Thursday, 14 March 2013

Buenos Aries

Our first week in buenos Aries has flown by.  We have been getting used to our new environment and learning about life in this huge, bustling city.
At the outset, we arrived at the apartment we had rented.  It is located in San Telmo, a neighbourhood in BA which is quite old.  The apartment building is therefore also an older building...very much constructed in a European  or Parisian style.  A metal cage elevator is used to get to the third floor where our apartment is situated.  We have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a small kitchen and a large living/dining room.  There are three  balconies looking out on the street below and they have railings in ornate iron work, as do the front doors to the building.  It is very charming with a lot of wood details and with large french doors throughout and ceilings 15 feet high.  It was apparently used recently in the filming of a Spanish film called "Thesis" and I can see why as it really has an old Parisian feel to it.
The elevator 
Our Apartment Door (to the right)
We are located just past a city park.  It is filled with old trees and celebratory statuary marking the foundation of the country, which is rumoured to have happened on this very spot.

A walkway in the park

One of the very old and well established trees in the park

As we settled in we decided to explore a few places and to take in a few sights.  The first thing we did was to take the subway to the Plaza de Mayo.  This is the location where the white-bonnet women known as the Madres de Plaza de Mayo have held silent protests respecting the disappearance of their relatives, who were "disappeared" during a dictatorship which ended in the 70's.  These women continue to march in silence around the square, in support of various causes and also in rememberence of their disappeared loved-ones. 
The Madres (in white bonnets) lead the march.  The pictures are held by loved ones of those victims of the dirty war who were "disappeared"

A second group of protestors led by the madres

It was moving to see them and many others involved in this activity.  It was all the more poignant as Chavez had just passed away and so the Madres de Plaza de Mayo marked this occasion by carrying the Venezuelan flag and making impassioned comments about his important contributions in Latin America.

Two of the original Madres (now too aged to participate in the walks themselves) holding the Venezuelan Flag in remembrance of Chavez.

On another day we decided to go back to the Plaza de Mayo as it is also the location of the Casa Rosada, the famous location from which notables made speaches to the people of Argentina.  Even today this building is a government building where the President and cabinet work.  It is only open to the public on the weekends, we we chose to go there on a Saturday.  We also decided to visit a famous cafe (The oldest in BA) called Cafe Tortoni before taking the tour at the Casa Rosada.  We were served by gloved waiters in black tie formality.  We were surrounded by memorabilia of the history of BA and of famous people who had visited and enjoyed this location through the years. 

Tables at Tortoni's 
Statue celebrating notable people who frequented this 150 year old cafe

The cafe was full of beautiful stained glass

We followed a lunch experience at this cafe with a visit to the Casa Rosada which was a fabulous experience.  The tour took us through many splendid rooms and included a visit to one of the balconies where speeches were and are made even today. 

Colours throughout the Casa are in blue, gold (yellow) and white...the colours on the flag

The floors were tiled and stained glass as seen on the door was everywhere

The balcony offered a view and an opportunity to act as if speaking to throngs below.

The square in front of the Casa Rosada

There were even some items from the time of Evita Perron, including one of her dresses.  
An officials meeting room...Evita's dress on display in the corner.

Evita is omnipresent in many ways.  One salon is named for her and this picture hangs in it.

This picture of Evita hangs in the press room, where the president gives weekly addresses to the nation.

After the tour we waited until sunset to see this famous building as the last rays of the sun were upon it.  The pink colour of the edifice makes it look like it is aglow.

The Casa has lovely courtyards throughout
The decorations are beautiful as in this ceiling painting 
Argentinean artists' works are on display througout the Casa

The Casa at sunset...the pink colour of the walls cause the colour to change at this time of night.

The Casa Rosada has a pink colour due to the paint used at the time of construction.

Another very interesting excursion we made was to La Boca...the location of the original port town in BA.  It is very old and was originally founded by dock workers who built their homes from corrugated metal which was then painted with leftover paint from the shipyards. 
The mouth of the river which gives La Boca its name
The old port of La Boca

While a lot of this neighbourhood is in need of repair and maintenance, a small area has been restored to its former glory and we walked to this area from our apartment, a 20 minute walk. This took us past the famous stadium where the Boca soccer team plays to much fanfare and fireworks, especially when they play their rivals La Plata.  

The area is covered with murals, many celebrating soccer.

The area is known as Caminito and is famous for a type of tango which is danced here.  The music is playing everywhere and we found that once the music was in our minds, it was hard to get it out.  We walked back to the hotel therefore at a lively 2/4 rhythm!!!

The main square in Caminito...La Boca

Some of the homes are still made from corrugated metal.  This one is not in the tourist district.
Homes that are occupied to this day in the area of La Boca
In the tourist district the buildings have been restored and are colourfully decorated as they would have been in days of yore. 

Paul was asked to pose for a picture with this tango specialist which he did not do as the young lady was looking for $10.00.  Tango is everywhere and has been turned into a tourist trap.

I am finding life in BA to be very different from that in our somewhat smaller city of Ottawa.  We have taken the subway at rush hour, and I regret to say that my pocket was resoundingly picked in that very busy place.  This has somewhat soured my view of this city and made me very suspicious of passers-by...but am trying to make lemonade from the lemons I have been handed!!!  

Janice has now arrived with her friend Katie and they are adding a new dimension to our living experience.  They have only been here for one day and they have already found a music concert to go to. 

No comments:

Post a Comment