Saturday 07 May 2016, Buenos Aires -Argentina
This morning my roomy and I both woke up at 4am, after three hours’ sleep. Neither of us could get back to sleep and so we chatted until it was time to get up, and then went for brekkie at the cute restaurant. All of the food was gluten free, and really fantastic! There were a few interesting things on the menu, and we decided to try their “Energy Breakfast” – a banana smoothie, scrambled egg whites with herbs and gluten free toast. Delicious! How cute is this…
After we were all fed, we jumped on our bus along with our tour guide, Jeremias (pronounced Heremias, or Jeremy for those who prefer the English version) for a city tour around BA. We started with the very flash area where all the embassies are – just beautiful… Grand old European style buildings with gorgeous facades, and tree lined streets 👌🏻.From here we moved on to Recoleta Cemetery… This sounds weird (although probably not to those who know me well enough to know that I enjoy old cemeteries anyway), but this is an absolute highlight of visiting Buenos Aires, and not just for fascination (which I definitely have) of Eva Peron. This cemetery has 5000 mausoleums… it is just amazing. Apparently on average these mausoleums cost $60,000 USD to buy, and then you have to pay for maintenance as long as your family has it. Should your family all pass, leaving nobody to pay the maintenance, your family will be evicted (moved elsewhere) ready for a new family to come in and either take over the existing site, or build a new one in its place. This is walking around cobbled streets and looking into glass doors with coffins right there. I was personally all about Eva Peron, however. It’s a bit of a long story (I suggest googling, because it is interesting) but basically they preserved Eva’s body amazingly well and, due to politics, it was moved around from when she died until th 70s, when she was finally laid to rest 8m below the Duarte family mausoleum. Coincidentally, we visited on Eva’s birthday and there were lovely wreaths and flowers surrounding the mausoleum.
After Recoleta, we moved on to the CBD – the centre is Plaza de Mayo, where the presidential palace is, along with The plaza – a square where lots of demonstrations happen.. Today was a legalise marijuana group. The buildings surrounding the square are beautiful, and make me think of a combination of Trafalgar Square, New York’s Financial District, and Paris. You could see the obelisk down one of the boulevards, which is very cool.
Our last stop before lunch and hotel site inspections was La Boca. La Boca is an area that people most likely visualise when they think of Buenos Aires – it was the area that immigrants settled in, and was therefore very poor – they would take paint scraps from ships coming into the port, and paint what they could of their homes – this is why there are so many buildings with various bright colours. As well as the football stadium, The Chocolate Box, it is also home to Tango dancing – this is where you see people performing on the cobbled streets. Aside from this, La Boca is a dangerous area, and even in the daylight, you wouldn’t venture outside of the main tourist areas. We were fortunate enough to see the actual slums of today, and get an understanding of how incredibly poor this area really is.
This evening we went to The Argentine Experience. This sounds incredibly touristy, and I guess it was to a certain extent, but also very tasteful and fun. Basically you have a table of 12 people, and the staff run you through four of the main traditional foods you come across in Argentina – you make Empanadas and have a competition for who can make the most creative looking one (tonight it was a kiwi bird), next you learn how to order steak the way you like it (for me, jugoso – medium rare) and then they’ll bring a delicious fillet steak to you, cooked perfectly. Next up is a lesson on how to make Mate, a traditional leaf drink, and finishing off with Dulce de Leche (omg!!!). They also take you through some of the commonly used hand gestures in Buenos Aires – absolutely hilarious!!