26 September 2013

buenos días, buenos aires

this weekend we finally got to see buenos aires. two days was not enough, though we arrived at sunrise on saturday and were far too tired to do anything else by sunday night. i was sick, my iphone was dead, we hadn't slept, we didn't have the guidebook and were going on memory alone to pick neighborhoods and restaurants and paths (no worries: we did have a real map). but it was still incredible.

the city is beautiful. it's mostly low, like d.c., with a few modern, taller business districts. it's colorful, it's old, it's historic, it's new. it thinks it's paris: just look at the roofs of all the older buildings or the intricate wrought-iron balconies. it thinks it's d.c.: it's got an obelisco that looks just like the washington monument and a congreso that's the same structure as our congress, but in a creepy gothic gray. and it's all its own: the soccer-crazed slum of la boca, the hipsters of palermo, the super-wide streets and sidewalks, and the colorful signs for the nearest tango show.

i now feel like i've really seen the heart of argentina; i couldn't have left the country without visiting buenos aires. i need to go back and see everything and walk around more and sit and people-watch for hours without worrying about our tight schedule. i could easily see myself living there, sipping coffee at the window seat of a busy cafe, looking out as the city moves by.

we were lucky to connect with maddy's cousins, and their family went out of their way to be helpful and generous. they took us to their friends' delicious italian restaurant in las cañitas for lunch, then drove us along the river (we could have seen uruguay, if the rain hadn't caused a massive fog to descend). i wish i'd had the time and information to also contact my long-lost relatives in ba; when i go back someday, i will. i have a renewed appreciation for the strength of family ties. i love that no matter how distant the relationship or how long the absence, a family member will take you in, buy you lunch, show you around, offer help generously and selflessly, just treat you like family purely on the basis of shared blood.

with so little time in the city, we basically just walked around and saw every neighborhood we could, skirting through things in an almost superficial manner, if that makes sense. anyway, i think i'll just let the photos speak for themselves.

the widest street in the city is actually three: cerrito, avenida 9 de julio, and carlos pellegrini. it ran right by our hostel in microcentro and had a great view of buenos aires's attempt to be washington.

walking down avenida de mayo.

we were there on the first day of spring, a big festival day.

made it to plaza de mayo, a gathering spot for many famous protests - including the abuelas de plaza de mayo, who meet there every thursday to remember the disappeared of the dictatorship. when we were there, there were plenty of political signs and they seemed to be setting up for an event.

always remembering the falkland islands war.

from the plaza, looking at the casa rosada through a graffiti'd fence.

la casa rosada, the president's residence.

extremely unclear on the meaning of this ad.

walked through a business district.

some weird balcony patterns.

there are lots of biking and jogging paths.

"the city is yours. take care of it." printed on the back of all the signs, at least in barrio retiro.

arriving in barrio recoleta, with loads of people out and plenty of tourists.

a morning break at la biela, a historic café known for being a frequent hangout of the writers borges and casaros.

at the feria in la recolata: "save the forests, eat a vegetarian."

el cemeterio de la recoleta, a city of sepulchers and tombs for all the old prominent families and countless national heroes. we recognized name after name by the names of streets we're familiar with.

you can always follow the crowd to find evita's tomb.

eva peron's tomb, inside her father's family's sepulcher.

outside in la recoleta once again.

malba, the museum of modern art.

a walk to barrio san telmo.

again at a feria.

finally checked off an item on our argentina bucket list: dulce de leche frappuccinos

a quality photobomb.

the traditional sign lettering is everywhere.

you can get a city tour in a vintage car.

now on to la boca, a lower-class neighborhood famous for its football team (boca juniors) and its colorfully painted buildings.

a boca juniors-themed house.

an unhappy soccer player.

messi, the local hero.

we walked down a heavily touristed street, full of shops and restaurants catering specifically to tourists. venturing off the beaten path can be risky, though.

eva is everywhere.

i love how it's "the republic of la boca."

the only photo of us together in buenos aires.

puerto madero, a rapidly-gentrified, formerly-industrial block that's now known for upscale restaurants and for being the most expensive block in the city.

my first bite of tofu in four weeks, at natural deli in barrio norte. at the café, i also ran into a friend from whitman! she's studying abroad in buenos aires. crazy how the world works.

the congress is modeled exactly after ours in washington... except creepy and dark. it's like the ministry of magic after voldemort took over.

la plaza del congreso.

x, m

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