On the boulevards
Buenos Aires Travel Blog› entry 9 of 9 › view all entries
Next morning we go sightseeing. "The Paris of Latin America" Buenos Aires is cooed to. And it certainly does justifiy its nickname. I think, that all roman megalopolises, like Paris, Madrid and Lissabon, look alike. I assume even Macau looks alike. So, we drove off to to the main square with the presidential palace, the Casa Rosada. We had seen it the night before on our way to the restaurant, beautifully set up in pink light. Buenos Aires has the oldest metro in south America, of which we saw the entrance, there was no time to go in or actually take a ride.
As we drove through te city our local guide tells us about Argentina's history. The majority of people are European from Spain (50%) and Italy (40%) and the rest from other, mostly European countries.
Buenos Aires is beautiful. Though I would never want to live here, just because I don't like megalopolises (except maybe NYC). Our next stop was La Boca, the first harbour, settled with Italian families who came during the immigration wave of the early 20th century. We stopped to see the soccer stadium La Bombonera. The story about how the local soccer team got its colours is interesting: the first ship that brought immigrants was from Sweden, so the team chose their national flag's colour, blue and yellow. The stadium is painted in blue and yellow, with the main sponsor's logo on it, Coca-Cola. But not the red and white Coca-Cola logo, but the black and white Cola Zero logo. Why? Because the club's main rival's colours are red and white. Funny.
We drove on to the Caminito, a couple of streets inside La Boca. We passed a housing area with big buildings. The streets were pretty delapitated and we saw burned down cars.
On our way back to the city we passed a slum again, and it's a huge contrast to the liveliness of the Caminito. It's an even bigger contrast to the next neighbourhood, just across the street. Madero is the new harbour, and a good neighbourhood with tall shiny business and apartment buildings.
Next stop is Recoleta, that is the cemetary. I'd say, this is a good neighbourhood, too, since these tombs must cost more than my apartment. It's a rich people's burial ground, albeit there seems to be nobody actually buried. We are here to visit Evita Peron's grave, but I'm too busy marveling. There's a crowd at her grave anyway so I pass, I never knew her anyway, may she rest in peace. The graves cannot be reffered to as graves, they are mausoleums. Some of them are like little houses with windows or glass doors so you can actually see the coffins decompose inside. It's all so bizarre, I just don't get it! What happened to "ashes to ashes"? I guess, an architect would have a ball here, for some mausoleums are masterpieces of architectual art, if there is such a thing.
In the afternoon, one part of the group goes on a boat ride to the Parana river delta. I don't feel like it and after a little rest head to the city. It's warm, summer has just begun and I enjoy the warm sun. I go to Florida street, the famous shopping area. My attention is drawn to the street market, and I buy a leather bag, handmade by a young lady. Then I stop into a cafe where the waiters wear white uniforms and the interior hasn't changed since 1925. I love it. I spend quite some time here just observing the people and the street market outside. It's so different than Peru and Bolivia.
The next day, our flight leaves in the late afternoon and we stay in the hotel untill leaving. I go to an exchange office to change the Pesos I have left back into Euros, or Dollars. It took about 2 hours to do so. They needed the receipt of the earlier exchange, which I luckily still had but had to walk back to my room to get it. Then I got a number and waited. For hours. When there was finally my turn, I was lead behind a paravan to counters behind thick glass. Cameras where recording my every move. I had to sign two papers, the clerk copied the receipt and my passport. What the hell??? The clerk appologized for the bureaucracy and wished me a nice day.
At Buenos Aires airport my passport gets stamped by the same grumpy man who stamped it at my arrival. His mood hadn't changed since then.
The flight was turbulent, so much that dinner was interrupted a couple of times because the flight attendents had to sit and fasten their seatbelts. The AC was cold as before, but the strike was over and we ate a hot meal. At Paris airport we had to wait all day for our connecting flight, which made us spend a lot of money on ordinary snacks. Why are airport shops so freaking expensive? Isn't anybody ashamed to rip people off like that?
I loved south America! It's beautiful and interesting and fascinating, and I hope to go back one day.