Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Bustling Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is a vast, busy city. When our plane descended the vista reminded me of the opening shots of some futuristic sci-fi film. A sprawling conurbation of grey skyscrapers on a flat dusty plain stretched out to the horizon and molded around the curvature of the earth. The buildings glinted as they baked in the sun. According to our trusty Lonely Planet, the population of Buenos Aires (BA) is about 13 million in the metropolitan area. The total population of Argentina is citied at 42 million. 

Reaching Buenos Aires we found ourselves immersed in a new exotic culture. It had been some 4 months since we were last in a non-English speaking country and we found the bustle of Buenos Aires very different to the tranquilly of New Zealand. The city had an energetic pulse, and we had to be much more aware of our surroundings. Taking advice we stayed in one of the nicer areas called Palermo which is slightly out of the CBD to the west. 

Neither of us favour cities and we spent the first few days leisurely sightseeing. Across the city there are many early European-styled colonial buildings, but what was immediately noticeable to our eye was the omnipresent graffiti. Not the artistic murals that brightened up Christchurch’s battered buildings, but the mindless tags of bored teenagers and local gangs. The pavements were terrible to negotiate; haphazard levels, badly broken tiles, covered in rubbish, full of pot holes and dog poo! 

But we did manage to beat the heat, see some sights, eat plenty of amazing beef steaks (less than £5 a pop) and attempt to master some basic Spanish. 

Obelisco on Av 9 de Julio - the widest thoroughfare in the world at 8 lanes each way plus a pedestrianised central promenade!

The image of Eva Peron adorns the television studios on Av 9 de Julio

Baroque frontage of the Catedral Metropoliana

Walking towards the Casa Rosada - presidents offices and where Evita Peron preached from balcony 

A pleasent promenade along the Old Port, redeveloped in the 1990s and home to ARA Presidente Sarmiento. A museum ship, originally built as a training ship for the Argentine Navy and named after Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, the seventh President of Argentina. She is considered to be the last intact cruising training ship from the 1890s and built in good old blighty!

Some things are still best made in the North West

Portenos (the locals) love tango.. So we also took some lessons! The tango was very easy to learn and we both found the lessons really enjoyable. From complete beginners we learnt how to master some set moves and dance tango on our own. In the end we felt good enough to join a Melonga (open public tango dance space) session in a square in San Telmo. We were also lucky enough to see a show, put on for tips in a cafe. 

BA is a vibrant city, plenty to see, plenty to do and worth having eyes in the back of your head just in case. But we found no trouble and had a blast.

1 comment: