In Buenos Aires we had our hostel at the the Plaza del Congreso which is from where we started exploring the downtown in the morning. This lead us along Avenida de Mayo and onto the Plaza de Mayo with it’s Casa Rosada (pink house), which is Argentina’s official presidential palace:
The palace’s pink color has two different explanations:
First of all it could be a mix of the colors white and red, which represented two competing parties, in order to represent the Argentinian union.
The second explanation is that a mix of lime and cow’s blood was used as the original paint. This mix was common in the 19th century because it provided some sort of waterproof paint.
We moved on towards the Rio de la Plata when a shitstorm hit us, literally! Some birds pooed all around us and unfortunatly we got hit too. So we crossed the river and went right into the next Hilton to clean up. From over there we had a good view over La Puente de la Mujer (any ideas how this bridge represents a woman?) and the museum ship ARA Presidente Sarmiento.
In the afternoon we had a look around the neighbourhood of San Telmo, met an old friend of mine from back in New Zealand (Connie) and passed by the neighbourhood’s famous open air sunday street market.
Afterwards we went to the stadium of the Argentinos Juniors to feel the vibe of a soccer game here in Buenos Aire. However this turned to be out to be useless because except for a couple of firecrackers there wasn’t there wasn’t much of an atmosphere at this game.
The evening and night we dedicated to Tango or better to watching Tango. At first we went to Plaza Barrancas in Belgran which is north of the centre. There in a pavilion where people from all social classes and ages meet up every evening from 5pm-10pm to enjoy and dance Tango (below).
At night we met Connie again and she showed us a real and authentic Milonga (Tango-Bar) where people go out at night to dance Tango. The level at which some of the people there were dancing was amazing. It was good fun watching them dance and sometime you just could not take your eyes of them….
We started our second day in Buenos Aires with a free walking tour around the city centre. With the tour we passed by many places we had seen the day before but this time we got some facts and insights into the city and Argentina as a whole, for example where the color of the Pink House came from.
The Congress in the background:
A guy selling hot drinks in the streets; to our surprise we saw hardly anybody (in comparison to Uruguay) running around and drinking from a mug of mate!
We found yet another house built on a skyscraper (see also Sao Paulo), this time a company owner wanted to save on travel time every morning and therefore decided to built his house on top of the company’s office building.
One funny thing about Buenos Aires were all the silk trees which grow around town:
In the evening our last stop was the famous tourist street “Caminito” in the area La Boca. At this time of the day it was completely deserted, probably because it is supposed to be kind of dangerous at night. That is why we did not stay too long but the little colorful houses definitly make it a nice street.
The next morning we registered for the free city bikes and now we were unstopable and could move around a lot quicker. First we cycled all along the Reserva Ecologica Costanera Sul, a park on an island of the river La Plata. From there you can have great views of the skyline of the city centre:
Before we moved on we had to change our bikes, it is only free for one hour but you can get a new one right away. Then we biked to a place called “Manzana de las Luces”, which used to be an intellctual places of studying and nowadays it still is a high school. When we got there this school was in “toma”, which means that the students took over the buildings and blocked access for the personal as a form of a more agressive strike.
This was to our luck because only so could we visit the insite of it. We met one of the organisers of this “toma” who gave us a private tour around the classroom, rooftops and finally the secret tunnels of this complex. We climbed through a lightshaft into a secret earth tunnel (left bottom and top right below) which ended inside an altar of the nearby church (bottom right below). Just like that we could see people wander around and pray in the church from the inside of it’s altar!
With yet another new bike we went to the Cementerio de la Recoleta in one of the city’s most expensive neighbourhoods, also called Recoleta. Many of Argentinas famous politicians, athletes, writers, etc. are burried here in this graveyard. It therefore also has some of the country’s biggest and most expensive mausoleums:
We cycled around a bit more, visited some gardens and then at sundown it was “Byebye Buenos Aires” and time to take a nightbus to Cordoba. But I think this city has enough to offer to deserve a second visit sometime in the future.