Final days in Buenos Aires

Trip Start Jun 15, 2009
Trip End Jun 14, 2010

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Where I stayed
Estados Unidos, San Telmo

Flag of Argentina  , Distrito Federal,
Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Our days in Buenos Aires are coming to an end and we have been here, there and everywhere doing things.

We went out to the Botanic Gardens one day, planning a relaxing day in a peaceful spot, which it would have been had it not started raining as we arrived! The gardens themselves are pleasant. The most significant thing is the large number of feral cats that live in seemimgly harmony with one another in the gardens and pose along side statues until you've got the camera focussed, at which point they turn their backs. We also encountered an opossum, rapidly making his way around the park in the rain until he eventually reached a hole in a tree, where he presumably lives.

We also saw a statue of Romulus and Remus suckling at the wolf, a copy of the one in Rome and given to the Argentinians as a gift from the Italians. Apparently it was originally sited elsewhere and this is actually a copy of the copy. And even the original in Rome only started out in life with the wolf. R & R were added later.

Our day out in the Nature Reserve was more energentic. We hired push bikes which had definitely seen better days and cycled the rough paths through the reserve for the afternoon, catching site of various water fowl and other birds and a couple of big lizards. Apparently, some time ago the authorities decided to reclaim this area from the Rio Plata in order to build on it and therefore started to dump stuff into the water to form the basis of the land. However, after a number of years they abandoned the plan. A few more years further on they realised that all sorts of plants and wildlife were starting to become established here and decided to make it a wildlife reserve.

Near the entrance to the reserve street markets set up every weekend. Had this been Australia, it would have been almost over when we arrived at midday. As it was, they were all still setting up show and starting to get things going. Also along the road here we spotted an old school bus, partly converted and for sale. It seemed to me a fabulous vehicle for us to convert and travel in but Tony wasn’t so convinced. He seems to think there may be a lot of work involved! He preferred the chance to pose with Fangio and his car on the way back through Puerto Madero.

Another mode of transport that we discovered by accident was the Tren del Este, which runs a very short stretch of only 4 stops and at present doesn’t connect with any of the other train lines or underground. It looks brand new but has been running for two years and no-one seems to use it. It looks state of the art but actually goes very slowly as it keeps stopping for cars and pedestrians to cross the tracks. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way round? The other disadvantage is that there is only one train running the route and it has no timetable. Yesterday we tried to catch it and it was at our stop but with a ladder leant up against it and a man telling us it was not working!

On one of our Subte (underground) journeys we encountered a young guy in full military uniform, complete with ceremonial sword, taking the train home!

Another spectacular find was the Palacio de aguas Corrientes, built in 1894 and covered in glazed tiles and enamelled bricks. It is a huge place, filling a whole block and designed to house huge water tanks to supply water to the whole city. It also contains the very specialist museum of related items, with large collections of old toilets, taps, pipe fittings and such like as well as the original plans and drawings for the building. Dad Webb (Jen’s dad) would have loved it!

There are lots of dogs around Buenos Aires and on numerous occasions we have passed dog walkers in the street. Not just the man and his dog scenario, but people who walk about a dozen dogs at a time as a job. The amazing thing is that the dogs seem to get along fine. There never seems to be any scrapping and snarling. Maybe they are all sedated. The down side of this is all the dog poo all over the pavements. There seems to be no expectation that anyone will clear it up which is fairly unpleasant and with the obvious consequences for pedestrians.

Generally the streets are kept fairly clean. Every evening, after 8pm, you put out your rubbish in knotted plastic bags, at the side of the road. The dustbin lorries come and collect it all around midnight. In the meantime, the many people who live off selling cardboard, plastic etc for recycling come and rip open the bags and scour through them in search of anything worthwhile, leaving everthiing scattered around in heaps at the side of the road. This does not create the most attractive environment for the late night Buenos Aires life style! However, after the dustbin lorries have been around, the road sweepers then appear and clear up all the remains, so that by morning the streets are actually clean again. It is a pretty amazing system really. Particularly because the street sweepers must be able to sweep around the piles of dog muck, as they never disappear!

We've managed to fit in a few visits to various performances. We went to a production of Pierrot Lunaire in a small but extravagant theatre. And to round off our stay in Buenos Aires we finally managed to get a dry Monday evening to go and hear La Bomba, a big percussion group, play at Konex, an old industrial building, now an alternative arts venue. Big group making big percussive noise! Particularly exciting to have a berimbau player perform with them. This is the guy at the back, right hand side of the group. The berimbau is a long stick with a string attached between the ends and a gourd attached part way up the string. The string is plucked and the sound resonates in the gourd. Very exciting to hear it being played! (I'm sure Jo will agree with us even if no-one else is excited by it!)

The next day, bags packed, we bid farewell to our BA home and made our way to the Buquebus ferry terminal via the Tren del Este, which was fortunately back on the tracks without the ladder!

In the last few days we discovered Nonna Bianca's, our local heladeria where they make a huge range of delicious home-made ice creams, our favourite being Super Dulce de Leche. We also got the key jammed in the door to the apartment and ended up with it broken inside the lock (whoops!) We have spent many an hour wandering the streets of Buenos Aires, dodging the dog poo, trying to avoid tripping on broken and delapidated pavements and admiring the buildings.  There are some amazing buildings with beautiful features around Buenos aires and we leave you here with a few more pictures of some of them!
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mx-5.snob on

I don't wish to be pedantic but happen that spider at Konex is a wasp/bee as it only has 6 legs and wings t'boot :)
But at least it shows that I'm paying attention !!

jenandtony on

Ah-ha! You seem to have caught us out. Jen is trying to claim that it is a rare Argentinian spider that has discarded one pair of legs and evolved wings.

mx-5.snob on

Darwin followers will be most intrigued :)

gastoned on

Glad you seem to have enjoyed buenos Aires.
It'sa well-kept secret of a city that grows on you. It's blend of anarchy and order is refreshing, if you're used to Europe or the US

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