Day 3 – Wednesday 10th October 2018
Argentina, Buenos Aires
By plane – 0
By foot – 8.36kms/10.74 miles
By public transport – 20.3kms/12.6 miles
Steps taken – 23,153
Wow….this city is alive with street life from busy sidewalk cafes to lush parks….it’s like jumping on board a moving train….the city just whizzes by.
The Argentine capital must be one of the world’s most exhilarating cities, with astounding art, fascinating neighbourhoods, fabulous foods and a passionate population devoted to having fun all…night…long!
So off we went exploring once more….
Firstly we headed North of the city and we saw some of the most expensive Avenues, Hotels and Apartments in the Recoleta Area.
We saw ‘The 9th July Avenue’ (named after Argentina Independence Day). Its 140 metres wide, with 18 lanes, the biggest in the world.
Here we visited May Square which houses Casa Rosada, the Palace and Office of the President of Argentina.
That famous balcony
This is also where ‘The Mother’s of the Plaza’ de Mayo, which is an association of the Argentine mothers who’s children ‘disappeared’ during the state terrorism of the military dictatorship between 1976-1983 come to protest.
On 30th April 1977 they held a protest right here in May Square in front of the palace, the first of a weekly march. To this very day, the Thursday of every week at 3.30pm these mother’s still march in solidarity to combat the atrocities that had been imposed on their lives.
Forty years later they still refuse to be silenced, some must now be in their 80’s.
The mother’s march wearing white headscarves to symbolise the diapers of their lost children.
These white headscarves have become a symbol of courage and representation of the relentless battle for justice. It just leaves you speechless!
Symbol on the ground where mother’s protest
Former Colonial Government Building now a museum about history of the Country
To gather our thoughts before leaving this area we headed to the oldest coffee shop in the whole of Argentina, Tortoni coffee shop which opened in 1858 and of course we had a coffee!
This has been voted one of the 10 most beautiful cafes in the world and I can see why.
From here we headed next to the San Telmo area.
Now this place way way back used to be an affluent area until an epidemic of yellow fever broke out in 1871 and the residents or those that could, escaped to the Recoleta area. It became a poor people’s area.
The La Boca neighbourhood sits near here, famed for its colourful houses, tango and football team – the famous Boca Juniors. The stadium known as La Bombonera Stadium was also where Diego Maradona became ‘God’ for his fans!!
The centrepiece in La Boca is the cobblestone strip, El Caminito, or little walkway. It is postcard perfect.
But there is much more to La Boca than what meets the casual tourists eye. La Boca is in an economically disadvantaged area, so it can be dangerous for visitors who stray off the ‘tourist path’, but this area has so much history.
This was the neighborhood where new immigrants first established themselves when aiming for BA…Italians, Spanish, French, English, Irish, Eastern European and Greece amongst others.
The new arrivals constructed tenements made of scrap metal and painted shacks with bright leftover marine paint to liven up the one-time wasteland.
Today the houses here represent the neighbourhoods typical tenemant shacks, painted in bright colours, emulating the early immigrants.
It was this cross-cultural mix that gave birth to the tango whereby factory and port workers would gather to dance in the central halls of tenements and vie to grab the attention of the few women available at the time.
During the early colonial expansion the colonizers housed African slaves and once Argentina gained independence many of the freed stayed.
The Tango is everywhere and its obvious it’s one of their biggest passions. I have been told this can be a test to ones relationship and I have been warned that, the ‘dance of love’ is tricky to master and it is said a couple’s aptitude at getting in sync with each others is microcosm of the relationship!
It is day 3….I have another 25 days to go in the wilderness so this relationship will not be tested by the tango today (Read: NEVER), this girl does not dance and certainly not in hiking boots….my kind of dance is for a different place and it will involve stepping forward (Read: walking)!
The Tango was a man’s dance, a ghetto dance involving knifes and we were told that if a lady at that time danced the Tango they thought she was a prostitute! However a well to do lady went to Rome, danced the Tango for the pope and the dance he approved! Just like that the Tango was then danced by the upper class in Recoleta!!
If I’m going to be honest La Boca was my favourite part of the city, full of charm and personality, with history oozing from every corner. Walking down the famous Caminito I was blown away by their colourful painted houses.
There is obvious extreme poverty here however and such huge differences can easily be seen between poor and rich.
Not even a 20 minute walk from this area is Puerto Modero, a dockland area.
The famous footballer Lionel Messi owns an apartment here.
Puerto Modero used to be a really poor area until 1990 and it’s since been redeveloped. Even today construction work is taking place.
Also just to throw it in, all streets here in this neighborhood are named after women.
We then headed to Recoleta Cemetery.
So this cemetery was opened in 1822, and is home to hundreds of illustrious corpses, laid out in a compact yet very extensive maze of granite, marble and bronze mausoleums.
Originally a public cemetery, it is now even harder to get into than the posh flats that surround it…not that I’d be ‘dying’ to get into it excuse the pun.
As we wondered around we could see graves..and even some coffins, of notable people including presidents of Argentina, Nobel Prize winners, the ‘Irish’ founder of the Argentine Navy, and a granddaughter of Napoleon….it is also the home to the famous Evita.
Grave of Evita (Eva Peron)
It’s certainly an elaborate cemetery, but romantic and ageing at the same time which made it a very atmospheric place….I was left pretty speechless.
This is what inside some of them are like
So my head spins and explodes with information overload and I haven’t even mentioned all of what we saw today.
But as I try to process all of the information a few random thoughts/observations have entered my mind…..
……. Argentinians certainly love their dogs. There are dog walkers everywhere, they even have restaurants that have dog menus along with human menus….
……..you can park your bike inside Burger King!..
…….we never saw much on Che Guevara which I was surprised at…
….a local Argentinian told us “The Argentinians dress like the English, act like Italians, speak Spanish but think of themselves as French”…
…The Botanical Gardens where we visited yesterday was previously the Metropolitan Zoo…
…Buenes Aires is a city full of trees and I love trees…
Think I’ve just found my favourite tree ever!
…Buenes Aires means ‘good air’….is that due to the above comment, city full of trees?….
…..and lastly La Boca was also visited by Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, but I’ll leave those two for another day!!
14 Comments Add yours
Wow what a colourful city full of interesting areas you are certainly making the most of your time there. I am trying to grasp the size of Buenos Aires (I will do some research). I mentioned to Claudio you were visiting his part of the world and making your way to Patagonia. He is sure you will love it. Keep doing what your doing so enjoying following you on your adventures .
Love Theresa xx
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It’s pretty amazing, so much to see and do. We just tried to blitz what we could in the time we had. So much history and information! It’s really interesting all that we’ve learned. Tell Claudio I’m loving his part of the world already 😁😍 xxx
Been looking forward to your new blog since I heard you were off to Patagonia. BA looks a really vibrant city and loved the flats constructed of corrugated iron. An idea to house the homeless here do you think…perhaps our weather would be a draw back!!! Was that a statue of Lenon outside the oldest cafe? Don’t mention the Falklands while you’re there😀 Loved your tree , perhaps
I should have a bash at painting that? Look forward to reading your next “blog” as I find them very informative and am passing them on to your cousins . Happy travelling.
Love/God Bless. Auntie Alice xx
PS which grave belonged to Eva Peron.? I remember all about her and how her body was moved around .think it was in Spain for a while .
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Thank you. It’s an amazing city full of history and so much to take in…I’ve loved it for sure! Those houses in La Boca were certainly interesting, in hot days though not so sure and cold days even worse but the colours are amazing! My lips are sealed re the Falklands, politics and football 🙊. That tree was actually stunning, so beautiful. So I’ve updated the blog and added in which one is Evita’s grave …it’s the black one…there’s 3 photos….the green one is the Irish Admiral William Brown. Yes if you read up on the history of when Eva passed away it’s very interesting…when Paron was overthrown a millitary dictatorship took power and her body was removed from display, for 16 years the whereabouts of her body unknown, it was rumoured during this time that her body was defiled by anti Paronists! X
I should have said Eva is buried in the grave under her family name of ‘ Familia Duarte’ x
Interesting read again Mary. Looks a fascinating vibrant city. Maybe not much about Che there, as he only went to BA as a student. Born in Rosario and as youll know buried in Santa Clara Cuba. Looking forward to next stage of your journey when you get to El Calafate.Happy travelling! Xx
Thanks Auntie Lena…I know you would love Argentina…maybe you could talk nicely to Alan 😂….I think he needs to bring you here…you could learn some tango as well as catch up on all the history?? I still thought there would be more about Che…just something…not nothing ☹️.! X
Did manage to figure out which was her grave as I went back to have a good look. I remember all the mystery re the whereabouts of her body. Just shows how old I am. Uncle Charlie tells a story about an Argentinian tanker being built at the shipyard in Belfast and when it was being launched it was traditional to have the ship blessed . Eva Peron went to Belfast to launch it but was not allowed to have a Catholic blessing so ship was launched without. A blessing Shortly afterwards a number of men working on the finishing were killed. You can imagine the stories which went around!!! Ver informative Mary, you have one You’re research very well. Ever think of becoming a travel writer? Love Aunty Alicexc
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Glad you managed. The cemetery is so much more than I could capture by photos/words…it was massive with loads of ‘streets’, alleyways really…nothing like I’ve ever seen before! That’s a very interesting story of Uncle Charlie…can only imagine what was said to that at them time!! I would love the job of a travel writer…more so because of the travelling than the writing 😂 I enjoy writing about where I’ve been if I’m being honest with you and it actually makes me learn more about the places I’m visiting which is a good thing. Hope you guys are all well…sending everyone our love xxx
Jane test comment
Wow, it actually worked, me and technology 😅😄😂🤣, i had to wait till Alex came back from Switzerland to show me I was too scared. Glad you are both having a great time though I feel Andy is only there as the camera man 😆🤣😂. Pictures Great, and lots of interesting information ❤
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Yey Jane well done but you should not have admitted that it was Alex that showed you! Now the comment re Andy I take to heart😏 as most of those photos were taken my ME 😁….apart from the ones I’m in!! Andy’s not up at 1am writing the blog 😂😂 xxx
I already sussed it out, just needed Alex to confirm,. I visited a cemetery very similar when i went to Lisbon with Nichol, the size of th burial house depended on the wealth of the family,Jose took us to see it. Weather here is terrible, there has been land slides up the north of Scotland with roads closed xx
Good good. Yes I remember you saying that. So here is very similar…we were told it’s almost like a ‘showing off’…so they basically would do anything to have the biggest burial place, so they say “I was wealthy when alive and wealthy in death”!
Wow re the landslides 😮…it’s funny…here we are in Patagonia and Scotland’s weather is worse 🙈!! We met a couple from Sydney today asking us about out travels, where we are from etc and when we told them Scotland they replied ” ow similar conditions then” 😂🙈 xx