Argentina

South America…Buenos Aries

Sailing around the tip of South America (aka Cape Horn) has been one of our goals since we began to travel.  Way before the Bucket List movie was popular, we had a list known as the 50 Things to Do Before We Die.  When we wrote the list we never dreamed that we would be able to do even 1/3 of the adventures, so as we have checked off the items, we have added and modified, but Cape Horn was always on each new list.  We found just the itinerary we wanted with Princess cruise line, and they had an excursion to Antarctica as well.  The price was right and the timing perfect, the end of February.  Since we live in a wintry climate, we had to go after snow plowing would be over.  One of the perks, was a reduced airfare.  The cruise booked the flights but we had to choose our seat assignments.  Being relatively cheap travelers, we did not want to pay for an assigned seat.  Jim would check every week to see if there were seats available so that the two of us could sit together.  This really paid off, as just before the 45 day deadline for seat assignments, Jim noticed a huge reduction in the ticket price.  He re-booked the tickets, called the cruise line and saved us over $1,100.00 on the 2 round trip tickets.  Woohoo…persistence paid off.  We were seated next to each other on every flight but one, but we were only a row away from each other.

Some people don’t like airline food but we were grateful for the late dinner. We then settled in for the long overnight flight to Argentina.  We were flying in a day early so we could do abit of sight seeing on our own.  Customs was abit crazy…

We had booked an airport pickup through Viator which was less expensive than a taxi and found a nice hotel for an awesome price on Hotels.com.

We dropped the bags in the luggage check at the hotel and then set off to explore and find the cruise port, as we would be “hiking” there the next day. The order of business was to find lunch.  We settled for a beef empanada and a ham and cheese one.

We found the cruise port and a short way to get there.  We had packed everything in backpacks, so it would be an easy walk to the port.  It would allow us to explore as we went and save some money.  Once back at the hotel, we took a quick nap and then went to a Tango dinner show.  The tango dance was developed in the Buenos Aries slums by immigrants.  It was not recognized as an acceptable dance until an Argentinian went to France and performed it.  The French fell in love with it.  Word got back to Argentina where it gained acceptance.  We couldn’t think of a better way to enjoy our first night.  The ticket included pickup at our hotel, tango lessons, dinner, and a show.  We realized that we will never be tango dancers, but it was very entertaining.

Dinner was excellent!!!

There were incredible musicians as well as singing, it was all in Spanish, but still entertaining…

The dancing was spectacular!!! They moved so fast that our pictures were just a blur…but you could see why it is known as a very seductive dance.

We arrived back at the hotel well after midnight.  We didn’t have to check out until 11am and we took advantage to sleep in.  We repacked and headed for the cruise port.

Walking from our hotel, there were numerous parks or plazas.  One had a very large  rubber tree, so large that there were supports to hold up it’s branches.

Torre Monumental or before 1982 known as Tower of the English, is a clock tower located in Plaza Fuerza Aerea Argentina.  It was a gift from the local British community to commemorate the Revolution of 1810.  It was built in 1916 and restored in 2006. It was built to resemble Big Ben in London.

We continued walking past the main transportation terminal for the city.  We also walked through the financial district, as we neared the port the neighborhood got abit sketchy.

The cruise port was abit disorganized as their were 2 cruises boarding at the same time.  All the announcements were in Spanish, so we enlisted the help of a nice Argentine couple who let us know what was being said. While we waited, we tried our first Alfajores.  These were actually the best ones we had on the entire trip.  We wished  we would have bought a box of these.

We made it onto the Princess Star. Before the cruise, Princess sent us an offer that we could pre-pay for all the pictures taken on the ship.  We took full advantage of this and came home with over 80 pictures.

The ship would be in port for 2 days, we had a great view of the city, but a little noisy as we were next to the freight area, however, it was interesting to watch the shipment process.

We enjoyed exploring the areas of the ship and the lights of Buenos Aires…

The next day we toured Buenos Aires…our tour guide was Eileen and our driver was David.

It was the day that the new Congressional term was beginning, therefore we did not get to stop at the government buildings only drove by them.  The Pink House or Casa Rosad is the executive mansion and office of the President of Argentina.  There are several theories as to why it is pink, our guide told us that cow’s blood and fat were used in the original paint giving it a pink tone. Argentinians like to protest and during the Congressional session there can be up to 10 protests per day.  In 2001 they had 5 different presidents in one week.  There have also been over 60 dictators in the country’s history.

Due to the opening of Congress, we did see the ceremonial Calvary as well as a heightened police presence.

Buenos Aires has numerous sculptures throughout the city…

The most famous sculpture is the Floralis Generica.  It was created in 2002 by Eduardo Catalano.  The flower is made to open at 8 am and closes in the evening.  When closed at night is emits a red glow.  It is made of steel and aluminum airplane parts and weighs 18 tons and extending 23 meters (75 feet) high.

On our way through the city we learned that Argentina is the 8th largest country in the world, 9th if you include Antarctica.  There are 40 million citizens, 4 million leave in Buenos Aires with 12 million in the suburbs.  Buenos Aires was first inhabited by Spain in 1536 but left due to lack of food.  They abandoned the horses and cattle they brought with them.  A permanent settlement was not established until the 1581, and by that time the natives had made use of the cattle and horses, using them for work, transportation, and food.  It remained a small isolated town until the cattle boom of 1880.  This created an influx of European immigrants.  The architecture reflects a late 19th century European influence.  Public schools as well as the universities are all free and are taught in Spanish.

A big tourist stop is at the grave of Eva Peron. She was the first lady of Argentina from 1946-1952. She gave a famous speech in 1951 about Argentinian women’s right to vote. She died of cancer in 1952 at the age of 33.  She was immortalized in the United States with the 1996 movie, Evita. Her final resting place is located in the La Recoleta Cemetery.

The cemetery is designed as a small city with streets and avenues.

The 300 + year old cemetery was originally a church garden.  It now contains 6,400 family mausoleums, in a variety of architectural styles.

There is a yearly fee equivalent to $4000 US dollars for each family mausoleum.  Some families can not afford this so some have been abandoned or neglected.

Each mausoleum has a place for the most recent deceased person, who is embalmed and placed in a casket. There are stairs that lead to a “basement” where older caskets are placed.

After Eva Peron died her body was stolen and taken to Europe where it was buried under a fake name.  It was returned to Argentina in 1971.

As we continued our tour through the city, we learned that areas settled by the Spanish will always have 4 things…a main square, a fortress, a Congress, and a Catholic Church. Our guide laughed and said the 5th should be a soccer stadium.  We drove by the Boca Juniors stadium.  They were founded in 1905 and wore a white jersey with a black stripe.  A game in 1906 changed that design.  Their jersey was similar to the opposing team and when they lost the game, they vowed to never wear those jerseys again.  Legend has it that the team decided that the next boat to sail into port, they would adopt the flag’s colors.  The next boat was from Sweden, therefore the team colors became yellow and blue.  Coca Cola changed the bottle color to blue in order to sell their product at the stadium,

The neighborhood around the stadium is covered in blue and yellow.

Our next stop was the La Boca neighborhood.  This is birth place of the Tango dance and is a haven for artists.

We drove back to the ship through a variety of neighborhoods and construction.

There were more statues, one of Benito Quinquela Martin who was famous in La Boca for his art.

And we drove through the old port area.

You can still see the original draw bridge mechanisms.

Jim loved all of the McDonald’s advertisements…

Back of the ship we watched as we pulled out of the port into the Rio de la Plata.

We ended the evening with our last view of Buenos Aries and a movie under the stars.  The hot tub was enjoyable and the movie not too bad either…Jurassic World.  We were off to Uruguay