Bruce, Gaston and Celica FREE BA tour

Trip Start Dec 07, 2010
Trip End Jan 14, 2011

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Being so hot (mid 30C) in the afternoon I decided to start filling in the gaps and hit the pavements before it got too hot. The first day city tour was an excellent base. Now time to retrace my steps and using shanks pony (my feet!) see at closer quarters some of sights previously seen from the bus.

I had read about the Buenos Aires FREE City Tour starting at 11 am and 5 pm in different parts of the city.

So with this in mind I decided to tick off Recoleta barrio this morning and get to Plaza del Congreso by 11 am.

The first photo is of a house ... But where is it? Answer later on. You will be amazed.

Out the hotel door at 7.15 am and while the town was still waking up, the street cleaners, workers washing down the footpath outside their hotels or business were in action, it was only 10 minutes walk to the Recoleta cemetery. Right next door is a multi story shopping mall being built. As the cemetery doesn’t open till 8 am, I found a side door and the workmen inside did not appear phased by my entrance. With them and the cats, I wandered through the marble labyrinthine of narrow alleyways towards where the cemetery’s no one tourist attraction Eva Peron was marked on my map. I couldn’t find it so a workman showed me where she is buried and the plaque with an extract from her ‘I will be millions …‘ speech. Nondescript down an unmarked narrow side alley and no wonder she is hard to find. It was right where it should be on my map but the many side alleys were not marked. As for my thoughts of this place where in the 14 acres or 5.5 ha are some 6,400 tombs and mausoleums. It is like a mini city with wide leafy avenues to small dark alleys. The architecture is certainly eclectic ranging from bombastic Greco-Roman mini palaces to wedding cake style Romananticism … it’s not for me!

The white Iglesia de Nuestra Senora del Pilar a Spanish style church was consecrated in 1732: baroque altar and wrought silver frontal.

Plaza Intendente Alvear.

University of Buenos Aires Law School is next door to the stainless steel and aluminium Floralis Generica or what is locally know as the Flower Monument in the United Nations Plaza. This is BA’s latest monument. At sunset the petals closes 8.30 pm and early morning at 7.30 am takes 20 minutes to fully open just like a flower.

Being a wealthy area of BA, the dog walkers were abound taking their many charges for their daily walk. I was amazed at how well obedient the dogs were as if they knew the routine and sat patiently for the walker to return when they were tied up to a fence or railing. I saw this on many occasions.

Eva Peron black monument.

John Paul 11

Biblioteca Nacional

Plaza Francia

Museum Nacional de Bella Aertes

Centro Cultural Recoleta which is a modern arts center.

Back to the hotel at 9.30 am to refuel ie breakfast as service is till 11 am. Leaving 10.20 am and a quick walk to the subte (underground) and 40 minutes later made it to Plaza del Congreso. Already hot!

About 20 tourist from around the world joined the founder Gaston as he walked down Ave de Mayo towards the Pink Palace pointing out the points of interest. Many of them I had read before hand or heard about them on the previous day’s city tour. It was good to add another layer of information and get another perspective from a local. It’s a free service as they survive by tips. Gaston modelled it from one he took in Berlin. The advertised two hour walk started late and didn’t finish till 2 pm.

Monumento a los dos Congresos in the square.

Greco Roman Congresso - seat of parliament.

The homeless are abound in the city and recycling the city rubbish is one way they make ends meet. This structure was simply a room a week ago and over the days grown and now has several ‘rooms’.

Café Tortoni - now many for the tourist with slightly inflated prices but a reminder of the atmosphere of yesteryears. I will head back there another day and order a tear lagtmia (milk with a bit of coffee) or a submarine = submarino (hot chocolate)

Plaza de Mayo again with the Cathedral Metropolitan and white Cabildo plus a few other buildings around the square.

There are generally 5 - 6 or so demonstrations a day and that is why the barricades and police are there 24/7. I saw several small demonstrations during my time in this area.

Tour finished at the Obelisco which is a well known landmark easily seen from many parts of BA.

The answer to where is the house at the beginning of the series is answered here. Gaston said that the owner of the business didn’t want to go home during the day for lunch so built a house here. His story …

In the afternoon at 5 pm in the Plaza San Martin I joined Celica and another international 20 or so tourists for quite a different tour around aristocratic residential Retiro and Recoleta. The pictures show the different building styles and shop windows as we walked the 2 kms. Window shopping only!

Can you spot the picture where the windows are painted ie false?

Plaza San Martin with the imposing statue of San Martin.

Circulo Militar

Kavanagh building is a 120 m tall residential structure and was the highest building in South America and world’s high reinforced concrete building when built in 1930.

Monumento a Malvinas. We were lucky as the air force guard of honour came back (too hot) and resume their guard duty. The names of the 649 Argentina servicemen who died in the 1982 Falklands War are inscribed here.

Torre Monument or English Tower.

Plaza Cataluna

In one block there are just 3 buildings: The Vatican Embassy next to the Hyatt Hotel and then a private resident.

The many expensive shops in Ave Alvear.

Plaza Embajada de Israel. 22 trees and 7 benches represent the 29 who died in 1992 when a suicide bomber drove his truck into the Israel Embassy. The school opposite had its final event for the year and that is why the school children are leaving in costume.

The end of tour was at Recoleta.

Answer to the question ‘Can you spot the picture where the windows are painted ie false? Go back to the picture of the building with 8 large windows at Plaza Cataluna. An optical illusion it is not.

Learnt that there are 3 - 4 people who undertakes these twice daily tours. All travellers who love to share their local knowledge. By now it was way past sun set.

How different the white Iglesia de Nuestra Senora del Pilar looks all lit up at night. (photo still to be uploaded)

In discussion found out that Fureza Bruta was performing in the near by Centro Cultural Recoleta. See the next entry and I dare you to click on the videos.

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