We started the day by visiting La Recoleta cemetery. It was the place where Argentina’s most important figures were laid to rest (i.e. presidents, politicians, army generals, writers). The most famous person buried there must be Evita Perón, the wife of former president Juan Perón. What makes Evita so famous? Her charity works, her energy, her sense of style... and of course, Madonna’s rendition of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” ;-)
Nuestra Señora del Pilar (Our Lady of the Pillar), an old church next to the cemetery.
The cemetery was really huge with hundreds of burial places lining up like houses...
…and some looked like apartments.
To the left was where Evita was laid to rest, at her family’s burial ground.
She was born as María Eva Duarte. After marrying Juan Perón, she adopted her husband’s surname. Evita was her nickname.
Some of the graves had glass windows, so I took a peek inside.
Even the dead had to beware of dengue ;-)
By the way, I know some people may have reservations about visiting cemeteries, but trust me, this particular one is a must see. It’s like walking around a beautiful garden filled with amazing sculptures. Not scary at all!
Near the cemetery there was a nice mall called Buenos Aires Design. It was the place to find nice modern furniture, artworks and home decorations. However we didn’t go there for the household items...
...but for this! Hard Rock Café!
A glass mural of The Beatles in the restaurant.
The mall from the outside.
After lunch, we took a taxi back to our hotel. The traffic was really bad so we had to take a long route around the city, which hiked up the fare to more than double! We freshened up a bit and got ready for the afternoon city tour, which we booked via the front desk.
Actually the only reason we decided to do the city tour was because we really wanted to go to La Boca. La Boca was at the southern part of the city, where the old port used to be. It was where immigrants from Europe arrived in Argentina many years ago. La Boca was historic, colorful, but also the most dangerous part of the city. People living in the area were very poor. Cases of tourists being attacked with broken glass bottles, even robbed at gunpoint, were almost common. The usual advices I got from other travelers was to only go to Caminito, the touristiest street in La Boca, and nowhere else.
Knowing the dangers, there was no way we would enter La Boca and go to Caminito on our own. Though riding a tour bus was not really our thing (we prefer walking as we could get in touch with the surroundings, looking at it through a bus window wouldn’t give the same feeling), it was the only way we could get to Caminito safely. So we took a city tour that would take us around town in a minibus, including a stop at Caminito where we could alight, spend some time walking on the street and board the bus again afterwards to return to the hotel. Good deal.
First the bus took us to Palermo, the northern part of the city, where the rich people live. In Buenos Aires, the rich ones generally live in the north (i.e. Palermo), while the poor ones live in the south (i.e. La Boca). I took a mental note of how Palermo felt like so I could note the difference when I reached La Boca later.
Floralis Genérica, a metal flower that opened its petals in the morning and closed them at sunset.
A statue of General José de San Martín with his grandchildren. He was Argentina’s hero during its struggle for independence from Spain.
A statue of Evita. “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”, altogether now!
The bus then headed to Plaza de Mayo. Since we already went there yesterday, we just hung out across the road near the ice cream parlor. We wanted to get a cup but it was super duper expensive! So we just bought some drinks and watched people passing by while the others took photos. Then we got back on the bus and off we go to our most awaited destinations, La Boca and Caminito!
La Bombonera, Boca Juniors football club’s stadium, the pride of La Boca. Maradona used to play here.
Notice any difference with the Coca Cola logo on the roof? Even though Coca Cola was a major sponsor of Boca Juniors, they couldn’t use their trademark red and white logo around the stadium. Why? Because red and white were the colors of River Plate, the club’s arch enemy. So all Coca Cola logos at the stadium were black and white. I wonder if the drinks sold to the fans during matches were in black and white cans too. Anyway, I asked the tour guide if we could stop at the stadium for a while, he said no, as there weren’t many people who wanted to go there :-(
Poverty was evident along the streets of La Boca.
Locals sitting on the pavement along a quiet stretch.
The bus dropped us near the street’s entrance...
...and there we were in Caminito!
We made friends with the couple from New York (the guy in the middle and the girl on the right). Walking together with them made us feel safer.
Brightly painted houses made of wood and zinc. According to the tour guide, back in those days the people were so poor that when ships docked at the old port, they took any leftover paint from them to paint their houses. Hence the different colors.
Locals selling artwork along the street. Look closely at the bag on the stroller underneath the artwork, can you see it?
Let me blow it up.
Can you see it now?
Omigod, my shawl!
I had a shawl with exactly the same pattern, with “I am gorgeous” written all over! Thank goodness I didn’t wear that shawl here!
The other side of was filled with restaurants with annoying waiters who kept stopping our every step, asking us to get inside.
I really hated such marketing tactics, so we made a u-turn and stayed clear of the restaurants. We sat on the pavement at the side of the cobblestoned street watching people passing by. A group of street performance playing drums walked in front of us. I excitedly took a video of them.
While I was doing so, a waiter (whom I ignored when I passed by the restaurants earlier) came running towards me saying “Apa khabar?” and wanted to hug me! I immediately jumped onto my feet and ran away screaming! Therefore, as you could see in the last part of the video, I was running away from the guy with the camera in my hand. I knew he only meant to tease, but who could blame me, I was shocked!
Guess who I saw hanging out at Caminito?
...could only belong one man, Maradona!
That metal structure across the waters was Puente Transbordador, the bridge that became a symbol of La Boca.
Walking past a mural to where our bus was waiting.
We hopped on the bus and headed back to the city centre. We passed by Boca Junior’s stadium and I tried to take some photos from the bus’s rear windscreen while the bus was moving. Suddenly the tour guide told the driver to stop. “Come here,” he called me, “get off and take photos!” Yeay!
In front of Boca Juniors store at the stadium. Big smile!
The stadium from the outside.
A bar opposite the stadium brightly painted with the colors of Boca Juniors.
On our way back we passed by San Telmo, another fascinating yet dangerous area. That plaza would be crowded with people during weekends as an antiquities market would be going on.
In the bus, the tour guide surprised us with an envelope containing two CDs of tango music and a photo...
...of me and Fiza dancing tango! :-D
Of course, we had to pay extra for it, but we didn’t mind as it was pretty nicely done. And I wanted to get a tango music CD anyway.
So we got back to the hotel, showered and went to watch Chicago El Musical (we bought the tickets yesterday) at night. It was a fantastic show but too bad both of us dozed off several times as we were too tired from exploring the city all day long! Thankfully we already watched the movie version, so even though we dozed off (not to mention the entire thing was in Spanish), we still enjoyed it.
After the show, getting a taxi back to the hotel was quite a challenge as there were so many theatres along the street and they all ended their shows about the same time. Every passing taxi was full! We had to walk a bit further down the road to get an available taxi. Finally we got one and returned to the hotel.
That was the end of our second day in Buenos Aires!