Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Being in Buenos Aires

Even though I live in Buenos Aires it is impossible to take this special city for granted. Buenos Aires is perhaps one of the most extraordinary cities there is, or at least one of the more spectacular cities I have ever visited. I thought a quick entry on Buenos Aires would do this blog good and perhaps be helpful to anyone planning on visiting the city.

In Buenos Aires, each barrio (or neighborhood) has something different, and often surprising, to offer to its visitors. One can walk in the colorful Boca neighborhood, visit the famous cemetery in Recoleta, relish a delicious Argentinean steak in any number of the high scale restaurants of Palermo, or listen to the melancholic sounds of the bandoneon playing the last tango of the night in a small bar in Almagro.

The different barrios are also connected to the world in their own particular manner. Boca is not only the colorful old harbor where Italian immigrants once resided, but it also the home of the legendary football club Boca Juniors, where Diego Maradona started his career. Debatably the best football player of all time – which can be argued (although not with Argentineans) – Maradona is unique in many ways, not least because of his goals in the World Cup of 1986 where the saying “Hand of God” chiseled itself forever into the jargon of the football world. Diego’s thrashing of the English on that fateful day – so I am told – was his own personal response to the war fought in the Falklands. Regardless of his motives, Maradona successfully put la Boca on the map, and with its many colorfully painted corrugated iron sheet buildings, and its world famous stadium, La Boca is a great place to visit.

Eva “Evita” Perón Duartes’ grave can be found in the Cemetery of Recoleta, a charming (and slightly gothic) looking cemetery filled with picturesque tombs and angelic statues. Catholicism in Argentina is of course the prevalent religion, and wealthy Argentineans have in the past chosen the most elaborate tombs imaginable. Evita’s remains were exhumed and reburied in the cemetery, while recently there were unsuccessful calls for her husband’s bones to be buried with hers. Funnily enough, Evita was originally a poor country girl who wanted to become an actress, but then turned into the country’s first leading lady and an angelical pariah figure for the poor. She was highly skilled with playing with the tax payer’ funds in order to make people think she was a great charity giver, but while supporting her husband’s (Juan Domingo Perón) political moves, she loved to dress up in the finest European gowns and adorn herself with jewelry. Her funeral in 1952 was an unforgettable event in the Argentinean history and the famous cemetery where she was buried is a national landmark. Its great place for visitors to pass a few hours, wandering among the many beautiful tombs and cornices belonging to the late greats of Argentina’s long ago.

Apart from these historical figures, the present Buenos Aires has an abundance of qualities that make it both a dynamic and fantastic city. There is a reason why it is called the Paris of Latin America. It is because it is beautiful.

There are plenty of old-style cafés and bars to be found on the corners. The fabled tango can be seen being performed live on the streets; many of porteños (the inhabitants of Buenos Aires) practice the dance themselves and go to milongas (tango dance halls) on the weekends. And the steak – well words fail even me. In order to understand the fabled beef of Argentina, you just have to try it. Even if meat is not your favorite thing, the city offers world-class dining with its ethnic diversity; with sushi, kosher and arab food being a few of the most outstanding examples.

Cultural activities and events, parks with handicraft markets, a public transportation system that works incredibly well (generally considered to be a miracle in Latin America) and a political activism that can be perceived all over the city, are just a few building blocks of the everyday routine of Buenos Aires. It really is a genuine mixture of Europe and Latin America (spiced with subtle Asian, African and North American influences). It’s a great place to visit, a great place to live, and a genuinely all round great place to be.


All the best

Bart
www.cat-travel.com

2 comments:

Ithaca Night Life, NY said...

Mr. Bart de Graaf

Hello,

Community spirit and pride is best represented in the various blogs published by a core of very civic responsiable and community dedicated bloggers. Thus everytime I start to build a nightlife web site, I first locate who are the bloggers, and for very good reason.
Thus I took the nomination button and bottom inscribed it with your blog title and placed it on Buenos Aires Night Life ( NightLife ), RMC. Moreover, and please note the site is in its very beginnings, and any suggestions are welcomed.

Please advise.

Yours,

Mr. Roger M. Christian
Blogger
salsadanza@aol.com

john said...

I love Buenos Aires, good to know others appreciate it as well.