A little after nine in the morning local time (midday UK time) we landed in Buenos Aires.It was hot as we queued to get through immigration. We needed to acclimatize to temperatures in the mid-thirties (Centigrade) – later in the week it would be low thirties (Fahrenheit). It was a bit of a shock because in planning the trip our focus had been on the cold of Antarctica and we had forgotten that we would be having a stopover in much hotter climes.
We did not have long to wait at the carousel for our luggage and after a quick purchase in the duty free shop we emerged to find a crowd of pieces of paper with company or individual names on. We were met by the representative of our local travel company and headed for the city centre.
It was a 30-40 mile drive from the international airport which is located in the suburb of Ezeiza initially through open countryside and then through typical big city outskirts which never show off the city to its best. We had to pay a toll at several points. There were lots of what seemed to me to be brick built shacks with one or two storeys added on top willy nilly. As we approached the centre these were replaced by larger blocks of offices or flats which were reasonably modern.
We turned into the Avenue 9th July which is claimed to be the widest street in the world (and certainly in South America). In the distance we could see the Obelisco which was constructed to celebrate the quatercentenary of the first founding of Buenos Aires in 1536. (The second founding was only a few decades later). This is also a focal point for demonstrations which occur on a daily basis, frequently about unemployment. As we got close we turned off the main thoroughfare into a parallel side street (which is still part of the Avenue 9th July) so that we could cross to the other side where our hotel was. Close to the Obelisco we had to stop while a group with placards, banners and drums went past.
We pulled up outside the Hotel Bristol where our luggage was unloaded and we were given our rooms.
The hotel is a pleasant fairly modern building with a dining room and sitting area on the ground floor and breakfast room on the first floor. Our rooms were on the second floor and we had a corner room with a door out onto the balcony which ran along the outside of the hotel. Standing on it we could feel the heat and bustle of central Buenos Aires. A display on the building opposite revealed the time and that it was 34oC. Each room had a safe in the wardrobe so I deposited our passports there (as advised by Jenny).
We had a light lunch in the Hotel Bristol dining room while we decided what to do for the afternoon. We had thought about getting a taxi to one of the places on Aleyda’s list but realised that the Recoleta Cemetary was in walking distance so decided to head off down Avenue 9th July. I was feeling somewhat jaded and unimpressed at that point and this was just what I needed. The Recoleta is a district of Buenos Aires which houses what I can best describe as a village of mausoleums.
On our way we passed the Colon Theatre which is to Buenos Aires what La Scala is to Milan, a number of parks and a Courthouse with press waiting outside just like the Old Bailey in London. We turned up a side street and across another park (where I spotted a taxi rank) and found the entrance to La Recoleta Cemetery. There was a map in the entrance identifying some of the more famous people buried there including Eva Peron. It was a grid of streets perhaps ten feet wide although the two central streets which crossed under a shady tree were rather wider. These streets were lined with terraces of mausoleums none more that about twenty foot high. In many there were beautiful stained glass windows and statues.
We walked down these streets and found Eva Peron’s tomb which was unprepossessing black marble no larger and no smaller than the others. There was a small plaque with her name along with others for other members of the Duarte family. It was an interesting mix of peacefulness and tourist crowds.
We then stopped at a café beside the park opposite the cemetery for a drink before walking over to the taxi rank to get a taxi back to Hotel Bristol. Next morning it is off to the local airport Aeroparque Jorge Newberry for our flight to Ushuaia (like Kingsford Smith in Sydney the airport is named after a local flying pioneer). It is near the riverbank and closer than the international one so it would be a shorter journey
© Tim S Addison