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Paris of South America

Like it or not, many people like to compare Buenos Aires, Argentina to Paris, France. Désolé, je ne pense pas ainsi!

BsAs immediately struck us as a livable city for expatriots and a town begging for visitors to understand. At the same time, the list of “must dos” is not overwhelming. One gets the sense that BA is quite comfortable in its skin. That is, the city doesn’t require having the tallest, the biggest, the most recognizable, etc. Ash and I loved that about the city. Here we were just trying to fit in as citizens for eleven days. Well citizens for half the time maybe.

BA - Recoleta Cemetery v16Recoleta Cemetery Square BA - Recoleta Cemetery v12

 Perhaps Buenos Aires’ most famous offering is the Recoleta Cemetery. Here, many of Argentina’s historical figures, scientists, and presidents have been laid to rest. Each visitor is welcomed by the tall Greek columns as the cemetery sprawls out like a city grid. The most famous inhabitant is Eva Peron (Evita), champion of woman suffrage in Argentina. Despite her place in history, the mausoleum where she lays is quite modest. Tight alleys wind past elaborate burial chambers with statues on top and the occasional structure left for waste. In fact, some are found with broken glass, filled with trash, and even coffin lids removed. When Ash felt surrounded by zombies, one of the 70+ rotund feral cats was there for her protection.

Cafe Tortoni Garden Gnomes He Just Won't Give Up!

Time was spent at a leisurely pace for the most part. Cafe Tortoni was a popular suggestion from locals to check out. So we dutifully had a cafe con leche (coffee with milk) at BA’s oldest coffee house, dating back to 1858. The botanical gardens in Palermo was a respite from the noisy hustle and bustle of the city. A Sunday was spent haggling for trinkets and eating street beef at the San Telmo Street Fair with Matt and Laura, who were on vacation from the Windy City. And what is BA without tango? Walking can be hard enough for us, how do they dance with such eloquence?

It Takes Two to Tango Incredible Design

 

 

 

 

 

Despite its size (13 million people in the metro area), Buenos Aires continues to grow in size. The city’s newest neighborhood, Puerto Madero, is built around late 1800′s docklands with rehabbed industrial buildings serving as luxury hotels in the shadow of modern skyscrapers. Being in commercial real estate, I had a particular fascination with a new office development with a six story atrium near the top. And much like many towns in the USA, brand new condo towers stood void of inhabitants, their balconies beckoning for furniture.

How Many Do You Count?Bow Wow.  They are everywhere and everyone seems to have one. Lap dogs, stray dogs, dogs the size of horses. You’ve seen dog walkers before, but not a Lilliputian on bicycle tethered to twelve tireless pets. Matt, Laura, Ash, and I even spent thirty minutes near the bevy of embassies watching a Bulldog’s ill-fated attempt to mount a larger German Shepherd (cheap backpacking entertainment). But truly, locals have a love hate relationship with their canines: love the companionship, hate the accompanying fecal matter.

So we did hit the tourist circuit. But we also participated in the age old ritual of stepping on dog landmines. How’s that for being a pseudo citizen?

- Greg

Learn From Our Footsteps:

  1. Free English speaking tours of the Recoleta Cemetery (free admission) are offered every Tuesday and Thursday at 11:00. Feel free to start with the group, then break off and discover the place yourself.

  2. Public transit is great. The subway (Subte) is cheap, safe, and very efficient. One ride will set you back $0.35. Buses, while not as fast, cover everywhere the subway doesn’t, just be sure to have coins. When the subway or buses aren’t convenient, taxis are inexpensive.

  3. Don’t waste your time and money on a tango show at a theatre or venue made for tourists. Seek out a street performance or a small show at a drinking establishment.

  4. While the beautiful architecture will certainly catch your eye, don’t forget where you put your two feet. Drivers give little credence to stop signs and sidewalks can be uneven and littered with dog poo.

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