31/03/2014 – 09/04/2014
This post is going to be pretty long. So please, dear friends! Don’t be scared, no hurry, no worry. Have a seat, a mug of hot tea and enjoy it.
After almost one day and an half travelling by train, we can’t feel our body anymore. Our legs are sleeping. I stick my face out the window, feel the wind as we drive. Buenos Aires is standing in front of us. We can’t believe it. We made it and we are going to tell this story for the rest of our life.
Some friends are waiting for us at the train station. What a gloomy weather! We feel the rain and its embrace. After having stretched our limbs, this sweet elderly couple takes us to their son’s place, Federico, who, without even know us, will be our host for the next few days and finally we can have a shower, rest a bit and think about the odyssey we just experienced. When Fede gets home from work, he immediately makes us feel at home. He is so caring and hospitable. We start to know each other e we let him guide us in the very heart of the city.
A couple of hours walk is enough to understand that Buenos Aires is a place full of beauties and contradictions, worthy of being discovered in its deeper shades. With the map and all the detailed information let from Fede’ s parents we spend a whole week trying to get the best of this fascinating metropolis. Wandering around, all the time with our eyes wide open and our heads strained to look up at every sign and building, so as not to miss anything, we cross parks, a beautiful rose garden e the charming Japanese Garden, built in 1967 after the visit of a member of the Japanese imperial family. Located in the residential neighbourhood of Palermo, this Zen oasis is the symbol of the historical relationship between Argentina and Japan with its cultural centre, its sushi restaurant and the Bonsai nursery.
The more we see of BBAA, the more we fall in love with it. Parks, historical buildings, many “barrios” (neighbourhoods), all of them worthy a visit and with different peculiarities, for all tastes and wallets.
Puerto Madero (the old port of the city), developed along the bank of Rio Plata and built to solve the problem of the docking of large cargo ships, is the latest architectural trend of BBAA characterised by streets named after women and a breathtaking urban panorama with old brick red warehouses at one side of the river and modern skyscrapers at the other one. After a massive regeneration effort, it has become an elegant meeting point with bars and restaurants, chic hotels and offices, and a popular destination for foreign buyers interested in investment properties.
Puerto Nuevo (New Port), the real port of the city and a popular weekend destination, is located in Retiro District and provides transportation services to/from Uruguayan cities, the touristic town of Tigre and river cruise ships.
Plaza de Mayo, the main square of Buenos Aires and probably one of the most emblematic place in Argentina’s history, takes its name from the May Revolution (25 may 1810), the first step towards the independence of Argentina. It is surrounded by several political and historical buildings, among them the executive mansion and office of the president of the Country, more commonly known as Casa Rosada (Pink House), home to the balcony where Eva Peròn stood as she addressed Argentine masses. Location of revolutions and social demonstrations, this square began in 1977 the meeting point for the Abuelas (grandmothers) de Plaza de Mayo who still fight for the localization and return of the children (their grandsons) disappeared in Argentina during the Dirty War of the military dictatorship, between 1976 and 1983. Painted on the ground of the square are the white scarves, symbol of the “mothers” engaged in the struggle for human and civil rights in Argentina and in Latin America.
The Barrio Chino or Chinatown, located in Belgrano district, is a commercial area where the Asian community live and work characterized by an impressive entrance arch. Is here, right before the entrance door that we find a small gazebo in which some people are dancing Milonga, argentine typical folk music that incorporates the same basic elements as tango with a greater relaxation of the body. Beautiful!
In BBAA a close friend of us is having good time too. Charlotte, our French travel mate, is spending a few days in the capital and we decide to meet her at the Recoleta cemetery, a monumental cemetery where Evita’ s body came to rest in 1976. Her black tomb is all the time visited by tourists and admirers who nearly everyday leave notes and flowers. A truly evocative place!
Walking around the city means enjoying the Buenos Aires’ street art, chancing upon unusual and spectacular artworks on buildings façade, walls or lamps. Wandering the streets of Palermo or San Telmo it is like being in an open-air museum with huge murals and creative handmade street decorations.
Sifting through monuments, small roads and wide avenues, we end up in La Boca, one of the most visited neighbourhood thanks to its lively colourful houses, cosy pedestrian streets with tango performances and souvenir shops, and, of course, Maradona and the Bombonera (chocolate box), the stadium owned by Boca Juniors (Maradona’ s football team). Sooo fascinating, too touristic and probably a bit “fake” (I don’t know what is left of the original neighbourhood and buildings) but still charming and worth a visit.
As we get lost in its streets, we bump into the cine-theatre Brown. Its art nouveau façade and the huge hall welcome us in a friendly atmosphere. Lorena and her colleagues are enthusiastic of talking about their cultural centre with foreign visitors who are just chasing down stories. We suggest to visit and like their FB page in order to know more about their activities and initiatives.
So…time flies when you are having fun. We spend a whole week in BBAA, roaming around the city during the day and having good time with dear friends at night, going out for a drink with Federico and enjoying a real asado at his parents’ place. We even have the chance to meet again Tio Cacho and Guillermo who invited us for dinner and prepared empanadillas. We talk about photography, we drink red wine and have a pleasant night walk along the shores of Rio Plata. The most delicious farewell ever!
We will never forget them as we will never be able to get this city out of our mind and the warm-hearted people we met in this week.
One more time…we have to say goodbye and most important thing…we decide to book the flight back home. It seems like it’s time to go back. We realize it is almost one year since we last saw our parents and friends, we are running out of money and we start to feel a bit homesick. So…ticket booked…less than one month and we will have to leave such a beloved continent. To be continued…