Oct 18-21, 2010
Our trip from Raleigh to Buenos Aires (BA) was uneventful, our flights were on-time and our baggage arrived with us. Our hotel rooms were ready when we checked in around 9am (Argentina is one hour ahead of Raleigh), so we took a quick nap to be ready for our city tour at 1pm.
With over 15 million people, BA spreads out over a large area. The downtown is a blend of modern buildings and 19th century french architecture.
A city of immigrants seeking their fortune in the new world, waves of German, English, and especially Italians flocked to the area during the 1800’s. The British attacked Argentina a few times, but their economic invasion was more successful — selling technology and industrial expertise to the country. By 1900, Argentina was a very wealthy country based on agriculture, mining, and industrial exports, but one bad government after another lead to a decline that still haunts the country.
During our city tour we visited the Evita Museum, presenting the life of Eva Peron. Eva, born in 1920, the illegitimate child of a wealthy businessman, left home at 15 to become a singer and actor. She met Juan Peron at a charity event in 1944, married him in 1945, he became president in 1946, and she died of ovarian cancer in 1952 at the age of 32. They lead a political movement, since called Peronism, that fought for more rights for the poor and the workers, more social services (schools, hospitals, etc), and gave the right to vote to women. Not everyone liked them, as they also were intolerant of opposing views, and they promoted themselves as the saviors of the republic. Peron changed the constitution to run for a second 6-year term and won. In the second term the economy started to tank, he lost support, and the army took over in a coup. The Perons are still very controversial, the party still exists, and the current President, a woman, is a Peronista. Next we went to see Evita’s tomb in the famous Recoleta cemetery, then on to the gelateria for some delicious dolche de leche ice cream.
Tuesday night we had a fantastic steak dinner washed down with a great bottle of Malbec. There must have been twenty different cuts of beef offered on the menu, together with a diagram showing where on the cow each cut originated. Phyllis thought the beef was so good that she was cutting it razor thin to make it last longer.
Wednesday we started with an early bird-watching trip to some wetlands along the river. Lots and lots of birds, from hummingbirds to parrots to swans. The official bird of Argentina makes a domed nest of mud on top of a sturdy branch, or a convenient lamppost. Our evening included a dinner of (Chilean farm-raised) salmon followed by a tango show, the Cirque-de-Soleil of dancing.
Thursday, we headed out of town to the Estancia (ranch) for a gaucho show, asado (BBQ) lunch, and Polo demonstration. Fun was had by all!
Then it was back to BA to board the ship. The main avenue in BA was blocked by demonstrations of some sort, they are always protesting something here, so we had to take the long way around. We finally set sail at sunset to head down the coast for the next part of our journey.