After a very, very long and delayed journey from Hanoi we land in our first South American city, Buenos Aires. It’s clear from the moment we arrive down town that we are worlds away from South East Asia. From the world’s widest street (16 lanes across), to graffiti covered shops, to the grand European architecture, it’s gritty and beautiful all at the same time. The city is sprawling and you’ll want several days in town to check out each of the distinct neighbourhoods, most of which are within walking distance or on the subway line – as long as the subway workers aren’t on strike of course, a near weekly occurrence.
The micro center is punctuated by Argentina’s most famous building– the Casa Rosada, or literally, “pink house” and the famous balcony where Evita, the First Lady in the 1940’s spoke to adoring crowds. Today the presidential palace is still the working office of the current president and open to the public for free tours on the weekends.
If you’re going for a stroll down town you can’t miss the pedestrian Av. Florida, a series of beautiful interlinked cobblestone streets that contain some of the top end businesses in town, great shopping and street vendors selling everything from handmade crafts, to flowers and of course the infamous money changers.
One of the Buenos Aires’ prime tourist attractions is the nearby Cemetario de la Recoleta, where the richest of citizens are laid to rest in this giant ornate necropolis. It’s a beautiful if not a bit eerie mini-city of impressive marble crypts with decorative statutes unlike anything you’ll come across in a regular cemetery. Of course the famous Peron’s are buried here as well. Grab a map or ask around to find Evita’s grave as it’s easy to get turned around in the cramped walkways.
Of course a visit to Buenos Aires wouldn’t be complete without a seeing to La Boca, San Telmo and Palermo. Stay tuned for those posts coming later this week.
Jen’s Overall Rating: While I don’t think “the Paris of South America” is accurate, Buenos Aires certainly has it charms. It’s rough and beautiful all at the same time and the perfect gateway to the rest of South America.