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

16 Oct

And we move on to Recoleta, which is one of the most expensive neighborhoods to reside in Buenos Aires… Even dying here is costly!

This area is known for its square, cafes, galleries  and up-scale shopping (way to expensive for our taste – but good for window shopping!) and also holds Buenos Aires expensive real estate… the mansions built by the affluent families of Buenos Aires rival those in Europe!

The main square is surrounded by the most visited landmark in Buenos Aires: the Basilica Nuestra Señora Del Pilar church, which I personally did not like at all – it gave me the willies when I entered it.  What I did like was that it had a bunch of street vendors (homemade cakes!) and local flavor.. we encountered street performers like these:

I will never listen to the Beatles the same way again! You cannot see it in the picture but the music attracted an elderly lady (we guessed she was in her late 70’s) who was dancing up a storm.

The Cementerio de la Recoleta (Recoleta Cementery), one of Argentina’s most important cemeteries and the status as a tourist attraction is rivaled by few; some compare it to Père Lachaise in Paris. It was designed by Prospero Catelin of France, following a proposal by Bernardino Rivadavia, and opened in 1822 as a public cemetery for ordinary citizens. It has been said by the Argentinean people that some  “live poor but died rich”… and when you enter the cemetery you understand that remark, since some of the graves and mausoleums, which are made of marble, bronze and granite rival the real estate in the area!

Among the citizens laying in peace you can find many former Presidents, doctors, writers, poets, scientist and other wealthy characters.  Internationally, Eva Perón, is the best known person buried in this cemetery. I was most surprise by Perón’s resting space, which I expected to be way over the top, and instead it was diminutive compare to others mausoleums. 

Another thing we notice was the amount of feral cats rooming around within the gates… it made you wonder if you were being watched by those lost souls. (Morbid I know!).

While many of the mausoleums are in fine shape and well-maintained, other have fallen into disrepair.  Several can be found with broken glass, littered with trash, and it breaks your heart to realized that an actual human being is buried in there!  Another interesting thing about La Recoleta? It is one of those cemeteries where the tradition of engraving a death date, but no birth date has been maintained.

We did not have a tour guide with us, and we sort of wandered around, we all decided that if we had to do it again… we would hired a tour guide to take us around, explaining those little things that only a local guide can do.  Regardless, the experience was worth it.

When you leave the cemetery, you can visit the the Recoleta Cultural Centre, a major gallery for contemporary visual art, set in a dark pink chapel. Nearby is the Buenos Aires Design Centre, featuring high design, architecture and interior design shops.  It was here where I encountered an over zealous shop girl, who ran outside the shop when I tried to take a picture of a baby cradle that I liked… talk about protecting local design!

Recoleta is also home to the Bar Restaurant Museo Renault, La Biela Bar, The Jockey Club, the National Library, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts) and the Law School of the University of Buenos Aires.

We opted to sit under a giant rubber tree, know as the “Gran Gomero”, which according to the city guide was planted in 1878 and its 50 meters (about 164 feet) wide, and have lunch at La Biela’s, one of the city’s most famous cafes.

One of my favorite things in this neighborhood? 

The Floralis Generica sculpture by Eduardo Catalano, which is located in United Nations Park.  Its considered an environmental structure.  Its metallic petals open and close based on the incidence of solar rays.  So during the day you can find it fully open:

and as dusk settles over the city, the sculpture begins to close its petals:

Next up?  A recolection of all of the food we had in Buenos Aires.. and let me tell you it was A LOT!

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