Two weeks in the mountains of Patagonia had been exhilarating but tiring, and we were ready for a restful week. Romantic images formed in our mind of Buenos Aires; nicknamed the “Paris of the South”, we envisioned hanging out at outdoor cafes, sightseeing various museums and cultural sites, partaking in the bustling nightlife, or strolling the parks with fountains in Eva Perón fashion.
“Sexy, alive and supremely confident, this beautiful city gets under your skin” – Lonely Planet
The heritage city of art and culture was ours to explore.Our apartment was elegant and stylish, a two bedroom located on 9 the Julio; one of the widest avenues in the world, in a central neighbourhood and on all accounts, a good place to settle for a few nights.
Maybe our expectations were too high or the weather was too warm because we were underwhelmed by B.A.
We found charming pockets in the central core area, but in general, the density of population and lack of green space made the city claustrophobic. Surrounded by never ending canyons of apartment blocks even in the upscale neighbourhoods, we found refuge from the heat in the few city parks such as the Jardín Botánico.We realise that we only scratched the surface of this immense and diversified metropolis, and our judgement may be too hasty. We did find some interesting and unique places to see and visit, here are a few of them.
Palermo, the trendy residential neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.
We read on the internet that “Argentina’s music dominates the city streets.” so we were excited to be in town for Día Nacional del Tango. Touring the city, we expected dancers in the streets wearing sexy tango shoes, moving to the sultry music. After a full day of exploring, we never saw or heard any tango other than a small stage set up in front of the Kirchner Cultural Center.At the Recoleta Cemetary, we went to pay our respects at Evita Perón’s tomb, where she is resting in her family’s mausoleum. We arrived at the peak of the day, under the high noon sun and 34 degrees. Walking through the narrow alleys of grey stone and black marble was like walking into an oven. The heat was overwhelming, we gave up and retreated to the comfort of our air-conditioned apartment. — Evita will have to wait for another visit.Central B.A. is a blend of modern and historical architecture, ornate government buildings and endless apartment blocks.
Dominating the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas the massive steel sculpture, Floralis Genérica blooms from the centre pond. It’s petals open during the day and closes at sunset. A must visit on the tourist trail is the converted El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a 100-year-old theatre converted into a bookstore.The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes is one of the many museums in the city and has an excellent collection of art and other exhibits including The Kiss, by Rodin.
Our lesson learned here is a classic one, preconceived notions often do not live up to expectations. Like a first romantic date, Argentina’s capital had the ingredients of a good time, but the chemistry was not there for us. Maybe next time.