that I will have by 2079 to leave their tributes and perhaps derive some kind of consolation for my permanent absence. I don´t think this is too much to ask really. Cheers me dears - I´ll see you back in the UK next year when you"re on your world tour. We can go for a few pints of bitter and quiz night down the local pub eh...