Monday, 23 September 2013

What's New Buenos Aires? - Part 2

Buenos dias indeed. On Fridays the hostel runs a free historical tour of the city which left at 10.30, it was given by a very informative guide who started the tour by showing us a short film of the major historical incidents in the past 70 years in Argentina. The dictatorships, military uprisings, bombing of the city by the navy, the disappearance of thousands of people and of course, the Perons.
The walk was great, they took us by places we had been to the days before, but we did not really know the real historical significance - there is only so much a guide book will tell you, and only so much Spanish we can translate so far  (but we are getting better). We learned that Casa Rosada was originally 2 buildings, including a fortress, and it was on the banks of the river. We learned about the rise of Juan Peron and Evita, and had a very interesting chat from a man who had moved to Buenos Aires when he was 20 because he was so inspired by Evita he moved from the countryside and ended up with a very large collection of memorabilia which is now on exhibit in the room where Evita's body was kept (and later stolen from to be returned some 16 years later, damaged) and he tells tourists the stories of how he, and others were inspired by her. A thing to note here about this collection of his is that it was illegal in the time after Juan Peron was exiled to Spain to keep photos, books or memorabilia of the Perons - and he had two rooms full. He really loved Evita, you could hear it in his voice and in his eyes when he spoke about her, though he never met her in person.
Evita fan (right)
That was the second most memorable thing of the tour, the most learning that there are still 30,000 people missing, they disappeared during the Dirty War (1976-1983) - and the plight of the Madres (mothers) who are still to this day marching on the Plaza de Mayo every Thursday seeking answers, they want the bodies of their children and the names of the babies who were stolen from the pregnant women who 'disappeared' when they gave birth, after killing the mothers. They began marching in 1977, some of them 'disappeared' too.
Symbol of the Madres
After taking us to see an old house which shows the style of house the rich lived in until the 1870's and then how it became where the immigrants (about 10 per room) lived - and the Tango was born, the tour finished up with a beer in a bar which had a couple doing a few tango dances.
In the evening the hostel had a BBQ - which it does every Friday night - which is all you can eat for A$90 (about £10) pretty much everyone staying at the hostel came, it was great fun. Being in a country of salad dodgers, it was a time to fill up on salad!

The next day (Saturday) we had a cycling tour of the north of the city booked but unfortunately it was raining and we had to postpone to Monday. So we had a wonder around town, went to the Galleria Pacifico which is a pretty shopping centre in the centre of town, we saw the Oblisco, and a lot of black market 'cambio' dealers, Angel got pretty good at mimicking them 'cambio, cambio, cambio'....

Tango, old folk style
Sunday, after being woken by the sounds of a street fight at 8.30 in the morning, we looked out the window to see a bunch of men throwing punches and then rocks at each other (BA footpaths are in dire need of repair, but handily for streetfighters there is plenty of ammunition with the broken pavements) we decided we needed to do some walking. so we did. 8 hours of it! We walked from San Telmo to Palmero Hollywood - and back. Starting just down the road from the hostel at the San Telmo markets, which are on every Sunday starting on Plaza Dorrego then running all the way to Casa Rosada along Calle Defensa, there was an old couple doing a tango for the people.
San Telmo Markets
The markets are great as they are not just touristy but also loads of locals there as the market is mostly an antique market - filled with pocket watches, signs, cutlery, maps amongst many other things.
We wandered down Roque Saenza Pena (which was designed to look like it was in Paris) and along Avenue 9 de Julio past the magnificent Teatro Colon After this initial 5 hours of walking we were starving so we looked for a place in Palermo Soho which we had marked on our map- a burger place called Burger Joint, Angel's friend Fleur had recommended a food blog called pick up the fork which reviews Buenos Aires eateries and this place had a great write-up, to be brutally honest we were so hungry we would have thought anything tasted good, but this was genuinely delicious, freshly made to order juicy burgers, chips and a drink - and all for cheaper than McDonalds is over here!
Burger Joint
After we had re-charged we walked to the Botanical Gardens, which had loads of feral cats roaming about and then on to the Evita Museum which was great, and had a lot of the stuff translated into english which was great for our tired heads, it was in a stunning old building which had originally been one of the offices of the Evita foundation.
It was then a long slog back to the hostel. phew.

For our last day in Buenos Aires we had our postponed bike tour from Saturday, luckily the sun had come out for us though it was chilly.
Ellen ready for some cycling
Starting just 5 blocks from our hostel we rode along the Avenue 9 de Julio to Recoleta and stopped at Plaza St Martin to learn about St Martin and then on to the big flower near the University of Buenos Aires.
Palmero Flower
Then on to beautiful Chico Palermo where all the rich people lived, now it is just embassies and tourists walking around. We then cycled on to Palermo where we stopped at the Rose Garden, but unfortunately on Mondays it is closed, and then our final stop before the long straight cycle back was the Cementerio de la Recoleta where many of the famous (and infamous) of Argentina are entombed - Roca, Sarmiento. and Evita, who is in the family Duante crypt.
Evita's Tomb

The ride back was interesting - there were 2 separate police road blocks, which amusingly our guide rode us straight through.
Now, quite knackered from 2 full on days we are going to blow our budget and have another steak dinner as tomorrow we are up very early (5am) for our flight to Bogota in Columbia.

No comments:

Post a Comment