Buenos Aires-Paris of South America!

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February 24th 2015
Published: February 24th 2015
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Buenos Aires-Paris of South America!

Yes, Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America. When we first heard this comment about Buenos Aires, we were skeptical to say the least, but as we spent our day here, it because increasing clear that it is spectacular.

What a City! From our initial impressions, until our sail away, we have become enamored with BA, as the locals refer to it.

As we docked we were a little surprised to see we were in the middle of a huge container port, especially after the beautiful harbor in Rio. We have been near containers, by containers and even in he middle of containers, but never lost in a labyrinth of thousands of containers ;-) As it turned out there is no ‘cruise ship dock” here even though there is a cruise ship terminal about a mile away. So we took a shuttle bus through the containers and to the actual cruise terminal-very modern and nice. With about 3400 passengers getting off the ship it took awhile to make our way first to deck 7 to the Wheelhouse Bar to get our sticker for our tour, then into the Princess Theatre to wait for our tour to be called, then down to deck 5 to the gangway, a walk down the dock to the shuttle, a ride to the terminal, then a walk through the terminal and out the other side to our waiting tour bus…whew! Actually Princess had things well organized and the whole process only took about ½ and hour and we were off.

Our first stop of real interest, especially to Jean-was the Italian section with homes built by Italian immigrants around the turn of the century, who used materials from discarded and abandoned ships in the harbor as building materials. Not only did they use metal and wood to build their shanty’s, they also used whatever paint was available from the ships, so the neighborhood is full of a variety of bright blues, yellows, tans, red, and green houses that have been repainted and still remain with original colors today. The La Boca neighborhood focuses around narrow, winding cobblestoned Caminito Street, a small shopping area for mostly tourists. Lots of artists and vendors. We saw women and men dressed as fancy tango dancers who would pose with you for a photo, for a fee. We wandered around looking for something to remind of us of this Italian area of the city and found a very fun print of an Italian couple dancing the tango ;-)

We are approximately the same latitude south of the equator as Los Angeles is north, so the weather was perfect. High 70’s, little humidity. Yea. Moving on we pass under some freeways where (as in every city) there are slum areas. As we leave this area we approach the renovated “Old Port” area that is now an up and coming part of the city. Long waterfront parks, upscale shopping and apartments. The cars here are generally new and the city is very clean with a lot of renovation and fixing up.

We pass lots of big, beautiful statutes reflecting the history of Argentina and honoring various leaders, revolutionaries, and government dignitaries. We saw magnificent statues given as gifts from countries around the world, including the USA, celebrating Argentina’s 100 years of independence in 1916.

Finally we are going to the Recoleta neighborhood. It is a place we have wanted to visit for so long. After watching many episodes on HGTV about finding places to live in BA, we were excited to have a look around several areas of town, including Recoleta and other high end parts of the city. There are many European style buildings here from the 1920’s and 30’s. They are beautiful and give the city its Paris of the South nickname. So many beautiful old buildings mixed with modern ones, all with tree lined streets and balconies overlooking the café’s and shops below.

Another thing we have wanted to see is the Recoleta Cemetery which is one of the top 10 cemeteries in the world, it was beyond description but we’ll try anyway. This cemetery is a city of 6400 people. Yes, none are alive, but….). The streets are paved with tiles and have street names. There are directions on how to find some of the famous residentsJ. Our tour guide led us right to the Mausoleum where Eva Peron is buried with her family, the Duarte family. Eva as many of you know was the wife of Juan Peron the President of Argentina in 1946. She was only 26 at the time and in her short life (she died at 33) was a champion of the elderly, children, working people. She was a hero in her country and around the world. There was a musical called “Evita” made about her. She is buried here with her brother and sisters, but what was really interesting was to find out she had been “stolen” from Buenos Aires 3 years after her death when her husband, Juan Peron was removed from office by a military junta. People didn’t know where she was and it turns out she was buried in Italy. She remained buried there for 17 years before she was brought back to Argentina and interred in her family crypt in the Recoleta Cemetery. Her family crypt was not particularly notable except it is all black granite-all the burial crypts are substantial and magnificent, although some are run down. Eva Peron’s crypt even had fresh red roses on the step-she is so famous and still beloved here in Argentina even 50 years after her death.

We headed into downtown Buenos Aires and found ourselves in the Plaza de Mayo and on the steps of the Cathedral Metropoltana where the current Pope, Pope Francis, conducted services every Sunday when he was Bishop of Buenos Aires. It is a beautiful church, not ornate as so many we have seen; it actually looks Grecian with columns all across the front. We entered and inside is the burial crypt of General Martin, the person who led Argentina to declare her independence from Spain in 1816. He is a national hero and honored to this day. The church faces the Plaza de Mayo and at the far end is the Casa Rosada, the Governor’s Offices.

Just before we jumped back on the bus with our souvenir box of matches with Pope Francis’ photo on it, we see a man on the street roasting peanuts and rolling them in something sweet. Of course we had to buy some.-delicious!

We hate to leave this city. It is definitely our favorite so far. Buenos Aires is everything it is hyped to be. We love it here.

Next stop: Montevideo, Uruguay!

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