Jan 21, 2012
Mar 16, 2012
A van arranged by Diego, picked me up and we wasted nearly 2 hours trying to find the guide and the rest of the group from the ship (including my friends from Los Gatos, Pat and Rich)
. Again, it all worked out - - the driver and guide were charming, I saw everything I’d hoped to see from my cursory study of Buenos Aires, and we arrive back at the ship before it departed - - but it all seemed unnecessarily chaotic. We spent nearly an hour in the beautiful cemetery, Recoleta, where Evita was (finally) buried. The terribly expensive family mausoleums and statues are really interesting and prompted lots of picture-taking. Apparently, people are expected to spend as much to maintain their remains as they had to afford a proper lifestyle when alive! We saw various famous or important buildings but I remember best a gigantic stainless-steel “flower” that opens each morning to reveal a cluster of 20-ft stamens, and then closes every evening. And also, a book store housed in what had once been a gorgeous theatre. We had an entertaining lunch in Caminito, home of the colorful metal buildings that have become an iconic image of Buenos Aires. We sat on one of the patios that line the streets and were entertained by musicians and dancers doing the tango (including one woman from the ship). The beer is excellent!
The Sheraton Liberatador is an extremely comfortable hotel (and I got a great price online; half what they were asking in the hotel!) While the area around looks run down, it is only a block from a very nice pedestrian mall lined with smart shops (Florida St) with a modern shopping center built around a gorgeous domed ceiling worthy of any church in Rome! The city has recently exiled most of the pushy street vendors (they don't pay taxes and were blocking the street) and they aren’t happy. So, there are little groups of demonstrators and police on every corner in addition to the piles of trash with "recyclers" tearing apart the bags and pawing through the debris looking for treasure. Coupled with the awful traffic we encountered the next day and more demonstrations, I wasn’t impressed with Buenos Aires (but then, I don’t much like cities ….)