Saturday, 20 November 2010

... Patagonia: Stand back, Buenos Aires!

There's a 5 hour time delay between here and Pacific Standard Time and here they do not practice daylight-savings. The time difference, coupled with the heat last night is probably why I was shaking an angry little fist tango-style when my watch showed 230am. I couldn't fall asleep. "Damn you jetlag, DAMN YOU!" So all plans to get up early kind of failed miserably. I did wake up at 6am, fell asleep again, had set my alarm for 930 and woke at 1015.  Oh well bugger it, I'm on holiday and I was just in time to shower, have breakfast and be checked out by 11am.

Porteños almost always eat a light breakfast typically consisting of medialunas or facturas with coffee. I, however, simply wouldn't eat something so sweet for breakfast (even if I could) and so played it safe. Toast, a banana, some freshly squeezed jugo de naranja and a cup of java. For those of you dying to try something gaucho there is usually the opportunity to spread a cavity nightmare-worth of dulce de leche even on your gringo toast! I suspect that every drink I have had so far requiring milk (even non-fat) has been UHT, so be prepared for your latte tasting a little bit "different".

And then it was time to trek across the city cleverly disguised as a walking backpack to my next hotel in the hope of at least dropping off some stuff before more exploration. I braved the Subte for part of the way there. Of course being the weekend it was a lot less rhesus-monkey-in-a-sardine-can. There was even space to sit down but I was worried I would resemble something like a weeble when I tried to stand back up again so I nixed that idea.

Until the construction of the Sydney Opera House, Teatro Colón was the largest theatre in the Southern Hemisphere. It is still acousticly considered to be amongst the five best concert venues in the world. Massive renovations meant the theatre was closed for refurbishment from October 2006 to May 2010 and so during my last visit it was all boarded up. Thankfully this time it was there in all its architectural glory even if it has an unfortunate body part in its name. Tours are available in both Spanish and English.

The theatre is one of the main landmarks along Avenida 9 de Julio. The avenue has up to seven lanes in each direction and is flanked on either side by streets with an additional four lanes. Crossing the avenue at street level takes some considerable time. Imagine if you had to cross this thing with a zimmer?!?
Teatro Colón

Obelisco de Buenos Aires is at the spot where the Argentine flag was flown for the first time in Buenos Aires, at the intersection of Avenida 9 de Julio and Corrientes avenues. The obelisk unfortunately has a fence around its base in a bid to prevent vandalism, especially politically-oriented graffiti which is rife pretty much everywhere in the city. Still at 220ft high it is pretty impressive.

Obelisco de Buenos Aires
Avenida de Mayo connects the Plaza de Mayo with Plaza del Congreso, the latter of which I visited yesterday when I went to see the Palacio del Congreso. See! It is easy to get around this city! Avenida de Mayo is Bs. As most historic avenue: flanked by beautiful architecture and famous cafes. It is now even a National Historic Site. Plaza de Mayo was named after the country gained independance from Spain and is surrounded by several important buildings.

Catedral Metropolitana's odd looking entrance will certainly confuse you. However its interior is simply beautiful. It houses the mausoleum of General San Martín, Argentina's independance hero. They even have two guards standing there. Not quite Buckingham Palace style but you get the picture. Unfortunately it was quite crowded inside and I couldn't hear myself think. I'm not particularly religious but some places do deserve silence and this is one of them. I hastily made my exit upon spying the arrival of a school bus. Yeah, no.

Casa Rosada, has got to be known as the "Pink Palace". I refuse to believe that it isn't. Although that sounds seedier than the fact that my wonderful Colonial-style hotel is across the street from not one but two sex shops. Home to the Presidential Offices only, think of the U.S White House only pink! It was built on the site of the original fort and the ruins are visible from the museum.

And now I suspect it's time to partake in one of the things Porteños do best.... café con leche... descremada.

Patagonia awaits....

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