Sunday, January 26, 2014

S America/Antarctica - 12/22/2013 - Buenos Aires - Day 1

After a couple of days at sea, we arrived in Buenos Aires, the Capital of Argentina and its largest city.  The city proper has a population of 3 million but the metro area holds 13 million making Buenos Aires the 20th largest city in the world.  The city sits on the western edge of the Rio de la Plata, a river estuary that makes its way to the Atlantic.  The Rio de la Plata is 30+ mile wide in spots which makes it look like open ocean.  The brownish tinge in the water is a giveaway that it isn't sea water.  The water is deep enough for ocean going ships like ours to make their way to Buenos Aires.

Buenos Aires is roughly translated to "Good Air".  The origin of the name goes back centuries and came about because the smell of the air in the area of the city was much better than a smelly swamp land nearby.  Buenos Aires is in a humid subtropical climate.  Summer high temperatures are 85-90 F, but can get higher.  Winter lows generally don't go lower than 50 F although they have had very rare snow storms in Buenos Aires.

Much of South America is heavily influenced by European style and architecture and Buenos Aires is no exception.  It is known as the "Paris of South America".  Citizens of Buenos Aires are about 88% European heritage with Italians and Spanish being the most common groups.

This is the "Pink House", the Argentinian equivalent of our White House.  It is the Executive Mansion where the President has offices.  Unlike our White House, the President does not live here.  He is flown in from another home by helicopter each day.

Note the French influence.

Bombonera Stadium, the BOCA football (soccer) home.  BOCA is one of the most famous and successful soccer teams in the world.  They hold 18 international titles.

This is the La Boca area of Buenos Aries.  It is predominately an Italian immigrant community.  It is known for its colorful houses and lively street markets.  The Italian immigrants were very poor so they built their houses from scraps available in the shipyards.  The siding is corrugated metal or some other cheap material.  The paint scheme results from using whatever paint was available without regard to color.  The streets are paved with the old stone ballast from ships.  In this photo, Eva, Juan and some other figure (maybe Che Guevara)  wave from the balcony.

I took this photo not realizing that the old guy leading the band was a street beggar until it was too late.  Of course, when you take a photo of someone like that, you are obligated to pay for the photo which we did....right into the stocking cap.

A little impromptu tango on the sidewalk.  I was surprised I didn't get hit up for a tip for this photo.  If you aren't careful, you can go broke taking photos.

With a few minutes to spare before getting back on the bus, we stopped for a treat and drink in a corner shop.  Our tour guide is the girl in the orange shirt on the right of the table....very good guide.

Sigrid and her sticky buns.

This is one of the cities iconic memorials.  The Obelisk was built to celebrate the cities 400th birthday in 1936.  Siemens, a German company, built the monument in only 31 days with 137 workers.  It stands 207 feet tall and is in the center median of the largest street in Buenos Aires.  The most famous shopping area in Buenos Aires, Florida Street (pronounced Flor-e-da), is located here as well.

This is an old church in the San Telmo area of Buenos Aires.  It was hot outside so in addition to enjoying the beauty of the church, we also cooled off here.  It wasn't air conditioned but it was cooler than outside.

More street markets in San Telmo.

Tomorrow will be more of Buenos Aires.

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