An unplanned walking tour of Buenos Aires is planned for today,
covering the areas heading north towards the Plaza San Martin across the Av. 9 de Julio, past the Falklands War Memorial, to the Torre de los Ingleses, into Puerto Madero and finally up Av. de Mayo, across Calle Florida and home.
On The Av. in Buenos Aires
It is a lovely spring day; the occasional 5-minute burst of warm rain scattering the less-prepared tourists. We have had our umbrellas stored in our day pack since day one of the trip, and they have proven handy on many a rainy occasion. The Av. 9 de Julio is a massive, 18-lane avenue that sometimes takes 2 lights to cross. We have been warned about the taxi drivers and the bus drivers, who don’t care about pedestrians and particularly tourist pedestrians. The Av. is always busy and is a treat to drive down at night, the bright lights and billboards lighting your way; your careening cab driver racing in and out of the lanes, seemingly unaware of the other cars inches away. We walk into the Retiro neighbourhood and towards the Plaza San Martin, historically the main tourist draw in Buenos Aires. The jacarandas continue their scented purple bursts, the canopy covering the square. We stop at the main monument to San Martin, the liberator, who vanquished the Spanish in Argentina in 1810. Yesterday, we saw his grandiose, flag-bedecked, and heavily guarded tomb in the Cathedral. The square is surrounded by several beautiful mansions and is home to a rich literary, artistic, and cultural history that along with the many bars and cafés that dot the area creates a sort of Argentinean SoHo.
A Glaring Paradox
We turn towards the Torre de los Ingleses, a gift from the British to the Argentineans to congratulate them on their independence from Spain. Interestingly enough, right across the Av.del Libertador, is the main memorial to the 1982 Falklands War, referred to as the Malvinas War here, a sweeping simple monument, and watched over by two, young Argentine soldiers, their blue and gold uniforms glinting in the occasional quick burst of sun. The paradox is glaring. We continue into the Puerto Madero area of Bs As and discover a new area full of vibrant cafés and restaurants. It is a reclaimed old port area that had been abandoned only to be revived and redeveloped in the’90s. Promenades, head offices, and condos line the boardwalks. It is also home to a thriving and wild biological reserve. The sun is hiding in a sudden, cloud-filled sky and so we walk up Macacha Guemes, grab a coffee and the bathroom, and continue our stroll along the pedestrian-only Calle Florida, trying to avoid the hawkers and leather-sellers on this honky-tonk shopping street.
Sleek and Trendy
We walk our neighbourhood this evening searching for dinner and discover a traditional Argentine BBQ but there is nothing traditional in its décor or service. Sleek and trendy and relatively slow for a Monday evening, we laugh with our waiter as he attempts to serve us in English. There is a full salad bar and our servers come around with various cuts of meat: lamb, chicken, pork and of course, the famous Argentine beef, all carved at the table from long roasting skewers. We politely decline the sweet bread, tripe and various offerings of entrails. We quaff a lovely Argentine red and are again amazed at the price of the meal: 110.00 Argentine pesos, including the tip.
That works out to be about $40.00 Canadian!