|Back to Argentina in an Off-Road RV Index|
|Beautiful Buenos Aires|
|November 2 – 14, 2006|
|Our 12 day stay in Buenos Aires began with a visit, though brief, to . . . yes, another MERCEDES dealership! The Fangio Mercedes on Interstate 9 north of B.A. was a small, but efficient garage where a very talented mechanic succeeded in removing and re-welding the bracket that holds the 150 gallon fuel tank. He was able to do so without draining and removing the tank. Thank goodness! While this mend was being made, Michael discovered that our modified muffler assembly was also cracked. So, it also was re-welded. We were on our way within 2 hours. What is this, our 7th or 8th Mercedes garage visit??Arriving in a metropolitan city of 13 million people on a Friday afternoon is perhaps not the smartest thing we have done on this trip, but it worked out fine, although I would not want to push fate and do it again! We arrived onto the 9th of Julio, the “widest avenue in the world”, and found the 725 Hotel (Diagonal Norte) very easily, 2 blocks from the Obelisk. The hotel informed us that the parking garage is 2 blocks BACK. This was only a small problem for our very skilled driver who promptly does a very illegal U-turn in the middle of a blank moment between 6 traffic lanes. This was easier than maneuvering Kolob through the maze of una-vias (one ways). The parking garage at 861 Sarmiento was great! The 24-hour security, gated, shade cloth covered parking area charged $20 per day.Michael attended a Real Estate seminar Monday through Wednesday at the 725 Hotel. Wednesday we moved to an apartment for a week @ $475, Las Heres 2129, in Recoleta (rented through www.reynoldspropiedades.com). What a great value, even a 24-hour security guard at the door. Our view from the 15th floor was of the very famous Recoleta Cemetery. This seems very strange for us, but it is one of the top tourist attractions in B.A. Each “plot” is a very architectural mausoleum. Evita and Juan Peron are buried here along with every other rich aristocrat from Buenos Aires
What makes Buenos Aires seem old European is the architecture. Built along the Rio Plata, many building are by French architects. It is a feast for the eyes. Every block of the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods is one grand building after another. The busy streets are lined with quaint cafes and bakeries. Thousands of fast-paced men and women in business suits crowd at each sidewalk crossing. Shoe shines are a dime a dozen, and do a great job, I might add. Michael had a pair of Merrell hiking boots recovered from “trash” to new again for the grand sum of $7 for about 1 hour of hard work.
The arrival of our friend, Clair, on Friday morning has been much anticipated. It was so good to see someone from home. He was kind enough to bring us “wish list” items and carry back our all souvenirs and overpacked clothing items. Clair and Michael did some investigation into our “electrical” problem to our dash gear indicator, while I unpacked his bags of goodies from home and had Christmas in November!
We waited to do a city walking tour until Clair came. The areas we explored were:
Plaza de Mayo – Perhaps the most famous building here is the Casa Rosada, Pink House. It was the lower balcony of this mansion from which Eva Peron appeared to her Argentine working class admirers in the 1940’s. It was customary for the dignitaries to appear in the upper balconies. Using the lower balconies, it showed that she related to the everyday Argentinean.
The main plaza itself was founded in 1580. There are elegant buildings from several centuries. The tomb of General Jose de San Martin, the liberator from the Spaniards, is in the Metropolitan Cathedral which was built in 1745.
The original Spanish government seat, Cabildo, is a more plain, but elegant, white building from the mid 1750’s. It is the only public building remaining from the colonial period. The very ornate new city government building sits beside the old building.
At the opposite end of Av. 25 de Mayo is the National Parliament building.
San Telmo – the site of a huge antique market on Sundays, (along with some kind of weird parade which we could not grasp the meaning of. ) The antique shops line the streets. This is the oldest Buenos Aires neighborhood, although it was abandoned by its rich inhabitants in the 1870’s because of a yellow fever epidemic. The rich moved away from the river toward the Recoleta neighborhood, and the poor moved in to San Telmo.
La Boca – known as the birthplace of Tango. The buildings in this location of the first Buenos Aires port are painted multi-color. This painting scheme purportedly originated from the residence using left-over paint from the ships to paint their houses. This theme is still kept today. Carminito is a one-block walking street where artists display their varied colored creations. Carminito is also the famous Tango by Carlos Gardel. Tango in the street is common. See how well Michael is doing the Tango? Pretty handsome, I would say! On the other hand, Clair and I make quite a pair in this portrait!
Puerto Madero – the 2nd port of B.A., from 1880 to 1910, when the port was moved to Puerto Nuevo in the north. The dock and warehouse sat in abandonment and turned into slums until the 1990’s when it was literally given a new life of posh shops and restaurants. The upper floors of the old warehouses have all been transformed into offices and apartments. This is the place to be for nightlife, as it is safe at night.
Recoleta – The is the “where-to-be” neighborhood to live (and be buried), in Buenos Aires. The neighborhood is full of shops, eateries, parks, and plazas, oh yes, and our apartment! We toured the cemetery with its chaotic array of mishmash architecture of mausoleums. Space here goes for $20,000 per square meter, IF you can find someone who is willing to sell.
Calle Florida, a pedestrian street of about 8 blocks, is a shopper’s paradise for everything from electronics, clothing, furs, leathers, Argentine “estancia” (ranch-gaucho) items, and everything in between. We did our damage at the cowboy stores. Leather goods are much cheaper than in the U.S. Let’s not forget the 3 McDonalds and 1 Burger King on this 8 block stretch! We became very familiar with this area, as it was just blocks from the 725 Hotel and our truck parking.
There were many great restaurants just waiting for our visit. Sadly, we could not make them all. We did manage a sampling, though. Palermo area: Xalapa-Mexican, which we were dying for!, Rosasita-fondue; Puerto Madero: Rodizio-Brazilian Steakhouse; Downtown: Piegari – elegant pastas and whopping steaks; Sorrento’s-Italian; and another good steakhouse; Recoleta – McDonalds (yes, really!), and a couple of absolutely fantastic restaurants for steak and lamb.
Last, but not Least . . . we have some new little friends in Buenos Aires. We were befriended by some street children at the parking garage. For some reason, they took us to heart, so excited to see us as we checked on the truck 2 or 3 times a day. Never asking for a thing, yet needing everything. We became shockingly aware of a very real problem in Buenos Aires, the street children.
Gabriela, Jorge, and Tuti, thank you for the hours we spent together. You will always be in our hearts, and never forgotten. We love you!!
|Buenos Aires Gallery|