Buenos Aires: Paris of South America

Still suffering from jetlag we had yet another late start to our day and did not leave the studio until close to 1pm. We started our day with a visit to the Museo National de Bellas Artes (free admission) which has the best art collection in Latin America and largest collection of Argentine art. After two days of walking everywhere, we decided to take a break from the marathon walks and took the convenient subway or SUBE to the museum.

Argentina Buenos Aires

The museum’s extensive collection consists of gloomy Flemish and Dutch paintings, some impressionist, great Rodin pieces and a wonderful selection of Latin American artists including the Argentine artist Xul Solar whose work was influenced by Klee and Kandinsky, two of D’s favorite artists.

Walking Tour of Retiro/Recoleta

After the museum we wander down to San Martin Plaza to take advantage of a free walking tour being offered by BA Free Tours. The tour we were going on was the Recoleta City Tour to learn about Aristocratic Buenos Aires. We were the only ones who showed up so we pretty much had our own private tour. Our guide Jime, who is a Porteña  (Buenos Aires native), was a great story teller and drew us in with interesting historical facts, humorous insights into the mind of Argentines and cheap gossip about the aristocracy of Recoleta. We learned about the significance of the monuments, history of palaces, and why Buenos Aires is called the Paris of South America. (Psst it’s because the Argentine aristrocrats built the wide avenues, palaces and squares to very much be like Paris). Seriously this area looks exactly like Paris except the people are not as snooty. We ended the tour at the Cementerio de la Recoleta where she told us about the strange events surrounding Evita’s corpse. Think body snatching, necrophilia and secret graves.

San Martin Plaza:  Monument to honor José de San Martín, one of the liberators of Spanish South America.

Fun Fact:  The obligatory statue of José de San Martín on a horse that is supposed to depict the crossing of the Andes was actually done on a mule. The mule gets no glory.

Torre Monument:  Given by the local British community to mark the centennial celebration of the May revolution.

Fun Fact:  Prior to 1982 the clock tower was called the Tower of the English. What event in 1982 led to the renaming of this tower?  Bueller?

Argentina Buenos Aires
Torre Monument

Gomero de la Recoleta:  The oldest Ficus tree in Buenos Aires. It’s enormous with branches spreading out over 50 meters.

Fun Fact:  They replaced one of the metal struts that support the huge branches with a sculpture of Atlas (holding the weight of the world?).

Argentina Buenos Aires
That’s Jime in the background.
San Telmo Sunday Market

On Sunday we hit the popular Sunday Fair in San Telmo, Buenos Aires oldest neighborhood. Lined with cobblestone streets, colonial buildings and cafes, San Telmo is another one of those neighborhood loaded with European charm. The market was huge and extended 20 city blocks filled with stalls selling antiques, crafts and souvenirs.

Argentina Buenos Aires
San Telmo Weekend Market

We were also able to catch a Tango street performance at the market.

After wandering around the market, we headed towards Plaza de Mayo, the main square in El Centro or center, and where many important buildings and mouuments are located. At the center of the plaza is the Pirámide de Mayo which was built to mark the one year anniversary of BA’s independence from Spain. Unfortunately it was covered up in blue plastic so we weren’t able to see the monument.

Argentina Buenos Aires
The Pirámide de Mayo. What are these tourist looking at?

Adjacent to the Plaza de Mayo is the Casa Rosada where Evita, or maybe it was Madonna, sang “Don’t cry for me Argentina” from the balcony. OK for real, this is the famous balcony where Evita addressed her adoring supporters who wanted her to run for Vice President.

Argentina Buenos Aires
Balcony where Evita sang “Don’t cry for me Argentina”?

The Metropolitan Cathedral where a then unknown Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio presided over mass until he got upgraded to Pope.

Argentina Buenos Aires
Metropolitan Cathedral

Here is the Obelisco de Buenos Aires located at the Plaza de la República from three nights ago. This monument was erected to mark the anniversary of the fourth centenary of the city. This was actually taken the night we had pizza.

Argentina Buenos Aires
Obelisco de la Buenos Aires

We did stroll down Calle Florida, a pedestrian only street known for its shopping, restaurants and vendors on our way to the SUBE. But being a Sunday most places where closed and the streets were pretty empty. Actually most of BA was pretty dead on Sunday.

Eats:

La Cabrera
Palermo

Considered one of the best parrilla in BA.  Look for a review in a separate post.

Cafe San Juan
San Telmo

Casual eatery in the San Telmo barrio serving Spanish tapas with some Argentine dishes thrown in. We had tortilla with potato and red peppers, garlic shrimp and bondiola (pork shoulder). The food was pretty good except when D took a bite of the bondiola and it tasted like fish. Thinking we got the wrong dish, we asked the waiter if this was the pork (You couldn’t tell by looking at it). He insisted it was and then G took a bite and said it was pork but admitted there was a fishy taste. After a few bites the fish taste went away. We think that the pan that was used to cook the pork may had some fish residue which caused part of the dish to taste like fish. Good thing that D is not really allergic even though she tells those fancy restaurants that she is so they replace those fish dishes on the set menu with a non-fish course.

Argentina Buenos Aires
Cafe San Juan
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