We arrived to Buenos Aires on a saturday night, we stayed at “Hostel Fiesta” with an unbearable noise and little girls in high heels shouting that they wanted to dance cumbia. After a nine hour early flight the only thing my sister and I wanted was to sleep, so we went directly to the bed listening to music and drunk kids till it was 8am. When we woke up, we had breakfast at the hostel (free, of course); bread with “dulce de leche” (typical argentinian sweet). After it we left the backpackers at the hostel and went for a long walk. We had till four pm, we were going to meet our parents at that hour. So, we had all the morning to see something and get to know about Argentina.
We walked over the Florida street, a very touristic and open street where the black market is in every corner. Men and women shouting “Cambio, cambio” (Change, change) while you walk near them. They changed you dollars to argentinian pesos in a better price than in a legal change office. After the Florida street we passed through the Obelisk.
It used to be a church but it had to be demolish when they did the 9 de Julio Avenue; the widest in the world (you need more than two red lights to be able to cross it). We also went to Plaza de Mayo, a very known square but nowadays the people has ruined it because the monuments are covered in graffiti, there are canvas of protests and a big hurdle in front of Casa Rosada, and all of this make the Square to loose his glow.
After this walk, we arrived to the hostel to pick our stuff and walk some more to meet our folks. They arrived five minutes after us. The hotel we stayed in Buenos Aires was pretty cool, it had a swimming pool and gym at the very top of the building with a fantastic view of the city. My sister and I went for a swim and after it we all went to have some dinner at the Florida street. What a mistake! the restaurants there are expensive and very touristic without food quality. Needless to say, we regretted our restaurant decision.
Next day we woke up late and went -again- to Florida street, we walked all of it. We stopped when we didn’t know where to go next or if there was something that caught our attention in a store, or even when we hear the best dollar rate. We arrived to a big park near Recoleta and we took the Free walking tours and it was really good. It was in english so the other tourists doing it were from Germany and USA. While we were walking Victoria, our guide, was telling us stories and facts about Buenos Aires and the place we were standing. Stories from the old rich families and the buildings. She told us about the conflict of the Falklands islands while we were in front of the memorial of the soldiers that died in the battle.
We also saw the “Big Ben” (nothing like the real one) and we walked through a little park that remember the deaths in an terrorist attack at the Israel embassy. There are rumors that the president at the time had something to do with it because the case was never solved and the attempts to find the guilty were weak. After it we went to the 9 de Julio Avenue and we arrived to a little park with a fountain in it, it was a gift from Spain and they said that if you drink water from it you would return to Buenos Aires, so I -of course- drink the water and filled my bottle. After it, we walked by the France embassy that it is a beautiful old building, it is next to the avenue. The government wanted to demolished it in order to expand the Avenue but the family that lived there went to talk with the French people and offered them the house to be their embassy and that way they could saved the house. It was a really clever move. We walked a little more and we arrived to the Recoleta cemetery, it was closed by then but we went into the Church next to it.
Victoria told us the story about Evita Peron’s body that nowadays you can find it in that cemetery, but when she died it was stolen and there are rumors that the people that stole it beat it and some necrophilia issue… after it, it was buried in Milan with another name but fourteen years after the robbery the people started to reclaimed it and Evita’s body returned to Buenos Aires.
The tour finished, we paid a tip and we went walking to our hotel. In our way there we stopped at a restaurant and had some dinner. The restaurant was pretty cool, the food was delicious and cheap and it was a more “local” restaurant, not touristic at all so we got to eat like a real argentinian.
The weekend we were in Buenos Aires the city was really calm, the traffic was smooth and the streets were free of agglomerations of people trying to pass before you. It was a holiday weekend in Argentina, so the “Porteños” (how the people who live in Buenos Aires are called) escaped to the beach, far away from the capital. Saturday, sunday and monday of tranquility. We went to Casa Rosada, a pink building that is in Plaza de Mayo. It is where the government issues are held, it also has so much history and beauty, it keeps portraits, objects, and certainly also secrets- of the presidents from that country. There is an entire room dedicated to Evita Peron.
When we finished the tour (which is free) we went to Puerto Madero and we got into a boat to look at the details, but it did not take long because we were hungry and we wanted to eat something light to continue. A pancho (hot dog) was ideal, but we couldn’t find one close and ended up eating at a restaurant with beer at 2×1.
After this, we continued walking and we arrived to San Telmo, the friendliest neighborhood in Buenos Aires, it has an air of vintage-indie that has become very popular these days. At the square of the district there are people selling books, postcards and “jewelry” at the corners. The tables are in the center and there is room for a couple dancing tango. Welcome to Buenos Aires, the plaza whispers.
Yes, San Telmo is the area of the artists, people dancing tango and people who sing to love. There were persons hanging out with a Quilmes (or the beer of their choice) in hand and watching others pass. We got to see four guys doing a musical performance, calling themselves “El cuarteto del amor”, in english is The quarter of love. They played and sang very well and gave a very entertaining show, everybody surrounded them with drool in their face.
After this we went to the Russian Orthodox Church that is nearby, they don’t let you to take pictures and if women wear pants you get a fabric so you can wear and it seems that you are wearing an skirt. The church was very dark and small but it had very interesting details. And finally in San Telmo, we walked to the bench where a very wise little girl is sitting; Mafalda. Apparently that site is very famous, we took photos and we retired to the hotel in a taxi. The day was over for us.
That day we spent all morning and part of the afternoon comparing prices for a tango show and also informing us how to go from Buenos Aires to Bariloche. We bought tickets for the Piazzolla tango show that same night and in two days we would take the night bus to Bariloche. After all those had been made, we went to the subway station “Constitution” to get close to “La Boca” a known neighborhood where everybody said to us to be careful with our belongings because it is not a safety zone and tourist get to get stolen. Nothing happened.
We bought souvenirs (the best place to buy them) and walked the famous “Caminito” with its colorful buildings. We continue our journey to reach the place where Maradona once played, La Bombonera.
We went to Piazzolla, had dinner there and met an Argentina who resides in Los Angeles. She told me that the Tango was once frowned upon and only people from the “low” neighborhoods danced it, but that gradually went deeper to all the Argentina culture. The show was really nice, the music and dancing were so good and we left there with a good taste. I enjoyed it, tango has a lot of passion.
We had left Thursday and Friday in Buenos Aires, so on those days we went to Palermo, the “nice” neighborhood from Buenos Aires, it reminded me of La Roma in Mexico City. With beautiful old buildings, coffee shops everywhere and people enjoying an afternoon doing nothing. Here we witness what we didn’t in La Boca, where there was no theft or riots but the world would not be what it is if it wasn’t ironic. In Palermo we did see a robbery, not to us but it was close. A guy got off a motorcycle and tore the necklace to a woman who was sitting in a restaurant on the edge of the street. She screamed, the boy walked to the other side of the street where the motorcycle waited for him, the woman shouted at him and the guy mocked her, the bike started and they left. There was no commotion, no one helped, no one could really do something. I did not see it, I was at a store but my dad told me everything. Then we realized that the stories of the thefts in Buenos Aires were true.
In Palermo there is the Evita Peron museum, so we didn’t hesitate and we went there. This woman is either loved or hated, there’s no-one in between. The museum, of course, praises her and shows only the good part of her, it puts her like an heroin and a victim. Honestly, I think it is an interesting topic, her life, but I’d rather not get anyone’s part. But I will say two things that day someone mentioned about Evita. A rich argentinian said to us that Eva Perón was a hypocrite who helped the poor but also lived a life of luxury and comfort, incongruent with what she wanted to show the people of Argentina. The next day, I met a man who sold books that said ” Evita Peron, Argentina’s best woman.” So I do not know what to think. Maybe she was a being resentful of the upper class, but I think she and Peron implemented good strategies to help the less fortunate. In the end, nobody’s perfect. After the museum we decided to walk -for the umpteenth time in Florida street-and we tried to get a good rate to the dollar, our last dollars (we didn’t bring much).
We woke up and it was Friday, that night we would take a 22 hours bus to Bariloche. We had some good five hours to continue exploring the city so we set path. That day we went to Recoleta, because when we went to the cemetery in earlier days it was closed. Before we went to the cemetery we went to see the metal flower, which is relatively close. It is in the square of the United Nations and it opens at dawn and closes after dark. To get there we passed the Law building which is impressive. We turned around and now we were heading towards the Recoleta cemetery where Evita is buried. To get there we passed a small park where we saw something that seem like a performance of people going up a hill crawling like worms and taking off their clothes as they went up. It was weird and no one understood anything but we clapped at the end.
The cemetery is beautiful, I kept wanting to go to the cemetery that is in Paris but my sister told me that this is a lot like one of them, the one where Jim Morrison is buried, only that the one in Buenos Aires is smaller. We saw Evita’s grave and overall it was nice. All the tombs of rich people from previous centuries. The coffin are well sealed and that’s why you can see right there, no need to be under three meters. I saw a tomb of a young girl and it had a poem written by his father in marble. It was in Italian so I do not understand much, the name of the girl was Liliana. I heard some Italians say “It’s very sad” when they finished reading the poem. We took a taxi to San Telmo, since we liked it a lot we wanted to spend our last few hours in Buenos Aires there. We walked a bit and we ate in a restaurant called Don Ernesto, pretty good.
Argentines have been very kind, I thought that they wouldn’t be since in Mexico we have this idea of them to be show off and kind of rude but they are really cool. An Argentine gentleman saw me with the map and offered help, then we met again facing a strike and he asked us where we were from, Mexico responded. Then he pointed at the strikers and said “I have 81 years , this has been done since the 50′s, we are in 2014 and nothing has been resolved, I’m sorry you got to see this, this is done by stup”… a moment paused and continued “by Argentines, Do you understood the word I meant? ” We said yes and he said ” I am Argentine but it’s true… I met some Spanish and told them here we said Galician jokes and they replied that it did not matter that in Spain they joked about Argentines” ( JOKE : what is the best business in the world? Buy an Argentine for what it’s worth and sell him for what he believes it’s worth) “and look I say that and I am Argentine” he said then he go down another street with a smile and probably laughing at the joke. I did not ask his name , there was no time… but at least he told me a joke.