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Buenos Aires

sunny 32 °C

Our geographical confusion deepens as we head north to Buenos Aires where it is more than 30 degrees in the shade, but, just like Chile's Santiago, there is plenty of shade...
But our confusion has more to do with the architecture than the unseasonable weather – unseasonable for us but not for the locals who are used to the clear skies and the soaring temperatures. However, despite the fact that Argentina has a Spanish heritage, most of the buildings here are distinctly French...
In the 1930s Buenos Aires was known as the Paris of South America and there is still much today that reminds us of the French capital – especially the dogs...
It is estimated that a quarter of households in Buenos Aires own dogs and, as virtually all residents live in apartments, licensed dog-walking is a profession that pays better than being a vet. Dog-walking is governed by strict laws that apparently no one complies with, and each walker is supposedly restricted to 8 dogs. The walkers choose their charges based on size and temperament and all seem to be very well behaved - both dogs and walkers - apart from their toilet habits.

The tree-lined boulevards, the elegant mansions, the litter-strewn streets and the piles of dog pooh, all have a Parisian feel as do many of the cafes and restaurants. In the centre of Buenos Aires, across the park from La Recoleta Cemetery, is the most famous cafe of all – La Biela....
This cafe, (the Connecting Rod in English), is where the rich and famous, (and tourists like us), go to meet over a coffee and a snack. Juan Fangio, Argentina's most successful F1 racing driver, was a regular here in the 1950s as were many other drivers like Emerson Fittipaldi and Jackie Stewart. We sat inside the cafe but many others pay extra to sit outside under a two hundred year old rubber tree whose enormous branches shade more than 18,000 square feet. It is so enormous that many of the giant boughs have to be supported...
However, it is the nearby Recoleta Cemetary that attracts most attention from visitors. This is the church of Nuestra Senora del Pinar which is the last stop for those finally on their way into the cemetary...
Temporary visitors like us go through the main gates and once inside we joined the thousands who flock from around the world to get a glimpse of just one tomb – that of Eva Peron...
Buenos Aires seems to be all about Eva Peron – Evita to her supporters. Although she was only the first lady for a few years in the early 1940s., and has been dead for 66 years, she is still idolised by many as the person who empowered the women and the poor of Argentina. However, she is apparently still vilified by others as a gold-digging model who climbed the social ladder when she jumped into bed with the future president, (a man twice her age).

There is so much to see and do in Buenos Aires. For example the excellent museum of Bellas Artas in Recoleto District is bursting with genuine works by French impressionists such as Pissaro, Monet and Manet, and an incredible set of sculptures by Rodin. No photos allowed but, just like the British museums and galleries, the museum has free entry for all. But art is everywhere in the city and almost every boulevard and park has a statue of some sort – some ancient...
...and some modern like this 18 ton stainless steel flower - the Floralis Generica - that opens and closes with the sun. It was erected in 2002 in the park next to the Bellas Artas museum...

More of Buenos Aires on the next installment of Blissful Adventures.

Posted by Hawkson 08:33 Archived in Argentina

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Almost missed that wonderful Atlas figure holding up the tree branch when I first glanced at the photo. Figures of Fangio and Fittipaldi? Two giants in motor racing history. Fittipaldi's career ending crash was one of the most spectacular on record.

by R and B

Love the flower and the tree supports. Any special music?

by Sue Fitzwilson

.... and tango street performances? Perhaps the two of you got into the spirit of the dance. I have only been to Buenos Aires twice but it has a special rhythm.

by Diane Cornish

Amazing tree. And thanks for the history.

by Janet Vickers

Brings back happy memories when I was in BA many years ago.
Do the restaurants still serve steak as big as dinner plates ?xxx

by Christine Lloyd

Love the rubber tree. Memories of a silly song - “Oops there goes another rubber tree,,,” understand that nearly as much Italian as Spanish spoken in Argentina. Italy having been Huge source of immigrants. Any signs of Borges literary legacy there?

by Tom

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