Argentina : Buenos Aires, the city with many faces and many friends

With special thanks to: Ludmil Radenkov, Peter Aidemirski, Nandsh Yajnik and Ivan Sharankov Jr

My Ivan lost his Canadian driver’s license on our firs South American border crossing. Since then, we crossed more than 10 borders using a combination of his International Driver’s license and his NEXUS card.

If you lose your license, the only way to renew it is to go in person at Ontario Ministry of Transportation office. If by any reason you are outside of the province or outside the country, you can apply online, but they would send your new card to your foreign address only. With our latest life style, we couldn’t provide an address where to receive it. Ivan applied for his replacement license from Ecuador and used the address of our friend Ludmil in Quebec.

In Bolivia, after few days of using some fuel barely resembling gasoline, the oxygen sensor of our poor car Fory gave up. To find such unusual spare part for Subaru in South America turned to be mission impossible. Here our friend Peter came to help. He bought the parts we needed and our friend Nandish who joined us for few days in BA brought them to us. He also brought essentials like Lindt chocolates, Kit Kats, spices and a huge Kinder Surprise egg from our loving son Ivan.

We want to THANK YOU, boys. Without you our trip would have been harder.

 

The things we love about Buenos Aires

The architecture:

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I expected a lot from Buenos Aires. It was one of favorite cities for a friend of mine and she  told me a lot about it.  I was not disappointed. With population of more than 13,000,000 it is a very big city by any standards. Often named as Paris of South America, the Buenos Aires astonishes you with beautiful buildings from all architectural styles. Here, the glass and aluminum live together with Neo-Gothic and Neo-Classical buildings, French Baroque palaces are next to art-deco houses.

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We were lucky enough to have and apartment booked in the Retiro neighborhood. It was in a building constructed in the early 20th century, decorated with stylish, antique furniture.

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It was a great pleasure to have wine and cheese at the iron bar’s balcony overlooking the buzzing Avenida Santa Fe.

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La Recoleta Cemetery

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La Recoleta cemetery is often referred as the largest open air museum. It is listed between the most beautiful cemeteries in the world and contains almost 6000 vaults. All of them are above ground and 94 of them are declared as National historical monuments by Argentinian government. The mausoleums are adorned with beautiful angels and statues in different styles.

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When you walk in the smaller alleys of this huge city of the dead, sometimes you can see exposed crypts, broken windows and open doors.

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They create an uneasy, ominous feelings, as the dead just wait for the sun to set and tourists to go home… I had some anxious sleep and nightmares that night.

Teatro Colon and El Ateneo Grand Splendid

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Teatro Colon is the main opera house in Buenos Aires. It is ranked as the third best opera theater in the world and acoustically is one of the best five music venue in the world.

The construction took more than 20 years. The theater was designed by three architects. The corner stone was laid under Francesco Tamburini. He died two years later at age of 45. His student Vittorio Meano took over building the theather, but in 1904, at age of 45 he was killed by his wife’s lover. After Meano’s death, the government appointed Belgian architect Jules Dormal, who at the time of the appointment was over 45 years old and he successfully finished the construction. The materials were imported from Europe. The interior of the theater is with white Carrara, pink Verona and yellow Florence marbles, beautiful real gold paint and nice French furniture.16265388_10154961345444371_6535422236991385727_n

El Ateneo Grand Splendid is one of the best-known bookstores in Buenos Aires and according to Guardian is the second-best bookstore in the world.

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The building was designed and opened as a Teatro Grand Splendid in 1919. It has frescos painted ceilings and caryatids sculptures.  In late twenties, it was converted into cinema and showed the first sound films in Argentina. In 2000’s the old theatre became a book store. It is Mecca for any booklover.  We were fortunate to have our apartment just two block from the store, so I visited it few times and enjoyed every minute of it.

Can you guess which book I bought here – “El Principito” or “The Llittle Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

San Telmo Feria

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Every Sunday from 10 to 4 the oldest neighborhood of BA San Telmo transforms into huge open air market drawing over 12,000 people every week. The antique dealers (my passion and occupation) were concentrated around Plaza Dorego. I spent some time looking at and recognizing familiar porcelain back stamps on the plates and beautiful bisque dolls.

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Tango dancers and jazz musicians were on every corner of the long street. This is the place to buy local craft or art for yourself or for friends at home.

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A coffee with Nandish at the oldest café in Buenos Aires (Café Tortoni – established 1858) was a nice end of this Sunday stroll.

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La Boca

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Visit to Buenos Aires is not full without a visit to La Boca neighborhood and the famous La Bonbonera Stadium. I was not too much into soccer, but Ivan and Nandish were thrilled to see the home of Maradona soccer team.

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The small picturesque street El Cominito is the most recognizable view in La Boca and the colorful houses are very photogenic.

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The big trees

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We love trees. Even more, we love big trees. Ombu is a perfect tree for public parks. It is a large Banyan style tree growing on some of the small Recoleta plazas. It is amazing, huge, beautiful and under its shadow you feel like in brothers Grimm story tale. With Ivan, we tried to find and walk around all Ombu trees in our neighborhood.

The Ceibo is Argentina’s national flower

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Milonga or tango

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Visit to Buenos Aires is not full without tango or milonga. We weighed our options and opted for milonga instead of the popular touristic tango and dinner shows. The best way to see real Argentinian people dancing in real setting is to visit some milonga place. This is a very useful website with dates and places for milonga parties – https://www.hoy-milonga.com/buenos-aires/es

We don’t have too many pictures. We have been asked to retain from taking pictures but we danced our ‘real’ milonga. It was fun.

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Puerto Madero

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The old port of Buenos Aires looks very much like South Banks London or Distillery District in Toronto. With the construction of the new port, old docks and warehouses fell in despair. In early 1990 the place was transformed and the old warehouses were refurbished into new apartment building, offices, shops, cafes and restaurants.  The streets in Puerto Madero are named with women names.

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The Puente de la Mujer (the woman’s Bridge) is the newest link that connects east and west sides of the docks. The place is beautiful and vibrant during the day, as well as, in the night.

 

Tigre and Parana delta

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Our last day in Buenos Aires was left for a visit to Tigre and a little cruise to Parana delta. The small town and the delta is the place where the wealthy Argentinians escape during the hot summer days. It looks very much like Kawartha cottage country with beautiful small houses, green yards and boats at the docks. The only difference is the water. The water of Parana river often is described as nice latte color, but Ivan defined the color in more naturalistic way. As a matter of fact, the water is not dirty at all, it’s just muddy because of the rainy season in color of the soil.

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We did well, didn’t we?

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8 comments

  1. Thank you so much for having me along for Buenos Aires! It was indeed something I will treasure forever.

    An experience I hope to repeat somewhere else later on in the trip.

    With love!

    Nandish (on my birthday…you must be thinking of me).

    Like

  2. It would be fun to have seen Ivan dancing the tango live… I have no doubts about Marinela though 🙂
    Can’t wait to see you in Colombia guys

    Like

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