…contd from Part I
We resumed our journey & drove past the San Telmo neighbourhood with a rather famous landmark, the Ravens Craft Beer bar-cum-restaurant & the San Telmo Square.
The route further took us past the Club Atletico on the Av. Paseo Colon.
Between February and December 1977, a clandestine centre functioned in the basement of what was then the Federal Police supply service and workshop. It has been calculated that more than 1,500 people were kidnapped and tortured here and many of them remain unfound. In 1978, the former building was demolished to make way for the 25 de Mayo motorway. In 2005, the City Legislature declared the area covering the archeological remains of Club Atlético to be a historic site.
We next passed the Russian Orthodox Church with its blue domes & the Brownian National Institute dedicated to William Brown.
William Brown (also known in Spanish as Guillermo Brown or Almirante Brown) (22 June 1777 – 3 March 1857) was an Irish-born Argentine admiral. Brown’s victories in the Independence War, the Cisplatine War and the Anglo-French blockade of the Río de la Plata earned the respect and appreciation of the Argentine people, and he is still regarded as one of Argentina’s national heroes. Creator and first admiral of the country’s maritime forces, he is commonly known as the “father of the Argentine Navy“
Located in Casa Amarilla, a replica of Brown’s house in La Boca neighbourhood, the Brownian National Institute was created in 1948 for “research and study the nation’s maritime history and naval interests, and cooperate with both the Argentine and Irish governments in the investigation of William Brown’s life and military achievements”.
We were now in the La Boca area.
La Boca is a neighborhood, or barrio of the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires. It retains a strong Italian flavour, with many of its early settlers being from the city of Genoa. Among sports fans, Boca is best known for being the home of world-renowned football club Boca Juniors.
The club plays their home matches in the Estadio Alberto J. Armando popularly known as La Bombonera (Spanish for “the bonbon box”).
Quite befittingly, we caught a fleeting glimpse of a Maradona lookalike here 🙂
We made our second halt here. Florencia walked us around the neighbourhood & showed us the Caminito.
Caminito (“little walkway” or “little path” in Spanish) is a street museum and a traditional alley, located in La Boca, a neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The place acquired cultural significance because it inspired the music for the famous tango “Caminito” (1926), composed by Juan de Dios Filiberto.
There were street artists selling their colourful renditions of the neighbourhood.
Another famous international Argentine, Pope Francis, the current Pope was also found represented.
La Boca is a popular destination for tourists visiting Argentina where tango artists perform and tango-related memorabilia is sold. Other attractions include the La Ribera theatre, many tango clubs and Italian taverns.
Walking around we came across a tango performance at one of the restaurants. Do watch the video on my youtube channel ghumakkarindian at this link.
Florencia pointed out a blue & yellow house with figures of Argentina’s 3 Gods in its balcony – Diego Maradona (the footballer), Evita Peron (film actress & wife of ex-President Juan Peron) & Carlos Gardel (the singer, songwriter, composer & Tango dancer).
Later we were given 15 mins to explore the area on our own which I utilised to pick up my favourite memento – a fridge magnet.
We resumed our tour & now headed from the south to north Buenos Aires. The streets were lined with pretty jacaranda trees with their characteristic pink flowers.
The route took us past another famous landmark – the Obelisk.
The Obelisco de Buenos Aires (Obelisk of Buenos Aires) is a national historic monument and icon of Buenos Aires. Located in the Plaza de la República in the intersection of avenues Corrientes and 9 de Julio, it was erected in 1936 to commemorate the quadricentennial of the first foundation of the city.
We made our 3rd & final stop at the Recoleta Cemetery.
La Recoleta Cemetery is a cemetery located in the Recoleta neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It contains the graves of notable people, including Eva Perón, presidents of Argentina, Nobel Prize winners, the founder of the Argentine Navy, and a granddaughter of Napoleon. In 2011, the BBC hailed it as one of the world’s best cemeteries and in 2013, CNN listed it among the 10 most beautiful cemeteries in the world.
Set in 5.5 hectares (14 acres), the site contains 4691 vaults, all above ground, of which 94 have been declared National Historical Monuments by the Argentine government and are protected by the state. The entrance to the cemetery is through neo-classical gates with tall Doric columns.
Florencia guided us inside. Here’s a little trivia.
The cemetery contains many elaborate marble mausoleums, decorated with statues, in a wide variety of architectural styles such as Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Baroque, and Neo-Gothic, and most materials used between 1880 and 1930 in the construction of tombs were imported from Paris and Milan.
The entire cemetery is laid out in sections like city blocks, with wide tree-lined main walkways branching into sidewalks filled with mausoleums.
These mausoleums are still being used by rich families in Argentina that have their own vault and keep their deceased there.
The mausoleum of First Lady Eva Peron (Duarte) though lacking in ornamental design was the only one bedecked with fresh flowers.
I was left amazed at the intricate artwork & the extravagance of some of the tombs!
After spending about 30 mins admiring (!!) the tomb art we started our journey back to our respective hotels. On the way we passed a magnificent building which was the Law School of University of Buenos Aires.
We next passed a beautiful metallic flower which had been sculpted by Eduardo Catalano.
Floralis Genérica is a sculpture made of steel and aluminum located in Plaza de las Naciones Unidas, Avenida Figueroa Alcorta, Buenos Aires, a gift to the city by the Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano. It was created in 2002. The sculpture was designed to move, closing its petals in the evening and opening them in the morning.
The sculpture represents a large flower made of stainless steel with aluminum skeleton and reinforced concrete, which looks at the sky, extending to its six petals.
The tour ended by 5.30 pm & I was dropped at my hotel by 6.15 pm. It was an unexpected bonus as I’d thought that the drop-off was not included in the package & I tipped Florencia & Josef goodbye.
After fixing myself a hot cup of Girnar tea & freshening up it was time to hunt for dinner. The young boy at the reception guided me to a restaurant which had chicken & wine on the menu. Though an unusual combination, it satisfied the hunger pangs.
I made it back to the hotel by about 10 pm after dinner & was by now truly & genuinely tired. After making sure that all arrangements for the morning were in place & putting two alarms for 3.15 & 3.20 am I hit the bed to catch 5 hrs of sleep before my early morning flight to Ushuaia.
My Impressions of Buenos Aires
I found Buenos Aires to be a very cosmopolitan city. Wide, open, tree lined roads which were actually clean, disciplined traffic with no overtaking, honking or jumping red lights, modern glass buildings co-existing with historic architectural marvels, fancy stores of international brands, almost everyone dressed fashionably – I could be forgiven for thinking that I’m in Europe or the US.
Buenos Aires also reflects a lot of culture, probably a remnant from its Spanish past, & it is visible everywhere from the national language being Spanish to their obsession with soccer to the multi-coloured murals in public spaces & on walls, exotic sculptures, art museums, the Tango etc etc. Despite the apparent economic slowdown of the country & below par income of its citizens, none of this is visible in the city per se & it appears to be fancy & prosperous. The only challenge for me was the language barrier as almost everyone there spoke & understood only Spanish.
I missed out on watching a Tango show & exploring more of the city including its museums & some iconic spots due to paucity of time & would reiterate that Buenos Aires deserves at least 3-4 days to do sufficient justice to the city.
Excellent Sudip…Enjoyed Reading …🥰🥂
Thanks SK 🙂
Very good information and nicely covered.. happy travelling
Thanks a lot Rajeev 🙂