Where I get to meet Kapitan Langsdorff

Trip Start Jul 02, 2009
Trip End Jun 28, 2010

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'd visited Argentina once before in 1985 although that was a day trip to view the Argentine side of Iguazu Falls and so it didn't really count.  On that occasion I was still travelling on a Trinidadian passport although I didn't need to show it either to enter Argentina or to re-enter Brasil.  I recall somebody asking me if I was German (maybe not bending the knees enough) and I nodded, electing to dispense with the curt 'Jawohl!' or friendly click of the heels.  Just three years after the Falklands/Malvinas business it was far better to be mistaken for a German than an Englishman even though it was only a week before that a particularly notorious German had 'surfaced' in Brasil.   That was also the trip in which my nascent travelling career may well have come to a abrupt end in Foz do Iguaçu had I not checked the dodgy looking electrics a before attempting to shower...
I had a wander round town and took some pics of well known landmarks which will be found in many other travel blogs (probably better-photographed as well).  According to wikipedia the obelisk was built in 1936 by a German company in the record time of 31 days (no doubt practicing for the blitzkrieg in Europe).  I couldn't help thinking how great the Avenida de 9 Julio would have been for the the Victory Parade of 1982...
The military museum is on the Plaza San Martín and unsurprsingly it has an exhibit on the General Belgrano (formerly the USS Phoenix).  There was plenty of military hardware on display including a Gatling gun and a rifle that appeared to have been rigged for trench warfare by Heath Robinson himself. 


Following the Battle of the River Plate and the scuttling of the Admiral Graf Spee, its captain Hans Langsdorff made his way across the river from Montevideo to Buenos Aires and it was there that he shot himself.  He is buried in the German Cemetery at La Chacarita and I set out to visit him there on a particularly grey, wet and windy day.  On the way there I came across what is perhaps the ugliest buliding in Buenos Aires.  It is the naval hospital and if it's as ugly on the inside as one the outside they shouldn't have any problems with malingerers.  Nearby is an observatory although they wouldn't have been doing a whole lot of observing that night unless the weather improved.  I've also included a couple of random shots taken on the walk to the cemetery.


The cemetery at La Chacarita is huge and I was reminded of the old joke about why they have walls round cemeteries (people are just dying to get in). 


The German cemetery is next to the main cemetery but separate from it.  I didn't arrive until quite late in the day because the weather had been really foul and I'd taken the long way around the outside of the main cemetery to get there.  Needless to say the cemetery staff were able to direct me to their most famous 'resident' in response to, "¿Dónde está el capitán Langsdorff?" 
La Recoleta is the the main tourist cemetery in Buenos Aires although that is not to say that they bury them there.  This time the weather was excellent and I took a couple of pics on the way.


Here are some pics taken inside the cemetery.  One of the mausoleums was equipped with ventilation although I don't think the 'resident' is in a position to appreciate this.  You can see my reflection in the polished (Polish?) marble of another one.


There are a number of notable tombs in La Recoleta including that of Liliana Crociati de Szaszak who died on honeymoon in Innsbruck when the hotel at which she was staying was hit by an avalanche.  There is a statue of her outside the mausoleum and you can see a painting of her if you peer in through the side window.  One report states that the statue of her pet dog was added after it had died although her right hand would probably have needed to be adjusted if this was indeed the case.

The most famous 'resident' of la Recoleta is Eva Peron who now stays at her family's (Duarte) place after some time abroad.
However, Buenos Aires was not all about dead people and I did find some funny stuff.  Despite it being a sunny day, this pet rat was wearing a stylish coat and the juxtaposition of titles by a street bookseller did seem a bit unusual.  A pychologist was advertising his services at the entrance to the metro station and who but the Swiss would label their vehicle with theit blood types (I dare them to drive it through Transylvania).







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