WEDNESDAY MARCH 4 DAY 39…..
Finally getting this out …Sorry for the delay on this post…. I was a little under the weather so I missed a few days …but I am back …
…this was a stop I was really excited about… Buenos Aries …. there is something romantic even in the name… and the way it sounds when you say BUEN OS AI RES
The passion of Eva Peron “Don’t cry for me Argentina” the intensity and depth is the vision I have of the people … fiesty, passionate, proud…. something beautiful about all of it… at least in my head
…so they say “Buenos Aries is one of the worlds most captivating cities” …I cannot wait to check it out…. just wish we had more then a day.
First a quick bit of background ….Argentina is a country with 44.5 million people. The city of Buenos Aries has a population of 2.9M. ….the largest city in Argentina, as well as the capital city. It is known for its European architectural heritage and it’s rich cultural life.
The city was founded February 2, 1536 by Spanish explorer Pedro de Mendoza…. he named the area Buenos Aires…. meaning “fair winds”.
The goal of his mission was to colonize the interior of South America using the newly captured port as the point of entry. …
but after years of battles… Argentina broke away from the crown declaring its independence July 9, 1816, led by Jose de San Martine who became a national hero to Argentines.
Buenos Aires started as a province that extended far beyond the city it is today … in 1880 the city became federalized and setup its own government encompassing 78 square miles.
From 1880 to 1930 Buenos Aries grew tremendously ….50% of the population came from European immigrants. By the 21’st century the city was growing twice as fast as the overall country …and today still draws people from all over the world….97% of Argentines today are of European and part European descent.
So the city today is millions of immigrants from all over the world…. a mix of cultures, multi ethnicities and religious groups … with many languages spoken ….not just Spanish.
….finally arriving ….By now I have seen a few ports in my life but I have never seen anything like this… it was like you were arriving at a major airport … O’Hare on a busy day or maybe Newark New Jersey in the middle of all those freight containers …the terminal was huge, cruise ships everywhere, miles and miles of shipping containers …. we took two different busses just to get through the shipyard to the port of entry. It felt like you were in the NYC port authority bus terminal, at least the way it was 50 years ago… people coming and going everywhere… you could easily get lost amongst the hundreds of people all around you … by far the most active ship terminal I have ever seen.
So working through the maze of people… the first stop was center city.
Buenos Aries is the nations center of commerce, industry, technology, politics and culture. The symbolic hub is Plaza de Mayo considered Argentina’s most famous square….it is the foundation of Buenos Arieslocated in the financial district….. The 235’ Obelisk at the center is a symbol of “disaster, rebellion and hope” built in 1936 commemorating 400 years as a city
City center is wide boulevards lined with stately trees. Blue sky, ….greenery everywhere… as the day progressed it did get very hot… high 80’s and humid
Weather in Argentina is mild year round. (average 60F) December to March, the summer is low to mid 80’s and can be humid…. June to Sept….the winter …Low 50’s occasional frost but no snow. Rainfall averages 45” ( about 3x what we have in New England)…..God I sound like a weatherwoman…
….well..off to check some of the stops all tourists are suppose to see.
The opera house..Teatro Cologne ….Constructed in 1889 and completed in 1908 ….subsequently refurbished. It is considered one of the 10 best opera houses in the world…. and acoustically considered to be one of the 5 best concert venues
The Palace of the Argentine National Congress is neoclassical Architecture built between 1898 and 1906… final details completed in 1946. The dome is bronze plated …260 ft high….weighing 3000 tons. The dome is lit during national holidays and special events …. obviously not being lit anytime soon given the restoration.
The city is a collection of a broad mix of architectural styles with surprisingly little Spanish style/Colonial Architecture other then in the oldest section.
Many buildings have beautiful details…balconies, ironwork and interesting shutters
… and curved corners …creating a softness to the building
This place must have some pretty small rooms…it looks like it lost its hindend…or a Hollywood set with nothing in the back.
Buenos Aries is a basically a collection of distinctive neighborhoods referred to as “barrios.” It has 48 barrios on the city.
Each barrios has its’ own meeting places, coffee houses or bars… these neighborhoods provide a feeling of community…. each unique with its own character…. similar to NYC with little Italy, Chinatown, the Village, Soho etc ..
So with 48 barrios….way to much to see in a day but there are about 5 that are recommended by everyone.
La Boca with its colorful buildings of the working class….
Homes built with corregated colorful pieces of metal
Graffiti/artwork….passionate expressions of the struggles of the working class
And the blue and yellow color of their beloved football team
Football is a hudge national pastime… in Buenos Aris alone they have over 4 stadiums each with a capacity of over 50k.
Officially known as Alberto J Armando Stadium located in the Boca District….built in 1938 and opened in 1940….it was nicknamed La Bombonera referring to “a box of chocolates” that the architect had with him while overseeing the building process …. I guess it stuck…. personally I would have eaten the chocolates and that would have been the end of it.
…the stadium is owned by Boca Juniors, one of
Argentinas top football clubs ….They have over 16 million fans, the highest in Argentina.
And it has been declared one of the most “emblematic” stadiums of the world….. not really surprising with the energy and passion of the people.
It is also used for major concert venues (Elton John, Bee Gees etc)…
Rocholeta known as a neighborhood of the wealthy….is a stark contrast to Boca with its classic European architecture. It is also home to a lavish cemetery that houses the tomb of Eva Peron. … it is a very well maintained area but nothing much stood out to photograph
San Telmo the oldest barrios in Buenos Aris…this is where you will see some colonial architecture … cobblestone streets….old churches, cafes, tango parlors, antique shops and food stalls ….open markets on Sunday’s…. attracting artists and dancers
And Palmero is a neighborhood with trendy streets and boutique shopping…. known as the “Arts District”. It is the largest district..7 square miles…. divided into 14 little neighborhoods.
And then there is Puerto Madero…..the newly revitalized area…..revamped dockside spanning four preexisting docks …today known as “Puerto Madero Waterfront”…….
the old dock area had been closed since the mid 1930’s …..leaving decaying warehouses and rundown surroundings
….by 1999 the revitalization project was well underway and today the area is filled with upscale restaurants, big hotels, private homes, offices and a university. ….
walking and jogging trails, pedestrian lanes and green spaces draw lots of people outdoors.
famous architects from around the world all wanted buildings in this new area…..and today it is considered one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Buenos Aries….. the preferred place by young professionals and retirees
….the pedestrian foot bridge, completed in 2001 connects the east and west docks…
The entire revitalization project was done in 10 years …..taking empty warehouse and docks and turning them into a thriving metropolis. Today it is considered one of the most succeasful waterfront projects in the world.
Buenos Aries is considered one of the great “urban experiences” …it is the most European of the South American countries and continues to be a recipient of millions of immigrants from all over the world… today it is the most diverse city in the Americas
….circling back to the very beginning…. the name “Paris of the West”…. I would not call it that ….it is its’ own city…with its own distinct personality …more Europe then Latin…a mix of culture, cafes, dining, history, tango ….a city filled with independent proud, passionate people.
Buenos Aires doesn’t need “Paris” ….it can take a rightful claim to its own name without other caveats …it is a very special city I would recommend to anyone interested in traveling ….you will need time because there is a lot to cover but it is definitely a place I will come back to.
Next stop Montevideo Uruguay