Friday, 19 November 2010

... Patagonia: What's New Buenos Aires?

I'm (not) new, I wanna say I'm just a little stuck on you. You'll be on me too.

Well, may be not the city itself but certainly the dog faeces that you will inevitably step in, again. Best way to avoid it is to stop trying to avoid it.

Ah Buenos Aires! It's both ugly and beautiful. But that's part of the appeal. It will seduce you like the very dance that symbolizes it. The last time I visited I spent almost a week here. The immense wealth of parks, museums, plazas, architecture will blow your mind. And the best way to see it is to let your feet get intimate with some concrete... WALK! Might be best to leave your tango shoes for the Milonga.

Once checked into my hotel, showered and cameras loaded into my daypack it was time to get reacquainted with a city I love. It will play with your mind convincing you one minute that you're in Europe what with the Italian heritage, French architecture and old cafes. Then you'll blink and be enveloped in all things Latin American. The best thing is this city pulls it off marvellously. I suspect not many can.

Once you get your bearings it is very easy to get around.  And if you never do ask a porteño! They are super friendly and you can laugh together at how crap your Spanish is. Well some of us can. But hey, A for effort! I was feeling mightily proud of myself - one sandwich con atun, tomate y lechuga for lunch!

Refuelled and raring to go, I snapped my way along the cracked sidewalks, colonial buildings and old-world cafes (Ok I did cave and hit Starbucks) before communing with the formerly rich and famous in Cementerio de la Recoleta. This is where Eva Perón was, finally, laid to rest. There's a saying that it's cheaper to live extravagantly in Buenos Aires than to be buried here. For the living entry is free to walk what essentially feels like a mini-city, with a macabre touch - how often do you look through a window and see a coffin? And yes, that is a cat you just saw come from in between those two tombs.

Eva Perón's Family Tomb

Palacio del Congreso, Argentina's national House of Congress, looks like it belongs in Berlin. Extremely imposing but with some pretty amazing architecture I decided to make that my final photographic victim before the sun disappeared for the day. By this time it was already after 6pm and my stomach was telling me it was hungry.

Palacio del Congreso

I guess I could've been a bit more authentic and eaten out for dinner but when I walk past a supermarket called "Disco" I am not going to be able to resist going in. And I was craving a banana sandwich to boot. Sorry, some habits die hard. Unfortunately, I ate the bread on its own whilst waiting for a Subte train that I could actually shoe-horn myself onto. Once you do eventually get onto one of these hot & overcrowded trains be prepared to get intimate - and so not in a good way. Still, it is said to be the quickest way to get around the city and by this time I was feeling pretty bagged. Make sure of your direction before passing through the turnstiles - station platforms are often separated by tracks. A single ride cost me ARS$1.10 although multi-use cards are available.

Back in my spacious hotel room, banana devoured sin pan, my comfy bed awaits. Meanwhile, the streets of Buenos Aires are merely thinking about getting the party started.

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