Buenos Aires – Day 1, 2 and 3 (part 1)

14 Oct

We arrived in Buenos Aires (the capital of Argentina) on Saturday at around 7am.  We were all hungry, sleepy, and pretty much all in need of a shower!  The 10 hour flight from Miami, was pretty uneventful… except for the fact that one of my friends got her ass upgraded to First Class (we are all still giving her the evil look!).

We checked into the Inter-Continental hotel and after dropping the luggage, we all set out to find something to eat. 

We ended up walking into Café Tortoni, which open in 1858 and it’s the oldest shop in the whole country.  Just the thought of the amount of painters, writers, musicians, not to mention politicians (Hillary Clinton) and in some cases Majesty too. (His Majesty Don Juan Carlos de Bordon, King of Spain) that have visited and enjoy the place in the last 150 years; it sort of makes you stop and take stock.  It has manage to preserved the flavor of old times, offering the best of the past with it rich 18th century décor. 

We started our culinary adventure by having some breakfast which included a “café con leche” (Cappuccino) and a couple of selections of Sandwiches de Mija, which are delicate sandwiches made with crustless buttered white bread, very thinly sliced and filled with different options, I chose the basic ham and cheese, while the other were a bit more adventurous and ordered gorgonzola with brie.  We topped the whole breakfast with some hot churros (fried-dough pastry-based snacks) and then we set off to walk it all off in the city streets.

We walked a bit and admired the architecture, which its mixture of old Spanish colonial and splashes resembling Barcelona, Paris and Madrid.  Walking on some streets we felt transported to those European cities. That is not to say that Buenos Aires has not joined the 20th century…Newer modern high-technology buildings by Argentine architects include the Le Parc Tower by Mario Álvarez, the Torre Fortabat by Sánchez Elía and the Repsol-YPF Tower by César Pelli.

We decided that the best way to get to know the city was to take a quick city tour.  And if you ever travel, that is the fist thing you should do… it will give you a quick taste of the city, and this way you can make notes as to which locations you would want to go back and explore with more time.  The tour bus, took us to all the major landmarks… starting with the famous “Plaza de Mayo” (May Square) which is arguably the nerve center of Buenos Aires and witness to many demonstrations (In fact during the 6 days we were in Buenos Aires, and the numerous times we passed this square there was always some time of demonstration going on) and pivotal events in the Argentine history. Its also flaked by several of the city’s major landmarks: the Cabildo (the city council during the colonial era), the Casa Rosada (home of the executive branch of the federal government), the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires, the May Pyramid, the current city hall or municipalidad, and the headquarters of the Nación Bank. The Buenos Aires financial district (microcentro), affectionately known as la City also lies besides the Plaza.

Buenos Aires is made up of different neighborhoods (there are actually 48!) and we continue on to our next stop: San Telmo, which is the oldest barrio (neighborhood) of Buenos Aires and also fairly well preserved area.  It’s mainly known for its cafes, tango parlors and antique shops that line up the cobblestone streets, which are filled with artists and dancers.  The main attraction of San Telmo is the Antique Fair that takes place every Sunday in the main public square.  Here you can bargain for antiques and catch plenty of locals dancing tango on the streets not to mention people asking for “FREE HUGS” and getting them.

The most interesting barrio that we went to was La Boca, and this is the home of Boca Juniors, one of the worlds top football (as in soccer) clubs.  It’s a popular place with its colorful houses and pedestrian streets.  While it was not one of my favorite places, it had its unique identity and I really loved the street art and the large sculptures.

We then continue on to Puerto Madero, occupying a significant portion fo the Rio de la Plata riverbank and representing the latest architectural trends in the city… and it also was the meca of the best known restaurants in the city.  This was my favorite “barrio” in Buenos Aires. 

All of the streets of Puerto Madero are named after women. (Hell yes).  The “Puente de la Mujer” (Women’s Bridge), by the Spanish Santiago Calatrava, is located here, linking the east and west docks of Puerto Madero.  The bridge has a single mast with cables suspending a portion of the bridge which rotates 90 degrees in order to allow water traffic to pass.  When it swings to allow watercraft passage, the far end comes to a resting point on a stabilizing pylon.

This location represents the largest wide-scale urgan project of the city and it has undergone an impressive revival in just a few short years, making it the most successfull waterfront renewal projects around the world.

And then we come to Recoleta… (part 2)

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One Response to “Buenos Aires – Day 1, 2 and 3 (part 1)”

  1. Diane Mandy October 16, 2008 at 12:19 am #

    It sounds wonderful! I want to go!

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