We are usually not big fans of big cities but Buenos Aires was a pleasant surprise. It has so many beautiful buildings, parks with huge trees and plazas with green grass. The many purple Jakaranda trees along the roads reminded me of Pretoria.
Sunday was particularly festive. Everyone seemed to be out and about either jogging, rollerblading, walking around, watching street entertainment or drinking mate. There was an antique market in San Jaun square in the historical San Telmo area near to where we stayed. Hundreds of people seemed to be selling their old junk which was interesting but I wonder if they actually made any money!? (I’m not an antique lover or specialist so I’m probably the wrong person to be making any comments about what’s considered valuable.) Musicians were all over making melodies with drums, guitars, violins and voice. It was sunny and the city had such an energetic vibe. We went to see the big, silver flower called Floralis Generica and we walked around the picturesque Palermo area.
That night we watched a free tango show at the same square where they were selling the junk/antiques earlier that day. The two dancers were good but not that great and you couldn’t feel the passion when they danced. What made me feel uncomfortable and a bit sorry for them was that after only one dance they walked around asking people for tips while the man carried this small basket in his hand. He was always holding that basket. He put it down for three minutes while they did another dance and then immediately picked it up again and started holding it out for money. Not that I think they shouldn’t ask for money, that was just too clearly their main priority.
Monday was grey and rainy. It seemed most people partied too hard the night before because many shops were closed the whole day. We were planning on doing a free walking tour of the city but when we saw the rain we went ice-skating at My Way instead. At first we were both dragging ourselves along the railings, but after the 8th time that “Shine bright like a diamond” played over the speakers (they only had three songs on repeat), we eventually became more confident and picked up some speed. It was a good workout!
In Cusco we went and had a look at the local cemetery just because it seemed quite interesting, but in Buenos Aires the cemetery is a real tourist attraction. It’s literally one of the “To dos” for a tourist visiting the city! And I can see why! It’s intense! There are huge, elaborate burial sites dating from the 1800s with amazing architecture and statues. Some are rusted, covered in spider webs and have broken windows. Many tombs are a bit forsaken which gives the place a spooky feel. It’s strange that the cemetery is a tourist attraction… But I suppose most tourist attractions have something to do with death, architecture and war… Except for natural ones – like the Iguazu Falls – which we are now on our way to.
We were impressed with their easy to use public transport system. It’s all relative though because compared to South Africa they have an excellent system but maybe other countries are used to better. They have busses, taxis and the subway. Marc bought a “Sube” card with some credit on it and with that card we travelled all around the city. There is also a city bus website which tells you exactly what bus will get you where you want to go.
Eating out in Buenos Aires is expensive! We shared a steak one evening which was perfectly tender and juicy- absolutely divine- but it wasn’t cheap. Their pastries at the abundant panaderias are affordable and there are many supermarkets selling fruit. The graffiti or wall art all over the city has also become a tourist attraction. There’s a lot of plain ugly graffiti and some of the old buildings are so beautiful I don’t think “wall art” should even be tolerated on them.
My favourite night was when we went to the famous Cafe Tortoni, the oldest of its kind in the country. We paid 150 pesos to watch a tango show and it was worth every cent! The dancing was very entertaining. The dancers had such passion and they made the tango look so sexy! I wouldn’t want Marc dancing the tango with anyone else but me! Waltzing or “sokkie-ing” with someone else is acceptable but the tango – no way! Not like the dancers in the show were dancing it anyway! They also sang, made a lot of Spanish jokes and this one native-indian dressed guy was making beats with drums and ropes.