Buenos Aires doesn’t feel like a South American city, it feels European. Its buildings are grand stone edifices, its boulevards are wide and tree lined, it has coffee shops and cake shops that could have fallen from a street in Italy. Its people are also European, the blacks and indigenous and mixed race peoples that commonly comprise the majority of the population of Central and South America are not in Buenos Aires.
As we know the most reliable evidence of cultural differences is found not in the streets, people and buildings………No, go look upon those supermarket shelves, say I. The shelves and their contents cannot lie, they will tell you what is different about these people and what it is that they value.
The supermarket was called Disco. About five blocks from our very swish Palermo apartment. There are nine separate product placement areas in this smallish supermarket, for alcohol.
Meat was also important here. The value pack feeds a family BBQ for four and comes with a bottle of Cabernet.
The price AUD20 . In fact, if I now count the bottles of wine in the meat chillers that’s ten locations where you can impulse purchase alcohol in this store.
Back to the streetscape. We arrived in Spring, there are many Jacarandas planted alongside the streets and they were in purple flower which made the city even more attractive. A few photos to convince you this is Paris with Malbec and steak on every table, every night.
Casa Rosada from Plaza de Mayo. From its balcony Presidents speak to the masses gathered in the Plaza to protest. Most famously Eva and Juan Peron as played by themselves, and later, as played by Madonna.
The portable toilets are a contemporary addition.
The city was laid out and built between 1880 and 1929 when it enjoyed great wealth sourced from agriculture, exported through the port at Buenos Aires. It hasn’t really repeated that experience and has slowly slid down the World wealth rankings. The buildings and boulevard and parks remain which makes the place seem richer than it is. I saw not one crane on the skyline during my stay. The building boom came and the building boom left many decades ago. The building boom left great legacy for the citizens.
We had seen dog walkers in other cities. Indeed we have seen dog walkers in our own City. We have not seen dog walkers that take on such ambitious numbers of dogs, twelve was about average. We thought that the number could have been doubled to provide a very lucrative career opportunity and a logistical issue collecting and removing the walkees faeces!!
Anyone who is anyone has a dog in Buenos Aires (usually a Golden Retriever)
We had a concern for the purchasers of the walkers services. half of the dog walkers we saw seemed to be better described as dog resters.
Anyone who is anyone in Buenos Aires pays someone else to walk their dog. Not only are you missing half the point of dog ownership…..but you are not getting what you are paying for…Trust me, I know a walking dog and I know a sat dog.
That is, they were not walking, they were resting, usually chatting with other dog resters. I have a recommendation for the dog owners slaving at their offices to earn a few pennies to pay the walkers fees…….A little background. The child of one of our friends had a job posting free sheets into peoples letter boxes. To ensure he completed the route given to him he was monitored via a GPS device. Dog owners of Buenos Aires, I suggest you place such a device upon your dog and monitor its walking and its resting before you pay the fees for this service.
Getting around Buenos Aires. We had the pleasure of using Subte, the Metro system. Its clean and cheap and efficient as we have found in most cities that have one. Also has quite pleasant tiled scenes on stations walls…..it was built when the lovely buildings were being built ( 1880 to 1929)
Subte. The scene potrayed may be well know , but not to me and no clues anywhere close to the tiles.
And cake shops, Buenos Aires has cake shops.
Coffee shops, many coffee shops and many delightful coffee shops very similar to Melbourne……. except…….quite ordinary coffee. A shame really, a missed opportunity.
Lots of lovely character filled coffee shops. If only one of two of the characters had been deleted and greater concentration been placed upon the quality of the coffee.
Who could resist? Not us.
Buenos Aires home of the Tango? If not then it came from a place not far away.
Tango at the San Telmo Sunday market
The city has many taxis. They are painted yellow and black. As a consequence of all the taxis there are many taxistas….taxi drivers. Taxis were cheap so we took taxis. The drivers of the taxis were usually middle aged men or older gents. The drivers of the taxis all knew where they were going. They had no GPS, they relied instead upon a knowledge of the city. It was an unexpected delightful aspect of being here.
Portenos smoke more than others. Through Central and South America we have been surprised how little smoking we have encountered. In Buenos Aires it is heavier than elsewhere, but even here less than I had expected.
San Telmo. I always like a city when I find a suburb that feels like Fitzroy. In Buenos Aires that suburb is San Telmo.
In Buenos Aires cafes we saw something on the hot drinks menu called a submarino. We had seen no such thing anywhere else and so we ordered one…….and this interactive drink arrived:
A glass of hot milk and a chocolate submarine !!!!
Dive, dive, dive. Stir, stir, stir. Result, one happy child and one sensational chocolate drink.