Friday, January 7, 2011

Thoughts from Buenos Aires


We arrived late into B-A and outside an airport, one city looks pretty much like any other (although I'm pretty certain it wasn't Gatwick, the traffic was far too civilized).

We'd booked a decent hotel for a couple of nights as a stress free way to getting our bearings in the country. It's always good to know that there is a decent shower waiting for you when you climb off a long haul flight too. On our cycle to the hotel from the airport we passed one of B-As more 'interesting' areas. The following morning, from the breakfast room on the 22nd floor, we could see the shanty town we'd passed. The rich overlooking the poor. There is some desperate poverty in this place.

I'm beginning to think that S. America is a great place to cycle. Certainly the food, in particular the cakes /puddings are excellent. We had some mighty fine chocolate puddings in the airport at Rio, and the cakes, puddings and sweet pastries in B-A have been divine!  The food in the cafes and restaurants has been good here, and I can see how the city has gained it's reputation for good food. The beer range only seems to include lager though. I guess you can't have everything.

The architecture of B-A is mainly European. Built by nations trying to keep the country 'on side'. It includes a clock tower donated by the British, which  surprisingly, sits across the road from the Argentine memorial to the Falkland's war. There is still a great deal of feeling about the islands, and as well as the guards standing at the memorial,  there are banners and graffiti around the city expressing their opinion on the sovereignty of the islands. Most of the business sector of the city could be anywhere in the world though,  especially the high rise office blocks, and the recently redeveloped port area.

The tango is definitely something which belongs here though. The pedestrianised streets in the center are full of people advertising tango shows, people dancing the tango and even a man who appeared to be dancing with a ventriloquists dummy!

The Recoleta Cemetery is another thing that you'd struggle to find in the UK. It contains a huge variety of grave architecture styles and in all states of repair. For the tombs of notable citizens,  as well as space for family on monuments, additional space seems to be left for friends to show they remember you in later years. A fine sentiment, but I do find it a bit odd when the building you're attaching your plaque to is in mid collapse. The cemetery was originally the orchard for the monestry on the site. The monestrys church still stands, against the cemetery wall. The two floors above the church were used as monks cells and storage area. They now hold an interesting collection of religious art. It also has a number of windows which still have alabaster in place of glass. It does let the light in, but the view through them isn't great!

Lasting memory is that B-A is a good place to visit, and a great place to eat.