We arrive early in Buenos Aires and the weather is glorious. Sunshine and not a cloud in the sky – but it does mean it is unbelievably hot, we estimate low 30s. As a pasty faced Lancastrian this is not my natural habitat but with SPF 30 slopped liberally around we head off and drop our bags at our hotel – another bohemian area, this time Palermo Hollywood – and head into the city.
Its about a 10 minute walk to the Metro. The system is not like London, or other cities for that after, whereby the underground lines form a matrix across the city. Instead there are 4 lines that all start at the central location and then head out like spokes from the hub of a wheel – this seems to mean that very few people get off at the stations as you head in, but instead the carriages get fuller and fuller as the journey goes on. Which when its north of 30 degrees is not that much fun – though given we’d been on a bus for 20 hours, I suspect the people whose head’s were near my armpits had more to complain about!
We grab some lunch at Cafe Tortoni, one of the oldest establishments in the city and one with a very french feel to it. The decor and food were great but I think its reputation as a ‘hotspot’ means that there are clearly more tourists than locals frequenting the place these days – couples, groups and individuals with Lonely Planets et al filled the tables round us. It is also supposed to be home to some of the great Tango Shows (another recommendation from a friend) so we book a show for tomorrow evening before heading out into the sun.
In the city’s main square we see some wonderful colonial architecture including the Eva Peron balcony, which is on a pink building whose colour came from the addition of ox blood to the normal white wash paint!
The area also played host to a couple of demonstrations / rallies, which is not uncommon apparently. The first we think was a protest about health care (or presumably the lack of it, or at least its standard), the second was by veterans of the 1982 conflict with Britain over the Falklands. Clearly this was a subject that we were mindful of so didn’t get too close, but we think it was something about the lack of care for the veterans from the war and that the country (or government) seems to have forgotten them.
We read up a bit on the subject and whilst we were aware that there is a view in the UK that Maggie took us to war with Argentina at a time her popularity was not high (was it ever?) and that a war is a good way of rallying the public behind you, it appears that this is thought to be the same reason that Argentina invaded in the first place.
The government at the time was very unpopular (we read some horrendous stories about families being killed to allow the children to be given to military families that presumably could not have children – the fallout from this is still ongoing) and the invasion was hoped to bring support back to the government at the time. As history tells us, Britain didn’t give up the Falklands and went to war and was successful in retaining the islands. The Argentinian government fell the next year.
Next was a walk round the renovated docks area – something that the locals are apparently very proud of. It looks lovely and is very reminiscent of city dockland developments in cities around the UK, we speculate that its the sense of success and prosperity that this develop hints at that is what the locals like.
A long journey and warm temperatures take there toll and we are feeling weary so head back to the hotel to check in properly. Across the road from the hotel is a barbers and I have to do something I have never done before – get my haircut on holiday!
Clearly the language barrier could be a source of trouble here but I had planned ahead and took some “selfy” pictures on my phone after my last hair cut in the UK which worked out well (rather pleased with myself on that one). Also with the language barrier there was no opportunity for the inane chatter that plagues hair cuts in the UK, so I could sit there quietly whilst he did his job (though to be fair the answer to the ubiquitous “Going anywhere nice for your holidays” would have passed more time than usual).
|In my basic Spanish I think the top sign is “the Malvinas (Falklands) were, are and will be Argentinas”|
|Jacaranda trees against the azure blue sky – the reason for the colours on the Argentinian flag|
|B.A’s free cycle scheme|
|Protest in the Plaza de Mayor|
|Casa Rosada, Plaza de Mayor with oxblood pink walls|
|Puerto Madero – a lot like Clarence Dock, Leeds!|