March 21 and 22, 2018
Wednesday, March 21
We checked out of our hotel, the Emporador, and had a tour of the city with Pablo. Buenos Aires has a population of 3.5 million and it is a study in contrasts. There is a real “other side of the tracks” here. On one side of the railway is the wide street, Ave. 9 de Julio –in places it is a total of 22 lanes wide, a world record for the widest avenue, according to Pablo. Here there are many beautiful hotels and most exclusive shopping center in the city. On the other side is the slums.
Traffic in the port area is awful – it can take 30 minutes to go 5 blocks, mostly because of the trucks. There is construction to build a tunnel for the trucks but who knows how long that will take. The city has 40,000 taxis and Uber is not allowed here!
The city itself is very European. It is the capital, the second largest metropolitan area in South America and the 20th largest city in the world. It has the best quality of life in Latin America and is often known as the “Paris of South America”. Education and health care are free here, although people can have private insurance and go to private schools and pay for it. And retired people get 4 of their medicines free too.
Our first stop was the cemetery where Evita Peron is entombed, Recoleta Cemetery. This cemetery is really a work of art. It is 12 acres right in the middle of the city, Rich families have beautifully carved mauseleums. Some are falling into disrepair because of the cost of upkeep. Families can sell them, remove the remains of their relative and can get a large amount of money – the most reported is $250,000. Here are some examples of the beautiful and the deglected.
It is really like an art museum.
Pablo says it is impossible to talk about Argentina without talking about Evita Peron – a topic that splits families. She is apparently equally hated and loved by the Argentinians. He gave us his family’s opinion (hate side) and then grounded his comments with a well rounded history lesson. Peron’s first two wives (Evita was the second) both died of cervical cancer. His third wife, Isabella, is still alive and living in Spain. Here are some photos of Evita’s resting place.
Some of the other sites of the city are the opera house (one of the top 3 in the world for acoustics), the obelisk and the pink palace. We could not get a picture of the palace because of construction – we could not get off the bus here and had to go by too quickly for pictures. The president lives outside the city and travels by helicopter to the palace. Otherwise he would never get to work because of the traffic!
We then spent some time in La Boca on El Caminito street which is like an open air museum with brightly colored buildings, lots of street shops and artists and restaurants. Many of the restaurants have tango dancers outside at the sidewalk tables. It is said that the tango originated here around 1870.
Of course we had to do some fooling around pictures..
And here is the only McDonalds that is green – this was redone to honor one of the futbol (soccer) teams. Beautiful building too.
This representation of Evita is on one of the buildings in the city. She is not eating a hamburger, that is a microphone!
After our tour, we checked into our ship, the Oceania Sirena, had a good dinner and I watched the gaucho show while Norm went to sleep early.
Thursday, March 22
Today we had a trip to the Tigre Delta. Our guide was Alicia. We traveled through some of the lovely old neighborhoods in the suburbs of Buenos Aires and could see beautiful mansions and cobblestone streets. We visited the San Isidro Cathedral, one of the most beautiful in Argentina and a National Historic Site.
Then we went on a river cruise in the Tigre River, which is named for the “tigres” or jaguars that once lived here. The river delta is one of the world’s largest and is laced with canals that form a network of forested islands. It is the only delta that finishes on another river instead of the ocean. This area has many rowing clubs and each country has their own.
The cruise was interesting in that the homes that are here are a combination of weekend/vacation getaways and full time residences. They do have electricity but no drinking water and no way to navigate except by boat. So all services (water delivery, mail, doctor, pizza delivery, etc) are done by boat. We saw the “ice cream man” truck!
Here is the boat, some of the impressive buildings and also some of the smaller homes on the many islands. Real estate here is all sold in American dollars because of the inflation. Homes here range from $30,000 to $125,000. The lower end priced places are the most inconvenient but all are on the water and it is pretty peaceful.
Back to the ship for dinner and the show, and I am sure we will meet the crew. We already saw one of our favorite waiters from the world cruise, Spike, and there are lots of passengers we know as well. Should be a very fun 33 days!