Saturday, 10 March 2012

Buenos Aires

Day 16 to 21                 Buenos Aires

I have a few days here in Buenos Aires before I set off on my next tour.  I am enjoying the luxury of a nicer hotel and having a room to myself!!

On the first day, a few of us went on the hop on hop-off city tour bus. It was a good way to have an overview of the highlights of the city, although it was quite slow as the traffic here is very bad.

La Caminita
In Cafe Tortoni
Street action in Buenos Aires!

We went to an area called La Caminita in La Boca where all the houses are painted very brightly and there is a big focus on the Tango.  Many of the restaurants have tango demonstrations going on outside. One day I went to the Cafe Tortoni, an old traditional cafe - which also does tango demonstrations, for coffee and Churros - an Argentinian (and Spanish) specialty. In fact, I have come across tango demonstrations just going on in the street all over the city!  It is an amazing dance - so sensual!

Ponte des Mujers (Women´s bridge)

One morning I went down to the port area which has the old ware- houses done up with nice shops and restaurants.  There is a rather lovely foot-bridge there, designed by Calatrava, Called the Ponte des Mujers (the Women´s bridge) which is supposed to signify two people dancing the tango.

I went to the amazing Recoleta Cemetry where many famous and/or rich Argentinians are buried, including Eva Peron (warmly called Evita by everyone here). I had not realised that she died of cancer when she was about 32.  The cemetry is quite wierd as each person or family has their own little building in which they are buried so it is like lots of streets of small houses except they are houses for the dead!
Recoleta Cemetry
Eva Peron´s grave
Evita is a real heroine here

Buenos Aires has many amazing buildings both, old and new and they are clearly very proud of its architecture.

La Casa Rosada

I went to the Casa Rosada - the Pink House, that is the Presidential Palace. Outside in the square there are various demonstrations (plackards) including one about the Falklands.  The Casa Rosada is quite an interesting place with many photos and paintings of important Argentinian people.  The ones I recognised were Eva Peron, Maradona, Mercedes Sosa and Cesar Milstein - (you can look them up if you don´t know who they are!)
Torre de Los Ingles

Renamed Torre Monumental since the Falklands War!

The Scottish contingent
I came across a festival to celebrate all the nationalities of people who live in Buenos Aires with food stalls and people in national dress from them all. I am sure there were at least 50 nationalities represented, including Scotland!  I enjoyed tasting food from a number of places and watching the parade - vintage open top cars with a girl in the back in National costume of the country!
Bolivian dancers

 Sunday is market day here and there are many markets all over the city. I went to one of the most popular which is mixture of antiques and a tourist craft market. It was very enjoyable to sit in a cafe in the sun watching the world go by.

Because I was to be here for quite a few days on my own I had arranged, before I left UK to go do a cultural tour´´focussing on Argentinian food.  One afternoon I had a cooking lesson and wine tasting.  I made

Cipacitos Correntinos (small cheesy bread rolls), empanadas de Humita (fresh corn pies/ pasties), Carbonada de Criolla (beef stew with peaches) and panqueques de dulce de latte (dulce de latte pancakes) which we then ate with a different wine for each course!  Argentinian wine is extremely good - especially the reds, but all of the wines we tasted were excellent - a fizzy wine, 2 reds (Malbec and Barolo) and a sweet wine.

The next day I was taken to a ´foundation´ (a sort of charity) called Caminita Abierto where they look after children who are abandoned by their parents.  They can go there at any age from five until they are eighteen.  They are given somewhere to live, food and as well as going to school, are trained in cooking, farming and building, to set them up to look after themselves as adults. The people who run this place fund it by running a restaurant which is self sufficient in food from the farm!  I spent the day with them helping in the kitchen making bread, gnocchi and tortilla chips!  No one spok much English so it was good to practice my Spanish!  A tour group from Canada came while I was there and their guide spoke English, hence my understanding of some of the basic set up!  It was an unusual day, but I really enjoyed it and came away with a bag of rolls that I had made and a gift of a pot of honey from the farm!

Overall I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Buenos Aires - it is a lovely city. It has quite a European feel - and is sometimes called the Paris of South America.  I am however, ready to move on.  Next stop Salta in Northern Argentina and Bolivia ......

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