Buenos Aires F.D.

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  • Day20

    Day 18 - Penguins in Profusion

    January 15 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    The Eclipse docked in Puerto Madryn about 7:00 with bright sunshine and warm temps - forecast high of 89, today. We disembarked after breakfast and walked the long pier (half a mile) over the shallow harbor. Found our tour and boarded a 20-passenger bus for our excursion. We had a guide who explained things through an interpreter.

    Puerto Madryn was settled by Welsch immigrants in the 1850s. They were fleeing religious persecution and the Argentine government offered free land to Baron Madryn and his followers.

    We headed out of the city south on a freeway through gently rolling scrub plains. No trees, only low desert scrub - a lot like the desert southwest in Arizona. Stopped at a pull off next to the giant herbivorous dinosaur model. The bones of it were discovered about ten years ago a few miles inland. It is considered the largest dinosaur known. Stopped at a modern rest stop/gas station for relief then on through Trelew, a fairly large town on the Chubut River where there were actually trees!

    As we drove south, our guide offered us a sample of mate, a traditional Argentine infusion, in a mate cup. The cup is made from a hollowed out gourd decorated with local designs and chased in silver with a silver straw. Mate is a strong, bitter herb tea that locals drink all through the day. The sky had become a bit overcast with a mild breeze with temps in the high 70s.

    We turned off the (now two-lane) highway into the Protected Area of Punto Tombo. Our destination was the Magellanic Penguin rookery in the preserve, about five miles down a good gravel road. We parked at the visitor's center and walked along the marked paths and boardwalks among the penguins. This rookery is home to some 700,000 penguins! They were everywhere, basking in the sun, sheltering in their burrows, and walking to and from the Atlantic. Scattered among the penguins were small groups of guanacos, a llama-like browser found across the Argentine pampas. We took pics of the penguins and their three to six-month old chicks. Spent an hour and a half exploring and dodging the other 1,000 passengers from the Eclipse who had chosen this excursion. Back on the bus, the tour offered a box lunch before we headed back to the dock, about 115 miles away.

    One of the drawbacks of cruising is that the ship dumps 2,000+ people into sometimes small cities. Although there area usually several different excursions,
    there are always hundreds of people jostling to see the same sights. It can be frustrating. Occassionally another cruise ship is in port at the same time, compounding the problem.

    Back on the Eclipse, we relaxed a bit and watched the ship pull out of port. The evening show was a Russian violinist who gave a rousing performance mixing jazzed up classics with gypsy and modern tunes, a bit like the Celtic women concerts. Had dinner with our German table mates and chatted.

    Tomorrow another sea day.
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  • Day27

    Day 25 - The Dead and Fine Arts

    January 22 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    During yesterday's planning, we explored going to Brazil. Research showed that we'd need a visa so we headed to the Brazilian consulate. They told us to come back at 2:00. So, we went to the La Recoleta Cemetery.

    The Cemetery is one of BA's most famous attractions. It was started in 1822 and now has about 4,800 mausoleums containing the mortal remains of BA's VERY rich and powerful (the saying is that it's cheaper to live an entire life of luxury than to be buried in La Recoleta). Also interred there are past presidents, military heroes, famous writers, and other notables. Free tours in English can be had but we were early for that and got an English-speaking guide. She showed us around the four-square blocks of tombs. The mausoleums are ornate and grandiose in a hodgepodge of styles, including art nouveau, art deco, classical, Greek, baroque, neo-gothic, and more. They are decorated with angels, crosses, wreaths, urns, gargoyles, and more in various types of marble, metal, and stone. Our guide showed us several specific tombs and related stories about them and the people buried there. Of particular note were the tombs of former president Sarmiento and, of course, Eva Duarte de Peron - Evita. Hers is the most visited but not the grandest. It is a fascinating place and one could wander and gawk for hours.

    After the tour, we sat for a juice at and outdoor cafe then looked into the Fraciscan Basilica de Pilar next to the Cemetery (the city fathers took the Franciscan's gardens to create the Cemetery). We walked to the Museum of Fine Arts and wandered through that for an hour. The Museum has a wide-ranging collection of paintings and sculptures, including works by Monet, Degas, Rodin, Toulouse Lautrec, Sisley, Van Gogh, Manet, Renoir, Matisse, and many more. I was impressed with the breadth of the collection. We walked over to the huge (70 feet tall) polished metal sculpture of a generic flower (in United Nations Park). This flower was created and donated to BA by an architect in 2002. It originally opened in the morning and closed at night like a flower but the mechanism broke and hasn't been repaired.

    Took a taxi back to the Brazilian Consulate but were a bit early so we had a salad lunch at a modern cafe up the street. At the Consulate, they wanted a complicated application for an expensive long-duration visa. We just wanted a few-day tourist visa. They gave us a website to visit for an online application. Another taxi to a site close to our apartment, the Zanjon de Granados. This architectural site is the privately funded restoration of a series of tunnels, cisterns, and aqueducts dating from the 1730s and 1850s that was discovered when the developer was going to build a restaurant on the site. He was so impressed that he had the site excavated and restored and now has guided tours. It was fascinating and quite different from anything else we'd seen.

    Back at the apartment I tried to do the visa application but ran into various problems. We may just be satisfied with the view of Iguazu from the Argentine side of the falls. Ate in, relaxed, and did some planning for tomorrow.

    The mausoleum with all the flowers is Evita's.
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  • Day11

    Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires

    December 20, 2018 in Argentina ⋅ 🌧 25 °C

    An amazing above ground cemetery. Those are mausoleums you see...some the size of a small house! All members of the family are placed inside ...when their turn comes of course. Eva Peron is here...maiden name Duarte. Sheila in the pink waving from the steps ...

  • Day24

    Day 21 - Montevideo

    January 19 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    We docked as schedule in Montevideo. Today dawned grey and rainy as we looked on the port area.

    We met our tour at the port entrance and went for a city highlights tour on a 45-passenger bus. We drove out of the port along the "Ramblas," the coast highway along the Rio de la Plata. The river is over 140 miles wide at its mouth, the widest river in the world. The Ramblas is lined with beaches most of its 400-mile length to Brazil. The tour stopped briefly at several pull offs.

    Uruguay has the highest standard of living in South America and is also the safest country so it attracts many American retirees. Our tour wound through several upscale neighborhoods with homes from $700,000 and up. Our guide mentioned that all large purchases (homes, cars, major electronics and appliances) are made in US$.

    The name of the city comes from the Latin, "monte vid eo" - "I see land," which is what the first Spanish explorers said when they arrived. In addition to the Spanish, many migrants came here from Italy, as well as sizable Jewish population, during WW1 and again in WW2. Home to almost half the country's population, it was established in 1724.

    Our tour continued past the soccer stadium, which hosted the first FIFA World Cup in 1930 (in which Uruguay defeated Argentina for the Cup). We stopped at the carters monument, a nod to the toils of the first settlers. We stopped at the old executive palace and at Independence Plaza. This Plaza has the statue of the country's liberation leader, Jose Artigas, and has the new presidential building (with a glass facade) alongside the old one (in yellow stucco). Underneath the Artigas statue (below ground) is his tomb, which is open for visitation.

    Our tour took us back to the dock. We got out and walked through the Mercado Puerto (Port Market), a bustling place with many parillada restaurants. Parillada is the open grill, all meat barbeque for which Uruguay and Argentina are noted. We had a chorizo sausage and fries with a beer as we watched the griller cut and throw large chunks of meat onto the wood-fired grill. A little shopping and we walked across the street to the dock and boarded the Eclipse. The weather had cleared up and the sun was out. We soon sailed out of the harbor, heading to Buenos Aires.

    The show was fantastic! The performance troupe put on a spectacular song and dance story with full staging and props. It used a reinterpretation of pop songs. The production was of Kennedy Center or Broadway quality. Throughout the cruise, the quality and variety of the live music entertainment has been superb, I can't say enough to praise it.

    At dinner we learned that one of our table mates, Silvia, had come down with the flu and was quarantined- a major bummer.

    Tomorrow Buenos Aires!
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  • Day25

    Day 22 - Around Buenos Aires

    January 20 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    A sunny morning greeted us with the forecast high of 76 for today. We'd docked in Buenos Aires early.

    Outside the port we connected with our tour guide for the walking tour we'd arranged. As we headed out by bus to pick up more people, our guide explained some things. The Argentine inflation rate last year was more than 450% (in Uruguay, it was 4.8%). She explained how it is hard to cope with such inflation - especially since the new government has frozen salaries. She, herself, is going to Uruguay next month to begin working for Hyatt Hotels. We picked up the rest of our group and went to the start of the walk - the La Boca neighborhood.

    La Boca (the mouth) is the site of the first settlement in Buenos Aires. It's now a bohemian area with nearly all the houses planted with extensive, colorful street art. We walked through the barrio, past the stadium of Argentina's biggest soccer team, Boca Juniors, and into the the San Telmo neighborhood. This is one of the upscale areas and we stopped for a break. The houses are a mix of old (1880s) style and somewhat newer (1930s) style buildings built right next to each other. We had a Pesi and soda water at an old bar whose wood paneling was carved with patron's names and initials. We hadn't changed money but they were happy to take dollars - even eager. In the square where we stopped, a couple danced tangos for the crowd.

    More walking past churches and hi-rises to Plaza de Mayo. It was here, in 1810, that the country declared its independence. The obelisk in the center commemorates the event. One one side stands the pink presidential building; on another corner stands the municipal cathedral (where Pope Francis worked before being raised). The Plaza is famous, also, for as the meeting place (every Thursday) of the Mothers of May. These are the mothers and grandmothers of some of the 30,000 people who "disappeared" under the last dictatorship.

    We walked on to Plaza Liberador. Here, in a large green space, a grand statue honors the general who led the fight against the Spanish, Jose de San Martin. Down the hill from the statue is a memorial commemorating the fallen from the disastrous Falklands war - strategically placed opposite the British Tower. We caught a bus up Santa Fe street and got off to visit the famous bookstore, El Ateneo (Athens), housed in a former grand theater.

    More walking (it was billed as a seven-hour tour) took us to the square in front of the Recoleta Cemetery. We had lunch in an open terrace. Gail was done with walking so, even though the tour was to take a guided tour of the Cemetery, we opted for a taxi ride back to the ship.

    Since we were disembarking tomorrow, we packed our suitcases and overnight bags. Before going to the show, we set our suitcases out to be delivered to us at the terminal tomorrow. The show was four Gauchos performing percussion and dance with some whip cracking in between - not so impressive. We had our last dinner with our German table mates, Hans and Ottie, and exchanged contact information. Our California table mates didn't show, Silvia being still too fluish.

    Tomorrow off the ship and to our apartment for seven days.
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  • Day26

    Day 23 - San Telmo

    January 21 in Argentina ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Final packing, breakfast and waiting to disembark took up the early morning. We disembarked about 10:00 and caught a taxi to the apartment in San Telmo that Gail had arranged for the next week. The owner was there just finishing the clean up from the guests who had just departed. He gave us a rundown of the apartment and suggested places around the neighborhood, then left.

    The apartment is modern and spacious with two bedrooms, full kitchen, one and a half baths, and a long balcony overlooking Peru Street. It's on the third floor of a key-entry residential building. It is three blocks from Plaza Durrego, where we had stopped on yesterday's walk. A bit later, we went out exploring.

    San Telmo, in the mid-1800s, was the upscale neighborhood of the nascent city, with large, elaborate family mansions. In 1871, a yellow fever epidemic decimated the city and the rich fled the low-lying neighborhood near the river for higher ground to the northwest, leaving their mansions to decay. European immigrants began arriving and took over the abandoned mansions, converting them to tenements housing whole families in a single room. From the patios and balconies of these tenements, the people blended musical styles into what we know as tango. Once tango became internationally popular, the wealthy Argentines adopted it as the country's nation music.

    On Sundays, the area around Plaza Durrego is thronged with stalls for the weekly craft fair. It is a well-known event and locals and tourists come to stroll. We walked through the narrow, cobblestone streets lined with small, temporary booths selling crafts and antiques. There are leather goods (belts, purses), wood carvings, metal sculptures, knitted wool pieces, stone works, and more. The fair stretches for many blocks down Defensa Street and jams the small plaza. Naturally, there are tango demonstrations. We sat at a terrace bar and ordered beer and pizza. While we were waiting for our order, our California table mates from the Eclipse surprised us since they, too, were visiting the fair.

    We walked over to the roofed market, also thronged, and picked up some fruit and vegetables then stopped at a bakery for bread and pastries. Rested at the apartment then went back to Plaza Durrego and attended mass at the Church of San Pedro Gonzalas Telmo. On the way home we shopped for groceries for the week. We read up on things to do, had a light dinner, but soon went to bed (early, for a change).
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  • Day27

    Day 24 - Recovery

    January 22 in Argentina ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    A day of recovery and planning.

    We slept in to help Gail get over her cold. She took advantage of having a washer to do several loads of wash and we looked at where we want to go after Buenos Aires. Made some reservations in El Calafate and explored options for Iguazu. Later we went to El Zanjon, a restored space of tunnels and cisterns, but found it was only by guided tour, which we'd already missed. Did some strolling/exploring around the neighborhood.

    I've mentioned that the economic situation is hard here for most people - rampant inflation, frozen salaries. In spite of that, there seems to be a lot of construction going on. As we look out on and walk the streets, we frequently see dumpster divers scouring for cardboard to recycle. As we sat in Plaza Durrego yesterday, we were approached every few minutes by beggars. That poses an ethical dilemma. We feel for the people but can't give to everyone so how do we choose who to give to? We haven't solved that dilemma, yet.

    For dinner we went to the corner just across the street to Bar Federal. This was the top listed dining spot in our guidebook for the San Telmo area. We had two great steak dinners. We were early (by Latin American standards) at 7:30 PM, but the old, wood-paneled bar filled up as we enjoyed our meal.

    Language is often a problem - in a different sense. My Spanish is pretty good so I try to speak it when dealing with the people we meet. Many people, however, speak English and we often wind up with me speaking Spanish to the Argentines while they respond in English. Sometimes it's just comical; other times it produces misunderstandings.

    Yes, that's a Buddah in the living room of the apartment. The owner lives in London and only comes back here during the summer. The apartment is furnished in a very eclectic style with modern furniture, old world accessories and avant garde art on the walls.

    The Bar Federal is on the corner. The sign says, "We're open when we arrive; we're closed when we leave."
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  • Day28

    Day 26 - Tigre and the Delta

    January 23 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    After waiting until the shops opened to change money, we taxied to the train station and caught a commuter train to Tigre. The train is modern, air conditioned, and efficient. On the way out and back, street (train?) musicians played for tips and individual vendors sold a variety of small things. (Remember that everyone is squeezed by the tight economy.) The hour train ride took us through numerous suburbs, some looking upscale with good-sized, single-family dwellings and shabby apartment buildings.

    Tigre (tiger) is a river port some 20 miles northeast of BA. From the description of it as the jump off place for the people that live in and ply the Parana River delta, we expected a rustic, rural town. It was anything but! We found a high-rise suburb with bustling traffic and many tourists (including from Brazil). Tigre is a weekend getaway for Portenos (as BA residents are known). The Parana River drains large parts of Brazil, Paraguay, and Uraguay and turns into the Rio de la Plata here. The delta is a 14,000 square-mile expanse of canals, tributaries, and river that the guidebook compares to the Mekong Delta. It is populated by people making a living from it and with weekend and summer cabin Portenos. The city is packed with rowing and regatta clubs along the banks and boasts one of the largest amusement parks in Latin America.

    We took an hour and a half catamaran cruise up one of the slow moving rivers. The tourist catamaran provided a recorded narrative of what we passed in Spanish, English, and Portuguese (remember the observation from Chile that Brazilians make up the second largest tourist group). The river carries a heavy sediment load that turns the water brown (and nourishes the delta). The banks of the channels are lined with small (sometimes not so small) cabins and houses, many built on stilts to avoid high water. The locals get around by boat and there are personal motorboats, water taxis, and water buses (long, agile 50-passenger launches that stop when people hail them). Each house has a dock with its river number (like a street number but everything moves by the channels since there are no roads). There are campgrounds and cabin rentals to be had. Many of the places are well-manicured with beautiful lawns and gardens; some are run-down or abandoned. There's a market boat that brings a supermarket to the waterways and people tie up to it, shop, and motor home. There are several smaller grocery stores where people shop right from their boats. The locals use row boats, motorboats, or swim to get around. There are some exclusive resorts hidden among the maze of waterways and you can make a vacation of it. The city hosts a naval museum, a fine arts museum (in a spectacular, ornate building on the water), and the Mate Museum. Mate, I told you, is the ubiquitous national herb drink. Unfortunately, the Mate Museum only functions on weekends.

    Back in the Tigre, we ate at the former Italian Yacht Club and walked around before catching the train back. It was an unexpectedly delightful change from the big-city feel of BA.
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  • Day29

    Day 27 - The Famous

    January 24 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Today's theme was famous people.

    We started off at Plaza de Mayo, hoping to see the Mother's of Plaza de Mayo but the guidebook had the wrong time. On the one corner of the Plaza sits the Municipal Cathedral. This imposing, neo-classical building is where Pope Francis was prelate before being chosen. The interior has ornate, baroque details and a rococo altar. It is huge, with beautiful side chapels commemorating various saints and martyrs. We walked the aisles and sat awhile.

    In one, grandiose side mausoleum are the remains of Jose de San Martin, Argentina's most revered hero. San Martin led the fight for independence in the 1810s, then crossed the Andes and did the same for Chile, Peru, and Ecuador during roughly 15 years of fighting. That makes him a hero, not just here but in all of the continent. While in Peru and Ecuador, he fought alongside South America's other great liberator, Simon Bolivar. Bolivar was doing the same thing in Bolivia, Columbia, Venezuela, and

    Before leaving the cathedral, we bought some Pope Francis momentos then taxied to the Evita Museum.

    It is almost impossible to overstate how revered Eva Duarte de Peron is. She was, as cinema bluffs will recall, the wife of the immensely popular Juan Peron who was president from 1946 to 1954. Evita, however, was as popular or even more so than her husband. She was a radio and film actress before marrying Peron but as First Lady (and Vice President in Peron's second term), she was the champion of the poor, the "shirtless," and women. She instituted social reforms providing economic relief to the poor, built housing for them through the foundation she created, and forced through legislation giving women the right to vote. No wonder she is a quasi-saint even now. She died at 33 in 1952 from uterine cancer. Two, nine-story tall sculptures adorn the Ministry of Social Development building. This building sits in the middle of BA's 16-lane Ninth of July Boulevard, the widest street in South America. The sculptures are visible for miles.

    We toured the museum, which recounts her life and displays some of her dresses and house items. It shows videos clips of some her famous speeches and activities.

    We had a light lunch in the Museum cafe then walked to the MALBA, the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires. This museum showcases art of the 20th century 1900 to 1970. They were showing a special exhibit of the works of Pablo Suarez and his contemporaries. Suarez was an avant-garde painter and sculptor from the early part of the century. His work was bold and risque with many nudes and mixed media works. We toured the permanent exhibits, which ranged from cubist to modern.

    Back at the apartment, I went out to make dinner and show reservations for tomorrow and take some pics of the Evita sculptures.

    Walking the sidewalks is an interesting experience. Around the older parts of the city, they are mostly tile blocks, with some cobblestone sections. The tiles, however, are loose and broken in many places so they are uneven and hazardous. In front of some buildings, ceramic plaques have been set into the tiles. These plaques tell you that in this house lived so-and-so who "disappeared" on this date. It is striking how many of these there are (more than 30,000). Most of the intersections do not have signals so drivers treat them as games of chicken with traffic from the cross street and pedestrians have to fend for themselves - although pedestrians have right of way when in the crosswalks (if you're brave enough to claim it).
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  • Day60

    Märkte, Parks und die letzte Ruhe...

    December 30, 2018 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Im Norden von Buenos Aires liegen die wohlhabenderen Viertel. Riesige Villen (und Mausoleen) sowie trendige Geschäfte in Recoleta und Parks im Palermo.

You might also know this place by the following names:

Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Ciudad Autonoma de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires F.D., CF, Buenos Aires C.F., Buenos Aires, 布宜诺斯艾利斯

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