Buenos Aires, Argentina – November 2011

La Boca, Caminito, Buenos Aires

La Boca, Caminito, Buenos Aires

Loved, loved, loved Buenos Aires 🙂     Pictures are at:  https://www.dropbox.com/sh/9oh2d5rn62hah6q/x5zVm0f6SA

I wandered the streets watching the world go by for 4 days whilst poor Geoff slogged over a hot computer at meetings in the office….my feet were worn to stumps and I might have lost weight in the heat if it weren’t for the fact that all there was to eat was cake of one variety or another – breakfast, lunch – the locals obviously love it.. 🙂

I pottered around the parks and plazas looking every bit the tourist with cameras dangling from every limb until I finally decided that the 3 ladies who had stopped me in the street on the first morning to warn me to take care of my bag and cameras might have had a point when I spotted a shady character, licking his lips with camera related desire, lurking under the  spectacularly beautiful jacaranda trees  in Plaza San Martin. I toned it down a bit after that…

Other than this, I have to say that in 2 weeks  I never once felt that I was at risk of losing anything (other than my life, but that was later in the trip 😉 )…

So….Buenos Aires…is massive and fabulous…

…endless plazas and parks filled with people enjoying the  (spectacular) spring weather…

…unbelievably busy pedestrianized streets and tree-lined avenues…

…pink presidential palaces (with balcony where Eva Peron used to give her speeches)…

…the famous cemetery where Eva’s tomb is visited in droves….am still struggling with the incredible amount of conspicuous consumption the wealthy of the day displayed with these marble/gilded/hand-crafted/enormous creations…

…amateur evening  tango dances in San Dorrego Plaza lit with twinkling fairy lights…

…fantastic architecture (much of it just like the streets of Paris)…

…street cafes, coffee shops and bars…

…hawkers from the Andean pueblos selling colorful souvenirs…

…cobbled streets and old balconied buildings…

…imposing government buildings and fabulous bank facades…you could be in London, or Paris….or NYC 😉

…a very old and now derelict Harrods!??

…state of the art fresco-ceilinged shopping galleries…

…the modern buildings and the refurbished brownstones (filled with restaurants – and G’s office – not too tough a location to work in!) at Puerto Madero – the skyscrapers lit in different colors at night :–)

…a bizarre and colorful artisans market in San Telmo (I still have no idea whey they all dressed up in the strangest outfits and sat all day in small stage sets apparently not actually selling anything!!???)…

…the huuuuge solar powered flower sculpture which opens at dawn and closes at dusk…how cool is that ??!!!

…designer boutiques and art galleries in Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood…

…beautiful purple jacaranda flowers falling like confetti from the trees in the warm spring breeze…

We loved it all:-) …

…well maybe except for La Boca – the home of tango (allegedly) and a port area of former Italian immigrants which has been spruced up for the tourists with some multicolored paint and is now a depressing mix of plastic life-size human statues and cheap souvenirs…umm…

I kept thinking Argentinian Disneyland…and with hindsight fully appreciate the visible shudder of the concierge at our very posh hotel when I asked him about visiting it 😉 I managed to make it look as cute as possible in the photos (as quickly as possible!) and hot-footed it back to San Telmo which is far more “authentic”…..delayed only by the fact my cab driver (the concierge had warned me not to walk the few miles to get there as I may be murdered ;-)! )…who was very friendly but not exactly on the ball….managed to take me to entirely the wrong hotel and then had to double back on himself about 4 times to avoid a huuuuuuuge traffic jam….he really did look very embarrassed (as opposed to just metaphorically taking me for a ride 😉 !) and then insisted on knocking 1/3 off the bill as it had been such a chaotic trip 😉 You wouldn’t get that in London or NYC!!

Strangely, one of the most interesting things I did was a graffiti tour – not the bored teenager kind writing obscenities on walls or scrawling incomprehensible slogans on store fronts (though there is a LOT of that too which could do with a good scrub off the walls) 😦

Nope – this was REAL art – it may not be everybody’s cup of tea but it cannot be denied that it is truly amazing what one can do with a spray can! I was so impressed by the ingenuity of these artists – it seems paint can be made from tar and gasoline and the stencil  templates – which can take hours or days to cut – (these are my ABSOLUTE favorite paintings) are made from old x-rays the hospitals were throwing out…!! One guy paints high walls using a fire extinguisher filled with paint….the weird and wonderful methods are endless!!

Interestingly, some of these artists who started around the time of the 2001 crash were indeed bored and angry teenagers at the time but they developed their talents into what is now treasured public art. They always have permission from the owners of the relevant wall – and many now paint houses and restaurants as commission pieces. Some of them work in groups – some alone – but they (generally!) show the utmost respect for each others work – they often recycle their “own” walls – and they are very collaborative.

Even the bored teenagers rarely touch the real art – which is the highest mark of respect it seems 🙂

The areas we visited were mainly working class and I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time loitering around bus stations and seemingly derelict buildings …. neither have I stepped in quite so much doggy poo since the last time I was actually in Paris…but it was worth it ;-)!!

Luckily Geoff did manage to grab 3 or 4 days too to see the sights and I hiked him around from pillar to post giving him a potted tour of all that I had discovered…after the first few hours he was so exhausted he had to go for a 90 minute massage to recover – what a lightweight!! 😉  OK, I admit it, I had one too 🙂

Were distraught to be leaving although looking forward to the possibility of perhaps seeing a green vegetable (other than lettuce) for dinner somewhere in the countryside…..there MUST be one somewhere….isn’t there…??

Anyway…..on to Iguazu Falls next… 🙂      More to follow…

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