Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Buenos Aires Tour Day

DECEMBER 31, 2013

Tour de Buenos Aires: Five Highlights

Silvina and Lorena greeted us Tuesday morning and led us on a bus tour of Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is a city with a history rich in diversity with influence from numerous countries around the world which is reflected in the city's architecture. Because we visited so many areas of the city, I am going to share five highlights. 

Our wifi connection tended to be weak most of the time in our hotel, which explains the delay in sharing our activities.

Highlight 1: At the United Nations Square we saw the Floralis Generica (aka The Steel Flower). Architect Eduardo Catalano offered the flower to the city, and it was purchased by the government and then inaugurated in 2002. It is one of the most recent icons added to the Buenos Aries landscape. The Flower is 23 meters tall and weighs 18 tons. When it opens it is 32 meters across. The unique thing about The Flower, inspired by the Hibiscus flower, is that is was built to to act like a real flower in that it opens during the day and closes at night. To prevent it from being vandalized it sits in a pool of water. 

The Floralis Generica.

Highlight 2: The Cemetery Recoleta, created in 1822, is among the oldest in the Buenos Aires and is home to more than 5000 graves in a four city block area. An architectural free-for-all, the cemetery includes influences from many countries around the world including everything from Greek temples to pyramids. The most popular tomb is that of Eva Peron (Evita). Her remains were finally buried in a concrete vault 27 feet under the ground in 1976 after being stolen by various military governments following her husband's fall from leadership in 1955.

The Tomb of Eva Peron.

Another tomb we visited was that of Rufina Cambaceras. She was originally buried alive in the early 1900s, and a few days following her burial workers heard her screams from the tomb. Some believe Rufina had been in a coma and when she woke up, she found herself buried. Her mother, horrified by what happened, then went on to make Rufina a coffin with a marble slab topped with a rose and placed it behind a glass wall. The corner has the young girl carved in marble, turning her head as she is walking through a door. The question is, "Is she going or coming?" Many visitors put flowers in her free hand. 

Rufina Cambaceras
Finally, we stopped at the tomb of Liliana Crociate de Szaszak who was in Austria when her hotel was struck by an avalanche, killing her. Her mother designed a gothic looking tomb, which stands out from most others in the cemetery. Crociate stands in bronze by her tomb in her wedding dress with her dog at her side. The superstition is that it is good luck to rub the dog's head, which many of us did!! 

The tomb of Liliana Crociate de Szaszak. Many of us rubbed the dog's head for good luck!! 
This photo just shows a small glimpse of the diversity
in the tombs and how close together they are.

Highlight 3: Caminito meaning "little walkway or little path" in Spanish is located in the La Boca neighborhood of the city. Caminito is a combination of a street museum and a traditional alley. It is lined with colorful shops, murals, tango clubs, houses and restaurants. Caminito originally had an active rail line running through it and once this rail line closed in 1954, it became a city landfill. A local artist who lived near by dreamed of transforming this area and began painting existing walls with color. This led to a stage being built, followed by a nearby theater, and now the area has grown into a top tourist attraction. We spent an hour exploring the colorful area, watching Tango dancers and listening to music, and shopping. 

Having originated in Buenos aires around 1870, some people say the La Boca area is the birth place of Tango music. The famous tango, Caminito, written in 1926 led to this area having cultural significance in the city of Buenos Aires. Tango music originated from an environment of immigrant-packed conventillos houses where different world cultures and their various music mixed. The following photos were all taken in the Caminito area.

Highlight 4: The Plaza de Mayo area is surrounded by the Casa Rosada (home of the executive branch of the federal government), the Cabildo (the city council during the colonial era), and the Metropolitan Cathedral which I mentioned in my last post. The significance of the plaza's name comes from the May Revolution of 1810 which started the process of Argentina gaining its independence from Spain in 1816. This plaza has long been a place with political life in Buenos Aires. In 1945 mass demonstrations led to the release of Juan Domingo Peron, who would later become President of Argentina. Like Peron, many presidents have saluted people in the plaza from the balcony of the Casa Rosada. 

Various protests continue to take place in the The Plaza de Mayo to this day.

In the background is the Casa Rosada where Eva Peron as well as many of Argentina's
leaders have spoken to the people of the country. This is where Madonna sang
Don't Cry for Me, Argentina in the Movie Evita.

The 12 pillars of the Metropolitan Cathedral represent the 12 apostles. 

Highlight 5: The SeƱor Tango dinner and show entertained us as we waited to welcome the new year. Since we couldn't take photos or video during the show, I cannot share exactly what the show looked like. During the two hour show there were live horses, much color, many lights, talented singers, an orchestra, and Tango dancers involved. Might I add we also consumed some extremely tough steak, and had a workout just cutting it with the not-so-sharp knives. The show quickly overshadowed the quality of the meat in this case!

Following the traditional countdown, many of us danced the night away on stage in a sea of confetti and balloons. I am sure interesting photos will surface of some giving a try at a few Tango moves, Dale in his spectacular birthday celebration, many toasts of Champagne, hugs, and kisses. It was definitely a New Year's Eve celebration to remember.

At Senor Tango the people sat three levels high with the stage centered in the room.
This stage is where we danced and popped the balloons after midnight.

 from all of us on the River Front in Buenos Aires to all of you!!